Monday 31 August 2009

Guest Cat Of The Month For September: Fatima


Fats, Fatty, Fatty Mouse, Fatty Monster, Fatso, Fluff Bucket, Fliptop Bin, Greedhead, Phatous, Shitbag, Mrs Fortescue.

Could be anything from 10 to 16.

Yum Yum Man. I think humans call him Dan.

“Yum yums?”, “Time for yum yums?”, “Yum yums please.” “Where are the yum yums?”, “Give me yum yums.” “Definitely time for yum yums now.” Etc.

Favourite habits?
Munching yum yums; sitting on objects even if patently more uncomfortable than sitting on the floor next to the object; munching yum yums; licking glue off envelopes; licking filing cabinet; licking door of The Cupboard of Joy (yum yums depository); snoozing; staring at him ‘til he feeds me; destruction of shoes/furniture; munching yum yums; using litter tray and THEN GOING OUTSIDE. He hates that. I know, you’re wondering why he bothers with the litter tray at all if I am willing and able to go outside. Well, if he takes the litter tray away, I still go indoors, on the floor or carpet. AND THEN GO OUTSIDE! I know! I contravene all documented feline instincts! You think that’s demented? Get this – sometimes when he’s opening the Cupboard of Joy I get so excited by the prospect of yum yums that I have to poo. But I can’t risk being stranded on the litter tray when the yums hit the foodbowl – I HAVE to be there in time to get my face in so fast that the last chunks of gravel actually bounce off the top of my head. “That’s right!” he’ll say. “Don’t risk it! Get in there quickly, before the other ten cats that live here and compete for your food have a chance! Because obviously your experience of living here for the last eight years has shown you that if you don’t eat the food within thirty seconds of its arrival, it will evaporate!”. I haven’t seen these other cats but obviously I can’t risk it. (Owner’s note: I suppose I should have realised that sarcasm is beyond the ken of a cat that thinks every window leads to a different outside) – So basically, I just shit on the spot. Right on the floor, even as I’m staring up at him and the yumbag. Listen, no kitty wants to find themselves tethered to the ol’ poop deck when the munchy manna starts raining from plastic bag heaven, so I’ll squeeze one out where I stand if it means cutting down my journey time to the foodbowl by so much as a heartbeat. Greedy? I wrote the book. Then ate it. Where were we? Oh yes, habits. Depositing fluff; nonchalantly wandering into kitchen when I hear the sound of food prep, as if I didn’t realise that was what he was doing; sniffing air vent; licking molecule-sized food remnants from bowl/floor. It’s mainly the eating and sleeping to be honest. I am obsessed with munching yum yums. I don’t even wait by the bowl. As he opens the Cupboard of Joy, I get in position nearby, then, without taking my eyes off the bag, pad backwards towards the bowl as he brings the yum yums over, like a fielder getting in position for a steepling catch in the deep.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you?
Munching yum yums. That’s the main one. After munching, I like to stagger out of the room towards the soft things of the flat. At this point he usually amuses himself by saying “Any dessert? Perhaps a coffee? Madam..?” I ignore him. Later he’ll join me in the living room where he likes to look at the flashing box. I’m not lithe enough to leap directly onto even the lowest sofa any more, so I half-jump on, sink in my claws and clumsily drag my way up, expertly rending fabric as I go. He usually shouts something about £850 at this point but I don’t know what that means. Once I have achieved the summit, I will generally mungle about (this is what he calls my vague, unsettled meandering and padding) before settling myself on as many remote controls as my ample undercarriage can cover.

Favourite food?
Stinky gravel is all I get. Morning and night. (Owners note: Fatima has progressive tooth decay, so is on t/d, a prescription-only food, to try and keep her in teeth as much as possible. She’s already had about three out and is currently eating slightly on one side of her mouth (a tell-tale sign), so I can see another £300 trip to the bloody vet on the horizon. To be fair, she’s right, it does resemble stinky gravel. But at this rate I’ll need to train her to use a straw soon.)

Defining moment of your life?
At some point in my youth I dislocated a hip. I don’t know how. But I have always negotiated stairs like a bit of a codger. The day they taught self-regulation of food intake at kitten school was important too. Because I was clearly bloody absent.

