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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bold from the beginning


George took charge of William from the beginning. He spent many happy hours pouncing on unhappy William who was much too gentle to tell him off. He, William, had been smacked round the face by Fat Mog who simply hated having another cat. She hd put William firmly in his place from the start. But poor William just couldn't do it to George.
George enjoyed himself greatly near water. He jumped in to the lavatory pan, luckily when I was nearby to fish him out before he drowned. He tried to get into the shower with me or Ronnie on all occasions. He ventured out on the ice of the pond and fell in. I rescued him with a big fishing net. He shook himself and promptly jumped in again. This time, I rushed him into the house for warming up. He clearly felt this was a bit of a fuss. A week later, when the ice had melted, he jumped in for the third time. This time I waited to see if he could swim. He could and came safely to shore. Oddly enough, perhaps because I hadn't rescued him with the net, he never jumped in again.
Instead, he waded into puddles. He enjoyed this greatly. He liked it when I laughed, so he would do it when I was near him. But I could also look out of the window and see him - in my absence - carefully walking into the biggest puddles. He liked dripping taps, of course. And he enjoyed swishing the water in his water bowl with his paw. That habit continued all his life.
His other favourite activity was climbing. He climbed up my leg levering himself up with his claws on my jeans. I let out what was to him a very satisfactory yelp. He climbed up sofas and beds, of course. He didn't climb up curtains, perhaps because ours are not posh enough. We wouldn't have minded and so perhaps it wasn't worth the effort for him. He climbed up chests of draws, up piles of linen in the linen cupboard, up bookshelves artfully posing near serious books such as the Memoirs of Creevy, and up the hedge.
His most startling exploits were when he climbed up the huge double trunk oak tree in our garden. The first time he did this, I got a step ladder and retrieved him from one of the lower branches. This was a staid end to his adventure. A little while later on a frosty freezing day, he went for the summit, ending up about 100 yards near the top. He wasn't mewing. He just sat there watching the birds in the branches. He was in no hurry to come down as he was clearly enjoying himself. Every now and again he would look down at the garden and climb a little higher just for fun. I spent an hour ringing the RSPCA, the local tree surgeon, friends, and builders who might have long ladders. I couldn't wait for him to come down. It was too cold for such a small animal.
Luckily John Holcroft, a handsome young man on a tractor, was passing by and saw this tiny kitten up in the high branches. John climbed up to the top and with wonderful skill climbed down again with one hand on the trunk and one gripping an indignant George. George was not at all grateful. He was not pleased to be back at ground level.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blue eyes and black coat


George still had some of the blue eyes of a kitten when I took him home. Within weeks that blue tinge had grown into a light golden colour, better suited to his little black face.The skin inside his ears was pink, and they seemed unusually large for his face. They were ears to grow into, like baby clothes bought large to allow for longer wearing. The hair of his face, and most of his body, was medium long and stood at right angles to his body, except for the short hair of his tiny black nose. Little wisps of hair stuck out of his large pink ears and single large hairs grew from his face. His whiskers were modest, as befitted an animal of his size - the only modest thing about him. He looked not so much fluffy as sort of starey haired. Not the most beautiful of kittens except in my doating eyes.
As he grew, his hair stayed the same length and started becoming tougher. The way it grew out of his body changed. It began to grow parallel, sleeking down to become shiney in sunlight. The bottom of his feet, the thick leathery skin of his paws was a bluish black. Those paws that had, like his ears, seemed too big for his tiny kitten body began to take on adult proportions. Small, soft and starey, the little kitten was to grow into a sleek elongated cat, from sweetness to strength.
The poet Robert Southey lamented the end of kittenhood. "Kitten is in the animal world what the rosebud is in the garden; the one the most beautiful of all young creatures, the other the loveliest of all opening flowers, " he wrote. "The rose loses only something in delicacy by its development, - enough to make it a serious emblem to the pensive mind; but if a cat could remember kittenhood, as we remember our youth, it were enough to break a cat’s heart, even if it had nine times nine heart strings."
To my mind, however, the chubbiness of kittenhood has nothing to the full grown beauty of an adult cat. Besides, George was fully grown in character from the start. He was always quite certain what he wanted and he was always ready to play.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bold George's education.


