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…

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..

007 kitty power

Sometimes I think my age shows…. We recently went and saw the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. It was excellent, but afterwards I started dwelling on all the great James Bond movies I have seen through the years. Now, I am a bit of a Bond fan, so it suddenly struck me that there could potentially be an explanation for my inexplicable love of Chinchilla Persians!  Remember Blofeld? And the kitty he had? Well, those were always my favourite Bond movies…

All Me... Look At How Fluffy I Can Be.. Now Give Me 5 Minutes And Watch How Many Leaves I Can Pick Up..

All Me… Look At How Fluffy I Can Be.. Now Give Me 5 Minutes And Watch How Many Leaves I Can Pick Up..

When you get your cat based on a movie I guess you have expectations of something slightly sinister. That might actually have been the case with my first one, but Ulysses, my current fuzzy boy is anything but sinister. He is, to put it mildly, a bit of a wuzz… He seems to have taken his soft, cuddly exterior to heart. Whenever something happens in the house, he is inevitably to be found in a corner or behind Penny waiting for someone else to defend him. The only things he seems to go for are mice –and even them he manages to catch without killing them. When he lies on my desk, happily purring away, he is gone in a flash the second a lorry or a tractor passes on the road outside. Might Get Me, he worriedly confides…

Even on the Bond side, he doesn’t quite manage the dignified lying on the lap and having his head stroked. He LOVES to lie on my lap – but preferably with both front paws wrapped around my hand and his head solidly plunked down on top as well – just in case I start to think about leaving… As for the whole dignified in general thing – well, He Just Doesn’t See The Point – Get More Cuddles Being Cute, he claims.. That doesn’t stop him from being able to express dissatisfaction with his entire being when I pick him up and he isn’t ready for it. Undignified, he complains, Might FALL, he gasps, NOO, Mummy, Don’t Turn Me Upside Down – You Might Groom My Tummy, he wails. Though apart from the turning upside down, he never does anything except cling on for dear life… because, bless him, he is terribly afraid of heights… Not for him the elegant leap into a tree, instead it is more of a clamber about 3 feet up and then a desperate call – Get Me Down, Quick! Too scary all together.

He has grown in confidence over the last 6 months, though. Initially when we got the mittens – the Somali kittens – he was petrified… TOO SCARY! He said… Must Be Related To Ferrets Or Something Fast With Teeth, he worried. It’s only now that he is playing with them a bit and starting to enjoy the odd cuddle with them. On their side they think he is Best Pillow Ever! SuperSoft! Must Have Been Washed With Laundry Softener! As for him – well – Cuddles Always Good, he sighs – contentedly…

Hanging out with the dog

5 cats and 1 dog makes for a lively household. We inherited the dog from my mother-in-law when she passed away, and she arrived with us a slightly demented Lakeland terrier called Molly. Now, Molly had come to visit since she was 6 weeks old and had spent vacations with us many times, so she was really used to the cats and while distinctly cautious about them, still did her best to get on with them. When we got the two youngsters – Ianthe and Izabelle, our Somali kittens, the situation changed slightly…

No. You Can't Have The Ball. Ever. Nope. Definitely..

No. You Can’t Have The Ball. Ever. Nope. Definitely..

First of all – Molly has been brilliant. From the first time she was introduced to the two spitting, hissing balls of fur, she has been gentle and used superb cat language (we actually think that she genuinely believes that she is a cat..). The kittens took a bit longer to persuade that REALLY, Molly is very nice! Somewhere along the way they also managed to completely lose all respect for her, though… Instead, they decided that she was obviously The Really Big Punching Toy! Anytime something goes wrong – say one of them gets her foot wrong (when she didn’t intend to), one of the falls off something (which obviously they always intended to!) or one of them gets beaten up (by the other one or by Auntie Penny, our Maine Coon) – they head straight for Molly. BAM goes the paw – and What?!? Says Molly with a slightly puzzled expression on her face when she doesn’t chose to just ignore it and roll her (considerable) eyebrows. Punching the dog seems to be something that can be done while standing still and staring at her – or while on the run! It is obvious that all parties are clear that this is a friendly game, though. These days Molly doesn’t even bother getting out of the way, but then she probably reckons that it doesn’t make any difference anyway.

Things become interesting when we get around to feeding times. All the cats – except D’Artagnan, the old Somali – are keenly interested in food. Any food. Anywhere. Any time… And that includes the dog food… We feed Molly a healthy, dry kibble from Science Plan, and we can confidently say that it seems to be very tasty – both according to the dog and the cats! For when feeding time comes around it is a proper frenzy who gets it first! This is good news from the our point of view as Molly used to be quite a finicky eater. Well, that isn’t really an option anymore… because if you don’t eat as fast as you can – there won’t be anything left!! It is hilarious though to watch her with her head in the bowl, and at least 2 young cats with theirs in there as well, Molly and Izzie growling at each other and Izzie occasionally swiping Molly with her paw – all over some dry dog kibble…. Must be tasty…

As for the future – well, we are still waiting for the kittens to react appropriately to Molly when she drops a wet and soggy toy on top of them to try and entice them to play tug of war. Knowing Somali’s – it is probably just a question of time anyway…

Sleeping postures

There is an upside down kitty on my desk. A rather large one – Penny, my Maine Coon, has taken to sleeping all day on the desk, something that severely limits how much work I can spread on it as Penny at full stretch is – well – impressive to say the least. The thing that fascinates me, though are the postures she manages, and not just her – the others as well. I know that cats are much more flexible than we are, but it always amazes me to see a cat stretched out full length, chin up in the air, belly showing upwards – and hindlegs almost tucked under. Naturally she dreams… leading to her paws twitching energetically and her whiskers going like mad. Am Catching Birds, she might say, or, Got It!!

