Thursday, 27 November 2008

Nora The Piano Playing Cat

The world and her husband have seen this, but I thought I'd post it anyway...

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

One Toke Over The Line

The top of my fridge has always been a hangout spot of intrigue and kudos for my cats. This is not only the place where Dee and I keep the cat food before we take it out the box, it's also a convenient spot for surveying territory, pouncing on your inferiors, and generally plotting world supremacy*. Janet's the number one fridge cat. The place has extra sentimental value for him, going back to when we lived in a rented flat in Blackheath (borders), London, and he would perch on top of a stack of 1970s copies of The Beano, watching wood pigeons through the window.. Much water has passed under the bridge since then: some of it being the very stuff that made the Beanos so damp and mushy I had to throw them out. Janet's wood pigeon obsession, meanwhile, has never been as strong since the time he forgot he didn't have wings and jumped out of a third floor window in an attempt to "make friends" with one of them. Still, one can often find him perched on top of today's new, better, non-rented fridge, possibly deep in thought about such topics as the strangely adhesive properties of his tail, and why, on the sixth day of every week**, his owners keep passing beneath him, opening the door, and popping the top off so many of those weird transparent things with the shiny, fizzy liquid in them.

It's perhaps Janet's vacant, oh-so-predictable love of the fridge that makes The Bear so disdainful of it. When he chooses a place to make his new lair, it's invariably highly original: the result of weeks of intense planning and research. Hence when, a few days ago, I went to retrieve some leftover lasagne and spotted him sniffing around above me, I knew there was some ulterior motive. I don't usually have the self-discipline to save toys that I buy my cats "for later" but The Bear had rooted out an oversight: a catnip cigar ordered from America several weeks previously and since left in its box and forgotten. For me, this was a little like feeling around in the pocket of a long-neglected coat and finding a five pound note. I would apply the same simile for The Bear, if not for the fact that he doesn't have pockets and, even if he did, would never be so fiscally remiss as to mislay a five in one of them.

I've now been buying catnip cigars for my cats for about two years, and their effect seems much more extreme than that of other catnip toys. It's probably unwise to read anything sinister into this: just because something is in the shape of a cigar, it doesn't naturally mean that it contains harmful drugs, but one might be forced to think again upon surveying the scene in my living room just after I've unveiled a new stogie. The Bear loses his cool to an extent, certainly, but it's nothing compared to the interaction between Ralph and Shipley during these occasions, which is perhaps most reminiscent of a fight I once saw between two meth-addled tramps near some bins behind Nottingham's Broadmarsh Shopping Centre. There's always seems to be the possibility, in Bootsy (pictured above) and Pablo's case, that after half and hour rolling around on the floor with their cigars, they might go off to Katmandu to find themselves, or at least stagger blearily over to the shelves where I keep my vinyl and pull out one of my Crosby, Stills and Nash albums.

I've also noticed that each brand of cigar has a very different effect. Last year, I brought a batch with "El Gato Muy Loco" written on them. Since this translates (I think) to The Cat Is Mental in Spanish, one might presume that they offered the ultimate cat high, but I'm convinced that there are harder catnip cigars on the market: one particularly undiluted batch of Ratherbees I purchased, for example, or the brand that I bought at the 2007 Supreme Cat Show which I can't for the life of me remember the name of (I would read the label, but it's been chewed to a pulp by Shipley and Bootsy), but which will forever live in the memory, if only for the reason that its mysterious chemical properties prompted Ralph to pick a fight with an entire four foot-high antique chest of drawers.

I'm also certain that the market for catnip cigars has got a lot bigger since I was last buying a batch online for my cats. A brief Google search today results in the following, to name just a few:

YEOWWW! 100% organic



Should cat-owners be warned by a concerned right wing newspaper about this new craze? Is it about time we introduced a system for classifying cat drugs? What are actually in these things? It's certainly made me want to further investigate the making of catnip. What are your experiences with the stuff? Is there an ultimate catnip cigar of all catnip cigars out there? And are there any banned types of catnip?

I'm off to buy some more now. It's going to be a drawn-out process, involving much prevarication, but you can bet that when the product arrives, The Bear will be first to sniff it out. He won't hurry in with the masses for the first toke, but at some point when the two of us are alone in the kitchen, he'll give me a look, along with a tiny, just-perceptible nod in the direction of the jiffy bag containing the remaining, untouched cigars, and I'll know what to do. Then, when he's had his fill, Bogarting the item just enough to make it lose its ultimate potency for those who come after, he'll let the braindead masses descend. I suppose you might call it the cat junkie's version of Setting A Pissident (see previous blog post).

*And the cats like it, too!
** Before you ask, yes, of course my cats know what weeks are. They may be truant-playing trailer trash, but they know a calendar when they see one. I've got SOME self-respect, you know.

Image courtesy of Jason Bye.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


Air Scratch
To flail wildly and absurdly at the air with one's back leg as one's owner attempts to "help" by scratching an itch which, in all honesty, you had perfectly well covered. Some say the air scratch is not as involuntary as it seems, and is actually an obscene gesture whose roots stretch back as far as ancient egypt: a kind of feline version of a two-fingered salute, but much, much ruder. Others just decry it as another forlorn symbol of man's increasing interference in cat culture, a debasement of nature that will ultimately send us on a road to a dark place where a word like "natural" no longer even has any meaning.

