A visit from Ava the baby

Alex busy sniffing Ava's head.. What IS That??

Alex busy sniffing Ava’s head.. What IS That??

Recently one of my friends – Hanne Grice – came to visit with her baby Ava. Ava is almost exactly the same age as Alexander, which at this time was around 5 months. I was quite interested in seeing how it would go, as it would be the first time ever that Alexander met a small baby. He has been exposed to young children since he was really small as part of his training to be comfortable around everyone, but they have all been at least 3 years old. Some mothers can be quite nervous around their babies – fortunately Hanne is a Dog Listener – an animal behaviourist that is extremely knowledgeable around dogs and dog communication. As Hanne has cats herself and uses all her skills with those as well, I knew that she was the perfect person to come for a visit with a baby!

Hanne barely managed to get Ava out of the car seat before Alexander took over. New Toy! He triumphantly proclaimed as he sprawled over the car seat and proceeded to chew on the straps. Great New Bed, Too! He enthused as he turned upside down on it and bashed the dog on the nose – Good Vantage Point! He commented.. After about 15 minutes of playing with the car seat, his attention – predictable – wandered. (I sometimes claim that he has ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder… he certainly acts that way… or maybe that is just being a Somali kitten with no similar aged playmate to take your energy out on..)

He jumped up on the kitchen table where Hanne was sitting on a chair with Ava and happily wandered over there, settled in on her shoulder and proceeded to poke at Ava. What Is That? He queried. Smells Interesting, he commented and SNIFFED Ava’s head thoroughly, probably picking up the smell of milk. When Hanne had to feed Ava, he took an active interest in that as well, poking whatever body parts – Hanne’s or Ava’s that he could reach from the shoulder. Needless to say, Hanne was a saint, taking it all in good spirit and finding him highly hilarious!

The next place his roving eye fell to was Ava’s toys. Both the dangly things and the little toy animal were obviously meant to be cat toys according to Mr. Alexander. For ME! He exclaimed and tried to take off, somewhat disgruntled when I promptly confiscated the toys and handed them back to Ava while explaining to Molly-dog that no, they were not for her either..

Alex trying out the car seat.. Ohh - Could Be Baby Too!

Alex trying out the car seat.. Ohh – Could Be Baby Too!

The car seat continued to be of great interest even after Ava was put back into it in preparation for leaving. Oh Hoo! He mumbled with one of the straps in his mouth, We Could Keep This And I Could Play With It All The Time! Keep The Baby Too – She Is Funny! And as Hanne picked up the car seat and I managed to stop him from dangling precariously from the strap; Wait, Wait! Take Me With You! You Have Super Toys! After which I firmly explained to him that no, Hanne did not want another baby just now, and yes, he did have to stay with us and play with the boring old cats, and yes, Ava might come back in the future to hang out…

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…