George was bold from the beginning. He squeaked his protest when Lou, his foster mother, handed him to me but settled down in my arms immediately. I placed him in the cat box and drove him home. No more kitten noises. He accepted being alone in the carrier with equanimity. And when I placed him in the crate (a kind of large cage) within the living room, investigated it thoroughly, ate some of the kitten food, used the litter tray and climbed into the bed.
Kittens have to be handled between two and seven weeks in order not to fear humans. George had been handled by Lou and indeed bottle fed by her. He had no fear of humans. In theory the fear instinct in cats is meant to appear at the age of about five or six weeks and according to the books even a kitten who has been well handled by humans may go through a period of avoiding them. By 10 weeks this fear period disappears and the well handled kitten becomes an affectionate cat.
George just cut through this theory. From being a helpless fearless kitten he moved into being a fearless affectionate adolescent without ever going through the fear of humans stage. I could pick him up and cradle him on his back - something I did a lot as I had always wanted a cradle cat. I introduced him to everybody I could think of - the postman, the delivery people, friends, neighbours. Anybody who visited the cat got George to cuddle. When I took him to the vet for a check over and vaccinations, I passed him to the receptionist, the nurse, and each person in the waiting room. He met about 24 people in the first month.
I was giving him the ideal upbringing as a pet. George was going to be a bombproof cat. He was bold. Very bold.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A real little corker.


"He makes his wishes known," said Lou Tyack of West Oxfordshire Cats Protection. "He's a real little corker, this one." She handed the small black kitten to me who squeaked in protest. He was not frightened, merely indignant. His fur positively bristled with outrage as he realised he was being transferred to an unknown female.
George's early life had been spent with Lou Tyack in a cat chalet at the bottom of her Oxfordshire garden. Four kittens had been rescued as a wild litter and handed over to Lou - two black ones and two black and white. I had heard of them while lying on my back with my legs in table top position during a pilates class. As we drew in our muscles and indented our stomachs to get the second leg up to table top, one of my classmates turned her head in my direction and whispered: "Do you know that Lou has some kittens."
Kittens in October are rare, particularly kittens born in the wild. It's normally too late in the year for kittens to survive the winter and most female cats don't come on heat so late. Nature knows the effort of pregnancy may well be wasted. The only winter kittens are those produced by unscrupulous pedigree breeders or equally unscrupulous low life people who think they can make a few extra pence by selling kittens as Christmas presents. These wild kittens, the tiny black male and his three sisters, would probably have died that autumn. How did they arrive so late into a cold world so unfriendly to wild kittens? Perhaps their mother was as fearless and irrepressible as her son was to be, and just fancied a handsome passing tom that autumn despite it not being the right season for cats living wild.
Her four little kittens, if by some miracle they had survived in the wild, would have grown up feral. Their mother was just one of the many unknown cats who live a hidden life in the wild sheltering in damp hedges, or dusty derelict buildings or creeping into factories at night for the warmth left over from day time work. Some of them, the best survivors, are wild from birth, others are pets that have got lost, still others are pets that are thrown out by owners who no longer want them. Their lifespan is often less than two years, as they scrounge for food among the dustbins or try to keep themselves alive by hunting rabbits and rats in the wet fields. For an entire tom cat, it is a life of roaming in search of sex, caterwauling around the roof tops, or dodging the gamekeepers and their guns. For the un-neutered females it is a desperate and short life bearing litters of kittens. Near starving mothers do their best to rear their offspring but few of them survive.
The tiny black kitten and his sisters were alive thanks to Cats Protection and Lou's bottle feeding. But it was unusual to find unwanted kittens in a rescue centre that time of year and I had thought I would have to wait until Spring. I couldn't adopt an adult cat. A kitten was what I had to have, as in 2006 I was spending part of the week in London and part of it in Oxfordshire. A young kitten could be acclimatised to the car and would grow up relaxed about having two different territories. An older cat would have hated each journey. So, though there were cats more desperately needing homes, I had to have a kitten. and a young one at that.
A black kitten was my choice, because black is the least popular colour. Tabbies, gingers, tortoiseshells, blues and whites are quickly chosen out of the rescue pens regardless of their temperaments. Black and whites are not much desired but are taken eventually. In rescue centres where the public are allowed to walk by looking at the cats, they often fail to give black cats even a second glance. Friendly black cats will walk hopefully towards the passing human only to be ignored. Taking a black kitten was the least I could do, to help Cats Protection and the rescue movement in general. I also wanted a black cat because my last cat, Fat Mog, had been strong minded and black. Mog had been put to sleep with kidney disease about two or three months earlier.
A young kitten, as young as eight weeks, would grow up thinking car journeys were a normal part of life. "I can't give him to you yet," Lou had said a week earlier. "He's eight weeks old and he's eating solid food but he still likes his bottle. I don't want to wean him too early if he wants to continue on the bottle." Obviously the small black kitten, rather me or Lou, had taken charge of the the timing of his adoption.
I named him George because I knew he was valiant and irrepressible, and I hoped he would grow up to be loving and gorgeous.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Day 11. No George

I went round four or five places calling and checked out a guy who is said to shoot round my nearby woods. It turns out I know him and he wouldn't have shot George. So that was reassuring.
I think George is dead otherwise he would have come home. I am way for three days and will resume this blog on my return with an obituary of his life starting with his arrival at my home.
Cellia, George's human.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Day 10 - still no George


