Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dances with Cats.............

Who? Me?

Hullo ma wee blog,

Jess isn't at all pleased to have been relegated to the utility room overnight. As far as she is concerned she's perfectly entitled to share our bed each and every night. Why should we complain if she likes to lie between us curled tightly into a ball while leaching the heat of our combined bodies into her fur coated self? What does it matter if by doing this she has taken all the spare duvet and sensitive parts of our anatomies are exposed to the still cold night time air? So what if she decides that she can't sleep during the night and wants to walk to and fro across sleeping heads or stomp across sleeping shoulders or hips. Shouldn't we be happy to be wakened so we can spend quality time with her at 3a.m?  Why should we care if we can't sleep because she has decided to tear up and down the stairs and the hall outside our bedroom door in the middle of the night or has just found that ball she misplaced earlier in the day - the one she so needs to have a nocturnal game of  'rattle the skirting boards/chase round the darkened room' with? In her eyes these are minor considerations, small adjustments that have to be made to accommodate the most important and singularly feline member of our threesome family. It's only fair isn't it? Just look at all the pleasure and fun she brings to the party for goodness sake.....

And so for the last couple of weeks as the final part of our night time ritual she has been carried through to the utility room and her basket lined with cosy blankets and her well filled water and food bowls. She accepts this with a disgruntled, indignant and distinctly out-of-sorts look on her face. Clearly it's not fair that she should be treated in such an inhumane and callous manner as this. Instead of curling up in our arms as we do this, she hangs paws, legs and tail out in all kinds of awkward ways. Its like trying to carry a bucket of water without the bucket. She gurns, she whines and she grumbles. Not fair! Not Fair! Not Fair!

First thing in the morning - which is not Jess' best time of day - if she can raise her head she will make a great performance of greeting you in a tactic clearly meant to weaken your resolve. The Lovely G will often go down and open the utility room door and bring her up while she is getting ready for work. Jess uses this time to play the part of a friendly, well behaved and cutesy cat, rolling around the floor next to G as she dries her hair, doing all those stretchy, back curling, head-on-upside-down contortions that are guaranteed to make G smilingly turn and watch her as the hairdrier and straighteners get to work. While this happens Jess will make a fuss over G's discarded hair towel and pretend that the aroma of her peppermint shampoo is the best thing ever and is sending her into paroxysms of squirming, purring ecstasy as she wraps herself up in it.

But I see the plan in this. She's not fooling me for a minute.

She can go through all this performance for G but as soon as she's out the door for work I know that Jess will shortly head for one of the spare rooms to curl up on the bed in the morning sun where she will in all likelihood ignore me for a large part of the rest of the day until she wants the obligatory massage or some part of her anatomy scratching. Or occasionally she may decide to play a game we've come to call  'lets make Alistair think we've escaped'. {Jess is a house cat and is not allowed out due to her penchant for buggering off for days at a time or getting herself locked in sheds and outhouses and other out of the way places. This house-cat 'claws' is not part of the co-habitation contract that Jess has actually signed up to you understand, so she feels free to ignore this as and when she gets the chance. Any time Jess has managed to get out it also just so happens to be me that has been left in charge, which also - unfairly and completely without justification  =  it's my fault! Never mind that it's actually Jess who has decided to leave. What about free will and that?  Oh No, definitely my fault for leaving a door or a window open.......} The game of 'let's make Alistair think we've escaped' is actually quite traumatic for me, due to the unsavoury and completely disproportionate and extended consequences which I have been graphically told will rain down on my person should Jess actually ever escape my clutches again { honestly - it's only been once or four or five times - which is nothing really. Right?} This is a game which Jess has perfected to the level of a Jedi master. For days she will be somewhere in my peripheral vision or in my consciousness, just lying innocuously on a cushion, by the window, on the bed or somewhere that you would expect a cat to be. Sometimes she will disappear for a while, yet all I have to do is call her, or give a whistle and she will come trotting out of a room that I've already quickly looked in and dismissed as her not being there. Usually when this happens I'm downstairs again and look up to see a superior Jess at the top of the stairs, all white against the red carpet to emphasise how easy she is to spot, a question mark of a tail being held over her back as she leans a hip into the post of the banister in that oh-so-coy catty way. She might miaow a "Yes? You were looking for me?" comment but we both know what's going on here. Sometimes when I have been missing her and gone to look she will simply have vanished! That's when the game of 'lets make Alistair think we've escaped' commences.........

