The Joy of Pets
Other people's pets
The cat returns
To me a Cat is a trusting but seldom trustworthy creature. I often find the cat in my life looking at me with the doe eyes cats can have when they hope you will forgive their last misdemeanor, ignoring the fact that they are currently being caught red pawed half way through the next. No matter how often it happens, I cant quite bring myself to overly chastise the animal. It is after all not her fault she finds an evening fight with my dried flower arrangement irresistible. But nor is it mine that I cant restrain my annoyance at forgetting to shut the door.
Automatic shutting of every door I use is a double edged weapon as she has become quite adept at
hiding. I can return to a room I left empty to find she has had to empty herself in it, having been asleep on
the picture rail when I shut her in. Who can I blame for that ? Me again ? Quite possibly as I am the only
one capable of change, let alone improvement. But a time comes when the realisation dawns that with all
my positive thinking, I gain nothing from the relationship. At best she is unnoticed, with the risk of daytime
entombment until my return, at worst I cant avoid her, or her friends.
The "Joy" of Pets
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Even as a vegetarian it was a great shock for me to find that some people are fond of animals. I used to think of animals as being only something to avoid on a plate or eat gingerly if in company but the discovery that animals played a part in other peoples lives that extended beyond the limits of a main course was rather disturbing. This realisation came to me late in life - after 10 - and there was worse to come. Apparently large numbers of people not only like them (living) but also allow them into their houses on a permanent basis. I dont consider that my differing feelings about the rest of the worlds furry friends should make me socially unacceptable, but it seems they do.
For ages I have heard of small dogs being thrown out in to the streets to fend for themselves. Some may consider my reactions to be cruel and heartless but they were as natural as that of any animal when their territory is threatened. "Oh, what a pity" I thought, "That poor family, I wonder how long it took them to find out". I would think that some unexpecting put upon family, who had been living their lives at no cost or confusion to anybody, had suddenly found that things were becoming horribly out of balance. Their otherwise beautiful home turned in to a shambles and no obvious cause could be found. No explanation was possible until the dog was discovered. So the natural thing any one do was chuck it out. But that appears not to be the common reaction to the household pet.
Unless you know there is an animal in the house, how can you possibly work out where all the nasty household smells come from? I think that most of the broken families today are due to animals secretly hiding in wardrobes and quietly farting.
It could be months before the little sod is discovered and kicked out, why should we humans feel sorry for it?. The cost to the country in terms of legal fees resulting from marriage breakups alone must run in to millions, not to mention the working days lost through nervous breakdowns.
How could you explain the piles of vomit in your wellies unless the cat in the cupboard was common knowledge. Oh dear, someones done a chunder in the stair cupboard again, must have been the electricity man, never mind, it could happen to anyone. You see it doesnt work. Then there are the avant garde yellow patterns on the wall and floor left by the larger species of canine home wrecker. You could think they were supposed to represent tropical ferns woven into the fabric unless you knew otherwise.
Even knowing that an animal is in residence doesnt protect you at all.
I admit the pretty little things must do it somewhere, but why must they always choose the place you are going to walk over first thing in the morning, bleary eyed, still half asleep and certainly barefooted.
People say their pets can understand them, I grant this as a possibility. Then they go on to claim that is as a sign of some rudimentary sort of brain, here I say the argument is somewhat insubstantial. I have heard people say in a weak and watery high pitched squeak, "Oh look at the dear old thing, hes wagging his tail, you can see he knows we are talking about him". Brilliant deduction that. They say that the ability to link a dog bowl being filled with food and the likelihood of the dog getting to eat it is incontrovertible evidence for a brain the size of a planet. Not really, I submit. A dogs ability to detect its owners mood is also not very bright. It cant take even the dimmest of creatures long to recognise a mood when a face goes bright red and steam comes out of the ears so fast that it singes the hair, especially when the lesson is driven home immediately afterwards by being violently hit. Do you see my point?.
