Sunday 28 December 2008

The Curious Incident of the Cat in the Night-Time! - or "Spray that again!"

It was soon to be bedtime, but where was the cat?
No sight, sound or smell, as a matter of fact!
I shouted and called and rattled his toy,
the sound of his silence began to annoy.

All of a sudden a shadow loomed large
Emerging quite quickly from behind the garage.
"Good boy, where've you been" I started to say,
but the words gagged my mouth as I started to sway!

What foul rancid odour emits from your fur?
You're no better than Fido that stinking old cur!
I grabbed him quite hard by the scruff of his neck
And threw in the sink before I could keck.

Earlier on we had heard him with a certain aplomb
As he guarded his ground from a neighbourhood tom.
He sure got too close, in that there's no doubt,
To be sprayed, up close and personal before he could clout.

Back in the sink he was not willing to help
But I was determined to clean up his pelt.
He was everywhere claws, his legs all splayed out,
There was blood sweat and tears, twas a terrible rout.

He was dried with a towel to get rid of the gunk
But he ended up looking like Johnny the Punk.
His dignity in tatters, his honour demeaned
Much work to do now to get himself cleaned.

I shut the door quietly and sloped off to bed
Anointed my wounds that were bloody and red.
I scrubbed with much soap, it took everso long
But I couldn’t get rid of that horrible pong!

Next morning I arose with much fear and foreboding
Would he be sulking, his mistress forsaking?
I needn’t have worried or fretted or feared,
He was his old cheeky self – now isn’t that weird?

With regard to the smell that was like rotting pus
It no longer was obvious - at least not to us!
We go on our way with much laughter and fun
And don’t even bother when folks turn and run!

Saturday 27 December 2008

ConfusedatChristmas dot com

Well I dunno! It's getting beyond a joke now. This confusion when a cat comes in. In the dark it takes a chase round and a quick frisk to find out which one it is! Tigger is now so at home here and so sure of his welcome that he does not hesitate a nanosecond to leg it through whichever door is opened. And he's so quick. Austin can be taking a moment to decide the pros and cons of entry - you know the thing "does this mean I'm stuck in all night now, or can I negotiate a couple more minutes of freedom"?

While he is pondering this conundrum, Tigger is in with his paws in the trough, quick as you like. When Austin finally wanders in, he is astounded to see his place at table usurped by his soon-to-be erstwhile buddy! I believe that Tigger has a place set at table in about half a dozen of the most gullible neighbour's houses. That's why he is getting a bit portly. We will probably only have to wait a few more weeks before he's so fat that getting in any door will only be possible with the aid of lashings of lard and a kick up the backside. He devours every last morsel of edible stuff lying around - and even some that's not so edible, like Austin's catnip stash! We didn't see him this week for a couple of days and thought he had gone away for Christmas, but no, there he was this morning with his nose pressed up against the conservatory door. He came in and Austin went out.

Talking of "the season", the issue of the Christmas tree exercised us for a while. Should we get one and run the risk of having it hurled across the room in a cat frenzy, or should we forget it and spend Christmas out of town? I suppose we could have sent Austin away for the duration - telling him the house needed renovating or something! But that would have been costly. In the end we took the risk and went (with the junior members :>) to the garden centre to pick out a suitable candidate. Now my old fashioned slightly nostalgic view is that Christmas trees should be the kind that are shedding their needles like snow by boxing day and one is still picking them out of the cat's paws and hoovering them up in their millions in May. Well, if my opinion was sought, I missed it, as the debate over "real" versus "fake" was decided while I was searching for baby Jesus who'd inexplicably removed himself from his swaddling clothes in the nativity display and was hiding behind the third shepherd and discussing world events with the Angel Gabriel.

History having been restored I dragged myself back to the present, only to discover a large black box labelled "flame retardant clear assembly instructions inside the box" was being loaded into my boot! When youngest neff hauled it upstairs at home, it only took me a minute or two to realise that it was made of metal and plastic and hoovering up needles in May probably won't be an issue! Oh Well! Now as we know the words "cat" and "Christmas tree" usually only appear in the same sentence when the word "topple" is present - wasn't that the word that took the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof? It was all a bit of a damp squib anyway, as Austin took one look at the 6 foot monstrosity complete with tinsel and baubles and went and sat underneath it. All you could see were two white paws!

Just a little postscript here. Whatever happened to the tradition of having a star or fairy on top the tree? My childhood was traumatised by the annual placing of the fairy on the pointy bit at the top. I guess it was because of where the pointy bit was placed that our fairy over the years assumed many of the characteristics of an Edvard Munch model. She unaccountably disappeared several years ago and is now, no doubt, residing in another, more appropriate, aspect of the Frieze of Life! So what did we end up with on the pointy bit I hear you ask? Well I think it's a bit of the Taj Mahal if truth be told. It definitely has an Eastern look about it, but probably slightly more eastern than Bethlehem.

