By Phyllis Galowitz

The sofa is in complete disarray and Lili (my cat) is staring at me, knowing she has done the unspeakable and I will surely be very angry at her. I have never been able to stop her from scratching the upholstery on the furniture in spite of making sure she has the recommended scratching post. I’ve tried three or four sprays, guaranteed to deter cats from scratching because they won’t like the odor. Not Lili—nothing stops her from using her sharp claws to climb and rip the upholstery to shreds on the dining room chairs, the sofa, and my favorite reading chair and ottoman.

The sofa is fairly new and was incredibly expensive, so I made up my mind that I would keep it covered with a tablecloth that happens to look pretty nice. And the colors are right. Needless to say, the tablecloth is in shreds, so I’ve topped it, in strategic places, with matching bath towels that I can replace. You ask, “Why don’t I cut her nails?” Try catching and holding her to attempt such a project. I never could. Remove her nails? Yes. That would solve the problem. Perhaps if I had done so when she was a kitten, it would have been a good idea. But at the time I thought it was cruel. Now, at almost seven years, I can’t imagine such torture, so I accept having torn upholstery and a shabby house because I don’t know how to solve the problem and because I adore her! She is, after all, my best friend, my darling, spoiled baby!

Well, on this particular day, I saw that the bath towel covering the tablecloth on the top of the back of the sofa was gone. I realized that the towel had fallen behind the sofa. The sofa weighs a ton. It is, after all, a sleep-sofa, used when an extra bed is needed. I can’t move it—and it’s only three inches from the wall—close up just room enough for me to lean against the back and reach behind the sofa and down to retrieve the towel.

So, facing the back, my knees planted firmly on the seat, I dropped my arm down between the sofa and the wall. But couldn’t reach the towel!  And I couldn’t get my arm out of this impossible position, having twisted my body into the only possible way in which I thought I could maneuver. I panicked. I could be stuck forever and no one would ever know what had happened to me when someday, I would be discovered, after days of not responding to telephone calls from my children, nor answering the doorbell, nor picking up my prescriptions from CVS. The only thing I could think of doing was to break my arm. Somehow, twisting my body, with excruciating pain, I was able to pull it free, bruising it badly as I did so. Was a towel worth this agony? The bruise lasted for days, turning from purple to yellow and blue, until it was finally better.

It was easy enough to retrieve the towel with the aid of the vacuum cleaner, which I should have used in the first place.

Lili watched this whole episode, wondering, I thought, what in the world I was trying to do, but not lifting a paw to