This was George playing in the sink. I wanted a photo to place on www.catsinsinks.com ( I think that\s the website). He was always happy to oblige for the camera. I have scores of pictures of him playing - in sinks, in waste paper baskets, up trees, with dead mice, with cat toys. He was a good player.
The search is on hold for a few days as I am going to look at standing stones this coming weekend. Ronnie will be at home just in case he turns up. I have decided to write George's life story in this blog, starting with the small black kitten with a mind of its own. A sort of extended obituary.
Thank you, Oscar, for the quotation. I knew the first half but not the second bit.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Day 9 - no George

The black cat in Asthall, seen round a skip, is probably a feral. There is one in the village, also a tabby that is perhaps a stray. I owe this information to the farmer's wife, living in a caravan because of the devastating floods. She once lost a dog that simply never was found again so she knows the pain of uncertainity. The farm has a shoot, and she is going to tell the beaters about George. I didn't think he would be that far away but I needed to check. I have left a poster on the village noticeboard - just in case.
I am off to London today, leaving the cat flap open for cats to come in but closed for cats that go out. I wish I could stop hoping.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Day 8. No George


Yesterday I checked the two most likely places, drove on the roads where there is most likely to be corpse and handed out leaflets to dog walkers. I got a new lead. A black cat had been seen near a builders skip in the village of Asthall. This is quite far away - nearer five miles than two - and the lead came in as darkness fell. I am going there this morning.
Tracey, one of Smudge's two owners, is the local RSPCA inspector and she is going to keep an eye out. She also asked the shooters' beaters to look out for him. So that will make it more likely that they hold back, if he is still alive.
For my peace of mind, I am trying to think of him as being dead - after a glorious two year life of hunting and being cuddled. A good combination for a cat. A full life. His loss is the consequence of my decision to let him out in the wide wide world - the English way of keeping cats. I would do it again but now I know the cost of freedom. Freedom isn't a free gift either for humans or cats. It is paid for in lives. George paid for his. I think it is still worth it.
I am still praying for him.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Day 7 Still no George

Yesterday I rushed off to the nearest hamlet where a black cat, looking like George, was sitting on somebody's garden shed. I called. He looked at me, thought about coming and stayed where he was. I called some more and he started to look uneasy, then jumped off the shed and ran off. it turns out he was Smudge. Smudge is owned by two people who live only two doors away and both think he belongs to them. (I haven't enlightened them!!). But he spends most of his time with a third person further down the same road. Cats!
I left food at the nearby farm buildings which was untouched this morning. So if there is a black cat there, he is a visitor not a resident. Resident cats patrol their territory carefully. George would have recognised the bowl. I left the food there as I would like to see the visitor just to rule him out. I think he may be the feral from Buttermilk Farm - a cat with a hunting territory which includes two other lots of farm buildings.
The Astall Leigh bench, where i left some food yesterday morning, still had it during the day but it was eaten during the night. Either another feral in the further reaches of his territory or a fox patrolling his territory. I put down some more. I will check this until I go away on Thursday on a long-booked four day archeaological trip. Ronnie will be there if George comes home.
I now think George is dead, which is some kind of relief really. But I will keep checking until I go away.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Day 6. Still no George

Yesterday i continued to leaflet the local houses within a two mile radius. I also gave tradesmen in vans leaflets when I could. I rang one of the local vets whom I had previously missed. The result has been three phone calls. One about a black cat in Minster Lovell. Not George because she wears a collar. In Asthall Leigh there was a black female cat with two kittens, quite wild, earlier in the autumn. And there is a black cat hanging round one of the farms near Minster. All in all this means in a five mile radius there are at least two feral cats, one possibly feral, and one lost pet. The countryside (with no dustbins to support strays) has a hidden population of non-owned cats in the autumn. I should think most die off in a cold winter.
I have started putting a little food down in the farm where a black cat has been seen and I am going to visit daily and call. I don't think it is George but I would like to be able to rule it out as a possibility. I have also left food on a bench where a black cat was seen leaping into the hedge. I went early today before 7am and called. I didn't walk the hedges - just as well as a grumpy farmer passed by. I want to avoid getting caught trespassing if I can because once I am warned off, it will be harder to do next time. But walking them in the dark is just too difficult. I fell over twice when I did this.
All in all, I am scaling down hedge walking. If George is in a snare, he will be dead by now. I was tortured by the thought of him dying slowly but now that, at least, is over if it happened.
My best chance is that he turns up in somebody's garden. That might be weeks away.

