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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Let the New Year roll with William, guest columnist


George has gone out for the traditional Boxing Day hunt (so far two mice, one shrew, and an unidentified bird) and handed the column over to me. I would like to wish all you cats a Happy 2007. Christmas - that day of intruding human visitors and turkey scraps under the kitchen table - has gone. Celia went out so George and I failed to get a chance to steal food or even to find anything very interesting in the trash can. Roll on a new year.
I want to put right a bit of disgraceful spin from the pen of George. I am not a wimp. I never was a wimp. I will never be a wimp. I am a socially adept cat that knows how to deal with harassment in a diplomatic and effective fashion. I don't run. I don't fight. I roll on to my back with all four claws at the ready. This is NOT appeasement. It is a warning gesture designed to deflect aggression.
If George was a sensible cat, instead of a giddy and undisplined adolescent, he would recognise this. But the bloody fool, though usually retreating, has the infantile habit of jumping on me nonetheless. Why does he do it? Just for fun, it seems. I then snarl, threaten to bite and occasionally resort to claw enforcement.
Of course, I can do the social roll without claws. Here is a delightful photo of me looking at my most charming. My paws are in prayer posture because Celia responds best to this particular gesture. I used just to do the social roll without the paws but, because she consistently responded better to the praying paws, I trained her to pay attention by putting my paws like this.
I am the most beautiful of cats with a remote and peaceful temperament. What is more I have killed two weasels - beat that, George!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

George's Christmas Message to Cats worldwide


My human and I would like to wish you all a happy Christmas.
This is the season of the year when we look back over the past year, take stock of the present and make resolutions for the year to come.
One thing is certain: the inevitability of change for all cats, who face the difficulties of sharing our lives with humans. Those cats who live lives completely independent of this species have the reassurance of a changeless though challenging life style. The search for a dry place to sleep, for mice and other prey to eat, the joys of caterwauling nights and the love of kittens, will be for them the pattern of nights and days, as it has been for hundreds of thousands of years.
But for us who live with capricious and dysfunctional bipeds, these enduring values may be lost in the pace of hectic mutability. Ours is the harder road. The species we domesticated cannot leave things as they are. Homo sapiens (surely a misnomer of the highest order) is addicted to a life of hurry, doing not being, worry and acquisition. New homes, new furniture, new pets, new babies, new routines – this is the demanding and worthless lifestyle they try to inflict on us cats.
It is therefore for us to reassert the timeless values to which our species holds fast –the love of familiar faces, the pleasure of well-known and well marked territories, the inestimable reassurance of unvarying family scent, the excitement of hunting if not prey, then dustbins or even a single autumn leaf. While all is chaos around us, a chaos only too often wantonly instigated by our humans, we need to live our lives in our way. A way nonetheless that allows us to love this extraordinary and self destructive species.
I am reminded, as I write these words, of last autumn when I was able to forgive Celia for the time when she locked me in the garden shed for three hours. I also remember that day of days, when I bagged a partridge, and she was deluded enough to take the quivering bird from me and set it free. Or the many Sundays when I have had to forgo breakfast until an unduly late time because of her determination to sleep well past the proper time of waking. I have risen above all this to offer her forgiveness from the goodness of my black heart.
During the last year I have been on state visits to Paul and Steffi next door. Their pleasure in my company has fully repaid me for the effort of getting through their cat flap though I wish they would offer a choice of cat food not just the same biscuits. These are good quality but a change would be nice. I have also visited their daughter Jessica and, with an exquisite condescension, deigned to sleep on her bed. She was duly honoured and expressed herself appropriately by opening a tin of cat food.
Compassion, as the past year has taught me, is perhaps the single most important virtue that we cats need. If we are to make sense of our companion pets, we should reflect on their history and learn the lessons from it that they seem incapable of seeing.
We must also to practice that other important value of our times, that of tolerance. If we can remember that our humans are vulnerable to that emotional disorder of living in the past or the future, if we can pity them for their inability to enjoy the moment, if we can (and I know it is difficult) feel sorrow for their incapacity to know what is really important in life…. If we can do all this then we can offer them the compassionate love that they so badly need.
As we step over the threshold of another year in the company of these poor deluded humans, may I wish all of us cats a happy New Year.
P.S. I am very indignant about this silly hat. Just when I wanted to look dignified. She tricked me into wearing it. Waited till I was having a little nap on the sofa, popped it on when I was asleep and took the picture. This is a SNATCHED photo. The woman will stop at nothing.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tale of a tail

