Wednesday, 27 August 2008

One Of A Kind Cat

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.


Carrie Harris said...

Okay, THAT's funny. I think that I too shall yell "Fifty pee!" every time someone swears. Of course, it has a completely different meaning here in the States, but that's what makes it so funny!

Good luck with the move! Don't let the nori get you down.

viabloomington said...

Gotta love those kitty presents!

Good luck with your move. I hope kitty has a good home lined up! (Julia from Verla's)

Charles Gramlich said...

I had a cat once that would leave such offerings, always dead and partially eaten, right in front of the door. I've stepped onto a few things that squished leaving the house.

The Anti-Wife said...

Thank heaven my dog never brings me presents. How sad that you can't take her with you. Where will she go?

Carolie said...

You really do have a gift for making me tear up and snort with laughter. Thank you!

Tabitha said...

Aww, it's too bad she can't come with you. It's never easy to give up a pet. They become so much like family. Even the ones who bring in not-quite-dead prey... :)

I've just nominated your blog for the Brillante Weblog Premio award, because it's just that amazing. :)

Rena said...

Love it, Mary. Sad however, that you can't take her with you. My SIL got a cat in Saudi Arabia and eventually moved it to the US. He had to be quarrantined for awhile, but he did okay. Weirdest cat I've ever seen too.

I hope your bumps & bruises are all better now and good luck with the move. A new country?

adrienne said...

Blogging while moving - I admire your diligence!

So sorry your feline friend is not coming with you. I hope you both have a nice new home waiting for you!

Robin said...

Oh, dear! I'm so sad for the cat. Where will the cat go when you leave? I'm sure you have a nice home lined up for her. Maybe you can get a nice hamster in your new home.

laura said...

Tis the season! My pretty little girl has been gifting me recently too. The other night I had a furry little mouse scurry right under my kitchen buffet and he became yet one more gift a couple of days later. I'm moving in a couple of months also but I'm pretty sure (even though Hans doesn't know it yet) my 2 kitties will be coming with me! I can't imagine Hans really telling me no! Even though you'll miss your cat I'm sure she'll be quite happy to hunt for someone else.

Carole said...

Absolutely--one of a kind. You can't buy that kind of devotion.

Kanani said...

I used to travel a lot for work, and had a cat who'd curl up in my suitcase atop all of my nicely folded and clean clothes. It was a ploy to get me to stay home --or perhaps I ascribe way too much emotion to the cat. Anyway, this was the cat who also moved a lot with us. He yowled all the way up Hwy 101 one summer.

Kim Ayres said...

I'm almost reluctnat to leave a comment, as I don't want to take up your limited time answering, so don't worry about replying to this, I'm just saying hi

Mary Witzl said...

Carrie -- When I wrote this, it struck me that in American English it would sound pretty weird -- and so it does. But everyone uses 'pee' here to mean 'pence' and I've gotten used to it. I think I should have written it as 50p instead...

The nori isn't getting me down so much as the soba, udon and somen (noodles). I bought a dozen packs of these before we found out about the move and we've all gotten pretty tired of noodles.

Julia -- Thank you for visiting!

I wish I did love the kitty presents. If I ate rodents, I'd be sitting pretty right now. She caught another two last night.

Charles -- I feel for you as I know what that is like. We have slugs all over our patio, which is where the cat tends to leave many of her offerings when she can't get them through the cat flap. Whenever I go outside to collect the laundry or put out the trash, I may step on huge slugs or one of her half-consumed gifties.

Anti-wife -- We've got a cat-loving friend who will take her in, thank God. But this friend also has a dog and I'm a little worried about him. Our cat tolerates the neighbors' terrier now, but he's come out the worst in a few scrapes they've had.

Carolie -- Thank you for writing that! Whenever someone says they find what I've write funny, it only eggs me on, you know.

Tabitha -- Your award has made my day! My problem is that there are too many people for me to hand it on to; I don't know which ones to choose.

Yes, our cat is part of the family; though I genuinely won't miss the dead animals in her wake, I know it will take me ages to realize she isn't lying at the foot of our bed anymore.

Rena -- Thank you for visiting!

Yes, we're getting ready for an international move. Initially, we planned to take our cat with us, but when we heard about the six-month quarantine period (during which time the pet owners are expected to visit the animal on a daily basis), we changed our minds. I'm not sure she'd cope and I know I wouldn't.

Adrienne -- You are sweet to call it diligence; others might call it something very different. (Good thing my mother-in-law doesn't visit my blog.)

Robin -- Over my dead body we'll get a hamster! The kids are already whining for one, but I'm holding firm. Our current cat polished off the neighbors' hamster over a year ago. It was really cute, and the trauma was awful. They're still friends with us, but it was a close thing.

Laura -- Isn't it funny that some cats are hunters and some couldn't care less? Until we got this cat, I never realized how skilled some cats were at providing meat. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one with a cat who does this! Do you think you'll ever move your cats to your boat, or is that totally out of the question? I've always wondered how cats would do on a boat, but I think I'd worry too much that mine would try to go fishing...

Carole -- Frankly, I'd almost pay not to have this honor. She is killing me with her killing-for-me kindness, and cleaning up after her has gotten to be a supreme pain in the nether-regions.

Kanani -- Highway 101 is a long, long road, and I think I'd go batty listening to that much yowling. As it is, I'm dreading the journey we'll make to the country with this one in a few weeks' time.

As for your cat lying on top of your clean clothes, ours will do this, particularly if the clothes are black. I don't think you're anthropomorphizing, by the way. I had a cat who used to lie down on my backpack when he knew I was going to be traveling. The very last time I left, he actually peed on it. No one can tell me this was unintentional.

Mary Witzl said...

Kim -- Things have gotten so crazy here that I'll start hyperventilating if I keep packing. So I'm skiving, pure and simple. To heck with stuffing books into cardboard boxes; our suitcases are packed and we've (almost) all got passports.

Come and visit!

Kim Ayres said...

Sunday it is then. Just need to figure out what soup to bring :)

Gorilla Bananas said...

Have a safe trip, Mary, and best wishes for your new adventure.

Barbara Martin said...

Moving is such a chore, but the good thing is finding all those items you thought you lost somewhere else.

Your cat loves you to bring you fresh kills.