Friday, November 02, 2007

DAY 4... GEORGE IS STILL MISSING


Yesterday was a day of false sightings. First, a cat near the oak tree in the field near Purrants Lane. It was probably the cat, black with white feet, belonging to somebody in the lane - with its feet hidden in grass. Next a black cat near Buttermilk Farm. I ran gasping for breath (aged 63 is too old for this) just to late to see it vanish into a barn. But the farm owner tells me it is her local feral and when I called it did not come. Worst of all, was the sighting by a friend of George down several fields away towards Minster Lovell. Good friend that she is we went out in the dark with torches - no luck. I went back again this morning at 7am calling. No luck again. I had left some catfood on a bench near the road and it had been eaten. Probably a fox but I have left a bit more. I am going to leaflet that end of Asthall Leigh. The cat seen there was slim and sleek but with a bushy tail. Odds are that it is not George. However at least there were no bodies on the road this morning.
I also left a poster with the Blue Cross. I am going to put one on that bench.
Thank you all for your friendly comments, cross blogs etc. It is comforting for me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

HELP..... GEORGE HAS GONE MISSING FOR 3 DAYS


GEORGE IS MISSING. IF ANY READER OF THIS LIVES IN OXFORDSHIRE, UK, NEAR THE VILLAGES OF LEAFIELD, MINSTER LOVELL, ASTHALL LEIGH, KEEP A LOOK OUT FOR HIM. HE IS MICROCHIPPED SO HAND HIM IN TO A VET OR THE BLUE CROSS FOR THE MICROCHIP TO BE READ. I WILL PAY ALL VETS FEES IF HE IS INJURED.
I am updating this more or less daily. So far I have walked hedges for a mile and a half radius of my house (6 hours in all), talked to gamekeeper who says he hasn't shot George, talked to farmer, put up notices in three nearby villages. Leafleted the nearest houses - about 30 to 40 leaflets, rung all the nearby vets, rung the local animal shelters. Luckily he is microchipped. I have walked both sides of the hedge at my nearest road and driven all the roads in a radius of one and a half miles. I did this at 6.3oam, early enough to see a corpse if there had been one. There was no sign on the road or in the hedges (as faras I could see) of his body. I borrowed somebody's dog to sniff near undergrowth in case he was hidden in there.
We don't have black cat sacrifice at Halloween luckily because black cats are thought to be lucky, so this is not my fear. I now believe that he was either in an accident and finished off by a fox, or caught in a snare (gamekeeper says these are not put down this time of year but he would have to say that), or has just wandered off.
I have offered a £50 reward for his body and £100 for him alive.
I shall keep this blog going for a month in hope then make a decision. I am going to do it more or less day by day.

If anybody prays, please pray for George - either a quick death or happy life elsewhere.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Black Cat horror.

Just heard that black cats are tortured and sacrificed in Halloween ceremonies in the USA. Is this an urban legend? Can it be true? Lots of animal shelters refuse to hand out black cats for adoption before Halloween for fear they will be cruelly tortured. I can't believe this, but Celia came across it while researching for an essay on euthanasia.
I do so very much hope this isn't true. Perhaps Oscar Snuggles knows about it. He seems a wise US cat. I know that black cats are thought unlucky in the US though here in the UK they are lucky. But animal shelters both sides of the pond find it easier to get homes for cats of another colour. (Stop being smug, William. Tabbies are not that beautiful.).
Will add to the post when Celia gets deeper into the research.

Friday, October 19, 2007

More on worms and snakes and pets


I have been thinking further thoughts on worms. I reckognise that some people think worms are only for kittens. I know that Orlando the Cat's black son, Tinkle, used to have a pet worm. He called it Wormintrude and it lived in a matchbox. He said he would have it stuffed when it died. But Tinkle was only a kitten after all and he was probably just going through a worm phase. I went through a worm phase as a kitten too.
But even as an adult, I find them mildly interesting, as you can see from this not-very-good picture. Celia was digging some good cow manure (interesting smells) into the veg garden and several worms protruded. I poked them, then took one and put it in the grass. I poked it some more. It wriggled deep into the grass. I poked again and it wriggled in deeper. Not very dramatic. No squeaking. It didn't smell good to eat like a mouse does.
I don't think a worm would make a very satisfactory pet - and indeed Orlando the Marmalade cat thought the worm would quickly bore Tinkle. (The story, Orlando Keeps a Dog, doesn't say what happened to the worm in its matchbox. Perhaps it died of neglect.) I think I might get bored too easily too. Then Celia would have to look after it and for some reason she doesn't like worms.
She is much more interested in snakes. There are some grass snakes in the garden and occasionally I see one swimming in the pond, but I have never caught one. Some cats do. There's a cat I know in the South West of France regularly catches and brings home adders. Her human pets find the dead snakes lying on the patio and they have promised to send me a photo next time there is a suitable corpse. Naturally they are worried that one day she may get it wrong and die from an adder bite, but so far this hasn't happened.
Maybe I should have a snake as a pet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I think I'd like a pet - a rabbit, perhaps


