It’s your fault…

Penny: It's Your Fault! Ulysses: Nope - You Did It!

Penny: It’s Your Fault! Ulysses: Nope – You Did It!

Have you ever noticed how cats are just so different than dogs? Dogs are very forgiving. Our Lakeland Terrier – Molly – gets very excited when someone moves. (Yes, WHENEVER someone moves). She gets so excited that she will run through the house while looking over her shoulder and promptly run into a piece of furniture, the door or the wall. Without even turning her head, she just straightens herself out and continues being excited. Now, imagine if this happened to a cat…..

One response would no doubt be the most indignant look ever! You MOVED The Wall! Purposefully! You Are Out To Get Me! Would be the comment. Was Not There A Minute Ago! The cat would claim…And no amount of apologising or denying any involvement will get you anywhere. The other response would be equally predictable. Meant To Do That, the cat would say while casually walking a few steps. Had Secret Purpose, it would mutter while washing its face, Why Haven’t You Fed Me Yet, might be next.

One of the challenges in our house is to keep a straight face. Inevitably with so many cats, someone will do something particularly Penny rolling on the table, trying to entice us to rub her tummy – and promptly falling off! This is inevitably followed by a truly penetrating stare – at my husband. For some reason Penny has decided that Anything That Happens To Her Is Dad’s Fault! Except of course when she can blame one of the other cats or even the poor dog.. Penny also has an amazingly good memory for slights. She can sulk for a whole day over Something Dad Did – and my poor husband who is the gentlest and nicest of people has to just shrug his shoulder and acknowledge that Penny is having a Scary Dad day…

Sometimes we frankly give up on the whole keeping a straight face thing. This inevitably involves the kittens, though, who are somewhat less bothered by the fact that we are laughing at them. The other day I was in the bathroom, when the kittens had a tussle on the countertop – and Izabelle promptly got knocked into the bathtub that happened to have a bit of water in the bottom of it at the time (the old boy likes to use the bathtub for his private drinking water bowl – Easier That Way, he claims, Nothing That Touches My Whiskers). Now, water is all well and good when you CHOOSE to jump into it, but Izzie is less enamoured of water than Ianthe, so after some VERY acrobatic contortions and an almighty splash – she promptly jumped out again, and did the wet kitty dance. (You will know the one – the ears laid back, shaking each paw one at a time and adamantly refusing any eye contact dance!). Now, I don’t know for sure whether cats can laugh, but there was something about the expression on Ianthe’s face… and I had no success at all in looking serious, so after a couple of minutes, Izzie gave me the MOST disgusted look and went off to Do Something Nasty To The Dog, she muttered…

So end of the day I think we can conclude: Anytime anything happens to a cat – it is either YOUR fault, somebody else’s fault (the dog..) or meticulously planned by the cat..

Kittens or adults?

Izabelle on the left, Ianthe on the right. Plant... What Plant? Oh THAT Plant!!

Izabelle on the left, Ianthe on the right. Plant… What Plant? Oh THAT Plant!!

Through my life I have had the great experience of having kittens grow up with me – and the equally great experience of getting an adult cat. In my mind both have great benefits. When you get kittens you get to see them grow and develop their personalities. You have the fun of watching them play INCESSANTLY with each other (or you), and you can teach them to be indoor cats if that is what is best.

The slightly less fun part of having kittens has to do with the sheer amount of chaos you go through… especially with Somali kittens. Currently in our house, all breakable items have been packed away. Table tops are scrutinised for anything that might be swallowed and cause damage and plants are carefully propped up or barricaded so when (notice the when..) they jump at the leaves, they don’t pull the plants over. The open bin in the bedroom has been replaced with a bin with a lid, so we can finally avoid having the contents spread over the entire house. (GREAT Stuff In Bins, they both claim..). Flowers from my husband are carefully placed in double vases, so when (notice the when…) the vase gets knocked over, there is another one there to cushion it and prevent it from spilling water all over the floor. It makes me realise just why my good friend – who is the Somali breeder I got the kittens from – many years ago gave me a special vase that is extremely heavy and has a very broad base. That is the one everything else goes into – it is the only thing that will stand up to the wilful attacks of the two terrorists. Hmm – she must have had experience…

