Why do cats lick thin air

The Truly True Cat ABC: Understanding Cats' Behavior

1st chapter

Stella knew that she was called "The Checklist" behind her back in the agency, because she had the trick of writing down everything and anything in a table and ticking it off with the greatest satisfaction as soon as it was done. There was nothing like checklists, and right now, in this difficult situation, they gave it support and made sure that it continued to function optimally.

Without her lists, Stella would never have been able to move out of Ferdinand's house and look for a new home within two months. She had a good reason for moving: her intern Carina, who, with her big eyes and pouty lips, had caught Ferdinand of all people, with whom Stella had been together until recently.

With her organizational talent, she had managed to keep the advertising agency running despite all the emotional storms. It was June, but she and her business partner Maximilian were months ahead of their time. Stella developed scripts for Christmas commercials, and the charismatic Maximilian was looking for influencers who should, in due course, praise the products as credibly as possible and position them on their websites.

In the city center, rents had become unaffordable in recent years, so Stella had looked for an apartment on the outskirts. Her new home was on the first floor, and below her on the first floor lived a pale young woman who had introduced herself to her as Vicky. Stella knew from the real estate agent that Victoria Aschenbrenner had inherited the house and other properties from her grandparents. “You have the best chances,” said the broker. »Neither families nor couples should move in - only single women. Since the homeowner doesn't want to have a family herself, she doesn't feel like living under one roof with happy families. "

The realtor had told Stella behind closed doors that Vicky Aschenbrenner hadn't been living here that long either. She had to give up her job as an X-ray assistant in Hamburg because her grandparents made the inheritance conditional on Vicky moving into the house herself. There were currently no vacancies in the surrounding hospitals, so Vicky had inherited a house and several properties but was unemployed.

In fact, despite her wealth, she mostly looked grumpy and with her hair pinned up looked like a governess aged prematurely, although she was certainly no older than Stella. She seemed to be a Roland Kaiser fan, because in her apartment Stella could hear her landlady on the ground floor singing along to his songs. Stella had not yet found out what else Vicky was doing. They had repeatedly postponed the mutual inaugural visit.

The view from the living room into the distance was blocked by large signs with the inscription "Bauerwartungsland, secure your property". The word expectation had jumped at Stella when she first entered the apartment and looked out the window. Sure, at some point there would be construction noise and excavators and cranes would block her view - but since Stella was in the office during the day, she couldn't care less.

That weekend, she quickly and effectively emptied the seven moving boxes on her checklist and stowed her belongings neatly in the cupboards and drawers of the new apartment. With the help of a kitchen alarm clock, she even managed to take time out by standing at the window, breathing deeply for two minutes at least once an hour, and enjoying the unobstructed view of the expected building land.

Carina was definitely sitting on the leather couch that Stella and Ferdinand had bought together, pouting her lips and making Ferdinand smile with naive questions in embarrassing baby language: "Does Ferdi still love his little mouse?" Ferdinand almost never smiled. Maybe it was because they had acted like adults. With them there was no pout, no baby talk, nothing cute, but a lot of everyday life so that life worked. Well, he'd just stop laughing! Thought Stella.

She was convinced that after the close relationship with Ferdinand she needed freedom and space. As soon as she thought of her ex-boyfriend and the well-known lump in her throat made itself felt, she repeated the sentences inside her: “I was way too restricted there. In every sense. I need more air! ”While she made herself aware of this, she ticked everything that had to do with Ferdinand on an invisible list. It was astonishingly long and not straightforward to work through.

Her apartment, which still offered an unobstructed view to the south and west, revealed the not always uncomplicated coexistence of some families who lived together in an expansive multi-generation house in the east. In addition to their parents, a number of grandparents looked after the little ones there, who nodded to everything and then did what they wanted.

In the front gardens on Kurzen Strasse, which has lived up to its name with its three houses, flowers that corresponded to the season glowed - currently peonies, Levkojen, daisies and monkshood - and lawns and flower beds spread out behind the houses.

The north room, in front of whose two windows a summer lilac unfolded and attracted butterflies, was to become Stella's “studio” due to the lighting. Even the word “atelier” sounded like artistry and freedom and an unadjusted life. She had no intention of ever using the room as such. Stella found herself too normal for a crazy, if not dissolute, life in which night turned into day. No, because she preferred her cunningly regulated life. For the time being, the remaining, still unpacked moving boxes were piled up in the future studio, each with an accurate list of contents.

