It turns out that my son and daughter-in-law had the right advice when they encouraged me to get a house cat. They were just a little premature with it.
Now, although it's a year after they first brought up the cat idea, my housemate Maxine the cat and I are doing quite well getting acquainted after a few months together. It is nice having another live, warm body - even one who can't talk - to share my space. (And, yes, it occurs to me that it might be even better that it's someone who can't talk.)
I acquired Maxine through the Senior Cats for Senior Citizens program at an area animal shelter. She is 10 years old. I'm not sure how the rescue folks determined that, since she was brought in as a stray.
According to an online source, cats age four years for every one human year, while dogs age seven years. So at middle age, Maxine is younger than I am. Considering how much she sleeps, she shouldn't have any trouble reaching senior citizen status. I see that the life expectancy for a cat is up to 8 years or more. Already my new roommate has that beat. It's a safe bet that Maxine won't wear herself out too early, because mostly what she does is sit, sleep in the sun, and look out the big front window.
I notice that my new roommate is much more sociable than she was when she first came to live with me. It's a huge change from the scared cat who hid under the living room table for days when she first arrived at my house. Now it seems like her favorite resting place is right up against my hip wherever I'm sitting reading or watching TV. When she sees me in my favorite perch, she walks over very coolly and stands in front of me until I glance up and pat the seat next to me so she can jump up and get settled in.
It seems like Maxine is never too far away when I'm in the house, even though I've managed to convince her so far to stay out of the bedroom. When she first hears me moving about in the mornings from her bed in the kitchen, though, I can hear her collar bell jingling as she trots down the hall to settle in right outside my bedroom door, watching my every move without making a sound. Then when I'm ready to head out to the kitchen, she happily follows along behind me.
Even though I wasn't so sure about getting a house cat for the first time, I'm glad I finally gave in to my son's insistence that I'd like someone like Maxine in my life.