Each one takes up its special evening place in the living room high enough to have a vantage point, in case a mouse runs through or, more likely, one of us humans opens up a package of cat treats, or delight of delights, a can of cat food.
Their place of slumber and casual observation must also be warm and soft, preferably on top of the couch, or the seat of my chair, or, on top of the soft blanket of the chair by the fireplace.
They sometimes like to watch the fire, but their favorite source of heat is under a lamp, where they sprawl like lizards, basking in the heat from a lightbulb.
Mostly, they snooze, often turning their head completely upside down, yet leaving their back to soak up the heat from the lamp. Their eyes close, sometimes, only when they are out cold, but often, they will stare aimlessly, chin on top, head turned halfway around, silent, barely alive.
They only come alive if the phone rings, when they run around and jump from chair to floor and back again. If the conversation goes on very long, one of them will push themselves between the human’s ear and the phone, insisting that they be either a part of the conversation, or, more likely, that they be noticed as the most important thing in the human’s life at that very moment.
Each night is a different arrangement, like a new chess game. The seating arrangements must be the topic of discussion at the midday conference of cats, when we humans are gone, as after they come in from their twilight stroll off of the deck, each of them quietly assumes their selected throne for the evening, without needing a clue from whoever they have chosen to be the Master of Sleeping Perches for the evening.
And, promptly at nine, or whenever they have decided it is time for the humans to get to bed, and to warm their preferred lounges for the night, the cat people will parade off to bed, or sit expectantly at the bedroom door, or stalk by a human, switching a tail in their face. And, if all else fails, one cat, apparently the elected spokesman, will cry a bit, until we finally recognize that it is, indeed, time to retire, so that we can heat the beds for the cats, who must have their beauty sleep, and prepare for the four a.m. struggle to rouse me out of bed, and let them out, whether or not I’m ready to awaken.