Any enemies?
I have seen off several. (Owners note: she means she has hidden inside until they have moved away or lost interest. Ghost cat, Ginge, The Masked Avenger and Giant Pooch have all been and mostly gone.) My biggest enemy is within, though – The Blue Monster. I leave my fluff on the furniture and The Blue Monster eats it through its long trunk with variety of attachments! It clearly wants to eat me. I am the motherlode! I scramble away every time I hear its roar. And the worst thing is, he’s in league with it. Whenever it comes near making its unearthly whining-sucking sound, he’s always there, encouraging it, driving it on.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
Ban cupboard doors.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
I don’t know what that means. I like to meet humans bearing yum yums. Anyone with yum yums.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw would you like to be stuck in a lift with?
The closest I want to get to another cat is Pickle, who is permanently separated from me by two windows and a street. We sometimes peer at each other. That’s close enough, thank you.

I don’t remember much. He got me from Southall Cattery in 2001. I didn’t like it there – too many cats, not enough yum yums. Since then, I have settled in nicely and started my own business selling mouse glue, made from boiled-up mouse bones. I’m too slow to catch the mice myself, so I have to buy them in, which means my margins aren’t that great and it’s a very competitive business. I hope to have a display stand at Glubbex ’09, Europe’s leading mouse glue expo, taking place later in the year at Olympia. I am also currently developing a new range of signature stinks for Spring ’10, based around the eternal themes of poo and wee. He doesn’t know about any of this, of course. Can you imagine?! I do my work while he’s out of the flat. (Owner's note: I'm glad Fatima's brought this up herself, as this level of understandably fictitious-sounding detail might sound troubling coming from a forty-year-old bachelor who doesn't even have the excuse of kids' imaginations to fertilize).
Now, give me yum yums.

(Last photo courtesy of Jennifer Whitehead.)

Saturday 29 August 2009

Animals I Have Considered Stealing: Number 2 - George The Bat

NAME: George The Bat (unconfirmed).

OCCUPATION: Various posts as Back-Up Haunter and Session Spook, Office Of British Hauntings, East Anglian Division, 2009-09 (also often unfairly referred to as “The Fake Undead”).

HOME: The Hellmouth, South Norfolk, UK (“Second left after the BP Station, you can’t miss it, if you see the electrical wholesalers on your right you’ve gone too far…”)

BRIEF CV: Brought in by Pablo last month and abandoned upside down near catflap, apparently unchewed, presumably on the grounds of being “one of them unlucky ghostmouses”. George looked a bit dead at first (see above pic), then began to silently scream at me, with a face even more expressive and strangely human than that of Gizmo from Gremlins, before flying up to perch on the ledge of the sliding doors in the living room. Here, he proceeded to make chuntering noises. These, while on first hearing easy to mistake for pure panic at being in an unfamiliar environment, soon came to feel like judgements cast down from on high: not just on Pablo, Shipley and Bootsy, all of whom were watching sceptically from below, but on me, my new brightly coloured t-shirt from the sale rack in H&M, and even, ultimately, the copy of ‘Frampton Comes Alive’ I had left out on the dining table. George was eventually captured in a ‘Golf: Violating The Rules Of Fashion For 300 Years’ novelty coffee mug and released gently back into the wild, but not before issuing a few more strident opinions, some of which could probably be simply translated to “Why are you putting me out in the rain? Do you not realize it interferes with my echo chamber? Have you learned nothing about my species in the 17 minutes we have known one another?” but in the end felt like somewhat Satanic pronouncements on the deepest me, and everything I had failed to become as a person.

PROS: Constant griping good for stamping out complacency, both personal and cat-based: "Are you going to be nice and shut up, Shipley, or do you want me to go and get the bat?”. Tremendous shoulder accoutrement of the “people might not notice it at first, but when they do they won’t stop talking about it” variety. Potentially awesome weapon to send through the bedroom windows of sleeping enemies on recondite ear-whispering missions.

CONS: Grumpiness. Guilt trips. Constant conversations of the “What’s wrong?” “Nothing…. I’m FINE” variety. Public appearances leading to misunderstandings with overzealous goths. Unresolved heartbreak over the
The People Sheep could get in way of Making A New Start.

Cat Ladder

Just when you thought there was a gaping hole in the world of cat blogs, not quite addressing every feline need imaginable: A site paying tribute to the many and various cat ladders of the world!

Friday 14 August 2009

Cat Walking With Jackie Morris

A piece I wrote for today's Financial Times Weekend Magazine.

For more info on Jackie, Kiffer, Elmo, Maurice, Martha, Pixie and Max, visit her excellent We Three Cats blog.

Photographs by David Barnes.