Being quite a few years since I last had a Somali kitten, I must admit I had forgotten the scale of destruction they can leave in their wakes. It is very like having a herd of monkeys – they get into everything and their inventiveness when it comes to pulling things to pieces is truly impressive. Some things we take for granted these days, such as having to pick the tissues off the floor in small pieces. They still think it is a great sport to pluck them out of the box one at a time to shred them. Cat litter is still everywhere – Digging Is A Great Sport And You Can Never Practice Enough, they tell us, and I have given up on my orchid – the bark apparently Must Live On The Floor.  Toilet paper has to be locked away – Too Cool For Words, they shout as they chase the roll down the stairs and you still have to stand to one side when you let them out of the bathroom in the morning – WHAT HAVE WE MISSED-NOW-FEED-US-FEED-US-FEED-US-NOWWWWW!!! Other things are still slightly challenging, such as picking one of our VERY large plants off the floor from where it fell from the first floor to the ground floor – Almost Got The Dog…they whisper…Put It Back Again..Next Time We Won’t Miss! Or fishing a kitten out of the cupboard before she can chew a hole in the bag of flour…or washing one the day she decided to jump across the loo while my husband was peeing…(yes, exactly what you think…)

It does sometimes make me long for the days when I got an adult cat. A lovely, gorgeous, sweet adult cat, who settled into my home with no chaos, no destruction – just lots of sharing personality, learning where best to scratch her chin – and purring….

Oh well, at least these ones will grow up eventually. Come to think of it though… I am going to breed them… and Somalis can easily get litters of 4-6…OMG!!!!  I need a prison cell!!!!!

Moods and cats

Penny and Ulysses tussling on the lawn... She lets him win..

Penny and Ulysses tussling on the lawn… She lets him win..

Cats are funny creatures. One of the things I find most fascinating about them is how powerfully they can affect us. Cats have the capacity to influence your mood with everything they do. And the range is extensive – from deepest love to complete exasperation…

D’Artagnan – my old Somali boy – is an expert at eliciting the full range – usually in a fairly short period of time and preferably in the middle of the night. He starts with a deep, rumbling purr next to  my head. Love You…. he purrs….Snuggles…Kisses…Cuddles… he sighs… At this point my usual response is to turn over and bury my face in his fur while my hand goes on auto-pilot and rubs his tummy. This usually works for a time and then – after I fall asleep this way – he changes his approach. He sits back up and starts chirping… Hello… Hello!…HELLO… HELLO!… HELLLLOOO!!… and if that doesn’t work (I can sleep through most things these days), he then escalates it into an energetic walk back and forth across my face.  Once he manages to wake me, (or, as is more usual, my husband), he leads the way to where we feed him. Hungry Now, he says. Important To Eat Regularly! Especially At Night – Fewer Disturbances! (Yes, he talks with exclamation would know what I mean if you saw him and heard him).

If we are lucky we then have an hour in which to sleep in before he starts up again. He usually asks for food 3-4 times a night – and then he moves on to other things. Need The Bathtub Filled Up With Water, he gravely announces. Water In Bowl Not Good Enough. So we put a bit of water in the bottom of the bathtub. Hmm! Not The Right Taste Today, he complains. And so ½ hour later he asks to be let out – downstairs.. Must Check For Rain Water, he insists. And by this time we have usually gone the whole way round – from love to being very, very tired….

Personally, I think you should never let life get you down without benefit of inhaling a kitty tummy. There is something so lovely about sticking your face right down in their belly fur, having them curl around on their back, deeply purring the whole time – and just settle in there… I am addicted – I sleep best with fur in my face…

After having a conversation with one of my friends about not watching much television, she asked me : ‘What do you do when  you sit in the lounge then??’, and my immediate response was : ‘We watch the pets’. With 5 cats and a dog in the house, action is everywhere. Watching the kittens pounce on each other, chew on Penny’s tail, chase Ulysses and go tumbling is lovely. Watching the body language as they all determine who gets the best spot on the couch and who gets the second best spot on the small stool in front of the fire is priceless. And we finally know exactly where the inspiration for movies like Matrix came from. Seeing the two kittens jump through the air, exchange karate chops in mid air and continue on unabated literally has our jaws dropping and sometimes (depending on where they land) us rolling on the floor laughing.. HAH! Got You! They both claim at the same time…and on they go..

Hmm – I think she is too fat..

Am Not Fat, Penny says...Besides The More Belly, The More To Rub!

Am Not Fat, Penny says…Besides The More Belly, The More To Rub!