Plotting.

Last week she took the game to another, quite unexpected level altogether.

As you can imagine, timing is everything in a game like this. There's no point playing the game on a day when I've not been anywhere. Oh no, the game can only be played when I've been out and about; perhaps when I've been {ahem} working in the garden and have come in and out of the house multiple times. For best impact the game also should be played when there is a time constraint involved too to help rack up the tension, like when I have to leave to go somewhere, maybe to meet the Lovely G - that's always a good stresser - or best of all when the Lovely G is about to come home and I haven't checked where Jess is for an hour or so. The anxiety level that can be achieved playing the game under that condition can be quite exquisite. Just imagine for a moment: The house is clean and tidy, dinner is on the go, the Lovely G is due in through the door in twenty minutes when you realise that you haven't seen Jess for the last three hours. A quick check round every room in the house, including all the normal places where the game is played, has drawn a blank and you have been in and out of the house all afternoon pottering in the garden or shed or -whatever, that's not important - but you can feel the anxiety rise. Calls and whistles get no response.  Obviously the bloomin' cat's legged it, G will be home in  a few minutes and you're going to die! You have three options; you can get a jacket and go and look for her for a few minutes before coming back to face the wrath of hell; you can take a deep breath and calmly recheck each room thoroughly while mentally rehearsing your grovelling technique; or finally you can grab a jacket and just leg it yourself.

Now, potentially in this situation, Jess comes out the winner in all scenarios. The way I see it;  a} I can come home empty handed to find G is already there and can't find either Jess or I so she therefore knows something has happened; b} I can come home empty handed again, sweating and having palpitations with half formed excuses or explanations to find G home and waiting for me in the kitchen with a quietly smug Jess purring away in her arms which leaves me looking like a prize berk and Jess with the gold medal position on the podium and the champions belt;  or;  c} I search frantically and loudly  for 19 minutes before finding Jess curled up somewhere stupid like under blankets in a drawer under the bed, but I have to pretend to be calm and just quietly lift her and carry her downstairs while she purrs away pretending that she hasn't really been torturing me with this game again but has simply fallen asleep like any cat can do.;d]  the ultimate final ending is that my nerve has broken and I've just legged it and Jess now has G solely to her self for the duration and I live the rest of my life in fear and self loathing. I hate this game. With. A. Passion.

But the variation she played on me recently was very smart. Very cute! I was outside the other morning feeding the birds. I was just finishing filling the seeds into the bird feeders at the low table that I use for displaying pot plants in the summer when I had that feeling of being watched. I had my back to the house so I thought it was just that she was watching me from one of the patio doors, but the feeling grew stronger and I just had to slowly turn around to see what was making me so uneasy and there she was, four or five feet away, just sitting quietly watching me from her place about ten feet outside of the slightly open patio door! I thought I was going to pass out but in these situations you can't afford to give the game away - or scare her off - so with my heart in my mouth I just said  "Oh hello you. What are you doing over there then?"  and gave her a grin before turning back to the job. I carried on putting the lids on the filled feeders but all available sensory perceptions were directed backwards to try unsuccessfully to work out what 'madam' was doing when I felt a rub at the back of my legs and I looked down to see her looking smugly up at me. I reached down and picked her up before gently carrying her back into the house and closing the door behind us. Only when I did this did I realise that I hadn't breathed for probably several minutes. I sighed loudly then rubbed her neck for a moment and put her down and watched her walk off, but that wee swagger in her walk, that insolent tilt of the tail told me that she knew she had me, she knew I'd messed up and she could have punished me for it. "Now," it said eloquently, " you owe me."  That tail disappearing round the kitchen door also told me that it was time that Jess was allowed back up to bed at night - at least for a trial run.

