Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Best Cat Parts

These are my Top Five Cat Parts.


Cat paws are one of life's awesome things, not just because they are fluffy and squishy and a bit sort of silly and blobby, but also because they can transform into terrible weapons at the flick of a claw.

Their general appeal is perhaps best summarised by point 5 in this list.

It is no small accomplishment.

A cool thing about Tail's paws is that the pads are two-tone (well, she has always been precocious).

Also of note is the fact that paw pads are usually the same colour as a cat's nose. Felines are masters of interior design.

This does not mean they have any inbuilt respect for sofas or wallpaper.


A cat's range of tail signals is far more advanced than that of a dog.

Of course, in Mouth's case, you have to bear in mind that his tail is probably just where he left it.

If you see Tail waving her tail around, it's likely she's simply trying to download the latest series of The Big Bang Theory.

Whiskery bits

I don't actually know what these bits are called. Cheeks? Jowls? Lips?

What about philtrums? Do cats have philtrums?

Mouth's approach to whisker-growing is notoriously haphazard. Unlike other cats, whose whiskers tend to be uniform in colour, Mouth's are an array of colours, patterns and lengths.

Perhaps it is his own special way of being expressive.

Whenever my boyfriend and I find a discarded whisker on the floor, we 'plant' it in the rug. We pretend it will grow into a cat tree.

Mouth and Tail enjoy this game and delight in nibbling the whiskery sapling.

Good thing really - we couldn't cope with all those new-seeded kittens.


Something that has always entertained me about Mouth is that he has no tabby pattern on the back of his lower legs.

It's as if the Cat Design Factory were working to a tight budget when they drew up his blueprint. I imagine the conversation going:

"It's bad news, boss. With this month's cuts we can't afford to finish the tabby spray on this one."
"Ah, just leave out the hard-to-see bits. Nobody'll notice."

Mouth does not care, because he doesn't look under his feet. He has no subtlety and is all about the obvious.

However, he has an amusing habit of lifting his legs in the air to clean his bottom and then forgetting and leaving them up there, so we get a good view of them pretty often.


Cat ears are GREAT. They are like owl ears. They swivel about like furry antennae.

If you are ever bored and in the company of a cat, you can do a lot of fun things with its ears. You can make them pointy or flat or backwards-facing.

I reckon ear-spotting could become a legitimate hobby. They are infinitely more interesting than birds or trains.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

House of a Cat Lover

If you have cats, there is a fair chance your house is like this.

If it isn't yet, treat this as a warning speculative case study.

There is cat hair in everything

Food, cups of coffee, mascara, you name it.

There will come a time when you stop trying to fish the hairs out of your cuppa and learn to appreciate the added flavour.

Essence du rodent is an acquired taste.

There is cat hair on everything

If you have a black and white cat, it will expertly shed black hair on your white clothes and white hair on your black clothes.

Do not react with anger; this behaviour reveals genius tendencies.

Unfortunately, you are unlikely to convince your cat to use them to your advantage.

The loo seat is always down

Cats are drawn to toilet water like ducks to ponds. Except that the cats do not intend to swim in the water. They intend to drink it, bathe in it, then regurgitate it all over your kitchen floor. When your mother-in-law has come to visit.

In time, your toilet-seat-closing behaviour will become compulsive. "LEAVE THE SEAT DOWN!", you will bark at the nice lady from next door who only wanted to powder her nose. Your friends will start to think of you as a lavatory-obsessed fiend.

Ignore this; those who do not have cats will never understand.

Your sofas are clawed (like, a lot)

Initially, you will resist this.

"BAD KITTY!", you will admonish. You may even squirt your sofas with stuff that claims to discourage errant paws.

Enjoy the illusion of control while it lasts.

Before long, your sofa will be scratched to within an inch of its life, while the scratch post stands untouched beside it.

Be savvy. Buy cheap sofas.

Your cupboards contain more cat products than human ones

Stocks of cat litter, dry food, wet food, treats, supplements, flea powder, worming tablets and That Spray That Always Gets Cat Vomit Off The Lavender Carpet will be eternally replenished.

If you fancy a meal yourself, however, you may need to venture to the shops.

You will find yourself feeling grateful that "at least we have enough of the important things".

As your stomach rumbles.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Day I was Savaged

When my boyfriend and I moved house last year, we took the opportunity to buy lots of new matching furniture.