PS would take a picture of the Taj Mahal to show you, but it would mean trailing upstairs and recharging my camera and taking the pic, then downloading and resizing etc etc - basically I can't be faffed :>)

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Easy Steps to World Domination - if you're a cat!

....... ok, some other cat wrote these, but Austin lives by them. Oh yes he does!

Although cats are the best and most wonderful creatures on this planet, they are quite bizarre... After conspiring with the Cats Association for Taking over Earth (CATE), I have managed to steal some Top Secret information about these mysterious guardians of the underworld. These are their rules of life (that every cat MUST stick to) in order to take over the world! But how these rules will help to achieve their objectives still remains a total mystery to humans.

BATHROOMS: Always accompany guests to the bathroom. It is not necessary to do anything. Just sit and stare but occasionally rub their legs.

DOORS: Do not allow any closed doors in any room. To get door open, stand looking sad at the humans. Once door is opened, it is not necessary to use it. After you have ordered an "outside" door opened, stand halfway in and out and think about several things. This is particularly important during very cold weather, rain, snow, or mosquito season.

CHAIRS AND RUGS: If you have to throw up, get to a chair quickly. If you cannot manage in time, get to an oriental rug. If there is no oriental rug, shag is good. When throwing up on the carpet, make sure you back up so it is as long as a humans bare foot or expensive clothing.

HAMPERING: If one of your humans is engaged in some activity and the other is idle, stay with the busy one. This is called "helping," otherwise known as "hampering."
Here are the rules for "hampering:"
  • When supervising cooking, sit just behind the left heel of the cook. You cannot be seen and thereby stand a better chance of being stepped on and then picked up and comforted.
  • For book readers, get in close under the chin, between eyes and book, unless you can lie across the book itself.
  • For paperwork, lie on the work in the most appropriate manner so as to obscure as much of the work as possible or at least pretend to doze, but every so often reach out and slap the pencil or pen. Bite when you're moved on.
  • When a human is holding the newspaper in front of him/her, be sure to jump on the back of the paper. Humans love to jump.
  • MOST IMPORTANT When human is working at computer, jump up on desk, walk across keyboard and write a short story. Bat at mouse pointer on screen as if it were real. Then lay in human's lap across arms, hampering progress in typing.
WALKING: As often as possible, dart quickly and as close as possible in front of the human, especially: on stairs, when they have something in their arms, in the dark, and when they first get up in the morning. This will help their co-ordination skills.

BEDTIME: Always sleep on the human at night so he/she cannot move around. Even better- lie on their face, making sure your seating area is right on their nose. When she is wearing an expensive silk nightie, don't forget to paw it. This will create lovely patterns!

LITTER BOX: When using the litter box, be sure to kick as much litter out of the box as possible. Humans love the feel of kitty litter between their toes. The smell is also very attractive.

HIDING: Every now and then, hide in a place where the humans cannot find you for a few days. This will cause the humans to panic (which they love) thinking that you have run away or are lost. Once you do come out, the humans will cover you with love and kisses and you will probably get a treat.

SLEEPING: In order to have enough energy for playing, a cat must get plenty of sleep (at least 16 hours per day). It is generally not difficult to find a comfortable place to curl up. Any place a human likes to sit is good, especially if it contrasts with your fur color. If it's in a sunbeam or near a heating duct or radiator, so much the better. Of course, good places also exist outdoors, but have the disadvantages of being seasonal and dependent on current and previous weather conditions such as rain. Open windows are a good compromise.

HUMANS: Humans have three primary functions: to feed us, to play with and give attention to us, and to clean the litter box. It is important to maintain one's Dignity when around humans so that they will not forget who is the master of the house. Humans need to know basic rules. They can be taught if you start early and are consistent. You will then have a smooth-running household.

FOOD: In order to get the energy to sleep, play and hamper, a cat must eat. Eating, however, is only half the fun. The other half is getting the food. Cats have two ways to obtain food: convincing a human you are starving to death and must be fed NOW; and hunting for it oneself.

The following are guidelines for getting fed.
  1. When the humans are eating, make sure you leave the tip of your tail in their dishes when they are not looking.

  2. Never eat food from your own bowl if you can steal some from the table.

  3. Never drink from your own water bowl if a human's glass is full enough to drink from.

  4. Should you catch something of your own outside, it is only polite to attempt to get to know it. Be insistent -- your food will usually not be so polite and try to leave.

  5. Table scraps are delicacies with which the humans are unfortunately unwilling to readily part. It is beneath the Dignity of a cat to beg outright for food as lower forms of life such as dogs will, but several techniques exist for ensuring that the humans don't forget you exist. These include, but are not limited to: jumping onto the lap of the "softest" human and purring loudly; lying down in the doorway between the dining room and the kitchen, the Direct Stare, and twining around people's legs as they sit and eat while meowing plaintively.

