Tuesday 15 December 2009
Thursday 10 December 2009
Wonders if it's too late to replace him with a more compassionate model?
You read of cats who live in care homes that go and sit on the bed of someone who is dying! One can be thankful for small mercies, I guess! Austin has changed though. Over the last couple of months it's as if he's realised (at last) that he is a cat and therefore should jolly well start behaving like one. Apart from filling out and losing his gawky gangly teenage look, he has also made one or two adjustments to his list of requirements. Whereas before he would quite happily (on the whole) come when called and go out and come in at our behest, now he stamps his furry foot if I should even suggest he stick a delicate claw outside when he's not in the mood.
In fact he's gone back to using the litter tray again after ignoring it disdainfully for about 18 months and trundling off to the outside privvy under the hebe bush. But then who can blame him for wanting to exchange cold mud up the b*m for nice warm self-flushing wood chip - I mean you don't even have to go to all the trouble of digging a hole and then messing up your dainty paws by covering the deposit. You turn your back and poof, it miraculously disappears. The downside is that one tends to have an audience!
He also, after two years of nary a complaint, has started to protest about being shut in the conservatory at night. He was always an absolute delight when it came to nighttime shutdown. Not any more. I can hear him practically hurling himself at the conservatory door in his desperation to get out and when I give in and go and open the door at some ungodly hour, he decides to go all playful, rolling over and purring extremely loudly, I think he's going to burst with joy; he so hates to be alone. Then of course he has the run of the house and spends the rest of the night making sure that we don't get a wink of sleep. It's his mission in life now!
To be honest I think he's been frightened by something. He's always been a bit of a nervous cat, but lately he's been living permanently on tenterhooks. Not a comfortable place to perch yourself that's for sure. I have an inkling that Big Ginge has something to do with it. He has taken to walking through our garden morning and evening and for some reason Austin takes this as a casus belli and runs for cover round the back of the sofa.
Thursday 22 October 2009
He's very patient; sits at the door practicing his extreme waiting technique to absolute purrfection. He doesn't demand to be let in - unlike Austin who's truculent meow can be heard way over the Straits in Bangor. I open the door and he's very polite with his "please" and "thank yous", before he rushes to the food dish and wolfs down the lot. He then very slowly and quite delicately and looking everywhere except where he's going, slithers like a snake across the floor until he's within hopping distance of Austin's chief bed. Then with one small step for cat, but one giant leap for catkind, plonks himself decoratively on top the fleecy blanket. Austin, meanwhile, is watching all this from behind the curtain as he (mistakenly, as it happens) thinks Tigger is going to pass by there. He's completely thwarted and not a little embarrassed as he was all ready to pounce on the unsuspecting tabby.
Now catiquette stipulates that there should be no pouncing, scratching, biting or thwacking when one of the protagonists is either a) eating or b) kipping. Tigger, therefore, is proving himself to be an expert at scrap avoidance by making sure he's always seen to be doing one or the other when in the house. It's very frustrating for our little tux boy who, whilst Tigger's in the house eating his food and sleeping in his bed, is understandably a tad unsettled. So he shows his distress in various ways
a) prowling around and meowing at the top of his voice
b) tearing up the carpet in the corner by the radiator and at the bottom of the stairs
c) shredding the furniture, even though he knows he shouldn't. In fact he's very crafty about this one; he starts with the usual scratch scratch on the side of the sofa near the door, but when I reach for the water spray he runs round to the other side where I can't get him and after a moment of deafening quiet, starts shredding that side!
Yesterday we had an incident - oh yes we did. Looking out of the kitchen window I saw young Austin stuck on the roof of next door's conservatory (not the Bodgit and Scarper house, the other side!). I watched as he prowled up and down the edge of the edifice trying to pluck up courage to jump across the yawning gap to the concrete wall that bordered the lawn. He was very uncertain. After a few minutes of fruitless pacing he stopped and moved back to the middle, sat down and started mewing pitifully. He looked so pathetic, so I made to go outside to try and encourage him to be a bit bolder, but by this time Tigger had arrived and was "waiting" to be let in. He hadn't seen or heard any of the drama so far. The neighbour's house, by the way, was empty and I couldn't get into their garden - not that I could do anything even if I was there!