Presumably it had just worked too well for Ferdinand. In fact, if she was honest, the relationship had looked a little like her checklists. There had been a fixed time and place for everything between them, whether it was filling the pantry, arranging purchases, increasing the hourly wage for the cleaning lady, or having sex every week. A perfectly timed life, which was obviously not enough for Ferdinand. She would have bet that nothing was as important to him as order and clarity.

After eight solid years of relationship with the most naive, but prettiest intern from Stella's advertising agency, the good vocational school teacher had lunch and then went to bed without hesitation and without even the slightest hint of bad conscience. Well, maybe it was the other way around - Ferdinand was always hungry after sex. In any case, Stella's insult was so gigantic that the order of the betrayal turned out to be irrelevant.

The apartment had four rooms and was quite expensive despite being on the outskirts, but the real estate agent had assured her: “This area is on the rise. Anyone who is self-respecting will soon be living here. And then you are already there! "

Ferdinand, with whom she had shared three rooms and seventy square meters, would never see this apartment. This thought, of all things, which had initially satisfied her deeply, now tasted stale from day to day.

"Let's talk," he tried at the very beginning to save their relationship. But if the Carina story meant nothing, why did it happen?

It was clear to Stella that he would bring the pretty intern into his life as her successor. He should! Because then he would understand pretty quickly what he had in Stella and what he had lost now. But she wouldn't let him into this new apartment even if he lay whimpering in front of her door.

Ferdinand didn't even know where she had moved to. She had made it clear to her assistant Christine that her new home address had to be kept secret, especially from Carina. From Christine, she knew that the rumor had been going around the agency that Stella was being followed by a stalker and therefore needed anonymity. She got a compassionate bonus that felt fake and sweet. To distract herself, she threw herself into work. After all, there was always enough to do.

Thoughtfully, she was now sitting at her desk in her new home, leafing through the gift and toy catalogs for the Christmas season. Who knew if the brand new electronic devices wouldn't be totally out of date by December?

She clicked through a file with discarded snippets from feature films and documentaries. It had been her idea to revive sequences from the big cinema that had fallen victim to the editing table in commercials. That was also the secret of their success.

When she was working it wasn't quite as quiet in the apartment and time passed a little faster. Occasionally the powerful voice of Roland Kaiser echoed a little louder than usual - always when Vicky opened the apartment door and went into the garden to smoke.

It was getting dark outside.

In contrast to the city, there weren't any restaurants, cafés or even a kiosk in the land to be built. But if you believed the broker, this state of affairs would last for another year or two at most.

Stella put on her windbreaker and pink rubber boots and decided to take a walk around the houses. So far there have only been three on her street.

Behind the largest window of the house with the number one, framed by a lace curtain and protected from the cool marble slab on an off-white pillow, crouched a rather fat cat with gray and white patterns and sought Stella's gaze. When they looked each other in the eye, the animal sighed from the bottom of its soul and rubbed its head with its right paw. Stella watched him for a long time and wondered if the cat was trying to say something to her with this gesture, then she pulled herself together. What nonsense! She thought.

The thin voice of an old man could be heard through the tilted window. “Boris, supper! Are you coming?"

The cat rose majestically and did not take its eyes off Stella. Boris was apparently the cat's name. Stella admired the skill with which the animal hunched, stretched, and then disappeared inside the house.

Karl-Anton Wederbusch had almost finished setting the kitchen table when Boris conquered the table top with an elegant sentence and positioned himself on his place mat. "That you never give me a hand," complained the old man with a wink at his hangover and served up the table. Today there would be pureed pork liver and mashed potatoes on a bed of steamed broccoli. For Boris unseasoned and lukewarm, for Karl-Anton hot, with salt and pepper and a touch of butter.

When his wife Ida died four years ago, Karl-Anton had no desire to cook for himself. At the insistence of his son, he had ordered food on wheels, but he didn't like it.

That was when his grandson Fabian brought him little Boris on a visit. “He lives with you now, Grandpa,” Fabian had explained. “I'm too seldom at home, and then you are no longer so alone. What else do you want to do, now as a pensioner? "

Karl-Anton, who at the time was unsure about the apartment with a stick and walking frame after several herniated discs, protested violently. "I can't even take care of myself properly."