I have decided that I need a pet, a companion animal to enrich my life. I know I have two human pets. But they are so large and blundering. In a way humans don't make very good pets for us cats. They are dominating AND stupid. I think it would be nicer to have something smaller and cleverer. I thought about a worm. At one point, when I was only a kitten, I was very interested in worms. They wriggle very nicely and I found that intriguing. I would sit and look at them for hours and once or twice I brought one back home for Celia. She didn't appreciate it much but what human does gratitude when we bring things to them?
I'd like something more ambitious. Celia, whose daily misconduct includes going out instead of staying at home ready to service my needs when I pop in, came home smelling of rabbit yesterday. She had been sitting in the pen with Matilda, a large female rescue rabbit at the Blue Cross in Burford. The aim is to make Matilda more friendly and less feisty. She will get up on Celia's lap but if Celia tries to cuddle her, she is off doing a kind of rebel's lap round the enclosure. She also grunts with dislike if cornered. All in all, not a stupid bunny.
Matilda, I thought to myself, would make a nice companion animal for me. She smells delicious. She is warm and furry and I could snuggle up to her on the bed at night. She would take up less room than Celia on the bed. She is also brighter than Celia. Rabbits (unlike humans) understand scent marking. even if they do smell different. I am told some house rabbits live happily with cats and even intimidate them.
I am badly in need of some rabbit exercise. I haven't caught one for ages and ages. Matilda might fill the gap in my life and I wouldn't just leave her to Celia to look after. I would take a close interest in her every move.
If I got bored with her, I could just eat her.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I am showing my disapproval


She came back late last night. I could feel the adrenaline on her. If she had fur (poor human, she hasn't except in the wrong places) it would have been crackling with electricity. She was high as a kite with a mixture of excitement and anxiety. Being a 63-year old antique human among the teenagers in an Agricultural college had really stressed her up.
I couldn't help showing my pleasure at her return. Of course, as any good human trainer knows, all obedience training must always be consistent. And I am afraid I wasn't. To err is human, to purr divine. I am afraid that by purring I was erring and letting her realise I was pleased to see her. I should have been punishing her for her absence.
Today I am making up for that lapse. I went out in the morning without noticing her. I hunted all through the morning and this afternoon, instead of coming in and perhaps sharing my bed with her for an afternoon nap, I am continuing to hunt. Active ignoring is the key to all human training. Reward good behaviour (such as feeding, petting etc) with purrs and ignore bad behaviour. Claw and teeth punishment should be reserved for truly bad behaviour only.
As I walked insolently past the glass of the kitchen door I heard her say: "Where IS George? He usually comes in about now." Good. I hope she misses me for a few hours. That's nothing to the six full days of her absense from cat duties. Tonight I shall sleep in the wastepaper basket instead of on my bed. I did this one night that she was away - to the mystification of Ronnie, deputy carer. The point about the wastepaper basket is that she can't get into it with me. That'll teach her.
PS. Special note for Oscar Snuggles and any US cats. Cheek is like chutzpah. So "the cheek of it" means "what insolence!"

Saturday, October 06, 2007

She's leaving me.

She's leaving me. After all I have done for her - woken her up in the mornings nice and early, shared my bed with her, brought in mice for her to eat or chase (as she chooses only she doesn't). Now she is going off for a whole week deserting me, William and Ronnie. I am so upset I haven't bothered to blog a picture.
And - the cheek of it - she is deserting her post in order to study animal management. What sort of management is this! I extremely disappointed in her.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Is Celia having kittens? She smells of them. Bad, bad, bad.


Celia has been coming home smelling of kittens lately. I took careful sniff the other day and thought she had been handling about four of them. This is bad. Very bad. And her hands smelled not just of kittens but high quality kitten food. (I'd like some of it myself but I normally get adult food, which is not so rich.)
What on earth has she been up to? Fondling alien kittens is not what she is there for. Is she going to bring one home, I wonder. If so I definitely don't want it. I don't want any other cats of any kind at all ever. This is my territory and intruders are not welcome. William agrees with me - for once. He says it would be a second betrayal (what can he mean?) if she brings home a kitten. He hated it last time she did. Only then I realise that he is talking of my arrival in the household in the winter of 2006. Can't he see that this is completely different.
Further daily investigative smelling suggests that the number of kittens is falling, which is encouraging. Today she came home smelling of just one single kitten - Riley. I could tell (scent reveals so much) that he was small, ticked tabby, and quite frightened. Apparently she has been trying to help socialise four feral kittens by sitting in their pen and hand feeding them or playing with them with lengths of string. Riley (he's in the picture) is actually the nicest, but because he isn't as chubby and appealing to look at as the other three he has still not found a home.
I heard her telling Ronnie that after about eight visits, Riley was able to eat from her hand while sitting in her lap. Today she came back and she had been able to pick him up. He had purred loudly and rolled over to have his tummy tickled. She says she almost cried - she was so moved. He'll probaby always be a nervous cat with strangers (unlike me) but he will be wonderful for the human he loves. She promised Ronnie, who is presenting a united front with me and William, that she is not going to bring him home. No more cats are wanted here. Me and William are not dogs. We are not social animals. We don't want a pack of kittens, nor even a single extra one.
Pity the kittens couldn't have been like me. I was socialised by Cats Protection then handled by 24 different people in my first month with Celia - the postman, the man who delivers parcels, the passing farm manager, visitors, Tracy, Paul, Steffi, and many others. As a result I like humans a lot. William who is nervous and standoffish, says that I am like the school tart - I am anybody's. He is jealous, of course.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why don't humans have proper hair?