My tail is particularly beautiful. It is a 37 centimeters long - black all the way down without any vulgar white tip to it, sleek and shining. You can learn a lot from my tail. My main way of greeting Celia from afar - sort of "Hello there" - is to put my tail upright with the tip turned over and towards my head. Human beings with cats usually recognise this signal and some scientist theorize that we cats developed it specially to communicate with them. The idea is that the poor saps couldn't read feline body language easily. So when Felis silvestris Lybica, the African wild cat, decided to domesticate them, my ancestor concluded he needed a better way of saying hello. So he ran up the tail flag, so to speak. Even a really stupid human notices this as a cat steps towards him. I use Tail Up a lot as I like most human beings and most of them, naturally, are impressed and delighted when they see 37 centimetres of tail, with a neat little twist forward, coming towards them. They see it before they see my black whiskers and dazzling golden-green eyes.
Celia, as a good servant should be, pays a lot of attention to my tail. If it starts to lash, she keeps her distance knowing that a disciplinary claw may be next. She also notices it when I am going to pounce on William like a mouse - something he does not appreciate. So she will call out to him to get his attention so that he can lie on his side and protect himself with the lie-on-side claws at the ready posture. Lying down isn't submission. It just clears all four paws for action in this case.
William's tail is much fluffier than mine and some people might think it is prettier. But mine is much longer and snakier.
Tail up!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mud, puddles, ponds and the pleasures of water.


I like mud. I like puddles. I like ponds. I like getting my feet wet and I wade through puddles, as well as drinking from them. Mud is fun too. My black paws sink into mud in a very satisfying way. The first time I fell into the garden pond was when the ice broke under me. Then I fell in out of curiosity. Then I fell in again for the sheer fun of it. I liked the way Celia screamed and rushed towards the pond ready to lift me out for some resusitation. Quite unnecessary. I can swim. I discovered that the second time I fell in. The first time, when I was a kitten, Celia fished me out with the pond net. Now she knows that I don't need her help, thank you very much.
Puddles are another matter. I like the way the water sparkles on them and I wade slowly through them instead of skirting round the edge. I also sometimes lie down low in them so that the bottom of my tail gets wet too. Wet wet wet is fun. Of course I also enjoy splashing them with my paw, in the same way that I splash any water I find in a saucepan. The water coming out of a tap is interesting too - so I either drink from the tap or I splash it with my paw. William isn't interested, except when the lavatory flushes. He rushes over to watch the water going down the bend. Oddly enough I don't find this human litter tray very satisfying though I am getting more interested. My reluctance may be because, when I was a kitten, I fell in. Luckily Celia was there to pull me out. Kittens do sometimes drown because they can't get out.
The best thing about water is the human reaction. After a nice time wading through puddles and skittering about in the mud, I come in feeling affectionate. I leap on to Ronnie's lap and he shouts "Get that filthy cat off!" Celia would be pathetically grateful if I lept on her lap so I never do. Instead I leap onto her desk and put mud on the documents there. She doesn't shout. She picks me up and cuddles me. She knows that is wrong. She knows she should ignore me. But she doesn't. The whole science of training (which she has studied) is ignored in favour of cuddles. Poor woman.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Think of the starving strays this Christmas


