Charlie and George had their birthday while we were attending the Nebula conference, so we’ve decided to celebrate today. Here is Charlie explaining his year in interpretive dance.

“It was awesome!”
“There were raccoons but I *punched* em!”
“And then it was spriiiing!”

According to the vet he is a “Fit young cat.” He weighs about 10 pounds, a very sinewy 10 lbs under that deliciously soft and fuzzy fur. If I hadn’t held him and fed him and flinched every time he ran into a wall he couldn’t see after his brain injury three years ago I might not believe that ever happened. He’s happy, healthy, very fit. He’s always doing, always investigating, always leaping up and dashing off. For Charlie, Year 4 was a good one.

Year 4 was also most excellent for George, too, though he is more cautious about expressing it. Though he’s always been bigger and stronger than Charlie he’s also always been much more cautious. He does not like change. At all. He still won’t eat cat food rather than kitten food, and he refuses to accept that his cat tree platform is too small.

“No, no. It still fits.”

He weighs his choices carefully. He likes to consider options—very much a thinker first. While Charlie in repose has what we describe as Resting Demon Face, George has Resting Sad Face. But he isn’t sad. He’s just pondering imponderables. My guess? He’s writing a philosophy book.

“Be glad you don’t understand the things I have seen…”

He is a big cat. Last time we took him to the vet he weighted a hair under 13 lbs. The vet was surprised: she thought he would weigh more given his length and height. “But it’s all muscle,” she said. And it is—he’s heavily muscled and his bones are thick and dense. His affect is slow and deliberate but take it from me he’s wicked smart and very fast. I’m sad to report that earlier this year he caught and ate a hummingbird. (We’ve since moved the feeder to make this less likely.)

He will sleep with Charlie, and, like Charlie, he is very affectionate with me and Kelley. (Every other being on the planet, two legged and four, is either hidden from or hunted.) Unless he’s ill, though, he will never sit on a lap except mine, and then only in bed. Oddly, Charlie will never sit on a lap in bed but loves draping himself all over us any other time (Kelley more than me—she sits more still). When they’re not on us, they tend to stay near us when they’re home. In bed, they both tend to sleep snugged-up next to—but not on—Kelley (because she likes to sleep warmer then me so adds a fuzzy blanket to the duvet—also, she sleeps more and so disturbs them less).

George sleeps

They go through phases when they can sleep companionably together and phases when they can’t seem to bear each other. And then times when you can just tell each is biding his time…

“No, no, nothing’s about to happen here…”

They have developed routines. Kelley—working largely on East Coast time because of her dayjob—feeds them early while I’m still in bed. When I get up we let them out—it has to be fully light but that timing varies by season. They’re out for about 20 minutes, then George comes in as I’m eating breakfast, jumps up, gives me a perfunctory head bump, jumps down and positions himself for a quick game of chase-the-treat. Then he’s outside again. A few minutes later Charlie comes home—he blasts through the cat door like a clash of cymbals—jumps up, gets a head bump, a purr and a rub, magnanimously permits me to hand feed him four or five treats one at a time. (They are spoiled.) Then, blam!, outside again. Rinse and repeat in various combos for the next hour or two—including yowls (George) or trills and chirrups (Charlie) if I’m not in the kitchen to provide treats according to their preference. When I’m really focused and working I ignore them (they are not that spoiled); otherwise it’s a good excuse to get up and wander into the kitchen.

Right around midday they come in together, sharking about the kitchen like fuzzy velociraptors. They accept more treats then stuff themselves to bursting with actual food. At this point, depending on the weather, sometimes they nap, sometimes they want to play, sometimes they go back out and start slaughtering (sigh).

Just in the last year or so they’ve reliably settled into an average nine-to-five workday. In winter this shrinks to 10-to-3 and in spring and summer can stretch from 7-to-8. But they are home, with us, cat door securely locked and portcullis down, every night when it gets full dark—except for a brief, two- or three-week period in late summer when George wants to roam and can sometimes stay out until midnight. No one (except George) enjoys this phase. But he does always come home and we’ve learnt to accept it and be grateful it’s self-limiting.

So, bottom line: Charlie Bean, aka Best and Brightest, and Handsome George, aka Murgatroyd, are fit, healthy young cats at home in their world. Life, they tell me, is good.

I’m not really bothering to do Kitten Reports (there are about two dozen of them now) anymore but do occasionally post pix on Instagram or Twitter. Meanwhile, if you’re new to the Toothsome Twosome, check out the link to catch up.