Ever get the sensation you’re being watched?

Ever get the sensation you're being watched? By Bob Karolevitz Composing our annual Christmas poem is hard work. This year it's been even harder.

As before, I was drafting it in long-hand on my big table-top desk, struggling over words to rhyme with Bethlehem, manger and Magi. That was bad enough, and that's when I looked up to find two yellowish eyes staring at me just six inches away from my nose.

Those eyes belonged to Baxter, one of Phyllis's new indoor cats who had stealthily hopped up on my work table to see what I was doing. He startled me, to say the least, as he sat there like an ebon Buddha, interrupting my poetic muse with his unblinking gaze.

Baxter and his black look-alike sister, Bailey, came to us from Kansas City, but that's a story too long to relate here. They were brought by a friend to replace Toshi, Phyllis's pet tail-less feline who, after a lengthy stay, had gone off to the Great Cat Box in the Sky.

Baxter and Bailey took to their new surroundings immediately. Now they are everywhere � underfoot, in my easy chair, even curled up in the bathroom sink. Phyllis can't open a drawer or a cupboard door without two cats being there to investigate.

That, incidentally, was how Bailey got locked in a file cabinet drawer. And she'd probably be there yet if it weren't for her plaintive cries when Phyllis frantically searched the house for her.

They were almost three years old when we got them, so they were past the playful kittenish stage. They will still paw at a shoelace occasionally, and Bailey does a unique pirouette dance when she wants to be scratched. Mostly, though, they are aloof and curious like most adult cats, accepting human relationships only when they want to.

Like most brothers and sisters, B&B have a brief spat now and then, with Baxter getting the upper hand (or paw). Then they cuddle together on the sofa or one of our beds like nothing had happened.

However, when Phyllis sits down to read the paper or to watch television, they become instantly jealous of one another. Both insist on being held at the same time, so my cooperative wife ends up with a lapful. They never come to me, and I like it that way.

For diversion they take turns sitting in the bay window watching the birds and squirrels in the feeder outdoors. I'm sure evil thoughts go through their heads as they imagine how a chickadee would taste. Phyllis, however, thinks they are just cute and would never harm a tiny junco or feast on a finch.

After all, they eat only the expensive light formula Science Diet which gives them their RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of calcium, selenium, zinc, iron and assorted vitamins. Frankly, I think they'd like a bird for dessert.

Actually they've adjusted better than I have. I'm not used to having cats stare at me on my desk or hovering around my typewriter.

"They like you," Phyllis explains, but I'd prefer it if they'd go attack the mouse on her computer pad instead of ogling me when I'm trying to write. At least Toshi left me alone.

So far Baxter and Bailey haven't assaulted the decorations on our Christmas tree. They just sit and look at it, and once again Phyllis says: "Aren't they cute?"

I admit that they're an interesting pair, but that's as far as I'm willing to go at this point. I'd do better if Baxter would just stay off my desk, for cat's sake.

© 1999 Robert F. Karolevitz

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