The bathmat

Alex busy moving the bathmat before his dad can get out of the shower..

Alex busy moving the bathmat before his dad can get out of the shower..

The other day my husband went to have a shower in the afternoon as he had been working in the garage most of the day with the resulting amounts of oil and general dirt liberally distributed over generous amounts of body surface. As he stood under the shower he called me and asked me if I could put the bath mat down, as he didn’t seem to have any. I was somewhat puzzled by that, because I could have sworn that I had seen it just 10 minutes previously, but true enough- no bath mat on the floor by the shower cubicle. After a bit of searching, the bath mat was located in the kitchen under the kitchen table where it had mysteriously migrated to. After a stern look at Molly-dog, I put the bath mat down so it would be ready when my husband would finally have washed off all the oil and started walking back through the utility room towards the kitchen.

It was at this point that something flashed past me and as I looked down I realised that it was Alexander merrily running BACK to the kitchen – with the bath mat in his mouth… Much suddenly became clear..

Bathmat Is Best Toy Ever, he triumphantly declared.. Look! Just Like Towel I Use When I Am Being Bottlefed! Should Live In Cat Carrier Where I Used To Sleep, he mumbled while busily trying to stuff the bathmat into the cat carrier that lives permanently in the utility room where they can use it as a bed.

After some negotiation I managed to persuade the little man that I could have the bathmat, so I went and put it back in front of the shower cubicle. I had only just made it halfway through the utility room (and it is not THAT big) before he ran past me again – with the bathmat in the mouth… Heh, Heh, he chortled, Great Game.. This was the point where I went to get the camera…

We eventually worked out that if I THREW the mat from the other end of the utility room, I JUST had time to get the camera up before he actually managed to pick the mat up and start running with it. Bliss, he sighed after ½ hour, Love Playing With Mum. Why Is Dad Standing There Shivering And Wet??

It is not just the bathmat that gets stolen. Recently I took Izabelle and Ianthe to a cat show and as you do, I decided to wash them a couple of days before. I had everything nicely lined up next to the bathtub – shampoo, a stack of towels and a spare comb. Ianthe was first – she is as laid back as they come and was busy drinking from the tap while I lathered the shampoo through her fur. Once she was done and all rinsed out, I went to pick up the towel from beside me while keeping a sharp eye on her – after all you never know when they decide to have had enough and chasing a dripping wet cat through the house can quickly become a slippery affair. My questing hand searched back and forth and found…..nothing…… After much swearing I managed to get a spare towel out of the cupboard without losing my now thoroughly disgruntled girl so I could dry her. Needless to say the 4 towels I had placed at the ready were strewn throughout the house where Alex had enthusiastically spread them before going back for another one!!

Alex busily transporting the bathmat..

Alex busily transporting the bathmat..

Like Towels, he confided in me that evening while staring slightly cross-eyed in my face, Have My Eyes On Dad’s Towel, Too… Just Have To Figure Out How To Get It While He Is In The Shower… At which point I decided to take all baths and showers while Alex is locked in the spare bathroom at night..

The Soliciting Purr

Penny: Aren't I Cute... Will Beat Up The Somalis In A Minute..

Penny: Aren’t I Cute… Will Beat Up The Somalis In A Minute..

Last night I was watching a programme on BBC2 called ‘The secret lives of cats’. One thing that really fascinated me was that the scientists pointed out that cats have 2 kinds of purring; The usual type of ‘I am happy’ purring – and then what they call a ‘soliciting purr’. In short, a soliciting purr, pretty much means ‘Give Me, Give Me, Give Me – NOW!’, and it tends to incorporate the same frequency as a baby’s cry.  Upon hearing that a sudden light went off in my head. I have always noticed that when Ulysses – my Persian – sleeps on my pillow, I can sleep through any of his purring quite happily. Yet, when my old Somali – D’Artagnan – was still alive, he would have what I used to call a ‘directional purr’ that inevitably would wake me right up. I could never understand why. I assumed that it was simply that he was my special boy, but I now realise that he was using underhanded, secret warfare and manipulation! He had found the key – purr at the right frequency, and even someone like me with no children would be programmed automatically to wake up and give him what he wanted…

We always think that humans are the primary movers and shakers on this planet. Well, whether it is through natural selection or whether cats are just naturally devious – how come cats in cat-loving households inevitably ends up being so much in charge? We love our dogs as well, yet it is rare for a family to cater to a dog’s need the way that a lot of people do to their cat. What is it about cats that makes us acknowledge them as independent beings that we assume can’t be trained? Cats get away with so many things that we would never let any other animals get away with. There was only one answer for it – interview the cats!