Monday 10 August 2009

The Random Cat Project

In Under The Paw, I wrote about my habit of befriending random cats on the street. I still do this - pretty much any time I can, actually - and will happily make myself late for any appointment, however crucial, for five minutes of chat with, say, a ginger Tom who happens to be wandering about at the side of the road, but I think I was particularly zealous about my pursuit of random cats during the one period in my life when I was catless, at the end of the 90s, in London. In fact, I'm not quite sure "befriending" was the right term. "Marrying" might have been nearer the mark. The founders of are both based in London, amidst "conditions that do not support pet ownership", so, in tribute to the "bittersweet experience" of a fleeting cat encounter, they've set up this wonderful website, which asks people to film or photograph their encounters with random cats, and summarise their personalities. I particularly like that they also ask for a "Possible cat name". Why not take a picture of a moggy next time you go on your travels and send it over to them?

Sunday 9 August 2009

Don't Send This Cat Down

Last week it was reported that, in much the same way as humans, cats can be either left or right-handed. Even since then, it seems, their dexterity has come on another giant step. A man in Florida, being held on ten counts of possessing child pornography, has blamed it on his cat jumping on the keyboard.

NB: I'm not certain that the above cat, which The Guardian have used in reporting the story, is the actual cat in question. If it's currently on its laptop and reading this - presumably whilst simultaneously looking at pictures of naked kittens - I apologise for so unthinkingly reusing its image, but presumably when it decided to take a career as a cat model, it went into the profession with its eyes fully open and knew the risks.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Guest Cat Of The Month For August: Bertie Wooster

Bertie Wooster.

I answer to Bertie, but I'm variously known as Mr Woo, the Wooster, B-Dub and Beh-weh.

A youthfully exuberant two.

Ably attended to by L, to whom I'm a good deal attached.

What ho! (Sometimes misheard as me-ow!)

Favourite habits
Following L around; voicing my opinion; waiting under the letterbox for the postman; licking and nibbling L's nose and generally being an affectionate popsy.

What constitutes a perfect morning for you?
I'm up with the lark and like to start the day with a dash of parkour around the flat to invigorate the system, before stretching myself across L's face and purring like the rumble of distant thunder, which ensures breakfast is served promptly. After I've fortified the old self with food, it's time to play - viz. a round with the practice golfball, chasing after a toy mouse, and so forth. Now some coves will use play to hone their hunting skills, but for me it's a chance to show off my rather spiffy interpretive dance moves. My carefully choreographed starjumps have been known to bring down the house. And of course no morning would be complete without a little light grooming. A gentleman likes to look his best.

Favourite food?
Cuts of toothsome chicken from M&S with a dainty saucer of cat milk on the side.

Defining moment of your life?
Meeting L. It's not easy to find words to describe that defining moment, if you see what I mean. What I mean is, you get a moment like that - defining you might say - when you know you've met the person you're supposed to be with. And I say that with a lot of not unmanly sentiment.

Any enemies?
Lick and let lick is the Wooster motto.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
I'd introduce every child to a puss like me, in the hope that they would learn to care for animals and never be cruel to them.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why?
Stephen Fry. He seems a brainy old bird and a jolly good wheeze to boot, by Jove.

Being a young chappie, my memoirs at this time are dashed slim and short on scandal. I'm content just to exist beautifully.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Janet's Retro Litter Lake: More Discoveries

Name: Blackcurrant Flavour Ice Snapper
Place Of Origin: Bromsgrove
Tagline: "Do not refreeze!"
Estimated vintage: Best Before Date is 10.6.10... so probably about 1987, then.
Signs of attachment: None (dumped heartlessly in the hedge).
Weirdness rating: 5/10

Name: Original Pom-Bear
Place Of Origin: Corby
Tagline: "The Teddy-Shaped Potato Snack!"
Vintage: 2003
Other vital information: "Pom-Bear is The King Of Bears (allegedly)... his fur is a rich golden yellow and is quite short, not at all shaggy or scruffy, but still wonderful to touch and he's great for cuddling."
Signs of attachment: Lots: carried by Janet up three flights of stairs, onto first floor balcony (which also would have entailed death-defying jump across four foot gap between balcony and conservatory roof with packet in mouth).
Weirdness rating: 6/10

Sunday 2 August 2009

Janet's Retro Litter Lake: Latest Find

Name: Expo Stillwater Groundbait
Country Of Origin: Norfolk (yeah, it's a country - do you have a problem with that?)
Tagline: "Marcel Van Den Eynde, 3 Time World Champion" (World Champion at what - having groundbait?)
Vintage: 2-6 years
Signs of attachment: Top garden step priority placement (above Walkers crisp packet, Somerfield carrier bag and something that looked worrying like an extra large algae-flavoured condom).
Weirdness rating: 7/10