Wednesday, 10 April 2013

"Lay On, MacFluff"

Sometimes my morning wake-up call can be quite theatrical.

I have to get up quickly in order to avoid a tragedy of an entirely different magnitude.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

What Miaow from Yonder Window Breaks

My house is full of cat noises.

Here are some of them.

The 'play with me (or die)'

Mouth is very good at looking cute when he wants something. He lets out this odd little two-part brrrrrrp, generally while patting my knee or face with his paw. He's like an excited child putting his hand up in class. "Pick me, Miss! Oh, me! Oh, I know the answer! PLEASE Miss!"

Usually when he does this, he wants me to wiggle his aerial about for him.

If he doesn't get what he wants, he can transform instantly into a terrifying hellbeast.

The 'where are you?'

When I'm not around, my boyfriend tells me Mouth wanders around the house listlessly, occasionally emitting  forlorn miaows.

His miaows have never been melodious, but this one is particularly ridiculous. It starts off all waily, but then he seems to remember he is a cat and tries to surreptitiously convert his wail into a cat sound.

Possibly his mother was a banshee.


Like most cats, Mouth and Tail make weird chattery noises when there is a Thing that they want to eat.

Traditionally it's a bird (Tail excels at bird-chattery), but I have caught Mouth chattering at wholly un-chatter-worthy things like woodlice and fluff.

Tail's chatters are superb. I'm convinced she is skilled in ventriloquy and a qualified voice projection instructor. Even through double-glazed glass, they make sparrows at the other end of the garden quake with fear.

Mouth's are rubbish. They sound like a broken power drill. Woodlice flock to my house purely for the entertainment.

The 'NO'

This is the feline equivalent of a toddler stamping its foot and throwing a tantrum.

When Mouth and Tail have a stand-off - usually because Mouth has muscled in on Tail's dinner, although once it happened because he sneezed on her bottom - growling inevitably ensues.

They always make up afterwards. Mouth is a master of the Apologetic Ear Groom.

The 'service announcement'

This is my favourite cat noise, and a peculiarity of Tail's.

Whenever she's about to do something she feels I should know about, like jump onto the bookcase, she gives a little chirrup.

It's very courteous.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Why I Feed My Cat in the Toilet

Of my two cats, Mouth is the dominant one.

I have no idea how this happened.

He is far jumpier and wimpier than Tail. When we got them both, he was smaller than her, too. I can only think Tail didn't want to be boss.

Being Top Cat means that Mouth starts eating his dinner first, and he gets to lick out Tail's bowl when she's finished. The bowl lick is strictly symbolic - Tail wouldn't dream of leaving any scraps.

Last week, however, a strange thing happened.

We've always fed both cats in the hallway, which has a nice wipeable laminate floor. Tail's bowl is at the end of the hall near the lounge, and Mouth's bowl goes by the kitchen door, like this.

This has never been a problem.

But last week, at dinnertime, I heard an odd growly noise.

It was no ordinary Oi, Tiddles, get out of my garden growl. It wasn't even the lesser-spotted THERE IS A NOISE AND I DON'T LIKE IT growl. This growl was deafening. There are no windows in my hallway, but I pictured neighbours clutching their children and adjusting their picture frames. Extreme weather warnings would soon start appearing on TV.

I went to investigate.

Mouth was bolting his food and growling. It was the most absurd thing I have ever seen a cat doing, and I have seen cats do some extremely absurd things. (My parents' cat once woke itself up by sleep-miaowing.)

"Oh dear, Mouth," I said. I knew this day would come. Life is a continuous struggle for a creature of Mouth's simplicity, and he had finally broken himself.

I tried picking the bowl up and putting it down again. The growling resumed with renewed vigour.

I tried moving it along the hallway. No change.

Tail had abandoned her portion of whitefish and was watching with interest.

There was nothing I could do but spectate as Mouth inhaled the remainder of his dinner, then moved onto Tail's.

Tail looked up at me, stricken.

"No, Mouth," I said, shooing him away from Tail's bowl, but Tail didn't want it anymore. It was evidently besmirched with boy germs.

Washing up both bowls, I had a think. I'd read a few books on cat psychology, but Mouth was a law unto himself. Perhaps he had spontaneously decided that the hallway was a terrifying place.

To be on the safe side, for their next meal, I shut Mouth in the downstairs loo. It was a warm, quiet room where he could eat undisturbed.

It meant Tail could get on with her dinner in the hallway, uninterrupted by tabby-shaped hoovers.

With painstaking care, I knelt down and peered under the door at Mouth.

The growling continued, but it lacked conviction.

As I'd hoped, it dwindled as the meal progressed.

Eventually, it was replaced by the happy lip-smacking grunts of a feline polishing off his final few mouthfuls of Whiskas.

When the grunts had given way to a noise that could only mean Mouth was cleaning his bottom, and Tail had devoured every last morsel of her rabbit-flavoured supper, I opened the door to the downstairs loo.

A newly refreshed, confident Mouth strolled out, fully recovered from his growly episode and ready to take on the world.

He seemed none the worse for it, but ever since then he has expected to eat his dinner in the downstairs loo.

I don't question it. I just put his food in there, and do my best to remember to let him out afterwards.

Tail accepts this state of affairs.

I love Mouth dearly, but I don't pretend to understand him.