Getting as close as I could to the fence I called for Austin, telling him that he was going to have to jump as I wasn't about to call out the fire brigade on such a trivial matter! Tigger was doing his "I'm-absolutely-starving-to-death-here-doesn't-anybody-care" thunderous purr while performing a beautifully balletic figure of eight weaving in and out my legs (rather hindering my ability to walk). Suddenly Austin let out an ear-splitting yowl which can only be described as despair mixed with petulance - I'm sure I saw him stamp his paw - and Tigger, abandoning his obsequious behaviour around my feet, shot his head up and looked over to the sound. In a moment he had assessed the situation and leapt over the fence to the wall where Austin needed to be. He let out one authoritive "meeyat" sound. Austin immediately responded by moving to the edge of the roof and without even thinking jumped easily onto the wall landing beside the tabby. They pressed noses in greeting and very nonchalantly and displaying studied indifference eventually eased themselves back through the fence.
Tigger looked at me as if to say "Now, it was chicken AND a side order of Tuna treats wasn't it?!"
For the rest of the day he slept undisturbed on Austin's bed and Austin did not shred one piece of furniture. Of course it is probably because he was acutely embarrassed and now Tigger has a hold over him. Let's face it, if Big Ginge heard about this it would be all over the neighbourhood in no time! The feline fraternity would soon be chortling with derision behind their collective paw. Yep, I believe that Tigger's campaign to oust Austin as Top Cat is being realised slowly but surely.
PS Cat flap training is still ongoing!
Friday 25 September 2009
I have mentioned once or twice how both the cats like to sleep away the day up in the rather grandly named summerhouse (it's actually a shed with windows). We've provided them with a nice soft chair each - originally the chairs were for the bipeds in the family, but somehow .... well you know how it is! So each morning come rain or shine I toil up the garden with my freshly laundered just-got-out-of-bed early morning all-over body pucker (I resemble a relief map of Snowdonia) and open the door so the two moggies can avail themselves of the comforts within.
Aside; why is it the neighbour always picks the same moment to nip out and leer a good morning at me before I'm harnessed into my daytime attire? I don't think he likes me much!
Anyway, moving on. After several months of doing this (opening the door) it started to protest at being left open all day (and some nights) and got a bit too big for it's frame. Enter Robin our gardener chappie:
"I could put a cat flap in and then you wouldn't have to scare the wildlife every morning by going outside, and it would give the door a chance to recover!"
Hurrumph! A sensible idea! But isn't that taking pet care into the realm of the eccentric? Probably; but anyway we agreed and I thought that that would be the end of it. Not so. A few days later he turned up with a 4-way all-singing all-dancing cat flap contraption for £14.95 from B&Q. "Great" I said ! He disappeared up the garden.
After several hours of huffing and puffing, three mugs of "builders", copious amounts of glue and paint and a bit of nifty man-handling of a jig-saw, it was in place. A true work of art - Damien Hirst eat your heart out! Now all we had to do is introduce it to the cats.
Now Austin is spooked by his imaginary friend, but Tigger was game. So I put some food on the inside of the shed and held the flap open from the outside. Tigger was through there like greased lightening. I shut the flap. Austin looks on with bemusement. Silence except for the sound of a masticating cat inside. Then more silence ...... I take a peek. There's Tigger looking up at me from the door waiting, oh so patiently, for it to be opened. Not fazed I stuck my fingers through the flap and eventually Tigger slid through. He glanced at Austin:
"piece of cake; you just gotta get her to keep that flap thingy open!"
I went to fetch my camera for the next installment and instructed my nephew (Thanks Davy :>) to aim in the general direction of the cat flap and shoot.
