The Gentle Author shares an excerpt from The Life & Times of Mr Pussy – a Memoir of a Favourite Cat

When the clouds hang heavy and the atmosphere is quiet, Mr Pussy divides his time between dozing on the bed and dozing under a bush. The pace of the city is stilled and Mr Pussy finds the climate conducive to resting.

Mr Pussy observes me with doleful eyes as I go about my daily tasks, too gracious to be overtly critical, yet he hopes that I might one day learn to appreciate the virtue of sitting peacefully for extended periods of time without other occupation, as he does. To this end, Mr Pussy waits patiently until a suitable opportunity when I am settled at my work before he approaches me. Arriving silently like a ghost, Mr Pussy reaches out a soft paw to stroke my forearm gently while I am writing, as a discreet gesture of companionship, drawing my attention without interrupting my activity.

Settling at my side and savouring the tranquillity of the hour, a purr of contentment emanates from him. And if my concentration should wander from my page, searching for a word or casting around to seek the direction of my thought, then I chance upon his hypnotic golden eyes, meeting my gaze with their fathomless depth and opalescent gleam. He has my attention. He has an infinite capacity for staring. He knows I am a neophyte and he is an expert at it. He knows I cannot resist succumbing to his superior mesmeric powers. He has me spellbound and I share his stillness. The house is empty and we are alone. We look at each other eye to eye, without blinking, to see who flinches first.

Almost imperceptibly, Mr Pussy begins to lower his lids and I do the same. I follow along, as his supplicant. Our eyelids move in sync and we are nodding off to sleep, it seems. I might enter the feline realm, if I did not open my lids again momentarily – only to discover that his eyes are open too. It is a moment of mutual recognition. Mr Pussy was testing the quality of my will, exploring my susceptibility to mental control. Mr Pussy observes me. Mr Pussy is implacable, yet he wants me to follow his example. Mr Pussy knows how to be. Mr Pussy keeps himself. Mr Pussy seeks to be calm. Mr Pussy is always present in the moment. Mr Pussy is sufficient.

Equally, Mr Pussy is curious of me and the intriguing nature of my existence that revolves around things other than eating and sleeping. I am the object of his scrutiny, Mr Pussy is studying me. Mr Pussy is an anthropologist, living among those who are subject of his fascination. Mr Pussy’s research methods are unconventional, he thinks he may gain knowledge by osmosis if he sleeps close to me or he may imbibe understanding by lapping up my bathwater.

Not always an entirely conscientious student, Mr Pussy likes to contemplate his findings at length. Mr Pussy likes to sleep on it, and he is a grand master in the art of somnolence. Mr Pussy knows how to behave in these dog days.

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