Athena is a good cat, a nice cat, a loving cat, a very cute cat, and dumber than a sack of wet mice. (Now, the late Loki was no Einstein, I’ll admit, but he was smarter than Athena. I still treasure the memory of Athena hiding in a sack on its side, swiping at Loki from the protection of the bag, obviously believing herself to be invisible. Loki got up, ambled around the back of the bag, and body slammed twenty pounds of cat, sumo style, onto it. It was arguably his finest hour.)

Today, I heard the birdlike chirp that serves Athena for a mew. I looked over to discover that she was prancing around on the end table that houses the X-box and my birding binoculars. There’s not much space for a cat to manuever there, but she has delicate little paws and seemed to be doing okay. I got up and wandered in that direction, gazing idily out the sliding glass door at the soggy forest. Athena chirped. I looked over at her. She looked up at me, all four feet firmly on the table, and chirped again. As I watched, she extended a hind leg out over empty space, and apparently without realizing that one haunch was simply hanging in the air, lifted up a front paw delicately and shifted her weight to the dangling foot, obviously expecting thin air to support her weight.

Physics caught up a moment later. I dove for her as she slid off the end table, butt first, flailing claws seeking purchase in the X-box, the tabletop, and thin air. One of those rapid, hard-to-follow flurries followed, and then the cat was three or four feet away, wandering off, and I was checking myself to make sure that all my limbs were intact.

I looked at her. A smarter cat would have had the grace to give me the haughty I-meant-to-do-that or that-was-all-YOUR-fault look. Athena’s expression, however, is simply “What?” She apparently forgot the entire episode while still in mid-fall. She didn’t even give herself the whoa-that-was-a-close-one couple of licks. She just wandered off and fell asleep in James’s chair, content with the universe.

Ignorance is bliss.

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