Holding these views, imagine if you will my horror, when my ex-wife said to me Lets get a little doggy! Not bloody likely oh love of my life I replied. But such is the power of love that I relented. Start with something small. I lamely said. Then work up to something more demanding later if you must. See how that goes first."
Give an inch and you are done for. I thought it was safe to begin with a tortoise, they have no endering features at all. My plan was that my wife would soon tire of the creature and all thoughts of anything else could then be killed off by the mere mention of this failed first pet. I was wrong. Tortoise importing is banned now on humanitarian grounds and a good job too. Even they have little tricks hidden away in their shells. You will find this hard to credit but it is true, take your eyes off them for one instant and they are off on their inconceivable travels. Im sure that they are the fastest animals in the world, the Hare wasnt beaten by stealth, it was blinding speed. They keep that part of the story a closely guarded secret so you wont have ever seen them at it. Oh no, they are more clever then they look, not too hard you may think but I have learned never to underestimate a caged tortoise. They can tell when a camera is pointing at them and set off at a run when ever they feel shy. I have the only photographic record of the truth of all this, a shot of our tortoise taken from above. It clearly shows my slippered feet and a brown smear where the tortoise was when I opened the shutter. WHOOSH! Gone...
They have some way of knowing when you are watching them and they are watching us all the time. I think they do it with Lay Lines. That has to be it as they cant see a lettuce if you hit them with it. They must be able to feel people looking at them though invisible sensors on their little clawy feet.
All in all I found it impossible not to be fascinated by the damned beast. She kept getting lost. Once I found her at eye height on a wall. I was quite distraught when one day she ran off over the horizon when my back was turned for a moment, never to be seen again.
A few winters ago, when we put Brunhilde, an apt name I thought, to bed I made her a little box for the winter. I put new straw in it and everything. I stuffed her in when she was acting her most comatose and forgot all about it until the spring. When the time came to look for her, nothing.. she had gone. no sign at all, not even a note. I kept looking though, a perverted sense of guilt I think. One bright day I thought of checking the box again, just in case. This time it was full of KITTENS! Good joke. Thanks. It was only then that Brunhilde turned up again, she had over-wintered with a friend under the pear tree, had a lovely time.
So then we were up to our necks with a starved mother cat and five balls of incipient disaster. Eventually I managed to whittle them down to just one by generously offering them to my friends, we were left with a female. The female tiger is the dangerous one isnt it? This beast, pretty though she was, had an interest in upholstery that can only be cured by a ball and chain. She did do all the endearingly kittenly little things and I pretend to look on lovingly. The world thought that I liked her and in a way I did. I stroked her, picked her up and managed to do so without losing too much blood or outward show of temper. This was not an indication that my mind had also turned to mush, it was simply that I was adapting to circumstances as well as I could.
My feelings towards animals still extend towards mans best friend, though why a dog should be called that I cant imagine. My experiences with a dog put into perspective views that you may otherwise think take some swallowing, until you learn how I have suffered.
This time the weak link in my defenses was a desire to start a family. Apparently a home isnt right without a dog. It is only fair for children to grow up secure in the love of a pet bigger than them, before they can learn the truth about the damned things. If you dont get to love a dog in your youth, you are prey to the years of pure hell that have become my lot. The argument I was given sounded as if it might have something in it, after all, I do want my children to have the best dont I?. Anyway by then I had shown that I liked tortoises and could get along with catsso a dog should have been an easy extra step. My guts were shouting disapproval with every churn they gave, but I didnt listen, my good will won through as my common sense gave out.
She told me that I would grow to love him. She said that I would grow to want him as much as she did. She even said that he would come when I called and love me if I was nice in return. Can you believe it? I made myself. but it couldnt last.
A dog to me is a packet of all the lousy parts of an idiot child, worse, a dog doesnt grow up! There was little hope for me, now that I had shown a chink in my armour I had to give way or life wouldnt be worth living.