And another thing. Humans don't have proper hair. They are, to put it baldly, more or less bald. If you look at them they look a bit like Chinese hairless dogs. There's a top knot of kinds, a bit of hair between the back legs, some under the front legs or armpits, and then a tiny scattering on the chest with the males. Males have a bit more body hair but their top knot goes manky in old age and sometimes vanishes altogether. Human hair also fades with age and eventually goes white. It seems to me absolutely mad to wear your hair at the crease where the leg meets the body. Most of us cats have a less hair there rather than more.
We cats vary, of course. There are the sleek short hairs like me, gleaming black all over except for a very tiny two or three white hairs on the chest. Then there are the long haired beauties like Catherine in the photo. And the semi-beauties like elderly William my companion. He is semi-longhaired with shorter tougher hairs on his back. Finally there are cats like Dragonheart (see last blog's comment from her domain at http://dragonheartsdomain.blogspot.com) who have no hair at all. She doesn't have ridiculous tufts of hair in her armpits. The result is far more beautiful than the bald but tufty humans.
The way feline hair varies is due to humans. They have selectively bred us for long, or no hair at all. They do this by restricting our right to choose partners over several generations. They bang up stud cats in a chalet to make them service females which are not chosen for them. Sounds good? Well it isn't because most of the stud cats sit around in their pens with nothing to do but occasional sex - no hunting, for instance, little human contact. It's a deprived life. They'd get much more sex, with partners they chose, if they were allowed out onto the tiles like the feral toms.
If humans can do this to cats, why on earth don't they selectively breed themselves for better hair? They would look far more attractive if they had short glossy fur all over their bodies like me, long hair like Catherine's or even be properly hairless all over like Dragonheart.
instead they have these pathetic tufts. They fuss endlessly about the tufts on their head. They brush, comb, fluff out, shave it all, cut it, dye it, condition it. But they're not willing breed selectively in order to develop nice glossy all over fur.
No sense at all.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Black is beautiful - and superior for survival


This is me up a tree doing my leopard act. I want to grow up to be a black panther like Bagheera. I used to think I could catch birds this way. Nowadays I just do it to amuse and alarm Celia. She stands underneath saying "Pleeeeease George, come down." She remembers when I climbed up as a tiny kitten one frosty December day, and was only rescued when a passing Human Hero got off his tractor, climbed up 30 feet, grabbed me and climbed down using only one hand.
My colour - black is called melanistic by scientists - may give me superior health and survival skills. Stephen O Brien (see earlier blog on 7/2/07) and Eduardo Eizirik, of the Cat Genome Project at the US National Cancer Institute have tracked down the melanism gene in 11 of the cat species. I have it in common with black panthers (melanistic leopards) and jaguars and jaguarundis. "Perhaps the selective pressure that allowed these mutations to survive in cats may not be camouflage. Perhaps the mutations cause resistance of the cats to bugs," O'Brien told Reuters in 2004.
Interestingly many stray cats are black or black and white. It is theorised that this happens because humans dislike black and therefore are more likely to adopt "pretty' strays - tabbies or tabbies and white like my elderly companion William. They just leave the black kittens to grow up wild and hungry. (Honestly, there is so much to dislike about humans. Colour prejudice is one of their more disagreeable traits.) And the black cats stay longer in rescue establishments because nobody wants them.
But maybe there are more of us on the streets partly because we survive better. I ought to try to contact the Italians who are holding Black Cat Day in November (see blog 8/27/07) to tell them this. We black cats are lucky not unlucky. Black power rules in catland.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My ten things a cat dislikes about humans


