Such temperate palms doth pitter like rain—
Our misery is their entertainment…
I’ll forgo the usual introduction and instead reproduce a cartoon I found in the hope that it will at least seem to justify my labours as much to you, as it does to me. And of course, make them appear all the more sane: With the exception of a few pursuits I could be pressed to lay a hand on without overly taxing myself, I can honestly say that owning a cat is one of the trickiest. The word itself: pursuit, perhaps sums up the very relationship we have with our feline friends better than any other. Let me assure you, I’m in no way making allusions to that sound they make when they’d like to make us think we are causing them botherations— I am deadly serious. The word pursuit is perfect; implies a chase— and more often than not, it is we who are doing the chasing.
I like to think they prefer it this way, because no matter which way you look at it, there is an inevitable run around that occurs from day to day which can leave you wondering where your next breath will come from. This is something cats consider beneath themselves, for they are animals which have indifference hard-wired into them; they are the same creatures which can sleep for three days then fall forty feet onto solid ground and land gracefully: panting therefore is something they gaze upon with a kind of indignation reserved for the owners of lesser pets. I’ve little doubt that in their minds, such behaviour would no doubt spoil their whole aesthetic. It inevitably comes down to the simple question: who owns whom? For it’s a simple truth that, as much as we would like to believe otherwise: it’s thems which does the owning— which unnaturally brings us full circle to the original point of pursuit…
Cats need to be tackled— something easier written than done, but there you have it. There is no other way of putting it: their outward gaze may be one of calm, knightly almost— but underneath beats an epicentre of cruelty and uncompromise. This is something I have noticed over the years and despite the odd exceptions— tackling gets you respect. It also allows you to retain a little dignity, once you realise any hope of clinging onto all of it is sadly unrealistic.
Cats operate on an entirely different biological clock you see, but this is all part of their tactic to confuse and befuddle their owners. They’re the peace-time equivalent of P.O.W.s wanting to get home by first irritating their captors. Autumn, since she is my case-study, has long since been banned from watching anything that might encourage behaviour of an overly irritating manner, because like many of her kind, she doesn’t need any.
She has just the three settings:
Sleep time for cats is a curious affair. They can be in a vegetative state for hours, be curled still and dreaming of catching sparrows and offering them as gifts— and still become alive at a moments notice to create havoc and make us cry. This is where they differ from us. We wake up and generally plod about and walk into things for a few minutes, whilst spending the next few hours trying to remember who we are.
It’s also the time they boast the ability to operate in all three states simultaneously. When they sleep they dream; when they dream, they are invariably thinking about food. When they want food they think it’s cute to get our attention; firstly by playing and then by making the most unremitting sound imaginable: some of them not dissimilar to a crying baby. This is where they differ from dogs, who haven’t the ability to produce more than a half dozen utterances; whereas cats have a resonating chamber granting the them powers of production over something in the region of a hundred-odd noises designed to register a frown, wake the dead or put you off whatever it was you were doing at any time of the day or night.
Luckily, cats will sleep on average, a full twenty hours a day— if for no other reason, so they can be fresh to disturb their ‘owners’ whenever they damn well please. When they are not however, they are hunting lap— and don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an act of love. Altruism and cats do not mix: it’s because your lap is warmer than the floor, or invariably the chair or bed it was sleeping on. You only have to ask yourself how many times you’ve left your chair only to return and find a cat’s curled up or contorted on it sporting a big grin as though born there… It’s all part of cats’ sleep time.
Play time is next, and there is only one lesson here to be learnt. Cats play when they want to play: Period… There are no exceptions. Autumn for instance barely moves. She does occasionally stretch and sigh; looks good doing it too; and though she’d never dream of doing the two simultaneously in case it affected her balance, she rarely plays. A couple of times a day though, usually at about the time she feels she deserves to be rewarded with food, she goes a little do-lally-tat. This is the only time she really ever shows herself up: as much as I worship her little paws, she is perhaps the most ungraceful creature alive. She’s got the art of lazing about and extending her little legs down to a tee; and looking beautiful goes without saying; but her landing, leaping, running and methods of evasion leave a lot to be desired.
So when she’s tear-assing up and down the stairs because a video tape has just tried to bite her; or she’s mistaken the central heating for something unfriendly— with that startled look of abject horror in her eyes: she flies— which is all the more remarkable because she’s a bit of a waddler at the best of time; speed her up and her back legs resemble those dwarfed-horses. But when she’s calmed down and realised there is nothing to fear from the crisp packet in the corner, she becomes far more sociable: at least this is what she’ll have you believe.
Being cute means give me attention, and it’s all part of their ‘not to be messed with’ policy. Yes— they play mind-games too. The spasming out they do is an ulterior act, made out for their own ‘peace of mind’— just to have you chase them around the house— and just to convince themselves they’re still the ones running the show. When on the face of it, it’s the only running they ever intend to do. This is one of the few times we are in accordance with them— why run, when we could be eating. And with hunger, comes the most familiar cry in the cats arsenal. It is easily the most disturbing:
Take me to your feeder
It’s as close a translation as I can manage but yes— it’s there to inform us that it’s time to eat: the final piece in the great triumvirate of the kitty universe. It’s also their favourite time of the day, and quite possibly the only time of day they truly make you feel as though all their love is a bit of a sham.
There’s little you can really do to null the emotional trauma they inflict upon us at feeding time, besides preparing a little; and the easiest way to do that, is to be your pet. As hard as it may be; when you hear the thud of a cats’ imperfect landing at three in the morning and wide awake, beckoning you for strokes and companionship to brace the outdoors— it’s best to turn the other cheek and instruct it back to bed…
Your success in this instance will be nil— and your cat will never tire of repeating herself. She will do her best to trip you up so you fall down the stairs and hurt yourself, and run away feigning fright at the tumultuous racket that ensues— but she’ll be back; just about the time you want to hit the sack again pretending she hadn’t just tried to kill you and that she really is your best friend.
She’ll wriggle about and purr and lick and yelp a little if she can be bothered, but deep down she’s thinking only one thing, and that is that ‘you’re an imbecile!’ And when she’s had enough and you’re just about ready to nod off on the downstairs carpet— she’ll hop onto all fours, give her head a flick, and ignore you.
This is not letting them know who’s boss. Not that I can really speak— I get up two or three times a night when hear Autumn’s ungainly thud on the floor and every time give her exactly what she wants.
But this is where I am taking the sports to a much higher level. I am using her own tactics against her; I play to her strengths— at least I believe it to be that way. If she wants love when it’s inhuman to expect it: I won’t play ball when she gets her ‘munching’ face on…
You must be cruel to be kind. Or in the case of felines in general— cruel to avoid having misery thrust upon you, since it is their main goal in life.
So just remember: cats are not your friends. Why do you think that they are not mentioned once in the bible? They are sharp and cunning— even the thick ones! So play the game by their rules and the two of you can live harmoniously,
If you give them an inch—
They’ll own you…
And they say there’s no rest for the wicked…