Every time I tried to rebel She reminded me: "You cant expect to cope with a kid if a dog is too much for you". I hoped that if I could get over the terror of simply seeing the dog, I might just be able to live in the same house with him. But he would have to act as if he were stuffed, also he must be female and even then be neutered as soon as possible. I demanded that the dog should be either trained already or still young enough to learn, but most important of all, he should be hers, not mine. She would have to feed it, walk it, tend to its needs be they at two in the morning or otherwise, keep it quiet and so on. In fact I left to her all the little things that make owning a dog so very wonderful for the well rounded individual.
Even if all I that I had asked for had been granted, I would still have a great deal to put up with, you see I dont want to be NICE. Why should I have a simpering hound dogging my footsteps and barking the house down every time I deign speak to it. I want the freedom to rattle bits of metal that might, to a dog, sound like a lead being got ready, without having my genitals stood on while my face is licked to mush.
Well, one day it happened anyway, little doggy came. It was fascinating in a detached sort of way, watching all my worst fears come true. The little well trained thorough-bred bitch puppy turned in to an 18 month mongrel giant male from the RSPCA with mental problems. O.K. He came free, no money changed hands, but somehow a lot did later. Vets and repair bills started piling up as I watched the household demolished to make way for the tail of this ever-happy dog. His tail removes absolutely everything at waist height. I have a few personal valuables there and I am not impressed. I think he is jealous of we 'the fully endowed. He has been neutered, but that is another story.
He is a good fighter though, I will give him that. On the many occasions that I find myself waiting for him to embarrass me in the local recreation park by excreting in the council sponsored long jump, I watch the other dogs queuing up to do the same. But he will have none of it, he would rather bite their heads off than have his smell improved by theirs. Dogs are so very basic, they dont have any shame at all. I wont elaborate, you know what I mean. Against some of the things a dog can spring on you, the mere wetting of your next door neighbors gatepost pales into total insignificance. As the deed is done, the owner looks at you and expects you to do something about it, what can I do? use a cork? tie a bit of string round it? If a dog will fight to the death to defend his private ownership of a patch of park, then I for one am having nothing to do with anything else that he may call his own.
Throwing sticks for our dog is very much like tossing the caber. Being a bit on the large side, he can cope with small trees. There is the advantage that when I throw a stick he does at least stop barking. The only way to keep him quiet is to have another stick ready to chuck when he comes back from running after the first. He wont have it in his mouth of course, oh no, it will have been dropped miles away, maybe further away than I threw it in the first place. But, if you are gamely clutching the next stick and are not awake to the fact of his approaching teeth, then all is lost. His next bark will be cut off by the fleshy bits of his tonsils round your hand as you try to remove yourself before his mouth closes. If you are very lucky you will see your hand again, even still attached to the wrist, but dont be worried if it is covered in blood and foam, thats normal. Both will have come from him. After all, he was only playing.
I use the amount of blood on his sticks as an indication of when to stop throwing them, when there is no longer any part of either stick left to hold that wont leave me looking like I had just stabbed somebody, I try to stop the game. He of course has no idea that he has cut himself, he must think that dog spit turns red when he runs. If I am really lucky, it will only be him that will go after his sticks, but quite often, Im not. Another, normally younger and inexperienced dog will have a go. Granted they will be a bit careful to start with, but he leads them on. He will pay them no heed for the first few minutes, then he might even smile at them a bit. Then, encouraged, the other dog approaches, he goes very still, so does the traffic and the birds. The wind drops and the sun goes in. As it gets suddenly chill the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, by now matching those of his hackles. Then the still is broken in a flurry of dog and violence. I gamely shout disencoragement as loud as my totally dry mouth will allow and if as usual I fail to get any reaction at all, I am left with the final solution as the only possible action, I have to go Over The Top. I am not quite sure what I do, when I look back on it the memory is a sort of black blurr, I dont think that I have ever been bitten, but that can only be a matter of luck. He always wins his fights, although his first battle cost us a bit in Vet. bills, his technique had yet to be fully realised. Strangely, putting his lead back on is often the simplest part, the Walk is then aborted and he is frog marched, triumphantly off the field of play.