Wednesday 23 September 2009
Monday 21 September 2009
I've just been reading in the Daily Telegraph that Noel Edmonds has launched an iPhone application for people who believe in the New Age philosophy of Cosmic Ordering!!
This astounding bit of news has set me off on one of my flights of fancy (maybe it's a cosmic flight) about how the Cosmos deals with orders that come in from us mere mortals? I mean is it like online buying from Amazon? Or maybe one has to outbid other interested parties, as you do on ebay? Does the great Cosmo have a giant warehouse from which all orders are processed? I've just looked "cosmos" up in a dictionary and it says:
"In its most general sense, a cosmos is an orderly or harmonious system. It originates from a Greek term κόσμος meaning "order, orderly arrangement, ornaments," and is the antithetical concept of chaos. Today the word is generally used as synonym of the word 'universe' (considered in its orderly aspect).
Leaving aside the dilemma this leaves us regarding the polar clash of civilisations i.e. when cosmos and chaos become inextricably entwined here on earth (e.g. hurricane, tsunami, Austin and Tigger!), I continue my muse and wonder how we managed to imbue a "system" with a personality? Is this something to do with pantheism, which is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing immanent God? In pantheism, the Universe (Nature) and God are considered equivalent and synonymous (got that from Wiki!).
Maybe so. However that still leaves the knotty problem as to who it is who processes all these orders. Even though there are places on the web where you can "submit your cosmic order here", some poor devil still has to wrap them up and send them out? Perhaps I should send for "Cosmic Ordering for Dummies"! You know I don't think Mr Edmonds has really thought this one through!
Here is a view of the local cosmos from my window
Thursday 17 September 2009
Sadly, balmy summers nights have been in rather short supply the last few years. Anyway several times of late I have drawn back the curtains in the morning to a scene of carnage on the paving stones; anything from shrews to voles to baby blue tits. But then this morning there was a fully grown robin lying mutilated on the ground. I don't know why this should upset me more than the rest, but it's red breast was so vivid and warm and colourful, in stark contrast to the dull grey of the cold stone ground. I was poleaxed because I was still half asleep when I drew back the curtains and the scene unfolded like the first act of a Shakespearean tragedy!
This was yet another present to me from Austin; it was beautiful and it was dead! The incongruity of the sight did manage to penetrate my sleep sodden brain; the poignant beauty and delicacy of this death at variance with the bold brash birth of the brand new day. The end and the beginning played out in a tableau before my eyes. Here was the reminder to us all that death is midst of life.
Austin, being rather more prosaic and earthbound, popped his head up from under the window. His tail shot up like an exclamation mark!
"Look what I've done!"
"Yes; thanks my boy. I guess you're only doing what comes naturally, but I wish you wouldn't implicate me as an accessory after the fact", as I trudge wearily to fetch a shovel and some paper :<(
NB What Austin doesn't know is that this afternoon at 4.10 precisely he will be at the vets having his annual check up and booster shot. Now I'm not in the least vindictive and I know he won't make the connection, but he hates the vets; so you can't blame me if, on this occasion, I feel just a little less sorry for him!!
Monday 14 September 2009
Thursday 3 September 2009
Sunday 30 August 2009
It must really gall him to have to be reliant on me, a mere human, for his nourishment. So he politely accepts the morsels I offer, picks at them daintily and for just long enough so that my feelings aren't hurt and then rushes outside to where the food is still on the hoof (or wing!) and where the eating process is still fraught with danger and, let's face it, fun. It's because of their instinct for hunting and it adds a certain frisson to life.
Cat satisfaction levels increase in direct proportion to the level of difficulty in obtaining sustenance. Do I know what I'm talking about? No not really! But I have noticed that Austin's been as skinny as a supermodel up until quite recently. This we've put down to either his "Ginger-vitis" or his picky appetite - or both. However, the last month or so, despite his ongoing fastidiousness with the indoor-already-dead type of food, he's definitely getting more rotund. He must, therefore, be eating out; and who can blame him? Why settle for the prepacked genetically modified pap from the supermarket when there's organic free range a la carte right on the doorstep?
