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Monday, January 29, 2007

Something very interesting in the post


Today there was something interesting in the post. Almost every day a lot of square bits of folded paper come through a slot in the front door. As a kitten I was quite interested by this - after all, it looked rather like a rectangular mouse hole and things came out of it. But I got less and less interested because the bits of paper weren't particularly rustling. Just square bits smelling of nothing but computer ink. After opening a few, I stopped bothering.
Today was different. Very different. A large but light envelope arrived. It smelled wonderful. Very intriguing. A sort of catty smell which made me feel positively light headed. This was one to open. It was even addressed to George and William. So I investigated it. I rolled on it. I turned it upside down and sideways. I rubbed my chin against it. I tore bits off it until it revealed the treasure inside. A wonderfully shaped item smelling strongly of catnip.
Finally I managed to tear the whole thing open and pull out the catnip thingie. It had a nice little string attached to it to pull around. It was PACKED with the highest quality stuff. I sniffed and sniffed. I rolled on it. I licked it. I chewed it. I threw it around. I scratched it with my back legs. I lay on my back wriggling with pleasure completely stoned. Humans do skunk and smack and coke. I do catnip. I'm a bit of a catnip junkie. Boy, was it strong. William then got interested and pulled out another one. But he's more cautious about doing drugs than I am. Just does a bit and stops. It may be he's scared of losing control around me.
Oh, it was so goooooooooooood

Friday, January 26, 2007

My very own take away bird bar


Celia has installed a take away bird bar for me in the garden. It was never very well designed because the lure-feeders are too high but otherwise it worked more or less OKl. Scores of little birds arrived there and it was up to me to choose which ones to eat. Because of the design fault, I couldn't reach the high up ones, but a lot of the bait falls on the grass, which was my killing ground. Obviously no birds ventured there when I sat below in full sight but I enjoyed just looking sometimes - staying, as it were, in the first stage of the hunting sequence which is eye, stalk, pounce, grab, tear off feathers, eat.
Ordinary food in a bowl is just the last bit of the sequence and while satisfying hunger leaves all the other parts of the sequence not done. So just eating the food in the house leaves me filled but unfulfilled, so to speak.
So back to the take-away bird bar in the garden. When I was not just looking by sitting underneath, I used the shrubs for the hide before real hunting thrill. I sat in them and eyed the birds. I chose one, I did the stalk and bottom wiggle, then I sprang out, ran in and grabbed one before taking it in and tearing off the feathers on the carpet in the house, then ate it. I used to leave a little bit - perhaps a claw or a beak - for Mr Manners. Good fun.
But lately Celia has overdone the challenge. She had already put the feeders too high for me but yesterday she placed scrumpled up wire netting under the shrubs so that it interfered with my ability to do the run in. Now I run in up against the wire. That woman has not got any common sense. She's well meaning and I appreciate her thoughtfulness in taking the trouble to build the take-away installation. But she's now got the whole thing wrong. I can't reach the take-aways.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Odd white stuff outside. Snow and self pity - human, of course


It was an unusual light dawn so I woke Celia early. She was sluggish because she'd been late the night before. This going out and coming home later really isn't what I need. It puts a quite unneccessary strain on our relationship when she does this and I don't appreciate the behaviour. She has duties which cannot be performed if she is absent, as she was all day yesterday. So she needed a force six wake up - jumping on bed, heavy walking up and down the torso, chirruping noises, mock fight with William, loud purring and rubbing her face while dribbling. When we got downstairs there was the reason for the odd light - the garden was white with snow. It wasn't really dawn at all. It was much earlier and the sky was still dark. I don't remember seeing snow at all in my first year of life so I was intrigued. I skipped breakfast (no more roasted bits, thank goodness) to go out for a look.
The white stuff was pretty cold, fluffy in appearance, but wet. As I like wet things, I jumped about a bit, put my paw in it, poked it, and fooled around. William came out and stood around looking sort of bored and superior. He isn't, so I don't mind it when he pretends to be. Then I got bored and wet and cold, so I came in for breakfast.
All this makes a change but I can't say snow is very satisfactory. It looks fluffy but it isn't really. Just goes soppy the more you touch it. But I told Celia to take a photo because I think I look rather good on a white background. Instead of being grateful for being woken up to see the first snow before dawn, she was yawning a lot and complaining she hadn't had enough sleep. Humans are full of self pity.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Shun small girls - except Alice


