Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Cats Sleep in Parallel

My cats do a weird thing. Wherever they are in the house, they are usually in parallel.

I first noticed it when Mouth and Tail were in the same room. It would often make sense that they were both facing the same way, because they were waiting for me to dish up their dinner or wiggle a toy.

But then I started to realise that they are nearly ALWAYS pointing in the same direction.

Sometimes they will be hunched up.

The 'north-south'

The 'east-west'

Sometimes they will just be sitting there.

The 'centre of gravity'

Sometimes they will be splatting about and generally looking untidy.

The 'mess'

It doesn't matter if one of them is upstairs and the other is downstairs.

The 'whole-body-plant'

My boyfriend and I like to think that they are tapping into mysterious invisible forces. Maybe they are acting as feline compasses or weathervanes of some sort.

But it is more likely that Mouth wants to do whatever Tail is doing.

He is a very impressionable animal.

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Taping of the Cat

In our house, there are wooden banisters beside the stairs. The wood is covered in glossy off-white paint.

Our house is three storeys tall, so there are lots of banisters.

Before we moved into this house, we lived in a flat, so Mouth and Tail didn't know what banisters were.

They were delighted to find that the new house came equipped with a multi-level cat playground.

Once they had got over their New House Fear (another story), they began to investigate.

Soon, their antics became increasingly daredevil.

However, although Tail is as agile as the average high-rise tightrope walker, Mouth is a simple beast with no comprehension of 'up'.

Eventually, the inevitable happened.

My boyfriend and I sighed. We should have seen this coming.

As is often the case, we needed a strategy - to protect both the cats and the woodwork.

We pondered. And we hit on an Idea.

The Idea involved sellotape. Lots and lots of sellotape.

Yes. We taped up the banisters.

We taped them sticky-side-up, so that the cats couldn't climb on the banisters without getting their paws stuck.

We felt a bit mean, but it was the kindest way to dissuade Mouth from subjecting himself to a catastrophic twenty-foot fall. The tape wouldn't hurt their paws, but it would tweak them a bit.

We surveyed our work. Then we waited.

After a while, our patience paid off, and Mouth approached the banisters. You could see the Naughty Thoughts filling his rather gormless tabby head.

He lifted a paw.

With what seemed like excruciating slowness, he placed it on the banister. It landed squarely on the tape.

For a moment, he didn't realise anything was amiss.

Then he tried to move his paw.

When several paw-moving attempts proved fruitless, it started to dawn on him that all was not as it should be, and he let out a long, plaintive miaow.

It was heartbreaking to watch. But he had to learn.

At long last, he managed to extricate the paw, minus a small proportion of its fluff.

Mouth was aghast. His comrade! His number one ally! Cruelly sabotaged by this peculiar yellow floor! Why didn't the floor behave itself?

This paw had stuck with Mouth through thick and thin, and the fact that there had been no 'thin' to speak of was immaterial. Mouth vowed never again to honour the horrible yellow floor with his paw's presence.

I'd like to say that this was the end of the Banister Battle, but Mouth's memory is not one of his greatest assets.

Of course, Tail grasped the situation after her first adhesive encounter. She licked her paw better and pretended nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

But for Mouth's benefit, the tape remains to this day.

It is largely effective, and has certainly prevented any tabby-themed splats, but Mouth occasionally forgets.

The tape currently looks like this.

We love Mouth dearly, but survival is a continuous challenge for him. He is not a creature that would thrive in the wild.

I'd say he has the temporal awareness of a goldfish, but at least our fish remember when feeding time is.

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Time We Nearly Stole Someone's Cat by Accident

One day a few months ago, a cat turned up on our doorstep.

This isn't an entirely unusual occurrence. Lots of people on our road have cats and I know most of them by sight. "There goes The Fox," we say knowingly, as a fat ginger tabby lumbers past. "I see Hoover has been at the bins again," we tut, appraising the tortie-shaped holes in our rubbish bags.