Anyway, nearly all teenagers like eating fast food and they don't come much faster per poundage than a starling or a baby rabbit! On the other hand he could be eating round at Tigger's!
Sunday 23 August 2009
Being an animal lover, of course, I would much rather do myself serious damage than harm a hair of his little feline personality. So we proceed on our journey, all the while his ears are like antennas checking constantly for any change in movement or direction. And I shuffle along behind in a kind of one-legged hop as I try to predict which way he's going to veer. I stop to regain balance; he stops as he's "following" me. I place my left leg to his left and right leg to his right. So now I'm straddling him! He looks at me:
"Make up your mind!"
I hop over him and gain the advantage of being at the front. He nips round the side of me and stands on my left foot. We reach an impasse. Confusion reigns. We pause to consider our positions and then the whole thing starts over again; but by this time I have forgotten what it was I was supposed to be doing anyway, so I swivel round on my one free foot and hobble back to base camp in the living room for a regroup and a bit of a think. Austin goes back to rolling on his catnip stash behind the piano.
Wednesday 19 August 2009
I only mention this because Tigger is exactly the opposite. He eats like a starving peasant, but sleeps the sleep of the dead. He sheds nary a scintilla of fur, claw or dead insect and he leaves the place neat and tidy when he's done. Austin, who gives a whole new meaning to the word "dainty" when it comes to eating, sleeps like he's going 15 rounds with Mike Tyson. Whether it's on his blanket in the conservatory, on the back of the overstuffed armchair, or on my lap, he tosses and turns, twitches and jumps, grunts and groans until the place is a tip; it's particularly noticeable when he's been doing this on my lap!
The shiatsu technique (I have mentioned before) is only the beginning. Once he's finished preparing the ground, he burrows deep, deep down and wedges himself securely, head in one of my hands and bum in the other. He then proceeds to run the whole gamut of sleep disorders, from talking and snoring to apnoea and night terrors until his "bed" begins to resemble an earthquake zone. When he wakes up (or is woken up!) he rises, stretches, yawns, looks at me calmly and jumps down, emitting a short mew of thanks and proceeds to go about his business.
Meanwhile I am left dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Austin; a state of emergency is declared around the area of my lap and disaster recovery ensues. The clear up operation can take a while and generally involves a brush, wet wipes and TCP. I just love that cat :>)
I also love this cartoon ;)
Sunday 9 August 2009
seriousness of the situation:
"Wod tybedoob yood caw did?" would only make him fall about laughing and the moment would be lost. (BTW if it wasn't swine flu I had, it was definitely something that came with a snout!). So I let it go ... and then let it go ........ Consequently, when this Friday night came round, I let him stay out as usual until about 10.30. Big Mistake. No amount of calling, whistling, banging the food bowl or not-so-veiled threats would tempt him inside. Ok, there was a cat at the door at one point, but it was just Tigger. Now much as I love him, he's not actually family - not even legally adopted, just an itinerant and a scrounger; a "schnorrer" in fact.
I don't know what it is about this tabby, but he manages to be very eloquent with his eyes and general demeanour. He completely mesmerises you with a kind of prescient confidence that compels you to do as he wishes. So, not family, but definitely "familiar", a demiurge in the gnostic pantheon who gently demands appeasement and knows without a doubt that he will be satisfied. I dream about those eyes. What do you think?
Though a photo does not do justice to the sheer force of his personality. Never once have I ever seen him with that "rabbit caught in the headlights" look that Austin always adopts when he wants to come in and I'm a nanosecond behind in responding to his ear-piercingly eloquent demand. For him it's as if the world is coming to an end and I'm the sole cause of it! No, Tigger is as self-assured as it is possible for a cat to be. He rules. End of.