Here are the ten most irritating things about my humans.
1. They keep wanting my attention when I am busy. Why don't they fit in better with my schedule? They wake me up when I am sleeping or napping. Or pick me up when I am hunting.
2. Celia takes up too much room in my bed. Why can't she sleep on the sofa?
3. She varies her own mealsbut she expects me to eat the same food more or less till the packet is finished.
4. She wants to hug and cuddle me. I don't mind a bit of a cuddle but she would do it all day if she could. She has no restraint. It is cuddle harassment.
5. She won't let me eat from the butter dish.
6. Humans keep vocalising on and on and on and on. They don't understand body language and they are more or less smell blind. Dumb (in the mental sense) creatures. Their hearing isn't up to much. They can't hear mice footfalls like I can.
7. They have things. Possessions. I live light - just me and my four paws, razor sharp claws and teeth, and sleek fur. They fuss about things a lot of the time.
8. They take away the mice I bring into the house and they don't even eat them. What a waste. Celia even screamed at the rat I brought in.
9. They sleep at the wrong time of day - ie night. And they wake all through the day. I like a long midday rest, an early dawn start and a dusk to midnight hunting schedule. But they lure me in before midnight and lock the cat flap.
10.They really don't understand me.... which accounts for much of my blog.
What do you hate about humans?

PS. This is a picture of Cusco - don't you like his tooth!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Death - another human strange reaction.


Celia sat crying at her desk this morning while listening to Cat Lullaby a sad song Fred Moolten wrote when a favorite cat had to be euthanized. A web page with the song is http://bluesandfolk.com/catlullaby-sbnv.htm Something about humans means they can't accept death. Celia put a picture of a rainbow and the words of Rainbow Bridge on her website (www.celiahaddon.co.uk) when my predecessor Fat Mog died.
I don't think about death. I live in the day. I do not worry about the future or the past. Odd that human's can't do this. I suppose it is just part of the way they are spiritually less evolved beings.

Friday, September 07, 2007

She smelled deliciously of rabbit.


This is Celia's friend, Janet. She picked me up when she came to visit. I have got used to humans picking me up. They just can't resist me but it still sometimes makes me want to wriggle away. It's not that I am shy. It's more a question of feline dignity. I don't go round picking up humans so that their legs dangle in the air.
However, something about Janet intrigued me. She smelled of rabbit. It was all over her - a sort of human-rabbit hybrid smell. She would probably have tasted absolutely delicious. I considered having a bit of a nibble at her nose, but then when I eyed up how HUGE she was, decided against it. Giant rabbits I might have a go at. But Janet was a giant human-rabbit hybrid. I might regret it if I started eating her. There is danger in biting off more than you can chew.
Later when she'd gone Celia explained that she smelled of Harvey, her house rabbit who blogs like I do on www.harvey-diaryofaninspirationalbunny.blogspot.com. He lives in the house just like me and William do. Sleeps on the sofa. Watches TV. Uses a litter tray. I would very much like to meet him - he smelled very good on Janet. Tasty. Very tasty indeed. But whether he'd like to meet me is a bit morer doubtful.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I am a 3 am cat. Celia is plotting against midnight hunting.


I was a bit late last night. Midnight passed in a glorious fury of hunting under a harvest moon, owls hooting, dark hedges rustling with mice driven in by the combine harvester, moths, and deep moonlight. I came back in the small hours. Leaped on my bed (where she was taking up a lot of room) and gave her an admittedly rather perfunctory Hello - a quick knead, an even quicker rub. Then I leaped down again to the food bowl. All this late night hunting gives a cat a good appetite.
She was not happy. I could tell that. She doesn't like it when Ronnie comes home late from the pub and she doesn't like it when I stay out too late. She nags both of us. She had the light on in bed and was reading a book about Neanderthals (she's a prehistory nut - see www.celiahaddon.co.uk). She never stays up this late reading. Thinking it over, after a large plate of food and an extended and vigorous wash that shook the bed, I concluded she had stayed up for me. Out of anxiety. I expect she was thinking of a squashed mess on the road - about 400 yards down the cart track. I never go on the road - except when I do. And it's true that late at night is when most cats are run over. We don't get the lights. We just get dazzled and make a run for it.
So... she was not pleased. Today I overheard her discussing strategies. She's going to withdraw the feeding bowls from 2pm onwards. (Won't work. Hunting is far more important than being a bit hungry. I was also outraged to hear that she was unfairly going to put down snacks for William when I was out.) She is going to interrupt my noon to 4pm nap and maybe lock me outside during those hours. (It might help except the adrenaline rush of hunting will over-ride exhaustion).
Then she came up with the idea of driving up and down the cart track. I don't like cars. I can recognise hers of course. But it might make me uneasy. The fear instinct might, just might, over ride the hunting instinct. I may be a predator but I take good care not to become prey (to a car).
Watch this space...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

George's rap on catnip


I’m catnipped up and feeling funny,
Goin' to get me a bunny,
Mice is great for me too
Yes, cat William, for you.
We both high and hip
We both high on catnip
Goin’ to flip
With catnip.

