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By Hugh Welsh

In the lead-up to LavaCat’s launch, sleep has been in short supply. When I do sleep, my dreams typically tie into LavaCat in some form or another. I’ve had dreams in which I’m faced with leaping across a tumultuous river of lava or scaling an unfathomably tall wall or ducking lava fish.

A few nights ago, I was visited by someone — or, rather, something — while in bed. Its eyes glowed green against an ethereal black body: SpiritCat, Lucky’s ally in LavaCat. Its whiplike tail ushered me forth. I shook my head. The tail slapped me across the cheek. I had no choice: I was to follow SpiritCat into The Further.

I was led out the window, where I met up with Mittens and Sojo, a couple neighborhood cats. “It’s trash night,” they meowed. I followed them — I can’t remember if I was a cat or a man on all fours — from trash can to trash can. We’d knock over the cans, sprawling the contents across driveways and into the street. We nibbled on chicken carcasses and pawed at throwaway Christmas ornaments. We hurdled into a BMW convertible and gleefully sharpened our claws on the leather upholstery. We reaped vengeance on old Ms. Dorothy, who liked to drive cats from her property with a broomstick. We urinated on her prize gardenias and Sojo hocked a massive hairball onto her doorstep.

I climbed a tree and punched out a nest full of chicks. Together, we feasted like dignitaries of the cat kingdom. A series of barks interrupted our meal: Dogs wise to our scent. Mittens bolted home, but Sojo and I stayed. We weren’t afraid of no canines. The dogs — a German Shepard, Mastiff and a Labrador — sprinted toward us, faster and faster. Barks became growls. Still, we stood our ground. Their fangs beamed beneath the moonlight. As they drew closer, Sojo and I braced for a collision.

It never came, the dogs halting before us. “You the guys who left the surprise on Ms. Dorothy’s doorstep?” barked the German Shepard. “Because that’s the way, aha, aha, I like it.”

The alarm clock was playing KC and the Sunshine Band’s greatest hit. My wife was already out of bed. From the living room, I heard her say our trash can had been knocked over and garbage was strewn everywhere.

“I’ll clean it up,” I said. “I don’t mind.”

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