"Oh, that'll be fine," said Fabian confidently. "By the way, Boris also likes to watch TV."

For the sake of his grandson alone, Karl-Anton had taken the animal and knew after a day that it was the best decision of his life. There was someone to whom he could tell everything and who nodded and did not contradict. Typical Fabian. The boy then acted as if his grandfather had to do him a favor, but actually it was the other way around: Fabian always did exactly what was best for his grandfather, even if he didn't know anything about it.

The cat had just as little tasted the meal on wheels as his master. That's why Karl-Anton had started to cook twice a day - for the cat and for himself. He benefited from having been a canteen cook in his previous life. Now he was preparing two instead of two hundred meals.

Boris seemed to be enjoying the meals together. Karl-Anton was very happy that no one could watch them. Random viewers would have called the health department, the public order office and the animal welfare association and gave him lectures on hygiene that were as boring as they were superfluous. All stupid stuff. As if he didn't know what he was doing.

Now Boris was enthroned in his seat at the end of the table and licked his menu, which was served in a porcelain bowl. Karl-Anton had not managed to get the animal used to a napkin or a bib. A hangover like that had a mind of its own. And Boris had a particularly big head.

Karl-Anton, on the other hand, used a knife and fork, drank his two liters of water during the day - and indulged in a beer or a glass of wine in the evening, while Boris was a little difficult to motivate to drink water. Apart from that, they were a well-rehearsed team with about the same taste.

Karl-Anton soon found out that Boris preferred offal and dishes made with chicken, only ate vegetables in dire need (or when it smelled of meat), didn't think much of rice, millet or barley, and was reluctant to accept bulgur.

While Boris was sitting at the table, Karl-Anton was able to inform him, like his wife Ida in earlier years, about the evening program. "We're going to watch a crime thriller today," he said. “Both of them have potato chips and a glass of red wine for me. Is that what you want? "

The cat looked up briefly and seemed to nod.

We're a good team, thought Karl-Anton, wondering whether he would still be alive if he didn't have the animal. So, under these circumstances and with this roommate, he couldn't just resign, because what would happen to Boris then? You were responsible for such a pet.

"What do you do when I'm not anymore?" He wanted to know from Boris. The cat sat very upright and rubbed his head with his right paw. In addition, he sighed from the bottom of his soul. Karl-Anton was convinced that his counterpart would shed a tear at the thought that one of them might die.

In fact, Karl-Anton Wederbusch was now a lot fitter. Boris had saved him - from whatever. So he loved his cat.

"So, are you coming to the couch with me?"

Karl-Anton shook out the tablecloth through the open window, then put it back and smoothed it out. There had to be order. The cat was already sprinting, shot in front of him through the ajar door into the living room and made himself comfortable on the sofa in front of the television.

Did the cat actually wipe a tear from the corner of his eye behind the tilted window? Stella shook her head at herself. Was she transferring her own sense of being lost to the animal? Sigmund Freud sent his regards. And anyway: you had left Ferdinand. If anyone had to cry, it would be him. Hopefully soon and then out of desperation over his stupid Carina.

Stella hung her coat on the cloakroom and took off her rubber boots. Presumably she was already starting to give away and get as weird as her landlady on the first floor. Only sometimes, when Vicky smiled, did something alive flash inside her, suggesting that she could be happy and exuberant. Maybe she was when no one was watching, for example when she sang to the songs of her idol.

If Stella were to work for a women's magazine, she would have recruited Vicky for those sites that were so promisingly called "Before-After." On them the ugly duckling would have turned into a shining swan. But who knows whether the owner of the house would have accepted it. She looked more as if everything in the outside world frightened her and as if she only felt safe in her own four walls. When she stood smoking in the garden, she gave the impression that she had to face the absurdities of the world with clouds of smoke of seriousness. It is not an easy task.

Completely different from Carina, who happily danced through the corridors of the agency from morning to evening. A nightmare! Stella had already had a bad feeling at their interview, but then allowed Maximilian to overrule her. “It is well received by customers. This is the perfect door opener for new markets. With her naive charm she wraps everyone around her fingers. ”She had indeed succeeded.And not only with the customers, but also with Stella's vocational school teacher for printing and media technology.