Personally, I think it is sod’s law that when you have multiple cats – inevitably one or two of them are going to end up piling on the pounds. In our household there are 2 – Penny, my Maine Coon, and Ulysses, my Chinchilla Persian. When you consider that we also have 2 young adults who could happily eat all day and still be slender and an old boy that needs all the food we can shove down his throat – well, let’s just say that feeding times are interesting..

Penny is the most important cat to keep slender. She would like to be 10 kg – but her slender weight is around 5kg – and she has elbow dysplasia and arthritis (she is 4…), something that is unfortunately seen in Maine Coons. Even more unfortunately, Penny thinks that Life Is About Food! Even her pain medication is considered Highly Delicious, and the bottle has to be kept under lock and key as she would chew right through it if we let her.  My husband constantly threatens to video how I give her the medication and post it on YouTube.  I maintain that it is perfectly normal to ask my cat to do tricks and balance at full (and considerable) height on her hind legs to get her medicine – after all its her ELBOWS that are arthritic… Penny basically doesn’t care – Will Do Anything For Metacam! She says…

Through the years we have had to learn to organise things somewhat differently to take into account how obsessive Penny is with food. For example, it is no good for my husband to carry in a bag of dog food, put it on the floor and then go back out to the car to get the rest of his things. By the time he makes it back into the house again, the bag will have a hole chewed in it and a (very) large Maine Coon submerged in it and busily munching away..  Similarly, bread or cakes left on the countertop develop suspicious holes in them and have whole sections missing, while plates left on the table while you step out to the refrigerator to get the mayo – are simply empty by the time you get back. Penny will be sitting on the floor looking out on the patio. Wasn’t Me, she will say with wide, innocent eyes. Must Be The Dog!

Penny doesn’t limit her food theft to our plates. When we inherited our dog, Molly, from my mother-in-law, she was a very picky eater. These days – well, let’s just say that the food gets shoved in her mouth as fast as she can…When you have had the experience a couple of times to be late for dinner – and see the last of it disappear down the gullet of the cat – you learn…Dog Food Healthy, Penny insist. Must Have More. Not Good For Dog To Eat All THAT! And if she thinks we haven’t fed Molly yet – she will camp out on top of the bin where we keep the dog food. Ahem! She will politely cough, Forgotten Something? Fortunately she hasn’t – yet – figured out how to burgle the bin..

To help Penny notice that she actually IS eating something, we feed her in an activity board – a white plastic contraption with bowls and spikes and waves that requires careful use of the paws. This has led us to have a fascinating realisation – Penny is actually one of those cats that seem to have opposable thumbs! She will carefully fish out whatever kibble she is after, fold her paw around it – and transport it to her mouth. Penny doesn’t really appreciate the board though… Takes Too Long, she grumbles, Ulysses Will Have Finished His Food By The Time I Get Out There, she complains, Need Something I Can Eat Faster, So I Can Have His As Well!

So far we have managed to catch up with her tricks as she has developed them, though we do warn cat sitters of the hazards of leaving food sitting around… And if we forget to warn guests – well, let’s just say that more than one foreign visitor has seen their nice, English cake or muffin disappear down the stairs in the mouth of the cat – HAH! Was For Me! Really! she chortles..

The bathroom..

I needed a picture so went into the bathroom - 40 seconds later this was taken. The girls were asleep on the desk when I left...

I needed a picture so went into the bathroom – 40 seconds later this was taken. The girls were asleep on the desk when I left…

Have you ever noticed how cats are absolutely convinced that you can’t go to the toilet without you? They seem to find the bathroom one of these fascinating places with lots of activities – some of them rather strange.

The other day I commented to my husband that it was rather annoying the way my make-up mirror kept flickering. He immediately went all concerned. It is one of his rather lovely missions in life to make sure that everything in the house functions really well, and I could already see him lining up an internal list of ‘things that make make-up mirrors flicker’.  He was all geared up to go and get his toolkit – and then I continued, ‘guess it doesn’t help to have a kitten dangling from the chord all the time either…’, causing him to stick his head around the door and look at the make-up mirror. True enough, two kittens taking turn energetically playing with the chord with the predictable result of the mirror blinking on – off – on – off….