This is Henry. Celia showed me his picture. I haven 't met him yet thogh I dare say he will stroll across the hill to visit one day. Henry is a bit of a roamer, a chap that gets about a bit. Eighteen months ago he was a cat in search of safety and food. He had been living about half a mile away in a small hamlet. He would break into human houses (why not?) and being a sensible cat nip upstairs to sleep on the beds. (What else were they for?) One householder rang Celia to say that she had just seen him strolling in the front door which was ajar and going straight upstairs as if he knew the way and had lived there all his life. Naturally Henry would eat any cat food he found left down. If the cats of the nouse hadn't finished it, his need was greater than theirs. Sharing resources etc.
His main source of food was the dried dog food put out for some rottweilers in the hamlet near us. He would - very swiftly - try to finish up any bits that were left, hoping the dogs wouldn't notice. If they did he had to beat a very quick retreat. They did not like cat burglars. One snap of their jaws, and his life would have been ended. Then one day he took a walk over the fields and arrived at Celia's house. His method of soliciting care from humans (exploiting their pity) was to roll on his back - the so called social roll. It worked well with human suckers. The picture shows him doing this endearing trick. Naturally, after that roll, Celia fed him and introduced him to a garden shed.
But Henry wasn't going to put up with a second class owner. In those days Celia spent some of the week in London and the shed wasn't up to his standards. She used to leave down plenty of food but she didn't offer him the human company he needed. And he hated being in a car so going to London with her and William and the late Fat Mog wasn't going to work out. Nor could he be let into the house because elderly Fat Mog, then in the last months of her life, was quite clear about that. So Henry hung about occasionally going back to rottweilerville. He was on the waiting list of Çats Protection for eventual homing. Celia's neighbours tried to give him a home but it involved living all weekdays in London and, for a cat that had been used to roaming, this didn't suit either. Resourceful as ever, Henry found his own home. He set off downhill to the next village and ended up in the care of Jon. Where he is now. Well fed. Happy. Loved.
Henry's story had a happy ending. He might have been killed by a rottweiler as he scavenged for food. Or shot by a gamekeeper. Or killed on the road. Or just starved, flea ridden, and dying of damp and cold.
So think of the strays this Christmas. Adopt one of us if you can - ring Cats Protection. Look at me and Henry. He's very endearing and I am... gorgeous. You won't regret giving one of us a home.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Human gardeners and cats.

I tried to catch a goldfinch on the bird table this morning, and got tangled up in the wire netting Celia had placed there to thwart my natural urges. Several resentful thoughts came to me. Celia's friend, Jane Owen, has just published "One Hundred Ways to a Beautiful Garden," a book that humans will enjoy. However, there is nothing much in it for cats - except perhaps for the idea of tree houses. Now if there had been a tree house near the bird table, I could have leapt down at the finches rather than merely leaping up. Life in the garden is really rather confusing. On the one hand Celia loves and tries serve cats (what right minded human doesn't). She also likes pretty birds like goldfinches. I agree with her there. They are charming - and delicious. Nice little crunchy bones when you grab them. I also enjoy just watching them from the warmth of the kitchen. But she never eats them. Just watches. I think she has a disorder of the predatory sequence. I go in for the whole natural thing - eye, stalk, pounce, grab and eat. She just gets stuck in the first bit of it, watching. Dysfunctional, of course. But worse still, she thinks she is normal and I am aberrant. So she stuffs scrumpled wire netting under the shrubs just in the place I would sit and start my stalk. She makes the bird table about 7 feet high - because I can only jump 5 feet. She creates a wildflower garden (Jane Owen is good on this) then objects when I do my wild thing and try to slaughter the wildlife. Lord, humans are so cranky, contradictory and downright mad.
So for Christmas, buy your human "One Hundred Ways to a Beautiful Garden" and buy your cat, "One Hundred Ways for a Cat to Train its Human." My favourite book, of course. It works too.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Do cats forgive humans?

