My Cat, He

I knew the horrific thickness

beneath my skin

the offensive heaviness

of each organ

I met again with my old ally


and felt grim satisfaction

as my layers thinned

to reveal hard bone


but my cat, he

did not approve

when I was slow to feed him

my gravity stronger

though I weighed far less


my cat, he

climbed the ladder of my ribs

burrowed his way

deep into my chest

he kneaded my heart

claws retracted

purr thunderous

he yowled

as if he hungered


the sound echoed

through my abdomen

a wisher’s penny

dropped down a well

his hunger made me hunger


my cat, he

needed me


I ate with small bites

staring at my skin as though

my plushness would return

in an instant

but still, he


still, he

goaded me to eat

when I had energy again

he padded down

the spiral staircase of my spine

to request his own dinner

in a booming yowl


I did not

—will never—

trust myself with food

the temptation too great

to eat, and keep eating

nor did I want to die

I realized

if nothing else

I needed strength enough

to pop open his canned food


my cat, he

resumed his cozy nest

within my chest each day

he reminded me to eat

his body a cushion

wrapped around my heart

his weight a heaviness

I would gladly bear


Beth Cato

Nebula Award-nominated Beth Cato is the author of A Thousand Recipes for Revenge from 47North (summer 2023) plus two fantasy series from Harper Voyager. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cats. Follow her at and on Twitter at @BethCato.

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