The bathtub is another fascinating item according to all my cats. Now, I have a Persian – Ulysses – and as with all Persians he regularly needs a bath depending on what he has gotten himself into. While he is a good guy who patiently puts up with being washed thoroughly, I don’t think he really enjoys it as such, so when I take a bath, he gets really concerned. Is Wet! He exclaims. You OK? He worriedly enquires while hanging on the edge of the bathtub by his front paws. Don’t Worry Am Here To Look After You, he reassures me while peering nearsightedly at my face and pacing worriedly back and forth next to the bathtub. I usually end up taking my bath with my hand dangling next to the tub so he can kiss it a lot… Better That Way, he gravely announces.

D’Artagnan, my old Somali, is also interested in the bathtub – or rather in the water. Water Much Better When It Tastes Of Mum, he claims, Must Test Every End of Tub And Both Sides – Might Be Different! Once he has reassured himself that yes, the water tastes the same no matter what end of the tub he drinks it from, he will then turn his back and sit companionably on the end of the bathtub – which inevitably means that his tail ends up gently swishing through the water without him noticing. (It is quite a lovely sensation to have a kitty tail swishing through the water around your back..). I always struggle to not laugh out loud (that would offend him) when he then jumps down, notices the wet tail and turns around and looks at me with a look of indignant reproach – because of course it is all my fault!

Ianthe, one of my young Somali girls has an even deeper fascination with water. When we first got Ianthe and Izabelle, they were quarantined in the guest bath room. Maria, one of our good friends, came to stay for some days and decided that she wanted a bath. Imagine her mortification when Ianthe promptly fell into the bath as she was filling it up! She immediately fished her out while profusely apologising and gently and carefully dried her with a towel. Phew! She said, and got into the bath. Whereupon Ianthe promptly fell in again…. and it wasn’t until Ianthe did it a THIRD time that Maria finally realised that the cat wasn’t FALLING – she was JUMPING….

The fascination with the bathroom also means that no matter how deeply they all sleep, there is a veritable procession of cats following you when you go there. I often end up sitting on the toilet watching in fascination as 2 young Somalis and a very big Maine Coon argue about who gets to sit closest to me on the countertop (Penny wins…she just waves her big Maine Coon paw around their faces and they back off or get slapped…), while D’Ar regally stays at the end of the bathtub and Ulysses weaves around my feet.  Good Place To Hang Out, they all agree, Mum Can’t Possibly Pee Without Us! And that is that.