When I finally manage to get home with the well exercised animal, which is by now breathing very heavily, it looks to all the world as if I have enjoyed the event and he suffered!... Which is not the case. As the door opens, in will flop the dog, suddenly exhausted playing near dead, by then I am always in a state boardering on the manic, shaking with rage at what the owner of the last digested miniature poodle said to me. He will be fine and ready for more immediately after he has spilt all his drinking water, but I will be in pain and needing several months rest in which to calm down.
Such are my experiences of dog part-ownership; owning all of him would surely mean the end, for one of us.
Other people's Pets
Animals and I do not mix well. I tend to be somewhat caustic about them on occasion. But for years I have had to live with both the good and the not so good and I think I have coped quite well. This is something for me to be proud of. If ever again I come out with one of my less than flatering pet directed remarks and someone says Ah you cant realy mean that, how can you say something like that if you havent got a pet yourself, I have a reply. Forever in my memory there dwells a pet, and proof I can live through it !.
It cant be much fun for the animal either, but tough luck, I come first. Instances of our mutual incompatability can come in very useful as arguments in my defence. When suporting my possition against the questioning of one of this worlds more willing pet owners I now have an answer. If they should berate me for my lack of pink spectacles when observing the habits of their own particular ineffective house slave I can go at them in a big way, knowing I am in the right. But this wasnt always the case.
Once, on a beach a dog got me, I was lost for words, speachless with anger. How was is possible for my world to be invaded with such disregard for my feelings? My anger flamed up but had nowhere to go but burn in me. In those days before I had come across well trained pets I thought this was a natural and unavoidable occurance. If the same should happen today things would be differant. Now also I have learnt that it is not the action of a heal to use natural superiority when Got at in the privacy of your own holiday. I will selfrighteously point out that I dont consider it acceptable practice to allow a small dog freedom to wander up to a perfect stranger. Let alone stand by and watch it short out a very personal stereo with a measured amount of aromatic gland secretion, especialy as its delivered by urine. After this gentle repost I can feel quite free to throw a stone at the animal, missing deliberatly and shout and stamp about wildly by way of explaning any apparant over-reaction. If that doesnt result in an abject apology, coupled with the repair fee, which I would name, then the next stone would hit the true transgresor, the pet owner.
It is not the animal but the owner who is at fault. How can it be otherwise?. Only we humans have a brain worth communicating with and then only sometimes. It is a waste of time and energy trying to explain the design of a silk purse to a listener equiped only with a sows ear.
Looking at the situation from a more objective standpoint I note that the comforts obtained from an animal are not those of the intellect. I should not then attribute any failings of intellect to the beast but to myself. The canals are to be found at my end of the telescope. Nor should I demean the emotional makeup of others whos sole support comes from the unquestioning love of a dumber than usual animal. Just because I can cope without their attentions is not to say the same is true of these sad unfortunates, just that it could be. But that is their problem. Mine is with their attitude rather than the animal in person.
Stories of birds and mice being proudly born home by a victorious cat, who found a dying one asleep under a stone are as frequent and bothersome as grains of sand in the wind when passing a building site. But this wont stop me telling a few more of my own.
One such now from the dim and distant past. Imagine a white Siamese cross that hated white and so never washed. It, he slept under car mud gaurds, on the top of the tire warm from a long drive. My Mother used to have to leave messages on the windscreens asking the owner not to drive off without first making a check. It was too dangerous for us to try and shift him by hand, so we farmed the job out to the car owner. We called the cat Spike. He killed my hamster, he must have bitten through the cage to do it. That was the sort of cat he was, hard bitten, but that is another story.
To set the stage I mention me. I had almost past through that time of life which the young boy believes to indicate the end of puberty before it even starts, that point when he feels that he must be mature by now, when the event occured. It is then the shock of the truth that he is in error, can be most cutting and bitter.