Ianthe went the whole big-eyed innocence way. What? Moi? Manipulate? You Have The Wrong Cat, she said. I Just Love You- Lots – And Need You – Right Now – Rubbing My Tummy – Right There.. Yes, That Is Right, purring wildly….and there I was doing exactly what she wanted. Izabelle agreed with her. You Know I Never Get Enough Attention So How Can You Think I Would Manipulate ANYONE? I Just Know How Much You Enjoy It When I Rub My Head Right There Against Your Hand And Wrap My Paws Around It – Yes, Just That Way, And How Nice Is It To Rub MY Tummy??

Penny predictably declined to answer. Don’t Know What You Are Talking About, she claimed. You Must Have Dreamed It. Are You Having The Rest Of That Chicken, By The Way? And while I absentmindedly fed her the chicken I pondered whether I had been mistaken. As for Ulysses – Well, I Don’t Think So Fast, he mumbled. Besides Which The Girls Always Have The Better Answers – I Just Do Cute…

Shifting of balances

Look At Me!

Look At Me!

Cats juggle inter-feline relationships all the time and it is fascinating to watch the shifts and the testing that takes place. After we said goodbye to our lovely D’Artagnan – my 17 year old Somali boy – the balance in the house between the remaining 4 has been really interesting.

First of all I would have thought that Ulysses – my 6 year old Chinchilla Persian – would have remained bottom of the hierarchy where he has always been. He never argues with the girls, except to chase and play with our massive, 5 year old Maine Coon – Penny. What I hadn’t anticipated was that he is so focused on my attention that he is willing to throw his – considerable – weight around a bit to get it. Since D’Ar passed away, Ulysses has become my shadow. He sleeps on D’Ar’s pillow next to mine, he appears within minutes of me sitting down to work at my desk and settles down for the long haul. If I am there – he is there. He has started mewing piteously again when I take a bath – he thinks water is really scary.. – and he camps out on the table when I have my breakfast, chatting all the time about how important it is to not let kitties fade away into nothing (he is very solid… as in somewhat fat…).

Penny is the funniest. She has so determined that she WILL be top cat in the household and does everything to reinforce it – but always in a subtle fashion. One thing that has changed is that she suddenly vocalises a lot more than she used to. We get long, chirpy serenades addressed at my husband. Loove You, she croons. Need To Be Cuddled, she sighs, Feed Me Now?, she manages to insert.. When D’Ar was alive we used to feed Penny her food spread on the floor. She is on Prescription Diet j/d because she has arthritis, and D’Ar used to like a taste of that – but only if he could ‘steal’ it from her. After he is gone, we have gone back to feeding Penny in her activity board – a white board filled with obstacles that requires a handy paw to get anything to eat. Penny is NOT impressed and spends the whole time she is eating calling to the kibbles, interspersed with asides to us as to her opinion about this – obviously hoping that the food will magically move out on the floor. Can’t Believe They Have Put My Food In Here, she complains, while busily fishing with a paw. Come Here You Little *&%^, she grumbles as one piece of kibble eludes her. Heeere, Kibble, Kibble, she entreats… And at some point she turns around, jumps up on my husband and shouts in his face: Just Open The Door Now – Much Easier To Pinch Ulysses’ Food!!

