Copyright 1993, Sarah Hartwell

6 a.m. I can't get up. The Zombie Cuddle monster from Outta Bed is snuggled next to me, purring in that self-satisfied way that cats do when they don't want to be disturbed. It works. How can I disturb such an obviously comfortable cat? I would spend the rest of my life suffering from guilt for such insensitive behaviour.

Cats may well be superior to hot water bottles in that they don't cool down half way through the night, but hot water bottles have the advantage of not kneading your belly, licking your navel or insisting on not being disturbed when you need to get up. Nor do hot water bottles get out of bed at 3 a.m. to go for a wee in a rainstorm and return with cold, wet fur and even chillier paws which they proceed to defrost on a toasty human.

Somehow, at 10 p.m. every night, Sappho is transformed into Zombie Cuddle Monster and sits on the bed wailing until I join her, a tradition started by her predecessor, the late and much lamented Scrapper who looked - and acted - like a rather battered teddy-bear. By midnight we have a collection of 3 cats - 2 pretending to be hotties and 1 curled round the top of my head. No wonder I walk like the hunchback of Notre Dame in the morning. Why, if cats are so much smaller than humans, do they take up a human-sized space in bed?

7 a.m. Dying for a pee - I really must get up. Kitty is nursing a litter of slippers on the sheepskin rug, dribbling into them and purring loudly. I fidget, hoping somewhat futilely that Sappho will decide it's time for breakfast and get up. No such luck, she is still Zombie Cuddle Monster and just snuggles tighter into my belly. And why should she get up at this hour? She doesn't have to work for a living.

John extracts himself from bed. His feline hotty, Affy, rolls purring into the vacant warm space. Must remember - the lumps in the duvet are not all air-puffs. How can cats breathe when they sleep head down under the duvet? I can't.

7.20 a.m. Nothing else for it, I have to get up - NOW. Manage to ease myself out of bed leaving cat undisturbed. Cat snuggles into warm patch left by departing person. I arrange duvet to leave a breathing space. Duvet begins to purr in stereo.

Sappho, aka Zombie Cuddle Monster, was found clinging to her dead owner in an unheated flat, trying to wake the old lady up. The local constabulary turfed the 12 year old cat out into the January snows; the theory being that cats look after themselves. The shivering Sappho I adopted was thin, scared and snuffling.

The Sappho that now stakes a claim to my side of the bed is pleasantly rotund, but determined never to be cold again. For several weeks she nudged me awake each night to check that I was alive. Now, woe betide anyone who dares to wake HER up. They risk being forcibly snuggled by a furry feline furnace.

In winter, she only leaves the bed to perform her ablutions or eat. Sometimes she simply grabs a chunk of food from the bowl and takes it to bed with her, to consume under the covers like a child with illicit candies. I know she's doing it because she leaves the bed full of cat-food crumbs.

7.40 a.m. Affy has emerged from the bed looking rather dishevelled. Sappho is snoring and Kitty is dribbling into my work shoes. Sappho will take breakfast in bed if room service will oblige. Room service won't oblige. Okay, Sappho will come down for breakfast later, probably around midday.

Having eaten, the other two head back for the bed before it cools down too much. Affy sits on the air-puff that isn't an air-puff. The air-puff growls and moves. Affy fights the moving lump through the duvet. The air-puff falls out of the side of the duvet, turning into a cat as it hits the floor. Sappho might take breakfast after all. She needs to keep her strength up for a hard day's snoozing.

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