Is there anything more beautiful than a pumpkin-colored tabby cat on an autumn day? A cat with tawny eyes and a white-cloud-fluff belly lying on a pile of fresh magazines (New York, The New Yorker) and playing with his catnip mouse, the one with the silky turquoise tail? The points of his teeth are just visible through his partially open mouth. His paws swipe the air as his eyes go round and round. I’m supposed to be leaving for my walk—to enjoy this day, the late sun, being home—but can’t stop admiring my cat, who hasn’t stopped adoring me since my return.

Fitzroy, the love hog. The giver of tender bites (chin, wrist, knee, toe), sometimes not so tender. This furry beast who loves it when I use my new device, the furminator, a grooming tool that takes off prodigious amounts of hair, and who replaces whatever I remove within hours, like the princess in the fairytale whose hair grew back twice as fast whenever she cut it.

The cat princess, Mouchette, is also being sweet and devoted. She waits until the love hog is asleep, then gets on the bed and makes the circuit, crossing my chest, going around behind my head, stopping to rub against my cheek and knuckles. She purrs delicately, not wanting to be heard. I whisper. We don’t want him waking up, not now…

Margaret Diehl,