Izabelle has taken the opportunity as well to fill out some of the space left by D’Ar. She is busy purring away and setting her firm and muscular bum on me at every opportunity she gets. Takes Up Too Much Space, she complains about Ulysses on the desk. Nice When It Is Cold, she sighs and settles into his (considerable) fur. At first she tried very hard to see if she could wrestle control from Penny, but after a period of incredulous stares from our Maine Coon (who is twice Izzie’s size), Penny finally took to chasing her energetically around the house until the point was made. You Are Not In Charge, she said firmly. Now Scoot! So instead Izzie is busy beating up the dog – as usual..

Ianthe already had her preferred times and spots for sole attention. Sofa Is Mine! She declares, busily stomping on me, purring so loudly that the whole sofa shakes.  Ahhh! She sighs and plunks herself down, staring worshipfully into my eyes while gently chewing on my chin or nose depending on what she can get to.. Can Help With Cooking! She insists when I am in the kitchen making coffee or food – and promptly drapes herself around my neck and hangs over my shoulders, intently observing everything I do. Hmm, she comments, Frying Fish Not That Difficult – Let Me?

So while the space after D’Ar by no means has filled out – I don’t think anything can – the girls and the boy are doing their best to change it around a bit. To make it something different. And to get more attention while they are at it. As to my comment the other day that maybe we need another cat – NOOOO  – they all said… But then I haven’t told them yet that Ianthe is due to go off next week to get mated… hmm – lots of kitties then…

Getting ready to say Goodbye

D'Ar when he was younger. My Couch, he says..

D’Ar when he was younger. My Couch, he says..

We all know that the day will come. Cats don’t live as long as humans, so inevitably we will have to say goodbye. My cats tend to live fairly long lives – and they tend to die from strange things, because as a vet I can treat and manage most of the regular things that science has already sorted.  My old boy – D’Artagnan, 17 years old Somali – is no exception. In September last year I was getting ready to go out the door to go to Leeds to lecture – and in front of my eyes, he walked across the floor, started wobbling and then slowly sank to this stomach. By the time I got him down to the practice, he was better, but we measured a very low blood pressure – something that is quite rare in cats – and I knew that he was edging towards his final days. He has a rare heart disease. Something seen in old cats, but not often, and combined with the low blood pressure there is very little to be done about it. Most heart disease we can stabilise with medication – not with him..

He went about his life very well until about 5 days ago. Then he started having the sinking to the ground fits again. And I knew it was time to get ready to say goodbye.. The prognosis when you get to this stage is bad – average survival is around 11 days, and I am adamant about letting him go before he gets really bad.  We have had lots of cuddles. He has been purring happily, eating – though not as much as last week – and sleeping curled up tight against me every night.  But it is getting worse day by day, and today his purring is much less.. He can only walk halfway across the floor before he has to rest. And while there are no other signs of discomfort – his breathing is fine, he is still eating – he is obviously going downhill fast.

The challenge with saying goodbye is always the timing. I have had a couple of cats where I waited too long – and that has taught me that it is better to watch for the early signs of the cat letting you know that they are ready. Just two days ago when I talked with my husband about when the time would be, D’Ar turned his head and glared at me. So Not Ready, he said – very indignantly – Still Here! This morning when we had the same conversation, he just turned his head slightly. Maybe, he sighed. Getting Close. Will Let You Know If It Is Today – Later..

So I watch. And wait. And cuddle. And kiss lots. And yes – I cry.. Because he is my baby and has been for 17 long years. But I could do with another year.. Just one more…

Post script:

I went from writing this post into the bedroom and found D’Ar cuddled up on the floor with Penny wrapped around him. She looked at me with really big eyes. He Is Really Bad, Mum, she said. Time To Go Has Come. And so we said Goodbye. Less than 2 hours after writing the post. And yes – it was just as hard as I thought it would be…

Cat toys

Izabelle with her favourite toy

Izabelle with her favourite toy

This morning I woke up to the sound of Penny playing. Like all silly kitty-parents, we fall for temptation and buy the odd cat toy for the motley crew at home. It sounded as if Penny was having a really good time, so I craned my head around the old boy (no, not the husband, D’Ar – the old Somali! ), who promptly grumbled at me – Stay Put. Too Early To Get Up. Cuddle Ration Not FulFilled Yet! Penny chose that moment to catapult across the floor, acrobatically land on one hindleg and proceed to throw something through the air with her front paw – and promptly chasing after it. My first thought was that the Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d obviously was doing her arthritis wonders as it has been a while since she was last this agile. The next was curiosity to see what super toy she had found, and a fleeting thought that I should buy a new one of those. Well, probably to no-one’s surprise the super toy that she was playing with was – a really big elastic band…..

