Stephanie was a cat’s cat: an independent, quintessential, archetypal exemplar of the genus Felis. She was technically domesticated but rarely tame, the runt of her mother’s second litter, who grew to become the queen of the forest.

She could be indoors or outdoors (it was a long time ago).  She could be companionable, aloof, or hissing, the bristling hair on her tail seemingly electrostatically charged—for it was all the same to Stephanie: all facets of her inscrutable, unpredictable personality. She could be a prodigious sleeper, as is often the case amongst apex predators. She could tolerate some affection and even snuggle on a lap, briefly.  Stephanie could also tear the flesh and draw the blood of clomping, overeager toddlers, and slash the tender noses of unsuspecting canines. She was a lethal hunter and sharer of the kill, one way or another (the prey sometimes still writhing between her jaws, other times regurgitated some time later partially digested on inconvenient surfaces such as bedspreads).

Stephanie always loved the holiday season. She especially enjoyed catnapping in cast-off cardboard gift boxes, nibbling on ribbons, and systematically destroying the feline phantasmagoria of shiny, dangling decorations ostensibly intended to adorn a Christmas tree.

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