So that night I quietly suggested that it would be nice to give Jess another go. I said I was quite missing her. I said that maybe she would have calmed down and she would go back to her old way of crawling under the duvet beside G and falling fast asleep for the whole night. G, grudgingly and surprisingly, said we could give it a go. Some time later after two hours of sleep the normal pattern resumed. Heads were trodden on, noses were squashed and there were moments when it felt like we were sharing the bed with a belly dancing hippopotamus. every now and then there would be a loud thunk as she jumped off the bed followed by a period of peace and quiet until you were just on the edge of blissful sleep when an impact like a badly coordinated penguin leaping from the icy deep onto the bed told you that her ladyship was back. Then the purring and the miaowing would begin. It didn't take long before G grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and stomped off downstairs with her, mumbling something about having to be up in a couple of hours and that not everyone could lie around sleeping or doing nothing all day long. {this is a bit unfair -I've no idea that Jess actually does that by the way - and she couldn't have been meaning me.}

This morning we were feeling a bit jaded from lack of sleep. G went through her morning routine on auto pilot and stumbled off in the direction of work and I went to the fridge in the utility room to get some milk as I badly needed that first cup of coffee. Even before I'd closed the fridge door Jess was out and sitting there on the kitchen floor, licking some imaginary bit of fur back into place and ignoring me with an air of complete insouciance. I stumbled to the kettle and put on some water and then back to the kitchen table and the laptop. No comments and few postings to check from the blogs I follow meant that almost immediately I had finished my start-up routine. I needed more coffee and time to get my plan for the day into action. As I headed for the kettle again Jess walked in front of me, getting in the way and earning an exasperated "Oh come on you! Get a move on!" While I made coffee she twirled round my legs then followed me back to the table and sat eyeing me pitifully as I gratefully sipped the strong second cup of the day.

"What the day needs Jess, is a bit of toast and another hour in bed. You up for that?"

Jess looked like she agreed. At least she would get to come up to the bedroom with me and have some quality one on one time. She'd been good yesterday and maybe a payback conciliatory massage was in order. As I headed out of the kitchen a few minutes later with a plate of toast and marmalade in one hand and yet another coffee in the other and a book tucked under my arm, Jess was just in front. She stopped and sat just in front of the bottom step and looked back with a quiet "meh" to check that I was actually coming, but didn't move as I got there. I stopped behind her and waited a second expecting her to move on but she didn't. I carefully stepped over her, intent on getting up there and had gone up maybe three or four steps and was reaching a slippered foot for the next when Jess shot past me, startling me and causing me to jerk my raised and slippered foot enough so that the slipper came half off. The movement came at the point of balance and I missed the next step, jarred my foot down and, realising that I was going down, began to tumble forward. With hands full I had limited options and ended up somehow doing a graceful pirouette, perhaps in an attempt to land neatly on my bottom, banging into the stairs, dropping the plate of toast, upending the coffee over myself and sliding non too gracefully down stairs until my feet touched the hall floor and stopped me. I wasn't hurt but rather startled and sat there for a second, glad I hadn't hurt myself, looking at the coffee stained crotch of my trousers and a plate which had deposited each of the four half slices of toast and marmalade face down on the carpet at my elbow. It was so absurd I laughed and looked up the stairs I had tried to climb.

What can I do to him next???


At the top stood Jess, white against red, with a question held in her tail, hip lent coyly against the banister post. We exchanged a lengthy and meaningful look.

" Miaow?"

I understood perfectly.

Bloomin cat!

See you later.

listening to

21 comments:

Antares Cryptos said...

Alistair, this post made me smile throughout, very well done, I know exactly what you mean, mate.

Haven't listened to Jarre for a while, thanks for sharing.

Alistair said...

Ah Antares. If you know this then you have my commiserations. Bloomin cat!

Glad to remind you of some forgotten music.

Cheers.......

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

Hey! I have one of those too! Aren't they ALL the same? LOVED your post...as did my 12 year old son ;)

Alistair said...

Hullo ER {and son} Glad you both enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it. Jess thinks that I portrayed her unfairly. And that I'm still a prat!

Morning's Minion said...

