Before the Boy, I spent a lot of time with the cat. I promised myself that she'd always get attention, always. Because she'd been our faithful companion through the worst of times and I didn't want to let her down.
I did, of course. Not to the point that she was actually neglected - she always got her biscuits, her food, water, a clean litter tray and a berth in our bed at night, and treats when I remembered. But, inevitably, there has been less time to stroke her and make a fuss of her.
Gradually, she became a bit more withdrawn. Not sitting on my husband's knee at night, not sitting next to me on the sofa while the Boy napped.
I didn't think about it much. Until the other night, when we woke up, I fed the Boy, and started making breakfast. And then my husband said, where's the cat?
We rattled the biscuit box, which is usually enough to summon her. Nothing. We couldn't remember if she'd gotten into bed with us, although I had given her some cat treats the night before.
We looked in the cupboard with the camping kit, in the big cupboard with the computer junk. Under the bed, under the cot. In the Boy's room. Nothing.
My husband went outside to look. We couldn't work out how she could have gotten out, but we were getting frantic.
Through all this the Boy sat and smiled benignly, and I felt terribly guilty.
Eventually I found her curled up behind the door in our room. She gave a faint miaow when I touched her and was listless when I picked her up. Then, when I put her down on the bed, she skulked off and hid again.
She was obviously just not herself, and I was frightened something was badly wrong with her. She's never been sick before.
My husband took her to the vet. We'd normally both have gone, but it seemed ludicrous for both of us and the Boy to take her.
We're still not sure what was wrong. The vet took her temperature and said she had a fever. She had an ibuprofen (or something like it) injection.
To my intense relief, she came home and has been perkier ever since. She still keeps her distance a little, but is joining in more with family life - she was back on the sofa with me today.
Better still, my husband was playing a game with the Boy with a plastic wire ball, putting it just out of reach on his side and encouraging him to roll over to grab it. The cat realised what was going on and began headbutting the ball towards the Boy!
So, it's been a happy ending. But I think it's been a lesson to me to appreciate the cat more. Picking her up and seeing her looking so ill and sad made me realise how much I've been missing.
And now I am off to bed a little early, to schedule in some cat time.