But this cat was new. He was a black-and-white tuxedo cat, like Tail, but he had a permanently worried expression. He looked like he had wandered out of a posh dinner party and lost his way.

We named him Blum. It seemed to fit.

Being the nice, hospitable people we are, we invited Blum in for a quick bite to eat.

He seemed very grateful, and - having cleaned his plate - headbutted his thanks politely before heading off. He was frightfully sorry, but he was running late for his next meeting and it was very important.

Over the coming weeks, we saw quite a bit of Blum. He knew we were always good for a dish of kibble and a saucer of cat milk, and he frequently stopped by on his way to host some charity gala or social function.

He had a curious habit of jumping up to headbutt things. If you held your hand just below waist height, he would bounce up and give it the full force of his nose.

We called this move 'the Blum'.

We soon found ourselves getting Blummed with alarming regularity, and we began to wonder whether he had a home to go to.

We were growing rather fond of him.

After pondering for a while, we decided to buy him a collar with our phone number on. That way, if anyone was looking after him, they could get in touch. And if they weren't, well ... maybe we could step in.

The collar was a quick-release one in fluorescent green. It wasn't easy to miss.

Blum evidently wasn't used to wearing a collar, and he wasn't very impressed by it. But he seemed to give it the benefit of the doubt.

That night, Blum pootled off, cheery as ever, sporting his new accessory with indifference.

We didn't hear anything for a couple of days. We didn't even see Blum in the street.

Then one afternoon at work, my mobile rang.

"Hello?" I said.
"WHO'S THIS?" came an angry-sounding man's voice.
"Who's this?" I said.
"THERE'S A GREEN WHATSIT ON ME CAT!" the man roared, clearly enraged.

Suddenly I realised who he must be.

"Ah, sorry about that," I said quickly. "We'd just seen him around and wanted to check he had an owner."
"HE DOESN'T LIKE COLLARS," growled the man.
"Well, I do apologise," I said. "Next time he's about I'll take it off."
"NO YER DON'T. I'M TAKIN' IT OFF MESELF," the man said, with an air of finality.
"Um, OK," I said.
"I quite understand."

I thanked the man for calling and we hung up. Well, I was glad somebody was taking care of Blum, and cat people come in all guises. I thought that would be the end of the matter.

But the next day, Blum was at the door. He was still wearing the collar.

Smiling, I reached down and took it off.

You never know when we might need it again. An 'owner please call' collar is a key item in a cat lover's armoury.

Not wanting to hijack the scary man's cat, I sent Blum packing without his usual dish of Whiskas, and he scampered off happily. He probably had a tombola to run or an exhibition to unveil.

We still see Blum around sometimes, although he tends to keep to Scary Man's end of the road.

If you see him, you can bet he'll be headbutting the hand of a well-meaning passer-by.

Old habits die hard.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Mouth's Nemesis

This is Mouth's all-time nemesis.

No, not the Japanese flag.

It is the elusive Laser Dot.

The Laser Dot holds a certain mystery for Mouth because it is the one thing he has never been allowed to catch.

He seeks it here. He seeks it there. That tabby seeks it everywhere.

The Laser Dot is Mouth's own personal Scarlet Pimpernel.

It can scale walls; it can traverse the ceiling. There are no limits to its paw-evading capabilities.

It maintains a deadly alliance with Watch Face Reflection, which is more skittish by nature and seems only to appear in sunny weather.

Often, Mouth will pounce victoriously, convinced that he has managed to trap the LD this time.

But when he lifts his paw, it is nowhere to be found.

It breaks Mouth's poor little mind.

Sometimes when he is sleeping, Mouth will clasp his paws together and make happy faces. We think he dreams about catching the LD once and for all and showing it who is boss.

When he wakes up, it seems to dawn on him that the enemy remains at large.

For Mouth, the Laser Dot is the holy grail. It is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Well, ambition is a healthy thing.