The homo sapiens young are usually to be avoided. The babies are incredibly backward, compared with kittens. Kittens walk within a few days, babies can't for weeks and weeks. Then a year or so later they start taking an unhealthy interest in cats. Sometimes there are interesting bits of food to be picked off them, but usually there's a lot of dribble, clutching hands and generally inappropriate behaviour. Still later on the small female homo sapiens becomes even more sinister. Small girls always want to cuddle cats. They insist on picking them up all the time. And they commit the unforgivable sins of DRESSING UP cats in baby clothes and trying to put them in dolls' prams.
But there is one small girl I like, because I am rather an exceptional cat. I actually enjoy being picked up and I don't mind a cuddle. So when Alice came to stay last summer, we bonded. She is not like most small girls. She knew cats were different from dolls and she never tried to dress me up or put me in a dolly's pram. She learned how to call me properly, using my proper name in the right sounding call. Then she would pick me up putting her hands carefully under my bottom so that I was supported. I would be cuddled for a bit and carried round the garden by her. Then I'd jump off and do something interesting. She'd call me and, because I am a people cat, I would go for another cuddle.
Admittedly after about two hours, I got bored and disappeared because I had better things to do. William, on the other hand, just made himself scarce from the beginning. He may have social skills with other cats (being brought up in a 70 cat household) but he's no good with small girls. Not even Alice.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Cats one: humans nil.


Well it didn't take long. In the battle of wits between human and cat, it was always going to be a human defeat. But I thought Celia would hold out longer. She caved in after only 24 hours. No more roasted bits were served. She upgraded to the pate type food - not my favourite but acceptable for the time being. The sachets of roasted bits were taken away to be put in the Cats Protection unwanted food bin at the vets. Rather like handing out scraps of food to the poor in Victorian times. They will be properly grateful for them, poor strays.
How did I do it? Well the picture shows how. I simply tipped my unwanted roasted bits into the water bowl. Neat, eh? I have to confess I licked up the gravy first. A sign of weakness, I know, but not weakness that mattered in the overall strategy. Celia came down to find the bits deposited in the water. When I don't like something I usualy rake up the floor round the unwanted items in my bowl. Some humans call this caching food and say I am trying to hide them, as a kind of storage to eat later. I don't dispute it's an instinctive thing but it's not about storing the food for later. Oh no. It is about disposing of it in a litter tray way. If food is shit, then I bury it. Only this time with a deft backhander of a handsome black paw, I upped the bowl so that it fell in the water tray. Rather skillful, I thought.
William came up trumps too. I don't say he acted out of solidarity because that dog-like behaviour would be demeaning for any cat. He ate one of the two bowls of roasted bits left down over night. But then he sicked it up on the living room carpet.
The day has started well. Cats one: humans nil.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Felix roasted bits - it's war between me and my human

More Felix roast bits. I don't like them. I will eat the gravy around them but I don't like the bits themselves. So I eat the gravy and then William, who is less fussy than I am, eats the bits or at least some of them. At the moment there are two half eaten bowls of this particular Felix. Visible evidence that I don't like them at all and William doesn't much care for them either. Now it is a battle of wills. Me against Celia. She bought them on special offer. Cheapskate behaviour. She didn't save on her free range roast chicken by buying a special offer frozen one from Thailand. Why buy my food on special offer? And why were they on special offer in the first place?. I think I know why. They just don't taste as good as the more expensive Felix food.
If William had a greater sense of solidarity with me, we could present a united front against her. Then there would be two bowls of roasted bits minus any of the gravy just sitting there. Alas, he has eaten some of them. Of course if he had a sense of solidarity with fellow felines he wouldn't be a cat. He'd be a dumb stupid dog with too much altruism for his own good. We cats don't do the pack perversion bit. We have the selfish gene. (Well dogs have the selfish gene too but it is routed via their altruism - great for wolf packs, not so great for Labradors, poor saps.) So I can't rely on William to hold firm any more than he could rely on me.
What I can rely on is my own inner persistence. If there's one thing we cats pride ourselves on, it is persistence. Humans don't know the meaning of it. Celia has never sat waiting at a hole for a mouse for two hours in wind and rain. She gives up when something doesn't work and tries something different.
So if it's war of waiting over the Felix roasted bits, I think I can hold out longer. Maybe I can't win today. I notice she has failed to fill up the bowl of dried food which I have been eating in preference to the roasted bits. She thinks she is going to be firm. But I know she isn't going to be. Sometimes tomorrow, or the next day, she will weaken. Watch this space.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I have been stabbed.... cat abuse at the vet's.