It was awesome. We bought tables and chairs and drawers and a new bed and loads of shelves, all in the same colour. We were in New Furniture Heaven.

One of the things we bought was a big 4x4 set of box shelves.

We put them next to the bed, so I could use them to store my clothes.

I had great plans. I could organise my clothes by colour, style, label, fabric, sleeve length... The possibilities were endless.

However, until I could find time to unpack my clothes and sort them into categories, the shelves stood empty beside the bed.

Naturally, the cats assumed we had bought them an elaborate new fortress, and made it their business to sit gloatingly in the lower rows of boxes. Tail, who is a master of jumping and has a sense of balance to rival a trapeze artist, even managed to conquer the third row of boxes.

Now, something you need to know about Mouth is that he has no concept of 'up'.

Once an object has vanished from his line of sight, it is gone for good and will never be seen again.

This works well for Tail, because if she ever wants a bit of time to herself, she need only climb onto the table.

Tail is very good at getting down from high places, so we don't worry about her.

It never occurred to us that Mouth might accidentally stumble upon a high place.

One night while we were asleep, he must have somehow found his way into a fourth-row box. I have no idea how he did it, but I think Tail may have had something to do with it. She had a guilty smirk on her face all day.

At first, Mouth was excited about being in the top row of the box shelves. He doesn't understand how height works so he thought he was enormous.

However, we weren't awake to see him, and the novelty soon began to wear off.

After a while, terror set in.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend and I are heavy sleepers. We're also used to the random miaows and howls that the moggies make at night, so we remained oblivious to Mouth's peril.

Mouth's panic grew. He was scared of getting down, but he was scared of the up more.

There was only one thing for it.

I was lying in bed about five feet below him when it happened. I was fast asleep, but if I had chanced to open an eye at that point, this is what I would have seen.

For a cat who seldom leaves the ground, Mouth had judged his leap well. He landed safely on the bouncy softness of the bed.

He also landed on the bouncy softness of my face.

I was in the middle of a dream at the time. I can't remember what I was dreaming about, but suddenly the dream took a violent turn and my fellow dream-people started attacking my chin.

It was most disconcerting.

After a moment or two, I realised that the attack was not dream-based and that I had, in fact, been air-bombed by a vertically challenged tabby.

Having lived with Mouth for a few years, I wasn't as shocked by this as you might think, so despite the wetness I could feel on my chin (drool or nose juice, I thought sagely), I went back to sleep.

I was woken in the morning by my boyfriend's screams.

"WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?" he yelled, rather unflatteringly in my opinion.

I tried to remember.

"Oh, Mouth fell off the shelves in the night," I said dismissively.

"DO YOU NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL?" my boyfriend squawked.

"Er, no?" I said. But I decided I'd better have a peek in the mirror.

OK, there was a fair amount of blood.

Hardly life-threatening, I told myself. All part and parcel of the rewarding Mouth-owning experience.

I went into the bathroom to wash the blood off.

Once my boyfriend had stopped hyperventilating and I'd cleaned my face, it wasn't nearly so bad.

There was a definite scratch, though, which took a lot of explaining to people at work.

"Why do you love cats so much when they savage you?" they said.

They didn't seem to appreciate that my injury was due to Mouth's incompetence at life, rather than any malicious feline intent.

The only really annoying thing was that our office ID photos were taken that week, so I look like a serial killer in my picture.

Thankfully, the resolution isn't great, so you can only tell if you look really hard.

I filled the box shelves with clothes sharpish, though. Mouth is a hazard to himself.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Stuff I Have Found on my Cats


Tail once calmly strutted in with a dollop of yoghurt on the end of her tail.

I have no idea where it came from, but I presume it was deliberate. Tail does everything on purpose.

Fashion is a curious thing.


The moggies frequently sport burs and other plantlife on their fur.

The burs tend to congregate sneakily in the hardest-to-scratch places.

Being a cat of very little brain, Mouth doesn't mind them. He is flattered that they seem so attached to him and would like them to stay there forever, please.

Carrier bags

Mouth has a love/hate relationship with carrier bags. One minute he will be casually wearing one, and the next it is a scary suffocating monster that wants to eat his legs.

My boyfriend and I hide our carrier bags away, but this doesn't seem to stop Mouth seeking them out.

Eye gunk

Most cats produce eye gunk, but some make a hobby of it. Mouth generates the stuff with disarming regularity.