We tend to keep the elastic bands out of reach of small kittens, but this one was one of the ones that the mail comes wrapped in, so quite a sturdy specimen that hopefully wouldn’t get swallowed and disappear into the insides of a cat and cause havoc.  Penny was quite pleased with this one. Was Rude! She said… Needed To Be Told Off. Quickly! Quite A Lively Little Escape Artist! She followed up with a slightly bemused expression on her face.

After many, many years of buying cat toys I have come to the conclusion that – at least for my cats – it really is quite simple. A good ‘cigar’ or other big toy stuffed with catnip is extremely popular – for 3 days. Then it needs to be taken away for a month before being given again – for 3 days. Ping pong balls are brilliant – if you can put up with the noise of them on wooden floors or tiles. If you want to participate, feather dusters or sticks with long, dangly boas on their end are great. And the absolute winners are 3: Pipe cleaners twisted into funny shapes (they move like greased lightning when the cats hit them), big elastic bands (SO Funny To Put A Paw On Them, Bite Into Them, Pull And Have Them Go Snap And Hit The Paw, the mittens earnestly assure me) and finally – the little white circle that keeps a stack of blank CD’s in their place (!) (I know – really, really weird…).

The last one we discovered by accident. One of the cats followed the usual principles of clean desk policy – found it on the table and promptly hit it so it fell on the floor. At this stage it was discovered by the mittens – and oh, dear…. I have never seen two kittens play so hard…Being tough parents we tend to only give them one toy at a time – so much more fun to see them all follow each other around to see if they can snatch it away..

So – moral of the story – cat toys are really mostly for humans…. At least according to my cats. Really, Mum, they say with a slightly pitying expression on their face when I present them with a new fancy toy, You Are Just SO Predictable – Will Buy Anything Shiny. And off they go to play with the pipe cleaners…

The Weather

Just as with so many other things, in our household, the cats blame us for the weather.

Well, Don't Just Stand There! Make It Stop Raining! Now!!

Well, Don’t Just Stand There! Make It Stop Raining! Now!!

Picture this: Cat (typically Penny (our big Maine Coon) or D’Ar (our 17 year old Somali) will stand in front of the door that leads from the kitchen to the garden. Now, this is a French Window door – so they can perfectly well look through the glass and see exactly what the weather is like outside. If we do not jump up quickly enough to let them out, the inevitable pointed stare (over the shoulder) will follow. Need Out. Now.  Move! If that doesn’t work, an impatient, tight circle might be walked in front of the door and an imperious shout. Yo! Pay Attention! Service Now!

On a good day, that is where it ends. The door gets opened, cat runs out to catch things in the garden or drink the yucky rain water (Tastes Much Better Than Tap Water – Even With Dead Snails In It, they claim. ). On rainy days or even worse, rainy days with WIND – it is another story. The first give away is that when we open the door, the cat doesn’t move… Instead, it sticks its nose out and sniffs gently. If the weather is bad enough, that usually means it gets settled quickly – kitty turns away with a disgusted look on her / his face and walks off – grumbling under their breath. If the weather is so, so…. kitty stays in the door. And stays. And stays. Might Change Momentarily, they complain when I urge them to make a decision. Never Know. Not Sure I Want To Go Out After All.

Since we don’t let the mittens (our 1 year old Somali girls) out in the garden, and since they are lightning fast, having the kitchen door open for extended periods of time is a very bad idea.. If the weather isn’t too bad, I have been known to bend down and gently shove Penny out the door, but D’Ar – of course – always gets to choose.  So there I am, with the door open, the old Somali hanging out and thinking about it and me using my feet to fend off inquisitive girl noses. Eventually, he will turn around and go off in disgust..

