everybody wants to be a cat

Today is Saturday, so in accord with one of the Ancient Laws of Internet, I’m going to forego politics and mental health for a while and, instead, talk about my cat.

I say ‘my’ cat. In reality, he’s my mother’s cat, and very much a one-woman feline. He’s been skittering up and down the garden after her all day, jumping out of bushes and pouncing on idle gardening tools. I’m convinced that in his spare time, he sits in his basket with a portable DVD player, a copy of The Lion King, and a teeny notepad.

Tell me more about this ‘domestication’ of which you speak. Does it involve food?

Meet Kit. This photo is from not long after I met him, a scrawny stray who had taken up residence under a neighbour’s garden shed. Our neighbour already had a massive belligerent tom-cat, and she was worried that he’d go for the kitten.

So I was dispatched to her garden with a tin of tuna and search-and-rescue orders.

Half an hour later, tired of chucking little morsels of fish under the shed, I tried to reach in and get him by the scruff, but it was like dealing with a particularly temperamental claw-grab machine. I reached, he scuttled; I drew back my arm, he crept forward. I tried to catch him; I got a handful of claws for my trouble. Finally, and conscious of the baleful daggers I was being shot by Oscar (the large ginger tom-cat), I stood back up and, in doing so, jostled the string that tied the shed door shut.

A small white paw reached out from underneath and batted the string.

Bingo.

Several days later I’d gotten him to the point where he’d sit on my feet, snatching food from my hands. Several days after that, my mam could pick him up. By the end of the week, the household had a spoiled youngest child.

In the first week or so we had Kit, he was known as Kitty and we thought he was a girl. He seemed to have some issues with this, as he’s spent most of the intervening period marching around with his tail in the air as if to show us the error of our ways. The fact that the cat feels an urge to perform masculinity in such a fashion is… wait, hang on, this was a politics-free post. Let’s not talk about Kit(ty)’s gender issues. Anyhow, apparently this is common cat behaviour – entering and leaving conversations with your arse.

Why yes, it WAS necessary to show you my backside just there. HA!

Other feline learnings, over the past couple of years:

– Our Felis catus will eat the following with avidity: toast, marmalade, madeira cake, cheddar, egg, your dinner. Our Felis catus will not eat: Whiskas, Go-Kat, fresh fish, beef-flavoured cat food of any brand.

– Cats are creatures of routine, to the point where if this routine is interrupted for any reason, said cat will sit in the middle of the floor yelling until he gets his way.

– Kit will sit outside in a downpour, and will at other times refuse to leave a chair (your chair, usually) on a beautiful day.

– A small cat can take down a very large pigeon, and will wear both the ensuing battle-scars and the very full stomach with pride.

– Butterflies, spiders, and dragonflies are all edible.

– The rubber bottom of a walking stick is a better cat toy/attack target than anything you can buy as an actual cat toy.

I care not for your chunks in gravy. Roast chicken or GTFO.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry warned us that we are responsible forever for what we have tamed. He meant it as a caution. Kit takes it as a contract.

There’s something very fulfilling about turning a scared little stray into a healthy, happy adult cat. He’s a great companion for my mam during the day – she stays as home as a carer for my gran – and, while I’m almost entirely a dog person, a purring cat curled on your knee is one of the most comforting things imaginable.

He is, in general, the happiest large, shouty, bolshy, pain in the backside I know.

Have a break. Have a Kit-cat.

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