Anyway, I need to reverse out of the narrative cul de sac I've inadvertently turned down and return to the burning issue of last Friday night. Austin had obviously found catnip heaven and wasn't about to give it up for a bite of Morrison's trout'nprawn in jelly or pretend fish pellets from PetzRUs! I gave up and went to bed. The neighbour's security light went on and off ALL night long and then at 5 a.m. I heard the aged mother stomping through the kitchen and open the conservatory door. Talk about stage whispers! I doubt if Dame Edith Evans could have done any better. The whole of North Wales is now aware of Austin's nighttime wanderings and he still didn't come in.
It wasn't until about 8 a.m. that he decided to show his face. He looked a bit cocky that's for sure, and he was hungry (which makes a change) and then proceeded to sleep the day away on his blanket. Not wanting a repeat performance the following night, I "encouraged" him into the garden at about 6. Funnily enough, he was banging on the window at about 8.30. Back to normal now, but awaiting next Friday night with some interest!
Tuesday 4 August 2009
Yeah, well! Over the last couple of years I have come to believe that young Austin, although definitely not "one of the group", has shown the ability and desire to bond with other cats (Tigger, to be precise) and the odd human (that would be me!). He also responds very well to some commands. I have tried to write a lot of humourous stuff about life with him and most of it is true, if sometimes skewed for effect! However, I have come to be very fond of this characterful feline and I believe that he has of me, too, in a narcissistic sort of way.
Some observations: Tigger is really the only other cat he actually likes having around; in fact it was Austin who brought him home one day and made the introductions. He even lets Tigger eat his food; this is amazing, as it doesn't appear to bother him at all. All he does is look on with detached amusement as the tabby stuffs his face in a prole-ish kind of way. When Tigger is not eating, they fight and chase each other around and then studiously ignore each other while they tidy themselves up and then proceed to sleep together very companionably in the summerhouse or conservatory. It's very clear though that Tigger is "Benny the Ball" to Austin's "Top Cat"! Any other cat (Big Ginge or one of his gang!) is summarily chased away with much snarling and yowling and fur flying.
Now about his relationship with mere humans! I know cats are supposed to be cunning and manipulative. But he's not really, despite the cute thing he does with his head! The way he goes about requesting juicy morsels of chicken or salmon from my plate is not at all disingenuous:
"Please can I have a tasty morsel of chicken or salmon from your plate?"
"No you can't."
And he goes off to vent his spleen on a bluebottle that's wandered in from the garden. Then he doesn't have to follow me around the house to make sure I'm nice and comfy, before curling up at (or on) my feet; he could chose any one of several beds he's got set up around the place. And for no reason at all he will stop in mid clean to jump on my lap, rub his head against mine and then jump down again to continue his ritual bath. He doesn't have to do this, but he does.
First thing in the morning it's generally my mother who's up at the crack of dawn to let him out, but it's me who mostly gets the lovey dovey treatment. Anyone else enters the room and he takes scant notice, but as soon as he hears me trudging up, he goes all coy, rolling on his back asking for his tummy to be tickled.*
He nearly always responds when I call his name - ok, it occasionally takes a little time if he's reached an interesting point in his dream, or he's several gardens away plotting retribution on one of the eleven spitting dogs; but I generally only have to say "uh-uh" once for him to stop doing what he shouldn't - unless of course he's got a mouse or bird and then all I see is his tail disappearing over the fence; OR if he's scratching the furniture - he's got a project on at the moment to dismantle the sofa thread by thread, until the arm falls off completely! I think he feels it's some kind of retro-therapy to help assuage the trauma of his early months, and of course it's marginally cheaper than a shrink! So, all things considered, I would say that Austin at the ripe old age of 2 years plus vat is happy and contented (on the whole) and has me exactly where he wants me - firmly under the claw!!
Sunday 26 July 2009
Whiskers all of a quiver
This was going to be a haiku verse
But I had far too many syllables to deliver.
Struggling with my thoughts
Harnessing the syllables
Not easy, is it?
So trying again
I must count them precisely
Can’t have too many.
OK, going for it now ........ :>)
A thought cannot be
Succinctly confined to verse
It’s free from constraints
Oh well ....... !