The story doesn’t stop there, of course. Because, as far as the cats are concerned. Weather Changes. We Are Sure. Very Fast. So three minutes later – there is the cat again. Need Out. Now! Move! And we go through the routine again. Usually by then, they decide that it is Our Fault. Mummy You Have Made The Weather Bad, they say. Now Change It! Immediately! All delivered with the most offended expression on their faces and a stare straight into yours. And it doesn’t matter how much I protest my innocence – Will Have Revenge, Penny grumbles (D’Ar is too old to go that far – he just sulks), Chew On Your Rye Bread When You Turn Your Back! Ruin It For You!  And off she goes…

Training Cats

Hmm...What Can I Do Next..

Hmm…What Can I Do Next..

Have you ever heard people express the opinion that it is impossible to train cats? Well, I beg to differ.. Obviously, you have to train the cats in a) the right way and b) the right things. The right way varies depending on what motivates them and as to what the right things are – well, if they involve too much effort for too little reward, forget it – it ain’t going to happen.

In our kitty household there are two types of training:

1)      Training cats to do things we want them to do

2)      Training cats to NOT do things that we DON’T want them to do

And funnily enough, the first one is a lot easier than the second one.. As an example we have trained all the cats to be calm when we pick them up. That is fairly easy, especially if you start when they are young. Simply never put them down when they struggle. Ever. At all. Wait until they are calm – then put them down. Ulysses has been especially well trained in this. When he was a kitten, I would promptly pick him up and hand him to any visitor that walked through the door – and while my visitor was holding this Persian kitten (often with a slightly bemused expression on their face), I would explain the rules of holding him until he stopped struggling.  Result: pretty much anyone can pick him up at anytime and he puts up with it – and even throws his paws around their neck if they are tall ( he is VERY afraid of heights…) and  clings on for dear life.

As for teaching them not to do things they aren’t supposed to do – well, this works best when we are around.. The kitchen counters are a great example. Ulysses – never on them (afraid of heights, remember?). Penny – well, occasionally I find very LARGE muddy paw prints on them in the morning – a bit of a give away – but she is never on them when we are around. The mittens? Well, we are still working on that one.. Just 5 minutes ago I came downstairs only to find Izabelle smugly sitting on the countertop next to the Aga. Good View From Here, she commented, Toasty Warm, Too! All the while starting at my with wide open innocent eyes – Lost Little Kitty, she beseeched, Surely Can Stay?? Needless to say, the answer was a resounding NO…

When we have visitors for dinner, it becomes quite interesting. We will be having a calm and polite conversation over the dinner table, I will catch a mitten jumping up on a counter top in the utility room and will immediately SCREAM something extremely rude (in Danish – handy that..) and very, very loud, cat will jump down and I will turn around to continue the conversation, only to find the visitor frozen with the expression of a deer caught in the headlights, obviously having no clue as to what is going on (not being tuned into cats on the countertop the way we are), what has been said (which is probably a good thing..) or what they have done to deserve being shouted at. At which point I go ‘Erm…’ and have to explain the house rules. Coming to think of it, maybe that is why people who have been to dinner at our house tends to think of me as being potentially a person that they don’t want to upset. Ever.

As for the cat in question? Well, they roll their eyes and go *Sheesh*…There She Goes Again..Never Allowing Us Any Fun…

Coming back from vacations

This year we went away for Christmas – just 5 days to go to Denmark and visit my family. One thing I have noticed since having 5 cats is that they react differently to us going away than they did when I just had 2 cats.

Good! Suitcase Back Where It Belongs...Under Me!

Good! Suitcase Back Where It Belongs…Under Me!

With just 2 cats – they get offended when you go away… Unless they had been neglected while we had been away, we would be met with a cold shoulder when we got home. They would literally sit with their backs turned to us, their ears slightly pinned back and a VERY sulky expression on their faces. You Abandoned Us, they would grumble, Now We Have Abandoned You! And it would be at least 24 hours before they would deign to notice that we had come back.

