A sure sign of the seasons beginning to change has come to my house this week. His Royal Catness Prince Mabon has begun consuming food in mass quantities. He is “bulking up” for winter, even though he has already got plenty of bulk at eighteen pounds. Winter ought to be in quotation marks as well, as his entire experience of winter consists of sitting by the window in cozy warmth and gazing out upon the snowy domain. While, I, human serf to the Royal One, risk freezing eyelids, frosted lung lining and potential Bambi-on-ice displays of grace all in the name of working to keep him in The Style To Which He Has Become Accustomed. You would think he would be grateful. Appreciative, maybe. You would be wrong. The cat world view is quite simple: humans exist to serve their superior furry feline overlords. Humans are tolerated as long as and only as long as they fulfill this function to perfection. Any failure is responded to with a display of disdain as only a cat can manage: what I like to call the “kitty finger”. Cats are adept at showmanship, and the kitty finger is no exception. They turn their back to the disgraced human with a flourish of tail, then sit, studiously ignoring, flicking the tail back and forth. The length of tail, velocity and interval of repetition of said tail flick indicates the level of displeasure one is under. No amount of sweet-talking, cajoling, suggesting of things to play moves them. The human must undergo the punishment for as long as deemed appropriate. Or until you go out into the kitchen and open a can. A can of anything will do. Suddenly, all is forgiven! As with any fickle and capricious monarch, a person’s fortunes rise and fall with astonishing rapidity. This is not to say that we serfs receive nothing in return. They have an uncanny sense of when we feel sick or depressed, and so they sit with you (or more often on you) to comfort you. Or so you think. Actually they are continuing to exert their domination by deigning to show what passes for affection. This is the cat version of “bread and circuses” known as “snuggling and purring”. You can choose whether or not you wish to be fooled. I choose to be. I actually buy into the happy chirpy greeting I get when I come home. HRC Prince Mabon is a benevolent monarch, even if he does eat through the equivalent of the GNP of several small nations. Winter approacheth.