The Rockwood Files: Queen for a day

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist  and mama of 3

In a couple of days, I’ll have another birthday. When you’re cruising through your late thirties, birthdays don’t always rank up there as a big deal. But I’ve planned a few fun things to do like a haircut, lunch with a friend and then dinner with the family at my favorite pizza place.

I may score some homemade cards from the kids, but Tom and I decided not to exchange birthday gifts this year since we’re saving up for a weekend trip soon. If I did get just one birthday wish, however, I might wish to trade places with our cat Percy – just for the day. Here’s her daily line-up of activities:

  • Allow human to serve me breakfast.
  • Take nap.
  • Clean my face; Lick my full belly.
  • Take nap.
  • Watch stupid squirrel in front yard.
  • Take nap.
  • Watch stupid birds in backyard.
  • Take nap.
  • Watch toilet water shimmer and swirl after humans flush.
  • Take nap.
  • Allow human to entertain me with a string.
  • Take nap.
  • Test the odor-controlling abilities of the cat litter humans bought on sale.
  • Take nap.
  • Stand beside pantry looking pitiful so humans will give me cat treats.
  • Take nap.
  • Stare at my own glorious reflection in the window.
  • Take nap.
  • Hide behind corner then jump out and pounce on humans’ ankles ninja-style, just to remind them who’s boss.
  • Take extended nap in humans’ bed.
  • Day 2 and beyond: Repeat.

Even on birthdays, most people don’t have it nearly as good as the average housecat. Percy the Persistent has become so spoiled lately that, if I take too long to brush my teeth in the morning, she brushes up against my legs lovingly for 5 seconds and then bites my ankle. Not a vicious bite, mind you, just a small nip to remind me that she has teeth and would like to be using them on Cat Chow right NOW.

After she has her breakfast and completes her long, tedious spit-bath process, she finds the nearest spot of sun and stretches out in it. She slowly rolls onto her back with her legs splayed out in a pose that would make you think she’s dead, except for the gentle rise and fall of that furry, expansive belly.

The only time Percy expends any real effort during the day is running past me in the hallway. At least a few times a day, a grey blur streaks by, glancing back at me as if to gloat about winning a foot race that only she knows about. No matter where I’m heading, she’s determined to get there first.

I wouldn’t mind having Percy’s sense of self-assurance, either. She’s convinced that she’s the rightful center of the universe. She walked onto the newspaper I was reading today and sat down on it. Watching me read was exhausting for her so she lay down and promptly fell asleep on the Travel page before I had a chance to finish reading about the great food in Montreal.

But perhaps the best proof that Percy enjoys continual birthday girl treatment is the fact that she NEVER has to clean up after herself. Seeing as how she has no opposable thumbs, I wouldn’t hold it against her if she didn’t always insist on watching me scoop clumps out of her litter box. She sits there in a queenly stance with a look of smug superiority on her furry face. If one living thing cleans up the poop of another living thing, who’s the real boss? The pooper or the scooper?

Don’t answer that.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here.