Ermm..You Could Rub My Tummy, You Know... Like, Right Now..

Ermm..You Could Rub My Tummy, You Know… Like, Right Now..

The almost irresistible urge for me is to touch that tummy that is spread so invitingly. When I do it to Izabelle, the response is an enthusiastic curl that wraps her entire body around my hand as she purrs loudly and rubs her face all over it. Penny tends to just open a quarter eye lid and go Hrmpf!, curl her tummy upwards a tiny bit more to ensure that I keep rubbing it – and going back to sleep. With Ulysses I don’t even get near him before he has energetically curled the tummy up, waving his paws enticingly in the air and made urgent chirrup noises to ensure that I come closer. Once my hand has contact, he washes it very, very energetically before holding on to it, so he can use my fingers to clean his eyes (!). Between each eye rub, the fingers get carefully licked clean and then back to the eyes again. Much Easier That Way, he explains, Too Much Fur – Gets In My Mouth ALL The Time. Very Frustrating. Fingers Much More Convenient.

Often the satisfied stretch out of a paw when they sleep seems to have more than one purpose. Just Stretching D’Ar or Penny might claim – while objects and coffee mugs inexplicably make their way to the edge of the table. Really Just Stretching, Penny adamantly states, while visibly making dents in whatever kitten happens to be sleeping at the end of where she can stretch to. Oops, she sighs, as the kitten is steadily pushed along the surface, Guess She Shouldn’t Have Chosen To Sleep Just There.  And again Penny  – when sleeping on a chair in the kitchen, seemingly fast asleep and oh, so casually sstreeetching her paw down and digging her claws ever so gently into the dog until she gives up and moves somewhere else…

Ianthe and Izabelle have yet to learn the subtleties of using sleep to change things around. They still get excited, so when in the middle of sleep (which inevitably is one on top of the other) one of the starts dreaming and twitching, the other one pounces gleefully – and the whole thing turns into a quick fight. Quick – because after 10 seconds ‘Auntie’ Penny lifts her very large head, hisses and glares – and let’s just say that if cats could whistle and look off into the distance – they would… Weren’t Doing Nothing, they mumble, Just Looking Out The Window! And Penny sighs deeply, puts her head down and streeetches her paw out to oh-so-incidentally poke one of them….

The difference in cat breeds

In a household with 3 Somali’s, a Maine Coon and a Persian, it quickly becomes apparent how different the personalities of the individual breeds are. The Somali’s are your mischievous, bright tomboys looking for trouble at every opportunity – and as they get older they settle for ruling the roost with a solid iron paw. The Maine Coon is far more laid back, but with a core of steel – she will only be pushed so far – and then the hammer hits. The Persian…the white, fluffy Ulysses boy…well, he is just the cutest thing ever… and so not bright…

Am A Bit Worried... Must Cuddle With My Dad...

Am A Bit Worried… Must Cuddle With My Dad…

Sometimes I feel as if I live with this giant, ultrasoft teddybear that moves everywhere in the most endearing, clumsy fashion. I realise that part of it is due to his having had a form of a stroke in his spinal chord a year ago, something that has left him with a slight awkwardness to his gait. Nevertheless, on top of that seems to be a tendency to boundless enthusiasm for getting in my face with ANY part of his body that he can possibly throw my way! When I am sitting on my desk and he begs to be lifted up (after the memorable occasion where he jumped – rather clumsily – and landed on top of Penny, the Maine Coon – well, the fur was flying…), he immediately proceeds to WALK back and forth right in front of me with his (very full) tail very energetically flying. Need Cuddles, he implores, Sooo Happy To Get Attention Without The Monsters !, he shares (talking about the two Somali girls). Are SCARY, he moans….(he moans rather effectively, and in the cutest possible way). So FAST, he whispers. Just You And Me, Mom?, as he snuggles up to me and possessively claims one of my hands.

And when I lie in bed, he jumps straight up on my chest, THROWS himself at me and walks back and forth, back and forth, alternatively tickling my face with his whiskers (SO annoying when you are trying to sleep, I would like to point out!) and sweeping across it with his tail, which by this time is usually full of leaves and branches. Gardening VERY Important, he insists. So Much To Do Out There! So Much To Clear Up! Leading my husband to sigh deeply when he looks at the floor he has JUST gone over with the vacuum cleaner – and while he has put the vacuum cleaner away – the floor has acquired a new accumulation of leaves and twigs, with a very smug Persian plunked down in the middle of it. In the night time it usually ends up with him collapsing on top of my head with his cheek on mine or his belly wrapped around my nose. Good thing I like to sleep with my nose covered in fur..

One thing you can’t accuse him of, though, is having any noticeable amount of brains… He is the softest, gentlest boy on this planet – and all the girls run rings around him at any opportunity.  Whereas the girls think lightning fast and you can almost see the extra-fast  computers going a mile a minute in their heads, Ulysses will laboriously work something through, get half way..and then usually gives up! Too Much Work, he sighs mournfully, Love Me Just The Same? With a piteous look that inevitably gets him a tummy rub and an extra cuddle.

The only real challenge is when it rains. Ulysses LOVES rain! I don’t know why – maybe because his coat is so thick that he never notices it until it starts to penetrate. He will be out even in the heaviest downpour – and when he comes in he makes a beeline for my face. He has realised that the way to get dry – quickly – is to swish wet fur in my face, as that prompts me to immediately grab the towel I have for just that purpose next to the bed. Once dry – he can leave again. Much Better, he says, Now Can Go And Enjoy The Rain Again! And out he goes…

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 silly..like 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..

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 marks..you 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..