I always thought I liked cats. Apple and Annie were the first. They kept me company and cleared my first little shop - in Brooklyn, near the East River - of mice and waterbugs.
Young, small, gray and white. It was as if he smiled when he saw us. A beautiful street urchin striding lightly up the walkway to the porch of our little house. He would alight, unbidden, in Jessie's lap, awaiting her hug. Perfectly content. We hadn't enticed him with food, or promises of a good life. He just picked us out. So we fed him. He'd come around every day, graceful and fearless, completely trusting his own trusting nature. Confident in humans. Glad to see them.
I couldn't have been more wrong. He was utterly docile.Jessie was working as a receptionist at a vet's office then. So we took him there. They patched him up and assured us he'd be fine.
I don't know why he was like that. Maybe his intense attachment to humans was a sign he was a very "needy" cat, as Dan once patiently explained to me. Maybe he had been ignored by his mother, weaned too early, or taken away too young.But I do know this: Every night for the last 10 years of his life he would hop up onto our bed, settle into the crook of my left arm, with his head on my shoulder, and sculpt himself into an exquisite arrangement of limb and languor. Perfecting me, us. Sometimes, I can still feel him, sleeping. I always thought I liked cats. Gilbert taught me that I love them.