Re-reading my last blog, I wondered if I had forgiven Celia for her negligence about the garden shed? Do we cats have a forgiving nature, like dogs. Dogs forgive easily. Indeed they fawn on their abusers, creeping back with tails wagging sometimes urinating a little out of fear and appeasement. It's the pack instinct. Dogs are social animals and they have an enormous need to stay within their human family, so much so that they will put up with too much. Celia's remembers a poor labrador which was taunted and teased by a teenager. Its adult owner, female, used to hit it every time it urinated out of fear. Every morning she would come down to the kitchen to let it out into the garden, and when it crept towards her urinating out of frightened appeasement, she would hit it. "It knows it has done wrong. That's why I punish it," she told Celia. Nothing Celia could do, would persuade her that its urination was out of fear of punishment and it had no idea that this was making her punish all the more. We cats would never behave like that - not that creeping towards punishment each morning. We don't do appeasement gestures. We do, in extremis, urinate out of terror. As the SAS say, "Ådrenalin is brown". That's why sensible humans, put a layer of plastic between the car seat and any cat carrier which doesn't retain urination. We don't apologise for it. We would never ever go towards a human who is going to hit us. One hit and we are off. And we never forget a really terrifying traumatic experience.
So do we forgive? Yes, we do when the bad experience isn't that bad. But we don't forgive physical abuse like dogs do. We leave home. That morning I got shut in the shed, I considered taking one of Celia's red spotted hankerchiefs, wrapping up several envelopes of Felix, putting it over my shoulder and walking off to the nearby village to see if I could find a better home. But then I thought about how warm it is here, and how the Felix in unwrapped for me, and I stayed. If forgiveness is letting go and moving on, I have forgiven her. But she'd better watch out. I might feel differently if she does it again.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The negligence of my personal staff

We cats expect a certain level of service from our humans. In return for our beauty and company, we expect doors open, regular meals , warm beds (which we are generous enough to share with them), and thoughtful personal service with proper attention health and safety. I am sorry to report that Celia has failed badly. She has been astonishingly negligent in her duties. She has failed to carry out a proper risk assessment of the garden shed. And she utterly forgot its obvious dangers to a healthy active cat (me). It happend early in the morning when she went out in her dressing gown to get the floating device for the garden pond - it stops the pond icing over and allows animals in the water to breathe because gases don't build up below the ice. If she had done a proper risk assessment she would have identified the high risk of my getting shut inside the shed. Obviously when she goes into the shed, I follow her - to check territory, to see if mice are living in the shed, and to make an assessment of whether there is anything else interesting there - spiders, frogs, wood lice and so forth. As is my wont, as could be expected by a better member of staff, I went in there and was nosing around. She shut the door on me without a thought. Worse still she walked off. I was there for three hours until Ronnie saw my angry face at the window and set me free. Worse still, I had not had time to perform my morning toilet in the nearby seed beds. So there was an ugly rush to the vegetable patch, a great deal of frantic digging, and I finally squatted down with enormous relief.
It was very emotionally upsetting. Tramatising even. I expected better of her. She is an unreliable woman and she is lucky that I didn't just leave home. I have not forgiven her.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Household staff - from kitchen maid to parlour maid


Another Sunday. Celia has come back from a Feline Advisory Conference and has decided William is under stress -- from me. To reduce competition around the kitche feeding station (I need more than he does because I am still growing and I am also greedier) she installed two extra feeding stations yesterday evening, one on the landing and one in our bedroom. That is the bedroom that I share (cats don't really share but we both use it) with William, one on each spare bed. This is a good idea. More food, as much as I like when I like, must be better. It gives me freedom to eat and how much (a lot) to eat. I feel no longer dependant on her putting down food for me. We cats like choices. So just to make the point, both William and I spurned the soft food she put down in the morning. We told her we had already had our breakfasts at the much more convenient hours of 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am and 7am. We don't need her. As a kitchen maid she is now irrelevant to our lives. Her job is now elevated to that of parlour maid, ie of serving food in the three separate areas. Or should that be a housemaid, as two of the food bowls are now upstairs? I need a stately home cat to fill me in on the proper hierarchy of human servants. As for William, I can of course still elbow him out of the food bowls, only I shall have to try to keep an eye on all three. It is going to mean some strenuous running up and down stairs to do so.
Maybe hunting is more fun than bullying him. I hoped to bag another partridge yesterday but had no luck. I shall keep trying.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My best day ever - bagged a partridge

