When she does lick me, it's right in the mouth, like some of my rats used to do. I got a very ratlike cat. I even found her next to a bunch of trash cans.
Often, she likes to rub her lip against my face. I mean the actual lip, not the furry part, the part like a moist jelly bracelet. (Probably my rats would have done this too, if they had had lips.) It's kind of sweet, in an appalling way. What makes it more appalling than it would otherwise be is her breath, which is positively fetid. I can only assume that this is a symptom of her illness; as she is otherwise healthy, perhaps it will eventually go away. (In her neck, below the jaw, I can feel her lymph nodes wax and wane like two little moons.)
Why do I let someone with charnel breath lick my mouth? This is a good question. I can only say that love makes you stupid. Anyway, there are those who think that I don't smell any too good, though I hasten to assert that I don't smell like London during the Plague Year, either.
For some time after I brought her home Attica displayed no play behavior to speak of. The only time I had seen her stalk something it was for real, out on the street, when a group of starlings alighted nearby. (Had she ever caught a starling, or did she live on garbage?) I couldn't interest her in floor hockey with a twist-tie, or chasing my toes under the sheet; even that surefire ploy, dangling the cord of an old pair of headphones, brought only a couple of dutiful slaps. Suddenly, last weekend, she began to play. Now she gets to terrorize and subdue all the partially filled bottles of meds I have no need of anymore: cheap Canadian Zoloft, generic BuSpar, the three tablets of Valium my doctor prescribed me to euthanize a rat with, et cetera. I'm glad to get some use out of them, especially as I can't afford to buy her any real toys just at the moment.
Two more items of general interest: First, the guy at the shelter was right, she was pregnant. I got her a tiny abortion. While they were in there, the people at the shelter spayed her as well. Now she is no longer a queen, but merely a spay. That's OK, though, as I have a theory that the term for a breeding female cat derives not from the royal designation but from the now obsolete quean, meaning "harlot." It was also, like other terms for whores, used for homosexual men, and survives today in the term "drag queen." If you go back far enough both terms come from the Old English cwen, which meant "wife" or "woman." Thus in the etymology of the word we pretty much have women's history in a nutshell.
Second, Attica sometimes sprawls in my arms in such a way that I end up holding her as I would a banjo, if I played the banjo. At such times I can, if I choose, tweak her ears and strum her. She seems to like it.
Let me conclude by nipping in the bud anyone's urge to quote "Friends" or "The Simpsons" with regard to my malodorous kitty. The breath that from my mistress reeks smells far, far worse than cat food.