Thursday, 30 October 2008
Some Recents Excerpts From My Cat-Watcher's Diary
Today I entered the kitchen to find Ralph and Pablo both simultaneously suspended upside down, in mid-air, three feet off the ground. From what I could work out, no string, rope or pulley system was in place. These two are frequent sparring partners and it's my usual habit to hurl myself between them and break up their scraps, but this time I held back, unable to stop myself admiring the ballet of the whole thing. I swear it was a full three seconds before both their heads hit the ground. It was like something from the Matrix. The main exceptions perhaps being that, post-fight, characters from the Matrix don't a) violently shed fur all over the floor and b) go and sulk behind the sofa.
In her column in the Mail On Sunday's You Magazine, the infamously divorced, infamously childless, infamously cat-loving Liz Jones observes that her old English sheepdog has begun to misbehave. "He jumps at me all the time," she complains, "even when I am wearing my Dries van Noten jacket, which I have just had dry-cleaned." This is an intriguing sentence on a couple of levels, but in the end it's the use of the word "even" that really does it for me. One would have thought dogs would know a top designer jacket from normal daywear, but no. Cultural cretins! I am just glad that, having stuck to cats, I own animals that I can rely on to stop and distinguish their Kurt Geiger from their French Connection rejects in their more muddy-footed moments. It's a bit bitchy to say it, but between you and me I wouldn't be surprised if that sheepdog hadn't even read the September issue of Vogue.
Another monumental punch-up between Ralph and Pablo today. Why is it that they don't see eye-to-eye? Is it a long-standing race issue between tabbies and gingers? Or does Ralph's narcissistic, pretty-boy hipster outlook on life simply refuse to brook the vulgar, feral bumpkinish ways of Pablo? I'm sure there was a period when, had Ralph backed off, Pablo would have happily let the whole thing go, but that time has now passed, and the mere sight of the the tabby is enough to make the ginge start making a terrifying yipping feral war cry that has Ralph looking even more worried than he was the time we paid a man to use a big loud shampoo-dispensing machine to get Janet's puke off our carpet. Of course, the whole disagreement is more extreme at this time of year, since Winter Pablo - the mysteriously chunky ginger cat that begins to take the place of the scrawny one we've hosted through the summer months - is looming, threatening Ralph's fragile masculinity still further. I also noted with interest that Bootsy found a good vantage point, on the bookshelf, to observe the battle, adding to an overall impression that, ultimately, as ever, she's the one pulling the strings here.
Fell over on the stairs today, whilst running for the door to get a package from a courier, and trod on Ralph, eliciting one of those "hurt" looks of his that twist their way inside my chest like a rusty screwdriver. Came out of this with a bruised shin and a chunk of skin scraped off the palm of my hand, but what was the first thing I did, after falling? Ran for the door, in an attempt to stop the delivery driver driving away with the DVD I'd ordered from amazon? Went and sat down with a calming cup of tea? No. I chased after Ralph, telling him how sorry I was, never stopping to think that it was his own dumb fault for always sitting on the stairs and never budging for human traffic. As a result of this, I will have to wait a whole extra day to watch Harold And Kumar Get The Munchies.
The Bear ate the last tin of his special Applaws food today. He meeooped all the way through it, as if to confirm just how mandatory it is that we reorder some of it at the earliest opportunity. I have known cats to meow for food before, but he is the first I've known to meow during it.
Ralph bit me quite hard today, when I made the unforgivable error of only using the pet mitt on him for seven minutes, instead of the twenty stated as required in The Big Book Of Spoilt Oversensitive Feline Idiot Therapy. More effective than a brush, the pet mitt elicits very different responses from all my cats, but each has the common factor of being extreme. Janet mewls helplessly at its merest touch, before laying on his back and trying to bite it. The Bear runs away from it in a manner that, even for him, is notable for its campness. Bootsy and Pablo seem to simultaneously like and hate it, scarpering from it but also returning to ask for more of its sweet embrace. Ralph and Shipley just want to be mauled by it on a round-the-clock basis. I haven't tried it on myself, since I'm a bit worried about the results, but I do enjoy the way the fur comes off it in one perfectly intact, perforated layer, which I invariably drop out of the window as a peace-offering to local nesting birds whose families have fallen foul of Shipley and Pablo's leisure pursuits. In every way aside from the fact that it cost more, this pet-mitt is a cheap imitation of the original (see pic below), which was two-sided (one side tough and dimpled, the other soft and felty) and which Dee made me throw away because it had got "too skanky"*. I can see that it's effective, but I could live without the puncture wounds. When I looked down at the two small but surprisingly deep holes in my finger, I pictured a couple of furry ears and a small-twitching nose above them, and was able to feel new empathy with the wretched hand that the south Norfolk vole is so often dealt in life.
Note to self: must keep fewer black things - or fewer black cats - in my living room. That is the third time in the last week that I have called "Shipley!", "Janet!" or "The Bear!" to a dark cushion or a stuffed toy otter, only to be disappointed at its aloof, supercilious attitude.
Cat Words That Should Be Invented, Number 187: What do you call it when a human scratches an itch on a cat's behalf, but the cat still cannot stop its own leg from doing a flailing "air scratch" at the same time?
* My argument was that any replacement pet mitt would very quickly get equally skanky, thus rendering it redundant, and I feel this has only been reinforced by the state of the current, inferior pet mitt.