This is my best day ever. Almost the perfect day. I'll come to why it wasn't later. Lately the fields round me have been full of huge bewildered pheasants let out of their nearby pens, where they have been kept like poultry, to starve in the fields before getting shot by humans. Hundreds of them. The nearby road is sticky with their blood and feathers. Slighly less big but just as bewildered are the French partridges (easier to rear in hen coops than the more alert English species). They too are wandering round unable to cope with life in the wild. No idea of predators which is where I came in. I have been eyeing up the pheasants for the past week since they were let out. I've had a couple of practice runs but stopped short each time. These are huge birds, taller than I am, fat and slow moving as pigs. This is the cat's time. They haven't learned to run and in their hen coops they haven't had a chance to fly. The humans have only slaughtered a few of them. My chance is now. As I run in for the grab, I keep thinking about their size so I stop.
This morning was my opportunity. The French partridges stay in proper groups and are normally a bit cleverer than the pheasants. They all keep a look out for one another. If one spots something (like me) they all fly off. Well this morning, one of them hadn't stayed alert for danger. They'd come into the garden in a vain hope of food - outside is all ploughland - and the poor saps are used to breakfast being put in a food hopper for them.
I eyed it up. Definitely a more manageable size than a pheasant. I stalked. I did the run in. I grabbed the bird - no mean feat when you consider its size even if it's smaller than a pheasant. And I popped through the cat flap fast so that I could finish it off at leisure in the kitchen. That's where my perfect day ended. Moving with unusual speed, Celia grabbed me. I dropped the bird who ran into the living room. Celia handed me to Ronnie and walked out shutting the door. I never saw the partridge again.
Did I sulk? I looked thoughtfully at the feathers and the smear of blood on the kitchen tiles, and decided not to hold grudges. I went out for another one.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Is God a Cat?

One of the oddest things about humans is the way they anthropomorphise their God. If you listen to them talking about God (any main religion god) you get a picture of a sort of super human - almost always male, a person, a father, a director, sometimes even new employer. My thoughts were prompted from sitting on Celia's desk reading the blog of Ruth Gledhill of the Times. It is as if humans can't imagine a God that isn't human. I say what if She was a Cat. If God was a Cat, things would be different. For one thing, She'd make it clear that some of the human activities had got to stop - trapping and killing cats, shooting cats with air guns, kicking cats, etc. Instead churches would open their doors not just to church mice but to church cats. They'd take collections and go and buy cat food for strays. And all the starving little strays that scrounge a living in busy towns would know there was a sanctuary for them - a dry sheltered place with lots of room and cat food given out free. There'd be less church ritual (what's the point of if?), less standing up and kneeling, less human music (though some caterwauling would be lovely at midnight mass), and more practical charity. Humans would be allowed in to serve others (cats) and, if they persisted with their 'services" (which aren't really anything of the kind in practical terms) we could sit on their warm laps for the duration. Some forward thinking churches have already taken a step in this direction by having resident felines. At the Tower of London chapel there is Teufel, a black tom who is known for enjoying weddings. He often sits down for a nap on the bride's train. Rupert was assistant organist at St Lawrence, Ludlow. And Lucky is a convent cat. She joins in as the nuns sing Alma Redemptoris Mater. As humans no longer go to church, perhaps we could take over.
Of course, it is pretty bad news for mice if She is a Cat.
And even worse news for us, if God is a Mouse.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Specieism - One Day in History but no Cats.


This morning, as I was eating my toast or rather Celia's toast on the kitchen table, I couldn't help noticing something in the Times. I had carefully placed my bottom so that Celia couldn't read it. I needed her to concentrate on buttering my toast or rather her toast. Apparently yesterday thousands of humans in Britain documented their day for a kind of mass blog. It was meant to be of use to the historians of the future just as the records of Mass Observation during the war time years are now. The organisers, History Matters, did not ask me to contribute. Indeed there are no feline blogs. Felines only occur if humans have put them into their blogs. That's called species discrimination. Something that humans are very good at. Their self-centered view of the world simply leaves out others, like us cats. They don't think or won't think of others. So I thought I'd write about my day, today and call it Cat Matters. I woke Celia at 6am, 7am and 7.3O am. The woman is so tired, she keeps going back to sleep. Normal wake up proceedures -- purring, standing and stretching on chest, rubbing against her face, dribbling while rubbing, rolling over etc. I save biting the nose until 8am and this morning I didn't need to. Went downstairs and had snack in bowl. Out for a little walk. Back in for toast (hers). Another walk. Back for snack in bowl. Morning hunting. Caught a mouse which I generously deposited at her feet. She threw it out again and closed the cat flap. Lunchtime snack in bowl. Slept. Tea time snack in bowl. Walk. Second tea time snack in bowl. Blogged before going out hunting again. Came back later for snack, then sleep, then snack, then sleep. There's a kind of stripped-to-the-bone poetry in this routine. We cats know what matters and it's not human history. In the early morning I added this fancy picture of me - just for the record.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dogs - the deference problem

