My cat sees shadows.
Most of the time he is a normal cat, if there is in fact such a thing as a normal cat. He eats what he fancies and sleeps where he likes, and if I want to sit it is a fair bet he will have claimed the best chair first. This, I think, is normal.
But sometimes he is not.
He jumps up on the dresser, making the lamps rattle and the porcelain birds quake, prowls up and down for a minute or two, then settles himself before the mirror and watches. There is a cat on the other side. I tell him it is his reflection, and laugh at him, and pester him, but he does not believe me and these days I no longer believe myself. He is very convincing. He watches.
I don’t know what he is waiting to see.
While he is at the mirror, I cannot concentrate. I catch glimpses of him as I pass back and forth, artificially preoccupied, trying not to look at the small stripy cat who stares into the glass like he can see through it to what lies on the other side. I have known him to sit there for almost an hour; other times it is only a few minutes. The light catches his eyes, reflecting them an unnerving gold like torch beams staring out from the mirror. Sometimes his tail flicks and I know he is angry, or scared, or thinking very hard.
Then, suddenly, for no reason I can see, he’ll relax and jump down and go steal my chair.
All right. I admit it. Some days when he gets down I sidle over to that mirror and try to see what he can see, and there are times I almost do. A flicker at the corner of my eye. A shadow that shouldn’t be there. But all I see, I mean really see, is myself. A back-to-front copy of my own face and my own room in my own house.
Perhaps only cats can see it. Perhaps only him.
I don’t know what he sees. But I’m glad he’s there to protect me from it.
© Faith Mudge, 2012