A limerick is so much simpler to write
It contains a rhyme and rhythm and bite
But between me and you
I prefer the Haiku
It’s a rite of write all right. How trite!
Monday 20 July 2009
"It's ALL About ME ....."
..... as proved by the soodoe (sorry can't spell pseudo) lovey-dovey, furry-purry, arched-back, head-on-one-side, huge-eyed oscar winning performance he puts on when he thinks he's not getting enough (all) of my attention. You can see the cogs turning:
"Ok, she likes that stupid thing I do with my head nestling in her hand and that adoring look I do with my gorgeous eyes and I really want some of her salmon salad (hold the salad): so here goes ... ... . "
So I give him a pinhead morsel which he eats with great gusto and relish and much masticating of the jaw (is that tautologous? Don't care really, just wanted to use the word :). Then he proceeds to give himself an all over wash and spruce up so he's ready for the next pinhead morsel .... ? What's that all about? He got OCD or something? And then there's the "everything's your fault" look he gives when it's raining and he doesn't want to use the litter tray and the outside loo is ... well ..... outside! He takes me on the ritual tour of all the doors and windows, just to make sure; and I traipse round after him feeling like Cruella de Vil when it transpires it's precipitating outside all of them.
I've also learnt that cats can hold grudges; well, at least this cat does. Oh yes! It was just the once I forgot that the 5 ton conservatory door is on the tilt and tends to slam shut if not wedged open with the Carmen the Cow doorstop. Unfortunately, Carmen was elsewhere when I opened the door on this one occasion and turned away just for a second! Austin saw me, made for the opening and caught the full effect of the triple glazed iron and steel frame on his little 10lb bod as he was hurled several feet into the brachyglottis greyi - I should add that it wasn't in flower at the time and there were one or two pointy its! I was mortified and envisaged being on the RSPCA blacklist for ... like ... forever :<(
Monday 6 July 2009
Now I'm as self-obsessed as the next egomaniac blogasist, but it has become apparent that, whereas I can pretend to be a giving and generous blogger, many others are quite brazenly only interested in having their own blogs read, and never (heaven forfend!) allowing themselves to even accidentally read anything anyone else has submitted!
Since joining a couple of blog lists I've been inundated by about five people wanting to become my "friend". I was ecstatic and suffused with warm fuzzies at the thought of being included in someone elses intimate circle of virtual blogging buddies! Does this mean that someone, other than my two loyal family members, a few benign and kindly lurkerbuddies (you know who you are :>) and the cat, has actually read and smiled at my ramblings? ... Yeah right; I should coco!
Apart from the ones written by the clever cats themselves, it appears these "friends" all have agendas (and blogs) that are overtly selling something; from arty farty crafty artefacts to the boost-your-self-esteem, find-your-inner-goddess, chakra-stroking kundalini-unleashing mind-numbingly boring new age claptrap. I don't want it thanks. When, in the spirit of catcomradery, I sought out a few blogs of ostensibly like-minded catfolk and left apposite comments, do they bother to pop over to check out who I am? Not on your nelly - or maybe just the once, to see if I'm likely to be a serious contender in the world of wannabe literary icons.
Thing is we bloggers haven't really got time to read anybody else's meaningless drivel, as we are all too busy writing our own meaningless drivel. Is it just another brick in the wall of post-modern, post-ironic, self-involved individualism? If true, eventually this wall will be much too high to surmount: and anyway who's going to take the time to look up high enough to notice this monumental metaphor? We're all too busy scrabbling around in our own small corner of overcrowded planet Blog. A bit of a conundrum for us 21st century cybersaddos eh!
Oh! It's just occurred to me; It's probably because I'm not selling or saying anything of interest to these UberBlogasists. Maybe I should have a serious rethink and get Austin to actually do the blogging himself along with the likes of Fluffy, Furball, Fui and Eric. At the very least he would be part of the gang :P
* Revised title courtesy of my little brother, who's much funnier than I am :P