It’s possible our cat Tater is overweight. That, at least, is the unsolicited opinion of most of our visitors. One very polite friend admired our cat appropriately and so I asked him if he thought she was fat, and he snapped off the yes before I even got the “t” in “fat” all-the-way pronounced.

We don’t see it that way. We prefer to use the terms “sturdy” or “substantial” to describe her, and in any case she seems to be the exact right size to contain her Taterness without risking anything blowing up. She’s never eaten anything more than a level half cup of store kibble a day, and she’s apparently devoted all of that fuel, after basic maintenance, to the Apron Project. As a result, there’s enough exterior Tater for the interior Tater to be able to roll around inside and find the cool spots. When she rests with her paws tucked under, she looks like a sentient meatloaf. But calling her fat is like saying Vin Diesel is a little chunky. You just wouldn’t.  It all seems essential.

But maybe we’re blind to her condition. When a beloved companion packs it on, every day, a few cat molecules at a time, the mind does not register the change. This is the same reason a man might develop a truly mockable combover. He starts young, arranging a spare fluff of working hair over a spot that’s starting to slack off, and starching it with Product, and he checks the result in the mirror and proclaims that all is well. Day by day he presses his remaining follicles into service for the cause, receives optimistic reports from the front, and believes the enemy is in retreat. Ultimately he is cultivating strands from further and further south and demanding more and more of them, trusting always in his sycophantic mirror.

It’s also how you lose half of your wildlife in forty years, frog by bird by tiger. You can still hear the roar of traffic and the drone of the air conditioner and the comforting clamor of motor and machinery, and you start to forget what you used to be able to hear. You see your own life reflected back at you, busy with vitally important things that didn’t even used to exist and enough

paraphernalia to replace your mind and muscle, and you think: yes. That looks right. That’s how it’s always been.

It’s how you crash all the fish in the sea. It’s how you get a Donald Trump and his fuzzy crown of tonsorial vapor.

God, we need to get that cat on a diet.