To distract herself, Stella opened the nearest moving box. It wasn't actually her turn until tomorrow, but she couldn't think of anything better while she was defrosting a frozen lasagne in the oven.

In this box she had stacked files with letters, photo albums and diaries that she had been lugging around with since her school days without ever looking into them again. She should have thrown it away, preferably before moving in with Ferdinand. But when she moved out, she couldn't just leave the files there or throw them in the trash, because they shouldn't have ended up within Ferdinand's reach under any circumstances. She trusted him to rummage through the papers she had thrown away, and if he didn't, it would be the Carina mouse. He could only be expected to do bad things.

While looking through the box, Stella regretted for the first time in her life that she hadn't kept checklists as a child. You couldn't forget old friends. And yet it had happened to her. Without warning, machine photos slipped out of a plastic cover towards her. Her own young self grinned four times next to the different faces of former friends, so close that she thought she could smell their scent even now, although she no longer even knew what their names were.

She remembered the crampedness of the machine and the fact that before the four-fold clicks they had run their fingers through their hair, retraced their bright lipstick and opened their eyes, they had fooled around and all kisses had tasted like peppermint back then. The boys as well as the girls. The chewing gums were stored in a cheek pouch prior to photography. Back when everything seemed to last forever and they swore friendships until the end of days.

Stella wiped her hand over her face and thought of the cat, who had anticipated almost the same movement earlier, when their eyes crossed through the window. She had stood outside in the rain, he was inside on the windowsill.

How lucky that she was able to go back to the agency tomorrow. One thing was clear: she needed people around her, and she would be able to keep this Carina off her neck. Should she do the acquisition with Maximilian and present her pout to the customers. Because she was perfect at that.

When Ferdinand came into her life, Stella had put her friends and her past aside the way you put old newspapers on the pile of waste paper. Everything should be new, everything from the beginning. Everything with him! In Stella's imagination, their future together consisted of nothing but white leaves that they would animate, inscribe, name and unfold together. How naive she was! Ferdinand hadn't bothered about the future, hadn't filled any of these imaginary and so promising pages with plans, but instead lectured on media and printing technology and occasionally pressed a kiss on her forehead. Relationship work should actually be team play - but in the end it all stuck with Stella. She felt something like self-pity and shuddered.

It was only far too late that she realized that Ferdinand was really inflexible, unimaginative and ridiculous. He was the absolute opposite of the charismatic Maximilian, who knew better than anyone how to inspire people.

Shaking her head, she read twenty-year-old letters and diary notes and marveled at a strange life: she had once been so familiar with all these people! She and her friends had shared the most intimate things, and each of the others had always known who had a crush on whom.

The biggest crush of them all was called Alex. At that time he had lived with his mother in an apartment above the post office. For rent, which was unusual in that small town where everyone had their own houses and gardens. Stella's friends had agreed that Alex looked like a movie hero. Later he went to the police. The green uniform had sat like a glove and matched his emerald eyes perfectly. If only she could remember his last name, she could look for him. But nowhere did she find his full name. Well, he hadn't really impressed her either. His snooty arrogance and the naturalness with which he looked down on his female “court” had been suspicious to her from the start. But almost all the girls in her class wanted to go with him - and of course he left them all in the dark, this conceited pretty boy. Who or what was he waiting for, a princess? Once, Stella thought and had to smile a little at herself, once she had wished for nothing more than at least three pimples on Alex ’face. Had this dream ever come true?

She looked at the photos and the neatly and even alphabetically filed letters. After reading it, she was able to assign names to some of the faces on the machine photos and wrote them in pencil on the back of the prints.

Apparently there had been a boy for whom she would have gone through fire and to the ends of the earth. Even further than later for Ferdinand. The one love letter she had never sent to him was stapled in the folder - even then more pragmatic than romantic. Shy and with parting very straight, he now smiled at her from a photo that she had stapled on the back of the noble handmade paper, which was bought only for him and then never sent, but she no longer even knew his name. In the letter she had addressed him as "my love", as if some secret power forbade her to use his name. However, she had filed the letter under "M". Marco, Martin, Michael? All the names sounded strange.