I am spitting with indignation, hissing with rage and still shuddering with fear. My beautiful black pads are wet with anxiety. I am NOT happy at all. Humans seem to think they can do anything, anything at all, to us. The only reason why I didn't launch into instant reprisal was that she was much bigger than I am and (shame on her) Celia was on her side. Indeed it was she who put me through this awful ordeal. She has betrayed our friendship.
It started with the cat box. I often sleep in mine and Celia puts little goodies in it for me to discover. So when she threw some nice food into it, I naturally went in without thinking twice. She whisked up the box and put it in the car and drove off. I shrieked with indignation, of course, but she took no notice. Obviously I tried to dig my way out but even when I had crawled under the furry lining, I could not break out.
When the car came to a stop, it became worse. She took me into a room smelling of misery and pain and disinfectant and (of all things) dogs and other strange and intruding cats. I was horrified. A couple of the female humans there looked vaguely familiar from the days when they cuddled me as a kitten. I wasn't in the mood for social niceties so I ignored them both. Besides, they smelled horrible too. There was a lot of human vocalisations and I got taken into a room, rooted out of my cat box, and forced to submit to handling harassment from the human vet. Veterinary surgeon my tail and ears. More like a thug of the worst kind. She stabbed me with a needle inflicting bodily harm on an innocent animal. I HATE this vet woman. I hope she is tortured by a thousand rat bites, smothered by a herd of rabbits, bitten by a very large dog, or just mauled by a big cat, big enough to make her feel as angry and fearful as I do.
And Celia needn't think that a few cat treats will make me feel better. I ate them but she is a Judas of the worst kind.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

If only I shopped for my own cat food.....

If I chose my own cat food, I would settle for tinned mouse. In jelly, I think rather than gravy. Goujons of mouse in aspic would be delicious. Maybe occasional tinned sparrow breasts or even smoked sparrows with a jus d'oiseux. Or perhaps dried extruded rat biscuits in a box with a few savoury dried rabbit biscuits included. Then as treats, raw mouse tails or even dried mouse tails. The tails could be individually wrapped and sold like After Eights, for the end of a meal. After I have eaten a mouse (head first to make sure the fur is smoothed down not ruckered up), I rather like crunching up the tail at the end. It's a bit like pork crackling for us cats, only healthier because there's no salt. Sometimes I don't crunch. I just suck it in like spaghetti.
As it is, we cats make our menu choices at one remove. We know what we like, but we have to train our humans to purchase the correct items. I have to rely on Celia's choice of food. The woman is dreadfully lacking in imagination. I started her off buying Felix cat food, because that was what Cats Protection fed me. I mean if they'd fed bananas, I'd have liked bananas. I like Felix, don't get me wrong. Indeed I prefer it to other brands thanks to my kittenhood experiences. But I rather hoped I could persuade the woman to go a bit more upmarket with her choices. She keeps trying to give me the cheaper Felix, or the roasted pieces Felix which I don't much care for, rather than the more expensive pouches which come with a slogan "It's as good as it looks". It is. She comes back laden with human goodies from Waitrose and what is in the bag for me? Felix. Again. Bog standard pouches of Felix. She doesn't eat the same thing week after week. Why does she expect me to?
I am trying to train her. I purr loudly and look hungry when she gives me the more expensive stuff. And I walk to the bowl and turn away looking sad when it's the stuff I don't like. Admittedly I eat it in the end but reluctantly without purring and with the pathetic look of an abused cat. She does notice. Sometimes I see the guilty look flit across her face. She knows she has failed me. She knows she has been saving money at my expense. She knows that she is being selfish. She is still holding out on me...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