Setting A Pissident
To urinate in a completely new and innovative place, instigating a trend for such action amongst your fellow felines. Born leaders but also generally kind of snotty, cats who set a pissident know that their originality comes at a price, and, upon seeing others follow lamely in their wake, can often be heard to mutter comments like "here come the mindless vultures, picking over the corpse of my brilliance" and "now I know how The Beatles must have felt when they heard the Marmalade's cover of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da."

Thursday, 13 November 2008

The Knack... And How To Get It

When announcing that it's dinner time for my cats, I've always felt that a simple high-note, low-note whistle gets the job done most effectively. It's simple, saves me having to embarrass myself in front of neighbourhood ruffians by calling six faintly ridiculous names in a soppy voice out of the back door, and, after more than three decades, I can up its volume impressively at will (or perhaps not so impressively, if you are one of the women who play bridge at the Conservative Club nextdoor). However, I recently decided it was time for a change, so, for the forseeable future, when feeding Shipley, Ralph, The Bear, Pablo, Bootsy and Janet, in place of the "somewhat overexposed and grating" (Whistle Monthly Magazine, 2004) Tomwhistle, I've decided to play my vinyl copy of 'Get The Knack', the 1979 album by The Knack - more specifically, their American number one single 'My Sharona'.

I can't explain quite how this started, other than to say one night I just happened to be listening to the song at jellied meatslop dispensing time, and its addictive, jerky (some would say spastic) rhythms seemed somehow highly appropriate to the whole manic process of feeding half a dozen manic furry forces of nature... particularly when Pablo misjudged a jump from a chair to the kitchen worksurface, and ended up divebombing unceremoniously into a shelf of cookery books.* There's also the fact that, if you're going to train your cats to come to the call of music, you've got more chance of doing it with a rudimentary three and a half-chord geek anthem than with something from the third Van Der Graaf Generator album.

I know that moggies have sensitive hearing, but I'm still not convinced of just how sensitive those same ears are to the nuances of power-pop melodies. A few years ago, when I lived nextdoor to a wannabe techno DJ noise pollutant, and his racket was at its most Satanic, Shipley, The Bear and Ralph often scuttled out of the house with their fur standing on end. That said, if you were to ask me whether, say, Pablo preferred The Romantics' 'What I Like About You' or Badfinger's 'No Matter What', I couldn't tell you. The early signs, though, are good. I've only been playing 'My Sharona' for about a week, but Dee reported that tonight, the second the opening chords kicked in, The Bear's ears pricked up, and within a few seconds he was ambling up the stairs (like Paul Cicero in Goodfellas, The Bear don't move for no-one). It's hard to tell just how well they're responding, since all six of them are permanently hungry at the moment (Dee claims this is because they are "making sure they're well-upholstered for winter", I claim it is because they are increasingly indolent and spoiled), but I'm going to persevere, and report back on the experiment's progress in a month or two. By which time I will almost certainly be wishing I'd opted for 'Surrender' by Cheap Trick instead.**

* I probably should also point out that I was drunk at the time.

** Already, I'm getting a little too familiar with The Knack's underage girl-obsessed lyrics (in case 'Sharona' wasn't enough, just to make sure they got their point across they also put out an album called '... But The Little Girls Understand'). How did I not previously notice the full extent of how dodgy they were? "Such a dirty mind/always get it up for the touch of the younger kind". First my reworking of Foreigner's lascivious 'Hot Blooded' into 'Hot Tabby' for Ralph, now this. Is this really the kind of thing that innocent felines should be exposed to? The lusted-over Sharona in question, incidentally, now works as a successful realtor.

Images courtesy of Jason Bye.

Missing Cat Returned To Owners After Thirteen Years!

Beats The Bear's six week hiatus...

Monday, 10 November 2008

Japanese Agraphobic Kitteh!

Maru, the japanese cat who loves to leap in tiny, tiny boxes, practically has his own channel! I'll take this over Dave anyday...

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Monday, 3 November 2008

Guest Cat Of The Month For November: Draino

1. Name
Draven aka Draino

2. Nickname
Mr Man, Fat Cat and many more!

3. Age

4. Owners?
Nancy and Eric from Canada

5. CATchphrase?
"Feed me before I fade away."

6. Favourite habits?
Eating, sleeping, talking and sunning myself.

7. What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
Getting my meal on time, with treats and a good belly rub.

8. Favourite foods?
Pizza, lasagne, raw beef, banana muffin and assorted human food.

9. Any enemies (inc people, animals or objects)?
Certain rude people who make fun of my tail and weight (21.6 pounds/just under 10 kilos). I don't like other cats and I despise car rides and my dog carrier.

10. If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
I would invent auto-feeders for wet cat food so cats would never have a late meal again. Also automatic groomers and brushers for when the humans are too busy.

11. If you could meet one celebrity, who would it be, and why?
Rin Tin Tin because I think this dog may have been as smart as me.

12. Which one of the cats in Under The Paw would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Well... I don't like other cats or enclosed spaces but if I really had to be stuck with one of them it would be Ralph, because being sensitive and artistic, he may understand why I would be so upset.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The House: A Machine For (Cats) Living In

Cool blog My Cat Goma shares a cool new Japanese housebuilding development - a house built to suit a cat's needs as much as a human's...