I don't care for dogs. I met some dogs when Cats Protection was caring for me but since then, they have not been part of my life. Meeting dogs was included in my Cats Protection education. Cats Protection kittens get a better education than pedigree ones because they are given proper experiences of life when young enough. But I didn't do a secondary education in the canine species. Dogs are a potential problem for cats. When I adopted Celia, we decided it was best if I grew up frightened of them. We live down a cart track and occasionally yobs from Birmingham come with their greyhounds and long dogs to do illegal chasing of the local hares. Two years ago, Stanley, the then next door cat (black like me), turned up with his tail half hanging off and we think it was one of the coursing dogs. So Celia felt it was safer for me if I just was brought up to shun the species. She didn't want me walzing up to an unfriendly dog and getting killed. There are dog walkers come down our cart track and some humans teach their dogs to chase cats. They shout "Cats" as a joke, and we die in earnest. When I think of the blood curdling idiocy and cruelty of some humans, I have to try to remember the kindness and goodness of others. Not all humans are cruel brutes. Just some of them.
The other problem with dogs is that their ridiculous deference to human beings. Difficult to believe they can do this. They think humans are their leaders. They have this absurd pack instinct which makes them seek out their social superiors (in their eyes) and obey them. Instead of training humans, they are trained by them. They are naturally codependant so the average dog is a dog that loves too much. If they are beaten and abused at the hands of the truly inferior species, humans, they come back for more. We cats won't take it. We just push off down the road to rehome ourselves at better accomodation. It's well known that dogs look up to humans, and cats look down at humans. Of course. Dogs can't even survive in the wild, like we can. They are completely dependant on human society. They actually want to be loved by a human. Who'd be a dog?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Cuddles

Personally I like cuddles. Lou Kirby of Cats Protection used to cuddle me a lot when I was in the kittens' pen there. She called it socialising. They say it must be done before the age of eight weeks, in order to get a friendly cat. But Celia took me on when I was nine weeks old and she continued the process. She handed me to 24 different people over the next four weeks. In the vet's surgery, she handed me to all the nurses, some children waiting there with a hamster, and all the adults one after the other. The postman got a cuddle. So did the man delivering mail order clothes. The people next door got lots of cuddles, so did visiting friends and relations. I was cuddled by her nephew, her neice in law, a total of six visitors, and the man who came to mend the lawn mower. Ronnie said people wouldn't like having a kitten thrust at them, but they all did. All 24 of them. Of course they liked me. Everybody loves a squeaky clean little black kitten with yellow eyes and a cheeky little miaow.
Do it to all kittens, as soon as you get one, say I. I am thinking of calling myself Gorgeous Cuddles George. I think the extra name has rather a l920s debonaire ring to it. Like Stroky Jackson or Binkie Beaumont. And I am dressed in an all black DJ. Not unlike Fred Astair but with more hair and elegant whiskers. He'd have looked better with a bit more hair too.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sundays and human sloth

It's Sunday and for some reason Celia considers this day to be one in which she is allowed to fail in her housekeeping duties. She thinks she can sleep longer and keep me waiting for breakfast. But discipline must be maintained, as a character in Bleak House put it. (I pride myself on being a bit of a literary cat). On Sundays harsher measures are needed to wake her up. Usually I just jump on the bed (if I am not there already) and wake her by nosing against her face in the feline friendly rub. If I do this one or two times, her eyes usually open sleepily. I then dribble a little just to make the point. She is rather touched by the dribble. She thinks its a sign of love. Actually it's a sign that I am hungry. Four or five cheek rubs later and her eyes are open. If they close again, I sit on her face, or as near to her face as I can get. That usually does the trick but if it doesn't I roll on my back and wave my paws in the air, which makes her laugh. If I've got her laughing, I've woken her.
On Sundays, however, she seems determined not to respond. She just hunches herself further under the duvet. Duty and responsibility are forgotten in sloth. Today I bit her nose. I don't like doing it but sometimes these things have to be done. I'd tried charm and it had failed. It was time to see what pain would do. It was very effective.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The human mouse