Stella's best friend was called Moni. But she had met an Australian agricultural engineer at the Oktoberfest in Munich when she was twenty and had followed him. Stella looked for her on the internet and she actually found it. In the meantime Moni was a strong, red-cheeked farmer in the middle of Queensland and, presumably with her young farmer who was interested in Oktoberfest, had five children who beamed at Stella from a sea of ​​curly merino sheep. The website advertised “farm stays”, and those who did not want to tend sheep could shear sheep, wash wool, spin or dye them under Moni's supervision. The keeper of the farm looked so happy in the picture that it almost hurt Stella.

If she could magically invite one of her girlfriends over to her place now, it would most likely be Moni - or did the thought only occur to her because she was so far away? And would they even be able to have a relaxed conversation? Did Stella still have the ability to chat easily? Had she ever owned it?

Stella grabbed her smartphone and made a note of: Small talk, at least ten minutes a day. She knew that it would be a difficult exercise for her, because she had only talked to Ferdinand about the essentials, and since there was ultimately nothing essential between them, they had quietly remained silent.

Carina was a lot more talented. She was a natural at empty chatting. But under no circumstances did Stella want to practice with that.

"How was your weekend?", She greeted her assistant Christine Monday morning and was surprised when she winced and looked up worried.

“Good, great. Did something happen?"

"No, what should be? Well, on Saturday I found it a bit too windy to go for a walk. ”Legs apart, Stella stood at the desk of her colleague and thought frantically how she could continue the conversation in a relaxed tone.

"That's right." Christine nodded curtly. "What's up for today? Did anything important come in over the weekend? "

Normally, Stella would have replied, “Yes, and I want a meeting before lunch.” But of the ten minutes of small talk she had planned for today, less than sixty seconds were over. She looked around helplessly and noticed: "What beautiful flowers there on the windowsill."

Stella's assistant looked up, startled. "Are you not okay?"

"Yes, why?" Stella cleared her throat. “By the way, my apartment is now almost completely empty. What else should you do with the weather? "

“I could have helped you there. I would have been out there in forty minutes by bus. "

Out there - how that sounded. As if she had not just moved to the outskirts of the city, but directly into the Australian outback.

"Why with the bus? It only takes me fifteen minutes by car. Don't you have a car? "

Christine shook her head. "Not even a driver's license."

They'd worked together for four years and Stella didn't know about Christine. And that in an agency that was committed to communication.

But Stella also knew that she would not have liked a visit from Christine, especially not to help with cleaning up her private apartment. She looked at her watch unobtrusively. She hadn't even managed to have two minutes of the prescribed nice conversation. How did other people do it?

The door opened with momentum, of all times, and a radiant young Carina shouted, even before she had closed the door behind her: “My sweethearts, here I am! Are you all right? On to new deeds! "

The assembled crew nodded and smiled at them as if they were actually pleased to see them. Only Stella stood stock still.

“Folks, I had such a great weekend. No wonder with the cozy weather. Oh, that was cozy! ”Carina sighed from the bottom of her soul and threw her wet raincoat in such a high arc over the hall wardrobe that the parquet was covered with water droplets. "Life is so beautiful!" Only then did she notice Stella and turned away, embarrassed.

"Will you wipe the floor dry, please?" Christine called the intern to order, and Stella suspected that she was doing her a favor. But it was already too late.

Ferdinand and his little mouse had cuddled in the rain! Probably on the leather sofa she'd paid halfway for. Six hundred euros from her account was in it, without Ferdinand and she ever cuddling on it.

"Ten meeting in confi, exactly," she ordered in a stern voice. “On the status quo of the furniture catalog, on dealing with the new customer and on discussing all the commercials from the pipeline.” Then she resolutely closed her office door behind her.

This agency was not a place for small talk - even if outsiders might see it that way. And anyway, Maximilian was responsible for that. It was enough for her to do the rest, implement ideas and write scripts. Where was your business partner anyway? Perhaps she should ask him to teach her easy, noncommittal conversational tones. She shook her head at herself. It would get that far!

The meeting lasted what felt like an eternity. The intern served coffee, juice, and biscuits for the conference participants, and every time Carina walked into the conference room, everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. Even Maximilian. As if the sun was rising with her! But this radiant nudge of juice only delivered something for the stomach.