I had always wondered how, exactly, it happens. We start out the night in our proper positions: me under the covers with my head on my pillow, the cat curled in in a ball down at the foot of the bed. In this moment, all is right with the world. But at some point in the evening, things change. There is a usurping.
In the wee hours of the night, I come swimming out of a deep sleep to find my face pressed into a seemingly endless expanse of fur. I reach out blindly to readjust my pillow, but I’m trapped in an alien hairy landscape. Somewhere, a mildly irritated muscle twitches, and a tail slaps directly across my upper lip. I mustache you a question, the cat seems to say. Why are you disturbing my rest?
I heave myself upwards, spitting out tufts, and unceremoniously dump the cat back where she belongs. In the round fleece-lined bed I specifically purchased for her comfort, which rests at the foot of our own bed despite its unstylish appearance and tendency to collect pine needles. But as soon as I fall back asleep it happens again. Over and over throughout the night, until I give up altogether. I wake up the next day curled awkwardly like a shrimp, my face cranked sideways to find some non-pelt-infused breathing space.
Later, I resentfully use the hose attachment on the vacuum to clean my sheets and pillow, which look like the aftermath of a particularly vigorous waxing session.
The other night I was still awake when the Great Takeover happened, and I admit I was impressed with her technique. Rather than stepping her way up the bed, which might alert me to her presence, she makes her move in one sudden, silent, no-impact leap. A 5,000 FPS camera might accurately capture her approach, but I don’t stand a chance. There’s nothing to do but wait for the inevitable, and floss the tail-hairs from my teeth in the morning.