He’s watching me. Every second. Every minute. Every waking hour I feel him eyeing me. He waits for me to move. I sit, he sits. I stand, he stands. Every move I make is being mimicked. Up the stairs, down the stairs. Into the kitchen, out of the kitchen. I can hear him behind me on the couch. I can feel his breath on my neck. He’s always there. And he’s getting closer.
I fear that I’m being stalked. I start working up escape plans in my mind.
I know him. We are well acquainted. His name is Simon and he is my 16 year old orange and white cat. Old age has made him frail, fearful of the out-of-doors and a little bit temperamental at times. Sometimes, mostly just when he’s hissing because his claws have trapped him somewhere, he looks at me with a blankness that nearly reminds me of a kitty brain fogged by the four-legged version of Alzheimers. Luckily, that doesn’t happen often.
He spends most all of every day curled up in a ball atop the cushions on my couch. It serves as a good vantage point to watch the returning birds fluttering in the air outside the window, to sleep and bathe as cats must do and to hiss at the neighbor’s dog as he conducts daily investigations on my yard, all within the relative safety provided by a pane of glass.
Simon experiences what I believe we humans experience as age casts its fading glow on our bodies. He must be nearly deaf resulting from an incident which occurred maybe 12 yeas ago. He lived with my parents at the time. He was left to his home in the garage while they went on their family spring break travels. It was after returning from this trip that my parents realized they had an electrical quirk with their fire alarm which was hung just feet away from Simon’s cozy cat bed. It was discovered that very cold weather, counterintuitive as it may seem, would also trigger the alarm. They came home to a blaring fire alarm that had been ringing in its high pitched scream for what, we can only assume, had been the majority of the week they had been gone.
Sometimes I wonder if this one incident contributed not only to his deafness, but also his sporadic dementia. I think I’d be more than a little grouchy and insane after spending a week under those same conditions too.
As a recurring affect, sometimes I’ll happen upon him, with no attempt at sneaking, and I’ll scare him from a comfortable crouch straight up into the air with surprise. Other times, when he thinks he hears me upstairs, but can’t hear well enough to tell, he meows his way slowly toward my room, as if announcing that he is coming and to please make my presence known without alarming him.
Old age has also affected his claws. He doesn’t find the time to sharpen them by scratching anymore, so his nails grow long and therefore create an unfortunate result on his jumping and climbing. He gets stuck to everything he jumps on. His poor stuck arm will be halfway up the side of the couch while the rest of him is way above on the top of the couch trying to figure out how to get his claw to release. A frantic arm shaking ensues until he’s able to finally wriggle it free and escape the couch that “caught him.” You can imagine the kind of effect this is having on my upholstery.
More worrisome, is when an outstretched claw happens to snag my sock or pants. Nothing good ever comes from that. I sit fearfully still as he tries to unloosen it. If I try to help, he simply thinks I’m attacking him and the hissing and growling starts. I’m 100% sure that he believes my sock has attacked him every time. He has had a somewhat rough history involving predatory socks.
It seems to work this same way with us humans. We grow old, fearful and lonely too. We just yearn for safety and companionship in a world that gets scarier and bigger by the day. Sometimes we get stuck and caught up in things when we’re just trying to move forward too. Our hearing and eyesight will probably fail us along the way. And just like Simon, there may come a day when we just curl up in a ball and watch the world spinning around us from the safety of our windowed perch.
So, for the time being, I guess I’ll hold off on the restraining order. I’ll let him cling to me everywhere I go. I’ll exempt him from being forced outside for a little fresh air here and there. And I’ll have a little more compassion, while being stalked, for my aging, four-legged friend.