TV - the case for smelly television


I used to watch quite a lot of TV when I was a kitten. The flickering screen sort of interested me and I quite liked moments when a shape seemed to pass from one side to another. Of course, the picture wasn't sharp -- too far away for my eyes to focus most of the time, except when I got on top and looked down at it. Colours - well we cats see some colours but colour is not our thing. What interested me on TV was the movement. We cats are very focussed on tiny movements - for obvious reasons.
Some cats take to TV. Naturally they prefer programmes about mice and birds but those that do go in for TV viewing are often interested by wildlife in general. Mac, a black cat like me only less handsome, took up TV late in life when he retired from a life of crime and passion on the streets. He got fixated by big cat programmes. When a lion or tiger growled, Mac would chatter his teeth with excitement. I think it may have reminded him of when he, himself, was a big beast on the block. He felt akin to these big cats. He had a lofty indifference to any pet cats on the screen. It was only the big wild ones that he identified with.
As for me, now I am older, I have given up watching TV. I see what a waste of time it is. Very little to see - a lot of faces of homo sapiens (boring, very boring), lot of human vocalisations (even more boring), a poor imitation of caterwauling at times, and only very occasionally, during the nature programmes, a mouse or a bird. Nothing to pounce on at all. I investigated the box, itself, when I was a kitten just in case there was a bird inside it. But there wasn't.
Worse still, there's no smell. Nothing at all, except an odour of plastic slightly heating up. Now if there was a smell to the bird picture, I think I would be entranced. Smelly TV would really turn me and other cats on. But as it is there's no real life at all in a TV.
However, there is something useful about television. If you want to get your human's attention start pawing at it, sitting on the top and looking down, or just tastefully drape your tail over the screen. It never fails. Even the most stupid human reacts mostly with laughter and very occasionally irritated comments. It proves something. Real life (if it's black and beautiful like me) scores over TV every time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I am in demand for my incredible skill in mousing

Steffi-Next-Door, well next door at weekends, wants to hire me as a mouser. She emailed from London to say she had a big favour to ask. "We have a mouse in the house here in London which is driving me crazy. I put down traps and poison and it has evaded or avoided both. It seems to be hanging out in our bedroom which is freaking me out. I wondered if you were coming to london this week and if so, if we could borrow George for the day and bring him back to you later. I'm sure he'd be able to catch the little beggar. I would of course remove the poison and traps etc. I can't sleep at night because this mouse keeps making noise in my room."
Someone appreciates me - unlike Celia.
Someone, not like Celia, is impressed by my predatory skills.
Someone, again not Celia, is anxious for my help in killing.
It feels really good to be recognised. I celebrated by bagging a blue tit. The bloody woman took it off me.

Friday, January 05, 2007

She's done it again! She's stolen my mouse!

Humans! They are the lowest of the low species! She's stolen my mouse! A particularly lively fat one at that! In the evening, I am imprisoned in the house with the cat flap shut. It may be warm but it gets very boring, especially at about 3am. Obviously, I do my best to liven things up by jumping on her bed, worming my way into it to play the you-are-a-mouse game with her, or just pounce on her head as she lies on the pillow. But I am afraid she quite often just sleeps through all this.
Out of the kindness of my heart, I thought I would make my own arrangements for a 3am game. Instead of treating her as a mouse, I brought in a proper one. It was big, surprisingly fat for this time of year, and had a most exciting squeak. I stashed it under the fridge, as I often do, but it insisted in running round the kitchen and wedging itself in the corner of the open kitchen door. It squeaked so loudly that even a deaf human could hear it. (They can't hear much. Their sense of hearing is inferior to ours.)
That woman - I can hardly bring myself to name her - heard it and fetched a wellie. She then wedged the wellie near the door with the idea that the mouse could run into it. Well, for about five minutes it didn't get the point, and Celia and I had good fun. I tried to catch it and Celia tried to stop me. Very enjoyable and my blood was up, so if I scratched her I couldn't be blamed for it. The excitement of the moment had me in thrall and besides it was aimed at the mouse. Then the idiotic little thing finally got the point and ran into the wellie. Celia picked it up, getting in the way of me the predator and the mouse my lawful prey, and chucked the wellie into the hedge.
No mouse. No more fun. No 3am snack. That woman is a kill joy. For a moment or two I could have killed her - only she's so much bigger than I am.

Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, www.celiahaddon.com This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online VetTechprogramms.org