They've got no idea, humans! Celia's "mouse" (so called) is oval, white with a transparent coat, marked with the sign of an bitten apple. It smells of nothing except plastic and only moves when she puts her hand on it. Anything less like a mouse would be difficult to find. The only thing it has in common with a real mouse is the white tail that comes out of its end and fixes into the keyboard. Once again this is hard and cold where a proper mouse tail would be warm and soft and waving freely. The only thing that can account for this massive misnomer is wishful human thinking, the desire to be more like a superior species, us cats. The poor dears aspire to be feline. It's really rather charming. And I suppose one way is to give human things feline names. I've written before (9.12.06) about musmalfunction, the way humans can't do real mice. They can't smell them. They can't see or hear of them most of the time. If they do, they can't pounce properly. And, as I've remarked, they can't grab them with their mouths. Nor do they eat them. Not a nibble. Even when a mouse is put on their keyboard.
Instead they play for hours with this plastic "mouse". Pathetic but sweet.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The humans next door

My friends from next door arrived for the weekend. Paul and Steffi have a proper attitude to cats and they also have a cat flap left over from when Henry lived there (more on that another day). William and I naturally pop in to see that all is well when they are absent. And we pop in for a snack when they are present. They have suitable beds and armchairs for a nap. Last week a builder was in doing something to the loft. I kept an eye on him. He also had a suitable attitude to cats. He fed me some dried food from the tin that is kept for me and William. Where does this fit in with the human selfishness I was writing about yesterday? It is simply this. Our primary servants or caretakers often want us just to eat at home with them. They want us all to themselves. Yet it's natural for us to pop in elsewhere. There are inviting cat flaps all down the street and even where there is no entry, humans can usually be persuaded to let us in if we sit at the back door looking hungry. Or on a windowsill. A sensible cat can fix three or four alternative caretakers to feed him. It's particular useful if your humans are out at work during the day. Somewhere in the street is a lonely human, with the central heating on, who would love a visit. Like Paul and Steffi. It's important for their welfare to do this kind of social work for lonely humans. I thnk Paul and Steffi are all the better for it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Human selfishness

Homo sapiens is a selfish beast. Under the guise of caring for others, it exploits, plunders, mistreats and even kills. Even when it pretends to care, it doesn't. Of course, our species, catus catus, is linked to humans. Some cats see it as a symbiotic relationship - both species benefits. We have access to the mice in their granaries and houses. They have cats as a pesticide to keep down the mice and rats. But there are signs that this relationship is becoming more intense. Some cats are kept in a state of dulosis, enslaved by their humans, their freedom completely gone. These are the indoor cats, kept in small flats, usually in an impoverished environment. There's nothing to do. Nothing to hunt. Admittedly, meals are provided. There is also the companionship (if you can call it that) of a human being who returns at night for about ten hours before leaving again. Oddly enough even in this situation some cats are inspired to turn round the relationship. They obedience train their human who comes home earlier giving up chances to socialise in order to be with the cat. Thye often rule their human's relationship - seeing off competition from boyfriends. Does this mean the human is enslaved by the cat? That the dulosis is, so to speak, two way? A feline anthropologist should do some research on this. Is this kind of relationship healthy for the cat? Well for a young vigorous cat like me, it would be incredibly frustrating. My hunting instincts would be almost unexpressed. For an older cat, or a disabled cat, this may (with prper environmental enrichment) a suitable environment. Is the relationship healthy for the human? For a young vigorous human probably not. The love instincts are being expressed across the species at the expense of human-human relationships. For an older or disabled human this may be a suitable relationship.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Teaching a human to eat mice