Living with an old boy

My Bed - he says.. My 17 year old Somali boy, D'Artagnan

My Bed – he says.. My 17 year old Somali boy, D’Artagnan

My original love of Somalis rose many years ago when I met a fantastic kitten named Czardas. He MARCHED out of the cat carrier with such attitude and personality that I instantly fell in love. However – he was just as much loved by his breeder, so I couldn’t have him.. After about a year she decided to use him to sire just ONE litter, and I begged her to let me purchase one of the kittens. When they were 5 days old, I went to see them and immediately focused on a big, clumsy kitten – Must Have More Milk, he said while determinedly shoving his sister out of the way, Need To Grow Up Big To Take On The World! What can I say – it was love at first sight.
D’Artagnan (named from the Three Musketeers, because he was so clumsy when he was small, but I guessed he would grow out of it) developed into a cat of a lifetime. He has been with me for 17 years now, and as is entirely appropriate when you have such a special, old boy, he is the undisputed master of the house (yes, that includes my husband ..). As he has gotten older and a bit senile, the usual old cat patterns have appeared. He will wake us several times during the night for example. Must Eat, he demands. World Will End If Not Fed IMMEDIATELY, he proclaims – and when my husband gets up to feed him for the third or fourth time in the night – he changes his mind; Fuzzy Persian on Mum’s Pillow, he mumbles darkly. Does NOT Belong There – DO Something, he insists – and continues to pester my husband until he wakes ME up and asks me to move Ulysses to the OTHER side of my head….so D’Ar can get the preferred pillow and my poor husband can get some sleep.
As he has gotten older, his hearing has deteriorated as well. This leads to interesting situations where he will seek out a nice place with good acoustics – and proceed to exercise his voice. Just Checking, he cheerfully shares with us. Might Have Lost My Hearing Completely Since Yesterday, he explains. NEED To Shout Very Loudly! Important For Well-being, he insists…. As he sometimes does it when he doesn’t think that the litter box is COMPLETELY clean – we tend to come running..
Recently, he has been eating a bit less. He seemed to struggle to pick up the kibbles, and while it doesn’t entirely surprise us (he only has 5 teeth left, and yet he STILL prefers dry food), we did think it was worth it to get the teeth checked. After the mandatory blood sample found that he was in surprisingly good condition, we brought him into the surgery on a Friday (in case he needed extra nursing on the weekend, so we could give him more attention). He decided that regal was the right approach – sat completely calmly in his cage, only slightly ruining it by pressing against the front and STARING at the nurses whenever they came in – and sticking his paw out and poking my husband in the back when he had the audacity to stand right in front of the cage – and NOT pay attention to D’Ar. I guess I should explain – both my husband and I are vets – so veterinary stuff gets done between us.
Everything went fine with the anaesthesia – the only thing was that he VERY loudly informed the nurse that he has ARTHRITIS in his paws, thank you – so could she kindly not hold them so hard! The nurses love him – he is such a good patient and always lets them do whatever they need to. When I started – very gently – to clean his teeth, I noticed that his lower jaw was moving rather strangely…. Let’s just say that the lower jaw on cats is NOT supposed to have a hinge in the middle on the front!! Needless to say – a swift x-ray was taken and the awful conclusion was there to see – he had a broken jaw!!! Our only conclusion is that he must have hit his jaw while jumping down from one of our tables – because he only goes out in an enclosed garden.
I was mortified… my big, brown baby was hurt – and might have been hurting for a while!! Thankfully it was quickly and expertly fixed by my husband, so now we are waiting for it to grow back together again. D’Ar now has his lower jaw screwed together with a wire – and what does he say? Well, let’s just say that I am the most kissed kitty mom ever… He has been purring and rubbing himself all over me since he woke up from the anesthesia – and he is eating like a horse!!
I did apologise to him.. Daft, he said contentedly, Couldn’t Have Known, Could You? Was a BIG Boy Wasn’t I? Can Make It Up To Me, he earnestly commented – Just Need Constant Cuddles For The Rest Of My Life – Oh – And Food, he triumphantly concluded..

The lovebug

Ianthe at a photo shoot at the veterinary practice - making friends

Ianthe at a photo shoot at the veterinary practice – making friends

Most cats are affectionate. Some can be slightly more reserved though even that usually disappears with the years and when they attach themselves to their Special Person. I have found that to be one of the key differences between cats and dogs. Dogs tend to be happy to speak to lots of people while cats are far more focused on just one person. With that one person they have a special language, special behaviours and special habits.
In our household D’Artagnan is completely my cat. He will deign to talk to my husband if I haven’t been home all day – but it is my pillow he sleeps on, it is my company he wants and it is me he is completely focused on.
When we got the mittens – the mini kittens – we expected them to be very sociable. Somalis almost always are, and these were specifically chosen from a fantastic breeder in Denmark that I have known for years. I had met both the parents and been blown away by how affectionate they were, so I knew I was going to get absolutely the best temperaments possible. Izabelle is lying next to me on the desk as I write, regularly pointing out to me that she Needs To Be Cuddled – Now. Izzie has the laid back approach to wanting attention. She will walk over me and lie next to me and purr – waiting for me to give her some attention. After a while, she will roll around and put a paw on my arm – still very courteously – becoming more demanding, and she might poke my mouse to be sure she gets my attention. She is truly impressive in her ability to direct her purr. I swear, she can poke people with it! Now, this is something I have noticed before with my old Somali – D’Ar. His thing is to sit in the middle of the night on my pillow and just purr – directionally – until I wake up. Much Better This Way, he will tell me. Sleep No Good When Cuddles Are Needed. Cuddle. Now!
Ianthe is a completely different story. First of all, Ianthe does not have a Special Person. Ianthe thinks that ALL people are Special People, and obviously they need to be told! Ianthe goes straight to anyone the moment she sees them. Purring loudly, she affectionately headbutts them. Love You, she shares. Chewing on their chin, she says: Is A Kiss. Really. And while biting their nose, she comments: Most Wonderful Person You Are. At this point she will throw herself on her back in their arms, kneading their face with her paws while purring so loudly that she can be heard across the room. Cuddles Best Thing Ever, she sighs ecstatically. And then she gets up and moves – loudly purring – to the next person in the room. Love You, she shares…and very quickly: Is A Kiss. Really.
While typing on my computer, I will often be helped by her. She prefers to lie on her back in the bend of my elbow, purring loudly and gently waving her paws about. Every 30 seconds she will turn or move to make sure that I keep my attention focused on her. After about 15 minutes we MIGHT get to the point where she settles down, and I will be left to do my work with one arm partly immobilised by a snoring kitten on one side – and by this time usually a snoring Izabelle on the other side. What People Are For, they agree. Comfy Beds And Cuddle Hands. Oh – And Food!

