The cat knows something's up.
There are piles of books everywhere -- in boxes, on the remaining furniture, along the sides of the staircase. The contents of every drawer have been spilled out and rummaged through; suitcases stand open, and cardboard boxes are to be found every few feet.
On her soft little feet, the cat pads through the maze of boxes and piles of books, inspecting everything, glancing up at us with a question in her eyes. We can't take her with us, and it kills me to see her looking so mystified -- or curled up peacefully in a chair for that matter. She is very much my cat, and I know I'll never have another one like her.
Our living room has been turned into an obstacle course. We seem to have as many CDs as we do books, and boxes of them make getting around the room very hard. The phone rings non-stop, and inevitably it has been left beyond a waist-high stack of boxes.
The cat watches our frantic movement with a censorious eye. She is just waiting for someone to sit down so she can leap onto their lap and be petted. This rarely happens lately; no one has the time to spare.
So she does what any good cat will do when she senses her human enablers have grown a little distant: she brings us gifts. Normally, her favorite time for gift-giving is when I am having my weekly writing group meeting. Engrossed, I sit at the computer, instant-texting, and the cat knows she is not really welcome. So she goes out and exerts herself, and if she is lucky, I hear her hunting call, a low, mournful yowl that always means she has brought me something. If I am by myself, I have two choices. I can continue with my meeting and risk the chance of her devouring her catch messily on our one decent rug, or of her possibly still-viable prey crawling off to die under the sofa, unnoticed for days until the smell reaches our noses. Or I can catch it, fling it outside if it is still alive and unwounded -- or quickly dispatch it if it is beyond salvation. At first, I always tried to liberate the captured animal, but this gets old very fast when you have a champion hunter of a cat. Now I am inclined to let her have her way with whatever poor little creature she has caught; even if I manage to catch it and throw it outside, chances are that she'll only catch it again.
Last night, I was up late packing. In the kitchen, I have boxes of Asian foodstuffs piled high. We never managed to get through all the nori, the dehydrated tofu (I don't recommend this), the wakame, or the dried squid that my kids and husband have purchased in veritable job lots.
I was sitting between two stacks of boxes when I heard the cat-flap snap open, then shut. We generally have it locked on 'no-entry', but the cat has figured out a way to open it anyway.
And then I heard that yowl.
Bear in mind that I was in the middle of a maze. A maze composed of boxes of foodstuffs. Most of the time, the rodents the cat brings in have few places to hide. Sure, they can dive under a dresser, but at some point, they have to come out for food and water. But given the state of our kitchen now, every mouse in Scotland could hole up for five months and raise many generations of healthy offspring. And obviously I don't want this to happen.
We've intiated a non-swearing policy in this household. Bad words ostensibly cost the user fifty pence a shot, so whenever someone indulges in profanity, someone else shouts out Fifty pee! Everybody else was asleep last night or I'd have racked up a fortune.
By the time I got to bed, I'd been all over the kitchen with the broom, trying to ferret out the poor little rodent, half out of its wits with terror. I'd sprained my thumb and whacked my hip on the corner of the table and messed up my knees, crouching and trying to coax the rodent out. The cat got bored halfway through this and went to lie down in the living room. She's lucky she made it through the night.
We're pals again, and she's lying in my lap even as I write. I'll never have another cat like her. Good thing that works two ways.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
The cat knows something's up.