Enter the cat, with bird, as large as his head. My Mother and I were the only occupants of both kitchen and house, apart from my three year old sister upstairs. What was I to do ? There was a live bird, quickly recovering from the shock of suddenly not being on a branch any more, beginning to flap and further excite the blood lust of its captor. I managed to quickly confine the problem to the kitchen by rapidly leaving the room and slamming the door behind me. It was then the screaming stopped, I had to breathe in. There was by then a door between me and the law of the jungle. But where was my Mother ? How had she escaped ? She who found birds even more dramatically awful than did I? She was also behind the door. Strangely that wasnt true for very much longer. The door flew open and she rushed out. Thanking me in passing for my sterling help in her hour of need in way I faintly realised was sarcastic. As I worked my way slowly to this understanding, the bird broke free and followed us.
Not being a sports loving child, concidered fat and lazy by the school, it suprised me to descover we could both move very quickly when occasion demanded. We ran faster than either of us had every run before. Fortunatly faster even than the persuing animals. This was not only due to our adrenaline levels. The bird was hindered by the loss of the majority of its flight feathers and the cat was slowed somewhat by having a mouthfull of same. More feathers were unevenly distributed between the remains of the sunday roast and the air making the view behind us all the more ghoulish. The next door I slammed had both humans on one side and both animals on the other. But the situation was not yet won. The haven of the front room we had entered then became our next problem. There was no way out. Nor was there any way the bird could escape from the rest of the house by itself. We were trapped !
The forgotten other human in the house then played her part. Fortunately my sister had an instinctive knowledge of the sound fear makes as it bounces around the brains of a loved one. Hearing it from both of us, she waddled down to the rescue. Hardly hindered at all by her voluminous plastic pants, we heard her rustle down the stairs gurgling happily as she approached the cause of our distress. It was fortunate we had omitted the part of her training where she learns to run like mad from things that flap, as we were incapable of thought let alone action. She picked up the sad relic of avian life in what looked through the window like the grasp of a life long bird handler. Depositing her parcel outside, she smiled in a very mature way at us behind the glass and came back in.
We were physically saved, but emotionaly scarred for life. The personal shame of it, having to be saved from a fate of our own making by someone who hadnt yet grown up enough to even recognise our fears. Had I the plot of The Ring to hand I could have drawn some interesting parallels, but I hadnt and there was a lot on my plate already attempting to play down the very immature screaming sound I had immited.
The cat and the one from whome I am soon to be permanently parted, has insidious companions. On occasion I interact with them in a most distressing way.
Sometimes, first thing of a morning, it is possible to feel totally at one with the world. The sky blue, the coffee brown, the birds yellow, ( Custard.) But take just a few steps to the foot of the stairs and the world is AT one, against me. I am ambushed by a heard of ravenous and Hun like Fleas, on holiday from the house pet. Presumably they are on the move to better premises, an admirable notion, but I would rather they went via a dog.
The carpet becomes hazy as the dust rushes to meet me, salivating wildly as it advances. My lower legs and ankles vanish from view under a cloud of black dots. They normally form teams and set about an arm or a leg as fast as they can. The winner is the group that first exposes bone. It is all I can do to not collapse on the spot. To do so would be to start the strangest murder hunt in history.
Stolen, one body, flesh parts only, owner presumed dead through multiple small bites.
Maybe they have no teeth, but part of me goes with them every time we meet. One good thing, they all die in the attempt, I never see the same flea try it again !
Then I mount a reprisal attack on the previous landlord. It is doubtful that she knows what the can is for, but she does recognise an aerosol flea spray at an amazingly great range. It isnt the shame of being flea ridden that drives her to mad bursts of energetic escape manoeuvres, but the ear piercingly loud screech the spray must make to her perfect hearing. Tough luck Kitty say I, when I can catch up with her. When I wish to rid myself of this animal hotel and am feeling more than usually malevolent to her, just holding the can will do the job. She runs as fast as if the Hell she is a cat out of, is in my hand.
Once her infestation is dealt with and I have recovered from both scratches and bites, prevention is the next step. I have to hunt for a new flea collar.
This is another cause of just complaint I have against the cat, going into pet shops. Especially when every leg movement is agony by then. The shops are centers of concentration of most that I like least in animals. The smells, the parasites and the owners.
