Domestic house cats are like often water, opting for slow and silent pressure rather than overt fire and brimstone approach of other pets when food time is approaching (and possibly forgotten by the two-leggeds in the house).
Our three house cats noticeably become more friendly as regular mealtimes approach. They lean against our legs when we walk through the house. They make little murping noises and rub against doorjambs and table legs in our presence.
But mostly, I can tell how close it is to their next meal by how close they are to my desk. When mealtime is 45 minutes away, they’re in the hallways. When it’s 20 minutes away, they’re outside my den door–or just inside it. When mealtime is imminent (or late) they’re right next to my desk. Sometimes I say, “Why are y’all going around in a pack” and they look at me with a variety of expressions of pity and disdain–their way of saying, “the old duffer doesn’t know how to tell time any more” and “Sure, when he wants something to eat, he just goes out to the refrigerator and gets it, but we have to wait because the Creator screwed up and didn’t give us the thumbs we need to open stuff.”
If cats could speak English, I’m sure they’d say, “Raccoons got thumbs and we didn’t. What kind of sense does that make?”
My answer would be, “They wash their food and you don’t. You don’t need thumbs.”
“If we had thumbs, we’d wash our food.”
Far be it from me to question why cats don’t have thumbs. If they did, food time for them would probably be 24/7 because (unlike what some cat books say), cats do overeat if the food is available.
But since it isn’t, I can set my watch by how close they are to my desk. Since they just got fed 25 minutes ago, they’re nowhere to be seen. Once they have their food, they have no use for me any more until 11 p.m. approaches. Then, I’m suddenly their best friend, the best thing since slice bread, or even a minor god (though not a smart god due to their lack of thumbs).
The cats who–as we know–move around on little cat feet like fog know how to use silence to exert pressure. Like the water that slowly erodes rock over time, they erode my concentration over time. I could be in the middle of writing the last line of the great American novel. But I can’t, because I can’t come up with the right words due to the sound of silence all around my desk.