As the cat count increased to 4 – that behaviour went away completely. Apparently there is now so much competition for our attention that it is a question of just getting in there – quick!! Depending on  who have gotten the most attention from our cat sitter while we have been away, though – there are still differences in behaviour.

This time when we came home – we could really tell. D’Artagnan – my old boy – was waiting in the hall way. Have Been Waiting For 5 Days, he cried sadly, You Left Me And I Thought I Might Die! (The cat sitter did confirm that he kept wandering into the hallway to stare at the door…). And then we needed to pick him up and cuddle…and cuddle…and cuddle…and feed…and feed…and cuddle some more…

At this time Penny the Maine Coon had made her way into the kitchen to see us – You Could Feed That Food To Me, You Know, she stated casually – from which we guessed that she had not succeeded in persuading the cat sitter that Really, Cat Food Should Be Fed At All Times And In Great Quantities – and then she accepted a scratch – but nothing major. Sarah Cuddles Good, Too, You Know, she confided..

By now Ulysses – my Chinchilla Persian boy –  had realised that we were home and was frantically weaving around our feet while yelling at the top of his voice (not that loud… – I think his voice gets muffled by all that fur..) Talk To Me, Now! It Was Terrible And I Got Combed All The Time And She Picked Me UP And She Cuddled Me Lots! And after due reassurance, he went off to find the suitcase. Must Sleep Here For The Next Month, he declared, Will Keep Them From Going Off Again!

And finally the mittens – Ianthe and Izabelle , my Somali Girls – ambled into the kitchen while yawning gently. Ianthe was the most blasé – Been Just Fine, Thank You, she said, Sarah Easy Victim Of Being Monopolised! By which statement I gathered that Ianthe had plunked herself down on Sarah and STAYED there the whole time.. Izzie waited until I wandered off to check my e-mails – at which point she proceeded to insist on cuddles in the most hysterical fashion possible. NEED CUDDLES NOW!! She screamed while throwing herself at me.

Ianthe did come for cuddles later as I was sitting on the couch – Could Need  A Recharge, she casually mentioned while shoving her sister off my lap and dropping herself down there instead. At which point in time, D’Artagnan walked into the lounge – looked at us on the couch, put his ears back in disgust and went into the utility room to pee on the floor. Revenge, he grumbled. You Went Away, You Were Away for AGES And Now You Are Ignoring Me – So There…. And my husband sighed and wiped it up. ‘We are definitely home….’, he said..

Let me love you..

Cats have many different ways to show you how much they love you. In our kitty family, Ianthe is probably the loudest and most obvious. There is never a time where she doesn’t want to cuddle on your shoulder, purring in your ear, chewing on your nose and chin and generally making it very obvious that This Is Best Place Ever To Be! It has become something of a challenge to cook, actually, because she claims Better View Of The Food From Up Here – and insists on being draped around my neck, with her head hanging down from my shoulder to stare at everything I do on the counter top.

Ahhh..Best Place To Be...

Ahhh..Best Place To Be…

As a matter of fact she is so pushy that Izabelle – our other Somali girl – sometimes struggles to get to us. This means that when she gets the chance – NOTHING is going to stop her! Wildly buzzing purrs, ecstatic full body rubs and 10 claws gently embedded in your skin ensures that she gets our full attention. MUST Have Cuddles NOW! She insists. NEED To Stock Up Before Evil Sister Comes Back, she mutters (bearing in mind that they are extremely affectionate to each other and usually sleep piled in one big heap) and proceeds to wriggle her body even closer to yours, while washing you thoroughly..

Ulysses – our big, fluffy Chinchilla Persian boy – tends to express his affection slightly differently. I Am Here! He announces, while walking energetically back and forth in front of your face, swishing his tail like some demented dog. You Need More Fur In Your Mouth, Mum, he declares and throws his body more firmly into my face. Never Mind The Keyboard, he says, My Writing Better Anyway, as he proceeds to write gobbledygook all over my papers and letters. Need Hand Now, he then piteously cries, until I give him my hand so he can collapse (heavily) on it and proceed to wrap himself around it so I can’t leave. Ahhh, he says, Much Better This Way. NOW We Can Cuddle. And on a really good day – he manages to lie down on whatever book or paper I am reading as well – making it completely impossible to get any work done.