Al,
That is a priceless bit of writing. You've caught the nature of CAT perfectly.
Having acquired too many felines in the time when my favorite charity was Pet Connection, we have to endure the night time performance in multiples.
We have to be sure that all toys, anything that can be poked about and rattled, have been put away. Shutting the bedroom door just insures that we have several desparate cats shoving pleading paws under the crack while mewing plaintively.
So--we endure head stompings, traipsings through long hair spread across the pillow [mine] and every other imaginable nite-time upset.
And yes, they are worth it all!

lom said...

Tears are rolling down my face.

Alistair said...

MM - I'm not sure what's brought on this change in her night time behaviour. It might be the warmer - or more accurately less cold - nights or the lighter and earlier start to the days provoking the local birds into a dawn chorus { why do they call it that by the way? Middle of the night chorus would be much more appropriate don't you think.} Maybe she gets to sleep too long during the day. { maybe she's just a sadist!} Whatever it is, it's been painful at night sometimes so although she'll get the occasional shot at redemption, she's sleeping elsewhere -at least when G is working the next day.

I'm glad you liked my wee tale of woe though.

lom - Now that's just not fair!

Instead of an extra hour in bed I had to spend most of it cleaning me and the stairs. Under supervision by you-know-who just to add insult to injury as well. By the time I'd finished the notion of bed had strangely worn off.

Once again here I am baring my soul and exposing my weaknesses and do I get even a smidgin of sympathy from you? Not a chance. {lol}

Your a case lom. Definitely a case. Poor Mr lom is all I can say.....
Ha!

Cheers both. 8-:}

Nicky said...

Hehe, Alistair, this is wonderful! I too own a cat (and also a calico, like your Jess) - mine likes to plot too, and similarly loves to play the role of "cutest kitty in the world" when friends are over, but then all bets are off when I'm alone with her! I love your description of Jess as the belly-dancing hippo, that really made me laugh. I don't know why cats love to walk over heads in bed!

Alistair said...

Nicky - this one does seem to have struck a chord with the cat owners among us. Similarities abound it seems.........

lom said...

ooh he has it easy, haha

Alistair said...

Aye and there's a band playing in the distance.....

ha!

The Scudder said...

Brilliant post Al,
You captured the cat wonderfully and in great knowing detail .,.,
We too have had cats ( in the past ! )
Snoopy was a monster & took up the whole length of a 3-seater couch when stretching out, but was also very into lying on Ann's bod and licking her nose, while purring like mad 'til she wakened up ! .
Muffin was a quiet wee soul but both did the night time stomping all over us in bed ,,

TwistedScottishBastard said...

Great post Alistair, anyone who's had a cat will recognise the common traits.
BUT
You are now a cat-slave. You and your lady G have let Jess take the position of power in your house, and I think it all stems from your fear of letting her out. Take the risk. Let her roam, she'll come back when she's hungry or in need of a chin rub or ear scratch.
Let her fly.

Jan Hunter said...

Alistair - I cant stop laughing at this blog about Jess - it is so funny possibly more because I can imagine you. Everyone in work is wondering why I am creasing with laughter and tears running down my face
Well done for cheering me up!

Alistair said...

Gents - I enjoyed writing this and smiled all through it too.

Jan - Glad to help you through the day. Now go and get some work done!

Rebecca S. said...

This post reminded me of how I felt when my children were babies...I actually thought sometimes that they did things on purpose to 'get' me. Jess is obviously an experienced pet, however, and knows that as far as cats, men, and women are concerned, Men are from Mars and cats are from Venus :)
Very much enjoyed your 'tails'.

Alistair said...

'Tails'........ Love it!

Kat_RN said...

Don't know how I missed this when itwas posted. It is delightful!
Kat

Alistair said...

Ach well, you caught it now Kat. Glad you enjoyed it. I remember enjoying it as I wrote it.

Thanks for commenting, Nice to get a new comment on an old post!

Random said...

Kat RN linked me to this knowing I would enjoy it- she was right! What a lovely and amusing friendship! Even when cats subject us to such craziness we can't help but love them. Oh, and you're an A+ writer by the way!

Alistair said...

Random, Thanks for your kind words. I've come to know Jess firmly believes she has the top spot in our relationship. Sometimes I think I'd have to agree..........

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