The big hunter

MY Mouse! Ulysses says..

MY Mouse! Ulysses says..

In the last several years we have had a lot of mice come into the house. Not because they wanted to – they are hopefully not that stupid – but simply because they were brought in. With three cats going out into a fenced in garden, you would probably look at them and think that it would be the Maine Coon that was the hunter. Young, strong, perfectly camouflaged in subtle brown and dark tones. Alternatively, it could be the Somali – though old, still potentially a swift and lethal hunter. You would be wrong though… It is the Persian… White, fluffy, not too bright, not AT ALL camouflaged….
We just can’t figure it out. How does he do it?? He IS fast – for a Persian. He can snatch flies out of the air and he is incredibly food fixated. (That happens when you have cats that are prone to be overweight and you strictly limit their food intake..). Anything goes. Flies, spiders – even wasps – all get swiftly demolished and eaten. Tasty! He proclaims. Is Food, he explains slightly muffled while he crunches away. Ooohhh – Delicacy! He says jubilantly while spider legs wave about his head (we have BIG spiders). Need To Eat Fast Before SOMEONE Takes It Away, he comments darkly while staring at Penny and rapidly chewing his way through a mouse. He eats mice the same way a snake does. Whole, with the head going in first, moving the body from side to side – a bit like looking at an old style typewriter – with the tail disappearing down the gullet last. The whole thing takes him less than 20 seconds from start to finish. Truly impressive and why we worm him regularly.
Being a cat he naturally has to play with it first, though. For a cat he is amazingly gentle. When he plays and accidentally hits our fingers, there are never any claws there – just big, fuzzy paws. When he carries the mouse around, he carries it as gently as a mother carries her young. He puts it down, sits back – and stares expectantly at it. Needless to say, the mouse takes off – and he is in pursuit! This can go on for hours I am afraid. We tend to sleep quite heavily (necessary with so many cats), so it is usually more my unconscious mind that registers the squeaks of an angry mice and that they keep recurring throughout the night. By morning, we either get to witness the eating process, or we notice that all the cats are parked around a piece of furniture, intently staring at it to see what corner the mouse is going to come out from.
At least this is how it used to play out. Yesterday, I heard strange sounds from the bedroom, and when I went in there, I discovered that Ulysses had dutifully brought a very big, fat mouse into the house – and promptly had it stolen by the mittens. Ianthe and Izabelle are truly lethally fast. They are in a different league and once determined to get something none of the other cats will stand up to them. My initial response was to let them have the mouse – I am fairly hardened by now and will only rescue them if they are still in very good shape. But when I looked closer at the mouse, I discovered that there were a few holes in it – and that is not acceptable, so it was confiscated and gently put to sleep.
The cats’ response was entirely predictable. Where Did It Go, roared both Izabelle and Ianthe. Was Having Fun!! They shouted. More Mice, they then demanded, staring intently at Ulysses. And the big white hunter spread himself out comfortably and answered smugly: If You Are Lucky. And Nice. And Beg. Maybe. And I suddenly realised that Ulysses had decided that he was Uncle. And that his job is to provide the mittens with toys! Oh dear… is all I can say.

The clean desk policy

Ever-so-innocent girls...

