Let’s set the scene. Someone has knocked at our door and Tater Cat has, as usual, galooped up to greet them. Galoop galoop galoop. Tater is a social cat. She is not standoffish. If she could leap up on people and smear their faces with a giant lolloping tongue, she would. She doesn’t have anything to lollop with, of course. But she has the interest, if not the saliva.

She defies the stereotype.

We don’t know anything about cat stereotypes. Neither of our two cats read their original manual, and as a result they have no inkling of their rights and privileges. “Shake, Larry,” we said to our first cat, holding out a kitty treat, and she would instantly put out her right paw and place it in our palm. People thought it was remarkable but it wasn’t, really. She was inclined to the left paw and it took some effort to retrain her.

Tater, though. “Go ahead and give her a good rumple,” we say to visitors. “She’s the softest kitty in the world.”

Tater looks up expectantly, her tail twitching like a metronome.

“That’s okay,” they say, backing up. “She looks a little on edge.”

“Nah, go ahead,” we say, “She left her claws in her other life. You can rub her all around like she’s flannel and you’re polishing the floor.”

Very few intelligent people over age eight take us up on that. But it’s true. The twitching tail alarms people but it merely reflects the Dave spirit. Dave also has always had an excess of energy to offload and it comes out in the form of percussion on any available surface with any available object, whether anyone else thought it was strictly necessary or not. Tater senses they are twin essences and is utterly drawn to Dave. She is his sidecat.

Larry was mine. Larry and I were on the same page and usually on the same recliner. “Let’s find someplace soft to sit,” we thought to each other. “We can just sit together quietly for…oh, let’s say ever.” We did not disturb the force. We were both made chiefly of pudding, and one must allow the pudding to set up.

But now, although Tater is perfectly happy to be around me, her druthers lie elsewhere. If Dave and I have been outside a while and I come in the house alone, I do not notice the cat. I can go in and out of rooms and make noise and shut drawers and do all manner of things in an apparently cat-free environment and the very second Dave walks through the same door, our sofa warbles and a cat erupts out of it like a stealth octopus in coral. Were you there the whole time? I query.

This is not a cat that is looking for something from her human. It’s not a quid pro quo situation. If it were, she would not trail him up to the bathroom when he takes a shower. There’s something awful going on in that shower, as evidenced by all the water happening on him, and she parks herself right outside the bathroom door standing guard and ready to spring into action at the first sign of trouble—or the second sign, all that water being the first sign. And the very second the water is turned off, she goes into the bathroom and makes sure he survived his ordeal.

That cat has never parked herself outside the bathroom for me. She likes me, but if I dropped dead she would probably sit on me until I cooled off. Then she’d find a spot in the sun and wait for Dave to come home.