I have a sense of responsibility towards my humans. I am trying to train them out of human dsfunction into feline competance, so I brought in a mouse for them. It was pretty good hearted of me, as it wasn't one of the small long nosed voles that I usually spare for them. Frankly these don't taste good to cat so I tend to give them to my humans, who are much less fussy about what they put in their mouths. It's never worked. Even humans dislike voles. I stay optimistic though.
Today it was a real mouse - large and deliciously fat. My mouth was watering, even as I clambered in through the cat flap and set off to find Celia at her wordprocessor. There was a moment of temptation on the stairs. Would I succumb to a little nibble? Sternly I told myself that I must stay with the original generous impulse. I sprang on to her desk and placed the mouse neatly between her and the keyboard, not far from the hard device that humans call a mouse.
At first her reaction seemed appropriate. She too sprang up from her chair with what seemed like a delighted shriek. Then, as a series of completely inappropriate vocalisations followed, I realised that an emotional sympton of musmalfunction ( a disordered reation to mice) had taken over. She threw herself out of the office then came back with yards of lavatory paper - just too late. Realising what had happened, I had smartly picked up the mouse and was legging it down the stairs to the cat flap and out on the lawn for my delayed meal.
My generosity ignored and insulted. Not a word of thanks.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wimpy William


My companion cat is William the Wimp. Humans seem to think he is more beautiful than me. He's as hairy as a Sxities hippy and tabby with it. That white and mottled look goes down well with the human race. Research has proved that humans are colour prejudiced when it comes to cats. Georgeous slinky blacks like me are often left unchosen in the rescue pens while gingers, tabbies, and whites are snapped up quickly. Humans can't understand that what matters is grace, elegance, sleekness, and temperament rather than mere colour. Celia, my carer, claims she chose me because she knew black was unpopular. I don't want to be pitied and I am too polite to tell her that the boot is on the other paw. I pity her. She looks awful. She's got a horried pinky sort of face not nearly as beautiful as my jet black one. No whiskers at all just a few over the eyes. Nothing as gorgeous as mine. Same with her paws - sort of pinky and soft. Mine are black leather. Very dashing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My other pet

My other pet is the larger older human, Ronnie. Before I arrived, he also fell short of the proper behaviour of a companion animal. He had a territory problem. With the arrogance typical of homo sapiens, so called, he took the whole world as his territory. Always running off to some far flung place. A sort of war junkie or self styled foreign correspondent. While more sensible humans stayed at home, he was out in the Middle East, North Africa, etc looking for trouble. He would go missing for weeks at at a time then turn up at home through the big cat flap known as the front door looking for dinner and love. Without so much as an apology. Like cats, humans fight over territory and compete for goodies like food and love. But, unlike cats, their fights are massed ones. The whole pack/nation joins in or they make special packs, with terror names, and work together. This is the instinct for pack life gone very wrong indeed. Us cats know better. We don't do packs. We fight our battles as single heroes. To the feline mind, human behaviour is dysfunctional anyway.
Ronnie is now quite a good pet as he has settled down. Nothing to do with neutering. He was never fixed, as pets really should be in an ideal world. It's just age brought him to his senses. No more notes left on the kitchen table saying "Off to Algeria" or Iraq, or Israel, or Lebanon, or some place with fighting. He's settled down - though there were other worse moments in the cat-human relationship which I will save for another post.

Monday, September 18, 2006

My name is George


Humans! Don't you find them a pain at times. My whole kittenhood was shaped by the moment when some rescue humans grabbed my mother, fed her, and stuck her in a Cats Protection pen. From then on I became the kind of cat that lives with this odd species. Naked as the day they were born, they never grow real fur. They're huge, ungainly, and in every way ridiculous. But they make great pets. Literally.
So this is my take on life with a domesticated human. Mine is Celia. She'd have made a great pet in her early life if only some cat had her neutered. But they didn't. So she really wasn't suitable as a pet then - always out late at night, bringing back human toms, making loud music (they can't caterwaul properly), and with only one thing on her mind. A quick trip to the human vet and she'd have been a much calmer better human.
I got her when she had settled down. She's now the right kind of pet for any cat. Anxious and willing to go hunting for the right kind of cat food. Ready to warm my bed in the main bedroom (only she takes up a lot of room at night). Sometimes if I need the extra room she'll even get up in the early morning and go to the spare bedroom.

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