And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

In April of 2012, I adopted a genetic anomaly. There were extra toes. There was a right-pointing kink in his tail. And his head was too small for the rest of his long, then lanky body. He lacked a cat’s natural grace and ability to leap. This cat missed and crashed, or if he succeeded, he fell off within a few steps.

The humane society called him Trillium – the Muse of Grammar, which I thought was appropriate, but god, what an ugly name. Trillium is now Edgar Allen Paw.

Six years later, his body is still long, his toes are still extra, his tail still kinks to the side …and his head now appears even smaller because he’s not so lanky. Edgar has become a big orange furry bowling ball. I don’t know his exact weight, but I’m sure he’s pushing twenty pounds.

Edgar’s nature is beyond affectionate. He has his own spots in the house that he loves; no one sits in the one easy chair in my living room now because it’s Edgar’s chair. In six years, he has never been hurt. He has never been out in the cold. He has never found himself alone on the side of a busy highway, as he was when he was picked up by animal control. He has never missed a meal.

Try to tell Edgar that. He has not yet accepted that there will never again be a day when he is left hungry. So he eats.

Our condo has no basement. When it was built, we were in a conundrum over where to put the litterbox. Litterboxes, to dogs, are buffets. It had to go someplace where the then-dog-later-dogs-now-dog-again could not get it. I asked the builder to install a small pet door into the door of our large closet where the washer and dryer and water heater are. It’s worked; the closet has become the laundry room/kitty haven. Until Edgar started getting stuck as he tried to squeeze through.

Our cat is on a diet. And he is not happy.

He has diet cat food, only a half cup a day. He gets a quarter of a can of canned cat food once a day. Muse, our other cat, a lightweight at only five pounds, has her own bowl of regular cat food filled to the brim up on a counter that Edgar can’t reach. I swear she waits until he’s looking and then she jumps up and crunches as loudly as she can.

The diet has been going on for three weeks. Edgar has taught us all what the word caterwaul means. Holy cow. During the day. Middle of the night. I think the most common phrase heard around the house right now is, “Edgar, please shut UP!”

He’s not happy. We aren’t either. We tell ourselves it’s for his own good. He has to fit in the kitty door to get to the food dishes and the litterbox.

The other night, it was just Edgar and me in the late-night living room. Michael was out doing the final walk with our dog, Ursula. Muse was somewhere. Olivia was sleeping. Edgar, having just munched on his half-cup allotment of diet food, was on his chair. His extra-toed paws hung over the edge. His tail, flat and straight, was quiet, except for the right hand kink that flickered.

“Eddie,” I said. “Eddie, we love you. There will always be more food. I promise. With all my heart.”

Do you know that cats can smile? Their eyes turn into angled slits. Their mouths curve. Edgar did just that. And then he started the other part of his genetic anomaly: he purrs like a broken train. He is the Train That Could Maybe Do It.

He smiled. And he chugga-chugga-pause-chugged.

I looked left. And I looked right. The downstairs door had not yet opened, letting in Michael and Ursula. Muse was still nowhere to be found.

I got up and snagged five pieces of the regular cat food, so out of Edgar-reach on the counter. And I fed them, one by one, to Eddie. He chugga-chugga-pause-chugged. And chewed.

Yes, I helped my cat cheat on his diet. I don’t regret it. I so want him to know that he’s home.

I’m going to research bigger kitty doors.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Edgar on his first day home back in 2012. Too shy to come out of the kitty closet.
Edgar’s smile. (He no longer fits on my bookshelf.)
Big boy Edgar and teeny tiny Muse.

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