One problem I never have in a pet shop is finding an assistant. With the soon-to-be-pet inmates protected as well as possible the traditional hunting grounds are out of the question and the fleas have to go elsewhere. The assistants are the first place to look for a new reservation. This is what marks the assistants out. The poor humans dont have to wear badges or uniforms, the only protection they can have against the common enemy is the Flea collar. They all wear them. You may not have noticed as these are not flaunted but hidden as well as they can be. Some wearers may hang medallions from them, others may use a small broach. In the past they were called Chokers, but really they were flea collars. Just killing of one shop full is now good. The problem is made worse by all the bitten pet owners coming in for the three monthly replacement collar, that they remembered one month late. The shop stock of fleas is renewed every day so the animals and humans are permanently scratching. Dont buy a pet that has been in the shop too long as it will be deaf from the sprays.
It is a pity fleas arent bigger, then I could capture one and slowly put it to death. Good thing the cat is large enough.
The cat returns
The window of our upstairs back bedroom opens out onto the flat roof of the kitchen extension below. To one side of this - running along the end of our terrace - is a boundary wall. It is tall enough to reach above the first floor level. The far side of this wall is about ten foot shorter, the ground level being higher on that side as our group of terraces is built on a steepish hill. The end product of this terracing of terraces is that the top of the dividing wall runs along the backs of many houses where cats live and they use it as a sort of single lane Cat Motorway. After watching their fun when the road is used in two directions at once, we see a need for traffic lights and riot police.
It should have been obvious to us that any cats held up in a traffic jam, not only could but would make the jump from the wall to our kitchen roof, but it came as more than a bit of a shock when we had our first sight of a flashing black cat as it shot though the air and landed with a very un-cat-like thump on our reverberant flat roof. Often we have left the back window open, now seeing that it could be used as an aerial cat door we knew where the funny smell that occasionally filled the house came from. Only one male cat that we know of has not been done and still sprays and so we dont let that one come in although the front door is open to several other cats who took a liking to us. Leaving the window partly open is asking for other trouble too come to think of it, but if we had kept it shut there would be no story. Not being that much a slave to the writing art I have minimised other possible problems by jamming the window runners such that children cant get in as well. They too can make the jump.
If we ever retire to bed and the window remain closed then one of the ten or more local cats that use the motorway pad at the front door incessantly asking for a place to sleep. We have learnt that nothing will persuade them to go away unless we get up and either let one in or shout a lot from our recumbent position. As either course of action is far too dynamic for us in the late hours we like to let them sort it out themselves on a first come first served basis. Once any cat has gained entry all the others depart and try their combined luck at another front door. We often wonder why Socrates - the cat of most nights - should chose our house rather than her own next door, but that is her concern and she is not about to enlighten us as to her reasons. One possible answer is that she needs an escape from the other cats, children and music that inhabit the home of her owner. These factors have helped us to decide to move as well and so we felt a certain empathy towards her, hence the open window.
For some weeks this plan worked very well. In the morning we would awake to find the cat still asleep at her post behind a loudspeaker, curled up on the spare winter clothes that dont fit either the drawers or ourselves, happily resting with her back to said partially opened window, guarding it in her cat like way against any late comers and all was well. Until...
...A few days ago - at the end of it, in fact so near the end that we had not only gone to bed but had both fallen asleep - quite a lot happened. Having spent some effort and time in the getting-to-sleep part of the night, it was more than a bit distressing to find ourselves slowly drifting awake once more as rattles and thumps drifted and then tore into our ears through the dark of almost very late indeed. Cats we thought in post slumber unison, in particular, Socrates.
