Pang has settled back in and that makes my heart sing. His return, however, has not come without collateral damage, and that makes my heart hurt.

As you may recall, for more than 10 years, I shared my cozy office over the garage with two beautiful orange and white cats. Both came to me as foster kittens needing to gain a little weight before they could be adopted. They never left. Lapis got her name because every morning she curled up in my lap the minute I settled into my chair and stayed until I closed up for the night. Rosebud was the wild and crazy sister, careening around the room providing comic relief as I tried to work.

The sisters were alone at night and on weekends, but that was OK because they had each other. Any time I returned, I found them curled into one fluffy mass on the top platform of their highest cat tree. My friend Jim built them an enclosed balcony so they could safely go outside, and truthfully, the entire space looked more like a cat room with a computer than an office with cats.

Meanwhile, Pang, who arrived at about the same time as the sisters, assumed his role as day-time adventurer and nighttime snuggler. Once or twice, during his day trips, he climbed the steps to the office and tried to make friends with the sisters, but they rejected him out of hand.

Last summer, Lapis died of kidney disease. I worried about Rosebud, but she seemed more than happy to take over her sister’s role and she was really good at it. Apparently it wasn’t so much that she didn’t want to be the office lap cat, she just never had the chance.

All was well.

Then last fall, Pang disappeared, leaving the role of nighttime snuggler vacant.

After months of waiting in vain for Pang to return, I decided to move Rosebud into the house along with her enormous cat tree and all her favorite toys. It was quite an undertaking, but she settled right in and soon became a champion nighttime snuggler. It was clear that this was the role she was always meant to play.

With no cats living over the garage, I decided I might as well move my office into the house. That too was a major undertaking, but it made sense to avoid what had become increasingly risky wintertime treks across the frozen yard and up icy steps. Besides, without the cats, I was lonely up there.

So, finally, we were settled. I loved my new office and Rosebud loved her new role. It was all good. Until last month when Pang strolled out of the woods eight months after disappearing.

Since Pang and Rosebud could not co-exist, I had the sad task of quickly moving Rosebud back to the room over the garage so Pang could move back into his old nighttime space on the second floor of the house. And now, since I was no longer working over the garage and Lapis was gone, Rosebud was completely alone. Of course I moved all her favorite things back across the driveway and I stopped in to feed her and spent some time every day with her cuddled on my lap; but every time I left, she followed me to the door and cried her mute cry. It broke my heart.

I called Jim in again, and last week he installed screen doors on two upstairs bedrooms so Rosebud and Pang can both be in the house. This afternoon, Rosebud will move back across the driveway with her giant cat tree and all her toys. I’m hoping that, if the two cats can sniff each other through the screen doors, they might eventually get along. In the meantime, I’ll be sleeping half the night cuddled in one bedroom with Pang and half the night in the other bedroom cuddled with Rosebud.

I understand old people don’t need much sleep. It’s a good thing.

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