I once found a slug slithering blithely up Mouth's leg.

He seemed oblivious to its presence. The slug, for its part, was tackling the upward climb with gusto, apparently convinced that it would find a year's supply of lettuce at the leg's summit.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Toy Story Part II: Things That Are Not Mice

Here, as promised, is a list of Mouth and Tail's favourite non-mouse toys.

(5) In fifth place I give you the Catnip Sausage. This was a Christmas gift from one of my cat-owning friends. She tells me the catnip is so strong that her own cats attacked the postman when it arrived.

The Catnip Sausage bears a brown stain that looks worryingly like a bodily secretion of some sort (Tail does get excited), but my boyfriend assures me that is just what catnip does when it is drooled on.

I give it a wide berth just in case.

(4) At number four I present ... a box. This is no ordinary box; it is exactly the right dimensions to house Mouth's rather ample bottom, and, if he hunches down, allows him to demonstrate the 'Muffin Top' position.

Judging by the bite marks around the edges, it also appears to be very tasty.

The box originally contained some books I bought online. When the supplier asked me to write a review of their product, I was tempted to write: "Excellent packaging. My cat has barely moved since product arrived. Would buy again. "

(3) In third place comes my nose. Not a conventional toy, I'll admit, but it is one of Mouth's most treasured things to lick, paw, show his bottom and sleep on.

My nose has come to accept this.

(2) In the coveted number two spot is the Weird Wiry Thing. We don't really know what it is. It is basically just a wire with wooden chewy things at each end.

We bought it at a pet fair for about £4, and it came with a paw-shaped sticker so you could fasten it to the wall. "WARNING: STRONG ADHESIVE," warned the label. "THIS TOY WILL NEVER COME OFF YOUR WALL," it said. "YOU WILL PROBABLY NEED TO BULLDOZE YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER TO REMOVE IT," it cautioned. (I may be misremembering slightly, but it was very insistent.)

It fell off the wall after a couple of hours, so we just gave Mouth and Tail the wire.

They love it though, so it has earned its runner-up slot.

(1) In prestigious first place comes an old aerial that fell off my boyfriend's car.

No, really. Mouth cherishes this aerial like nothing else (it is on a par with Tail's sparkly ball), and will even abandon freshly plated food to chase it.

Friends never cease to be entertained by Mouth's devotion to his aerial. He will fall asleep clutching it lovingly between his paws. He will carry it in his mouth like a dog with a particularly impressive stick. He will give it a lingering lick now and then, to reassure it of his continuing adulation.

Mouth has a distinctive Aerial Miaow (mrrrOO-OO-OOWW!) that means "I feel I have not spent a sufficiently high proportion of my time chasing the aerial of late, and this displeases me". The only acceptable response to the Aerial Miaow is to find the aerial, pronto, and drag its tip along the floor for him to pursue.

Well, it is the only thing he stands any chance of catching.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Cat vs Rose

I have decided that cats are better than roses because their sharp pointy bits are less generously distributed.

Cats are also squishier and more open to being snuggled.

Roses smell better, though.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

My Cat is Afraid of Bras

I bought a new bra last week.

It is nice. It is pretty and purple and supportive in all the right places.

When I got home, I decided to try it on. I left it on the bed while I nipped in the shower.

Little did I know that purple bras are the stuff of Mouth's worst nightmares.

In his eyes, it was a demonic chest-hugging monster that wanted to devour him.

He peered at it anxiously from the side of the bed, keeping low to make sure it didn't see him.

Mouth considered his plight.

If this beast was to be defeated, it must first be approached.

He extended a nervous paw.

No. No. This would not do. He would need to sneak up on the purple monster from behind and catch it unawares.

There was no telling what it might do.

Mouth reached around to try and surprise it.

With painstaking slowness, he gave the right cup a ginger prod.

Instantly, he withdrew in horror.

Mouth was beside himself. This was a pioneering triumph. Never again would cats be terrorised by lingerie.

He sat on the bra and gave it a good lick, just to show it who was boss.

When I came out of the shower, Mouth and the bra were amicably intertwined. Mouth was even giving his bottom a casual groom.

I was pleased to see that my cat and my bra could learn to coexist peacefully.

Just then, Mouth spotted a dangerous-looking piece of fluff on the floor, and shot out the door.

Well, you never know with fluff.