Penny – our big Maine Coon girl – takes the complete opposite approach. Not Talking To You, she grumbles from the other end of our big kitchen table. You Don’t Love Me And Want To Get Rid Of Me, she huffs (yes – she huffs – trust me – if you saw it you would know exactly what I mean). And when we rush to reassure her that we DO love her and of course we don’t want to get rid of her – she throws herself on the table while maintaining complete eye contact and making little chirpy noises; See! THIS Is What We Need To Do. Stay Home, Dad. Don’t Go To Work! (As she inevitably decides that she needs cuddles JUST as my husband is rushing around heading for the door). And when he sidles towards the door – NOOOO! Dad! You Can’t Go Now! Not Had Enough Cuddles!

And finally D’Artagnan – my big, old, 17 year old Somali boy. Well, he rarely has to ask for the affection – we tend to lavish it on him anyway, but when he suddenly decides to prove how much he loves us, it usually consists of intense headbutting – to the point where my glasses go flying and in the past I have wondered if he had broken my nose. Need To Scent Mark You EFFECTIVELY, Mum! He declares and comes around for another go – See! Smell Much Better Now, he sighs with great satisfaction before slowly letting himself keel over so at least half his body pins mine down. Now We Can Sleep… he drowsily says – and so we do.

Tyrants..

I know that I am a soft touch… D’Artagnan, my 17 year old Somali has trained me well. Everyone else in the household have strict rules – he has none.. He is allowed everywhere and can do pretty much anything he wants. He gets fed multiple times during the night because that is when he is most hungry (very normal for old cats – they get a bit confused about the whole night and day thing..), he gets cuddled whenever he asks – even if it means that I have to wake up and pay attention at 4 in the morning – and he gets to walk all over the kitchen counters, something that normally gets things thrown and very loud, rude things said in Danish when anyone else does it…

Yes, I Am Allowed. And Yes. Mum Washes The Countertop Before She Prepares Food...

Yes, I Am Allowed. And Yes. Mum Washes The Countertop Before She Prepares Food…

It is perfectly obvious that he is completely aware and relishes the difference in treatment. His favourite thing is to sit on the kitchen counter and just look with the most unbelievably smug expression on the mittens – the Somali girls – while they scream on the floor for whatever treat I have just fed him. Heh, Heh, he says.. Dream On, MY Treat! Can’t Have It Until I am Done.  Maybe. If I Don’t Eat It All. And then he looks at them again – and it is obvious what he says: Beg. Grovel. Then MAYBE I Will Leave Some For Mum To Give You. Maybe..

At other times he does regal with the best of them. This is especially the case if we have visitors. Much Better To Sit Where Everyone Can Admire Me, he solemnly declares. Can Give Me Due Attention At All Times Then.  (Penny has been watching him very carefully. Obviously Works, she says, He Gets All The Treats And All The Attention, So Must Do The Same). And when the time comes to go to bed, he issues an imperative meow – and stares at me until I pick him up and carry him upstairs to feed him extra dinner and give him his medication.  Slaves, he muses, That Is What I Have… Just The Way It Should Be..

It is still hard, though. He is getting old. He doesn’t walk very well, even with the arthritis medication he is on, and he is starting to struggle with jumping up on things. He sleeps a lot more as well, and I keep finding myself checking to see if he is still breathing… He has already had one heart attack, and though he is the most checked over and pampered kitty in the world, there is only so much you can do. His food is the best possible, carefully tailored to his various medical problems (all Prescription Diets) and his medication equally balanced and that gives him a really good quality of life. But the day will come… so there are no rules…he deserves his pampering while we have him.

The only thing that slightly concerns me is that Ianthe is being a very good understudy. She is already showing distinct signs that she Expects That She Will Get The Same Type Of Treatment When She Is Older – Like 3 Years Old – Not Too Soon To Start…Hmmm