Ever-so-innocent girls…

For some reason all of our cats seem to have a clean desk policy. Their approach to enforcing it varies, but they all agree – Desks Must Be Tidy and Empty of Everything!
The mittens (mini-kittens) go for the brutal approach. Pens, pieces of paper, hair ribbons – anything really – gets fiercely jumped upon. Must Protect Order, one announces. Mess Very Dangerous, the other agrees. Should Chew PROPERLY! They exclaim, while completely dismantling my favourite pen. On my desk I always keep a soft lambskin for the cats to sleep on, and anything loose inevitably gets poked underneath there. This usually leads to a kitten following, and then the big struggle is on! It Is Moving And Therefore Must Be Pounced Upon, shouts the other kitten. HAH – I Have Your Foot! Roars the other one (from underneath the lamb skin). And before I know it, a heaving bundle of agile fur lands on my keyboard and completely rewrites my document. Are Efficient, they declare together. Clean EVERYWHERE!
The mittens have been known to be so focused on the cleaning process that they will even pull the tissues out of our tissue box. One at a time…. Once the tissues are on the table, THEY of course need to be tidied up and currently the preferred method seems to be Shred To VERY Tiny Little Pieces! Much Better That Way, they agree.
Penny has a more deliberate approach. She places herself close to the offending object at hand and studies it carefully. Once she has her approach planned, she extends a (not so delicate – Maine Coons are BIG) paw and very precisely manipulates it to the edge of the table and watches it fall to the floor with great interest. Then she has a look around for her next target and the whole process repeats itself. Requires Planning, she announces. If Lucky, Could Manage To Hit The Dog With Something, she speculates. And if she doesn’t – she often follows up the object dropping with hanging over the edge of the table waiting for Molly – our terrier – to walk by, whereupon she promptly bashes her on the head. Got Her! She chortles..
Ulysses has more of an accidental approach to the whole clean desk thing. He had a stroke in his spine last Autumn which has caused him to have slightly less control over one hind leg. This leads to some fairly hilarious situations when he has to jump up on things, because he arrives somewhat out of control! Everything goes flying, and the fluffy boy gets the most sheepish expression on his face. Didn’t REALLY Mean To, he mumbles. (VERY unusual for a cat to admit that, by the way). Not My Fault, Penny LOOKED At Me, he explains. And promptly walks into the tissue box so it falls off the edge of the table..
D’Ar – the old Somali – has a completely different way of clearing the desk again. He turns his back on the offending object, sits down – and lashes his tail…. D’Ar’s tail has been known to clear a full pint glass off the table (fortunately water and not beer or my husband might have complained more..), so very few things are left standing when The Tail arrives. Papers, pens, cups, soda cans and any incidental computer items get cleared in short order, and his defence is definitely the best – Can’t REALLY Control My Tail – Can I, he informs me. Before he carefully turns himself to line up with the next group of items…

The challenges about cleaning

Izabelle - Me? Not Helping With Cleaning? Don't Know What You Are Talking About..

Izabelle – Me? Not Helping With Cleaning? Don’t Know What You Are Talking About..

When you have kittens in the house, cleaning takes on a whole new meaning. Tissues are abducted from the table and shredded to tiny pieces. Cat litter is enthusiastically excavated and spread over large areas of the floor – Archaeology Research, they proclaim. Must See All Details! Might Miss Something! – and bins are upended, burrowed through and contents energetically distributed throughout the house.. Treasure Hunt, they enthuse. Look What We Found! And they drag something potentially embarrassing or just very gross right past your dinner guests…
Cleaning up after them is then the next challenge. The first step is usually to get out the broom to collect the worst of it. As I sweep across the floor, the cleaning becomes somewhat erratic due to the fact that I have two kittens wrapped around the broom being swept along with it. WooHoo, Fun! Ianthe says. Am A Very Big Broom, Izabelle solemnly declare. And once I have – laboriously – swept everything into a pile and turn around to get the dustpan, usually one or both of them take an enthusiastic run through the pile and scatters it everywhere.
The vacuum cleaner presents its own problems. First of all they are completely indifferent to the noise to the point where you have to be careful not to accidentally hoover right over them. Second, they think that the electric chord is the most fun toy EVER! And if that isn’t moving enough, there is always the hose from the vacuum cleaner to the pipe – you could just bite your way through that!
Dusting is fascinating as well – after all, it is Very Important To Follow That Cloth Everywhere! Needless to say, everything that can break has been packed away or has been moved to a level where it can’t be knocked off.
The older cats are either quietly amused by the whole thing (Penny), round eyed with bemusement (Ulysses) or determinedly ignoring it (D’Ar). D’Artagnan adamantly refuses to admit that he EVER did anything like that. Was MUCH Better Behaved, he claims, Never Emptied Bins! Which – to the best of my knowledge – is actually true. But then he was an only kitten – he was with an older cat when I first got him, and I do sometimes wonder how much of the challenges are due to having two… But then I remember when I got my other Somali kitten – Zito – many years ago. While I don’t remember exactly what he did, I DO remember very much the burning desire to just shut him in another room for a couple of hours! So far so good with the kittens – they are hilarious and they spread laughter everywhere they go – except maybe with D’Ar…