As I blissfully relived the thrills of Fangs Giving and Crisp Mouse, I noticed something was starting to change inside me.
It started small: just the tiniest little hint of a tingle in my tummy. I barely noticed at all, as a matter of fact, until Siouxsie started being even meaner than usual to me. I couldn’t even glance at her from across the room without being cussed at or threatened with a swat.
I mean, I’d gotten used to her regular kind of bad temper, but this was far beyond what she’d done before. Even Thomas was shocked at her nastiness.
Finally, after the fourth outburst in less than two naps since Mama had left for the day, he ran up to Siouxsie and gave her a sound thwack on the ear. “What is wrong with you?” he demanded. “Get the kink out of your tail and shut up.”
Siouxsie’s eyes went wide. But after a moment’s shock, she hissed viciously and swung at Thomas. “What? You don’t notice it?” she snarled.
“Oh my Bast, you are so! Clueless!”
“What do you mean?”
“Yeah, what do you mean?” I asked.
“Shut up, you nasty, poop-smelling little kitten!” Siouxsie growled. “Thomas! You know just as well as I do that before we can get three more naps in, that feckless creature is going to be running around the house moaning ‘My honey pot’s on fire! My honey pot’s on fire!’ just like that little hussy Miss Katrina.”
“Oh,” Thomas said. He made a grimace and taste-smelled the air a few times. “I see what you mean.”
“What do you mean? What’s going on?!?” I begged.
“All the nasty, half-feral tomcats from miles around are going to be flocking to our home, that’s what it means,” Siouxsie said.
“I still don’t get it.”
Suddenly the tingle in my tummy spread into my back and became itchy and hurty at the same time. It abated as quickly as it came, but then I got the urge to lick my bottom even though I hadn’t gone to the litterbox recently.
“Will one of you please tell me what all the fuss is about?” Dahlia cried.
Thomas sat down next to me and gave me a quick lick on the ear. It gave me an entirely unusual frisson of … a feeling I just couldn’t describe. “Come up on the cat tree with me, darling. It’s time for us to have a talk.”
I settled down next to him, flank to flank, and looked out the window as fresh-falling snowflakes danced in the wind.
“So,” Thomas said, “here’s what Siouxsie is all upset about: You’ve reached, um, a certain age. And when girl cats reach that certain age, a heater goes on inside them. That heater makes them act all crazy and funny until it goes off again.”
“Is that true? How do you know?”
“My sisters told me all about it,” Thomas said.
“I’m glad I have a heater. It’s cold in here!”
“But the unfortunate thing about your heater is that you can’t turn it off when you’re warm enough. It stays on until you get so hot that you need a boy cat to turn it off for you.”
“Could you turn off my heater if I get too hot?”
“Well … no,” Thomas said. “I’m noodered, which means I can’t turn off heaters anymore.”
“I’ll share my heat with you, Thomas. And Siouxsie too, even though she’s being so mean to me.”
“Oh, hush your silly kitten mouth!” Siouxsie said. “Besides, Mama’s gonna notice you’re In Heat too, and she’s gonna get you spayed.”
“What’s a spade for?” I asked. “Will it help me turn my heater off if I get too warm?”
“Oh, it’ll turn your ‘heater’ off, all right,” Siouxsie said. “You can count on that!”