I am often skeptical of the vaunted emotional sensitivity of animals, largely because I have had some really obtuse animals in my day.  That many are hypersensitive to body language and can tell when a human’s depressed, I have no problems with, but for every ministering angel of the animal kingdom you can show me, I can find a dog startled by its own farts.

Athena, for example, is utterly clueless about recent tensions, since her life is entirely occupied by the hated presence of The Enemy.

Ben, however, has apparently figured out that something’s up. While I do not expect felines to be interested or aware of the social dynamics of hominids, he’s apparently decided that A) something’s up, and therefore B) I must be accompanied at all times. Possibly he has me on some kind of one-cat suicide watch, or maybe he figures the tension is ninja-related and is on extra high alert. From his usual role as bathroom paladin, he’s expanded to four or five hugs a day, and as soon as I go upstairs, he’s on the steps, watching to make sure that no ninjas push me down the staircase on my return journey.  I’m at the computer, Ben tucks himself into meatloaf-position nearby and keeps an eye on things, with frequent visits to the lap to make sure that the keyboard’s not gettin’ uppity. If I’m on the couch, within five minutes, Ben is also on the couch. (Ninjas can often be found rooting for spare change among the couch cushions.) This becomes awkward, as Ben takes up a great deal of couch, and James often gets exiled down to the far end, since Ben does not approve of being manhandled by monkeys.

At night, since I’m bedding down in the den at the moment, as soon as I’m down, Ben makes one last round, grabs a light snack, and then comes in and pours himself into the space between my feet. He drapes a front leg across my right ankle and reclines like a Roman emperor. And there he stays, for eight hours or more. If I decide to sleep on my side because my foot is asleep from–to use an example completely and totally at random–a sixteen pound cat draped over my ankle, he tucks himself up behind my knees. Other than that, he does not move. Any shifts in position are conducted around him, like a furry cinderblock. He never used to sleep with us–possibly James twitched his feet too much–but this is now Ben’s post. Ninjas beware!

About the only things that distract him from his duties are food and somebody carelessly leaving butter uncovered on the counter, his latest vice.

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