Sunday 7 December 2008

A Pome!

Haiku - Unrhymed Japanese poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively.

Peaceful, cat sleeping,
warm, basking in the sunshine
Tigger - calm, at rest

Thursday 4 December 2008

Mistaken Identity

There is no doubt that Austin now knows Tigger’s name, because whenever I mention it (even in passing) he rushes to the window, looks out eagerly and then looks back at me as if to say “so where is he then?” Trouble is, Austin answers to the name Tigger, Tigger answers to the name Austin, Austin answers to the name Austin, but Tigger doesn’t answer to the name Tigger! So picture the scene. It’s last thing at night. It’s cold and it’s dark and it’s raining. I open the door and call “Austin”. A cat comes in and I shut and lock the door, turn the lights out and go to bed. A short while later I’m lying in bed dozing peacefully over my current bedtime reading, The World’s Most Boring Book by Thomas Hardly-Ever-Read, and I hear a frantic scratching and yowling which appears to be coming from outside the bedroom window. Nonplussed I pull back the curtain and there is Austin perched precariously on the window sill giving me the look which says “you are that close to getting a visit from social services and being charged with cat neglect …..”

Well, to say I was flummoxed is putting it mildly! I let him in and stomp upstairs to the
conservatory in an extreme state of dishabille. (Yes the conservatory is upstairs, ok! I’m not in my dotage yet – well I am, but people are being very nice about it. There’s a description of the house geography somewhere in this blog, but can’t be faffed to go and look). With Austin hot on my heals I throw open the door and there he is, Tigger the young whippersnapper, laid out on the sofa looking every inch as if he was a direct descendent of Mafdet, the chief Egyptian feline deity, born to rule and now that close to being mummified if I could just remember where I’d put my embalming fluid. At this point Austin obviously felt the need to reassert his territorial authority and I felt the need to be embarrassed and cross, so there was a moment or two of confusion and mayhem as we all danced around huffing and puffing. Eventually Tigger was despatched (not without some difficulty), Austin regained control of his catdom, and I (after a cuppa and a sit down) recovered a semblance of composure.

There is also no doubt, as I’ve mentioned before, that Austin and Tigger are best buddies. They seek each other’s company. They do the buddy thing of huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ together. They have also managed somehow to see off the Ginge gang! At least now when one of the gang passes through the garden, Austin and/or Tigger either ignores them or chases them off with gleeful growls.

We still haven’t determined whether Tigger has adopted us as sole beneficiaries of his benign presence. He spends a few days with us sleeping in the conservatory and eating Austin’s food – which he doesn’t seem to mind, funnily enough. Maybe it's because he’s very picky and Tigger isn’t, so we can count on him to eat up the rubbish while Austin benefits from the titbits of fresh chicken leftover from last nights dinner. Sometimes Tigger is so ravenous he scoffs the food as if he’s not eaten for a week! But this could possibly be because he has an eating disorder, as he’s now huge and seems twice as heavy as Austin – anyway I digress. Oh yeah, he’s around for a few days and then he’s gone without a by-your-leave leaving a bemused Austin staring forlornly out the window. He don’t write, he don’t ring, he don’t even text! Typical bloke. Now Austin, who’s had all that removed down at the vets and has become a bit girly to tell you the truth, can’t understand the fickleness of these butch types, but is willing to persevere with his loyal friendship until such time as this laddish behaviour invites too much interest from the fuzz!

Scaredy Cat

I couldn’t understand why it was that when it gets dark Austin would not go outside through the conservatory door? He’d do his customary urgent “me out” sound, but when I go to the door and open it, he suddenly freaks and changes his mind and scoots off to lie full length in the kitchen doorway where I subsequently tread on him whilst endeavouring to perfect my multitasking skills by drinking a mug of red bush and carrying on a conversation on the phone to India about my pitiful broadband connection and therefore will not be taking up their kind offer to “upgrade my package”. I mean what is the point of paying £4.99 a month more for the same terrible service? And anyway I don’t speak Gujarati. Duh!

Austin limps off down the stairs and when I follow some time later he’s sitting staring at the back door (which is at the side) with an intense look on his face and his back legs crossed. It dawns on me that “me out” has become “I-really-must-be-out” NOW! Having opened the door and almost feeling his relief as he shot off into the hebe bush, I start to reflect upon a few of life’s imponderables such as “what is wrong with the conservatory door that it freaks him out after dark?” Perhaps it’s Ginge related ghoulies and ghosties?

Then a few nights later I happened to glance out the conservatory door myself only to be absolutely terrified by the sight of a wild eyed, witchlike, maniacal, shambling wreck of a humanoid staring in at me. It was then I realised Austin had been frightened by his own reflection.