On this night however something had altered the balance from the delicate and silent harmony of the previous weeks towards that of the chaotic melee of thumps and rattles that we were beginning to find rather frightening. Getting up to investigate, we found that Socrates, the expected cat, had gone from her usual place and the sounds were still coming - from down stairs. So we, fresh from bed, unprotected save by my bicycle pump, entered the main room. A plant was moving across the carpet, trailing compost from its empty pot in a path so that it wouldnt get lost. It stopped moving as we came in and would obviously not go back in its pot without a lot of persuasion. Even though we were still very sleep befuddled the possibility of invasion by Trifid was soon discounted when we noticed evidence of non-plant- like invasion in the kitchen. The dust bin was lying on its side tying to reach its swing lid which had swung out in to the middle of the floor, it too needed help getting back together. We quickly decided that as nothing had passed us on the stairs as we made out way down, who ever had helped our otherwise inanimate possessions into those animated positions was still in the house.
Looking very carefully, trying not to find anything, Mo found a cat. Not the one we expected but one other. Glinting its eyes at us, large, tabby and pissed off it lurked as menacingly as only a miffed cat can from behind an armchair. Suddenly it was up to me to do something other than breath quietly. Grasping my totally untrusty bicycle pump in the hand of my one limb that had yet to start shaking - it was a big cat - I enquired in halting gestures if it would like to leave us in peace via the front door which we had kindly opened for it. This door being not the one through which it had entered, the cat - whose intelligence had been fogged by fears of imminent inflation - didnt notice the proffered path to freedom. Prodding at it with increasing concern as to the continued integrity of my totally unprotected epidermis, the cat said Pshhhhst to me a lot. Speaking a few words of cat I understood the remark to be very impolite so I replied in kind and told it to Piss off too and underlined the point by rattling my knees menacingly at it. This must have got through as it ran out into the middle of the room. There I attempted to show it the opened door and indicated another use for a bicycle pump.
I tend to loose the ability to communicate under stress at one in the morning, especially when running only on adrenalin and cat spit - so maybe a few of the details were not very clear but to the cats credit it did show a glimmering of understanding as it attempted to leave as best it could - but by the door through which it had entered. This was now shut with my hearts companion on the other side. In a sort of numbing calm I remembered a day long past when another cat had put a door between me and my loved one. Then on one side had been my Mother with the cat and a worried bird bought home to play and on the other side me bravely holding the door shut.
This cat was bigger, more tabby and much more present than the one of my memory and it didnt know which way the door hinges bent. It must have known the method of opening doors as much to my surprise it took a running jump at the shut one. Hitting the door some five feet up there was still enough momentum to climb the few feet more to my head height before falling back to the level of my toes. It had me covered and well in range. I pondered this point. If it could climb polished wood that fast how would it cope with my trembling flesh? I keep many items of great personal interest between the heights of down and six foot up, like all of me. This should have been a powerful incentive for me to speed its leaving with the utmost care and yet I didnt heed this visual advice at all. Somehow the cat didnt see that it had won the arms race and so seeing my chance and being a generous man, I gave the cat part of my pump, as fast and hard as I could. Shaken as I was by then, the extra dash of adrenalin only compounded my stupidity. I lashed out at the animal as it landed. That was the worst, most totally dim and unkind thing to do to a frightened cat, even a total bastard of a frightened cat such as that. I deliberately hit it in the soft part of the tum to ensure that I did no damage whatsoever. Also the power of my blow was greatly reduced. As I swung it, the pump had become a bit long rather fast. However this impressed the cat and somehow it helped it find the still open front door. Still defending its ground, the cat turned its back to the night air and looked at me in a way that indisputably meant If I ever see you on the motorway youre a dead man. Finally it left us in peace, running even faster than it had at the shut door, it shot out of the open one and into a queue for a way in somewhere else. No doubt it beat up a few kittens in passing to feel better. How it didnt realise that any aggressive move in its part that had included its claws would have won the day for it instantly, I cant tell. Granted I would have upped the arms race once my blood had stopped leaking all over the room, but it could have killed me by then!
Since that day we have discovered that even Socrates is not blameless. She sprays in the house to sent mark her territory. Perhaps the tabby cat had a cold and couldnt detect the smell? Now the windows stay shut and us deaf at night.
And now, a link to my last employer's site:
Electronic Control Services. - which I still maintain.