Nibble on a mouse and eat its head
Don’t know if he’s live or dead
I’m catnipped up and riding high
High at the sky, I tell no lie.
Man, she worries and she quibbles.
Me I hurries and I nibbles.
We both high and hip
We both high on catnip
Goin’ to flip
With catnip.

William and me is high as cats
We both goin' to get us some rats
Catnipped up and feeling strange
Jumpin' everythin' in range.
We both high and hip
We both high on catnip
Goin’ to flip
With catnip.

Monday, August 27, 2007

How the Pope could help black cats


Bad news in yesterday's newspapers. Black cats are being killed in Italy just because they are black. The Italian Association for the Protection of Animals claims that as many as 60,000 cats like me are slaughtered because of the stupidity and superstition of humans. I know we are discriminated against in Britain - Cats Protection find it more difficult to get homes for black cats like me. But in Italy it is much worse.
In Italy people believe that a black cat brings bad luck if it crosses their path. (Only wish we could sometimes!). And that where there is a black cat, the Devil is present too. Thousands of black cats go missing or are found dead every year because of this ridiculous human belief. Apparently the church itself was involved for centuries with priests ordering massacres like a sort of religious Klu Klux Klan. (And in the seventeenth century British authorities searching out "witches" also demonised their pet cats. Only now Brit humans believe black cats are lucky, thank goodness.) I only wish this Pope, who is meant to love cats, could do something to purge this superstition. Could he not have a word with God (whom I consider may well be a Cat not a Human Person - see earlier blogs.)
Why do humans think it is acceptable to torture and kill an animal because of the colour of its fur? And why black? What is the difference between white and black that black should be demonised in this way? Italian humans even kidnap black cats at Hallowe'en and sacrifice them in cruel ceremonies. Why are humans so very, very cruel? They claim we are cruel but are in denial about their own behaviour.
Help stamp out this discrimination, torture and killing. The Italians are going to hold a Black Cat Day on November 17. Watch this space....
PS. This picture is me inside a drawer. What I enjoy is climbing in, digging a sort of hole in the clothes and having a little nap. Do my bright eyes really look devilish? or just kittenish?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I am curious about next door.


There has been a total black out of news from next door. Miss Ruby Fou (see a communication from her in a July blog), if she was there, has not been seen at the window nor has she ventured out. The cat flap remains firmly closed. Steffi and Paul no longer invite William and I in for a little snack or even some interesting conversation. Only some oriental smells have drifting out. Tantalising and very irritating indeed. This was our territory once. Now we are locked out.
So when the boiler went wrong next door, I took the opportunity to go in with Nigel Gardiner and take a look round. Nigel Gardiner and Son (Matthew actually) of Witney have put in a new boiler for us and I am familiar with his tall figure and his competant assessment of boilers. Nice man. Fond of cats and respectful of them too. To please him I had a look at the boiler. Lots of wires and stuff. No mice so not very interesting for cats but we cats like to have a look anyway. Nigel seemed to know what he was doing with the wires. William went in too but had less curiosity. He went straight to the plate of dried food that Miss Ruby Fou had left uneaten in the kitchen and ate the lot.
I checked the whole joint upstairs and downstairs. There was definitely a Siamese smell - upstairs on the double bed, downstairs in the kitchen area, and the litter tray had been used - though cleaned by Steffi before she and Paul and Miss Fou had left for London. Yes, Miss Fou has taken up residence at weekends. She is definitely now a neighbour at weekends.
How do I feel about it? I am not sure. She seems rather standoffish. Why not let us in? What is going on in the Paul and Steffi household? Is Miss Fou being held captive? Or is she too snobbish to mix with us?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I am dreaming of a beautiful white swan.


This is a huge white feather belonging to a swan. I leaped on it. nibbled it. played with it. Pouncing on it. Dragged it around. It was simply huge. About ten times bigger than a greenfinch tail feather. (I have had a few of those). Three times the size of a black bird. As long as, but much wider than, a pheasant's tail feather. My human pet, Celia, and Lesley, the pet belonging to Opus1 and Opus2 (see past comments) brought it back from a walk for me. (Humans are social animals. I am pleased that Celia has found a friend to play with. It makes her less dependent upon me and William.)
The gigantic feather set me off into a wonderful day dream. I am slinking along the bank of a clear rushing river - gleaming black, huge paws soft and silent as silk, nose drinking in the scent of a summer day, tail twitching very slightly at the tip. The river flags are in full yellow flower. Water lilies bloom where the current is not too fast. Purple loosestrife adorns the bank. And on the river itself is a noble swan. It is the most magnificent creature gleaming white against the water. It sails along serene and magnificent. The image of beauty and calm.
With one bound I leap into the river, landing skillfully upon its back, grabbing it in a killer bite at the back of the neck. Blood gushes. It fights back but I am (in the dream) more powerful than a mere bird, however big. Like a powerful black panther, I hang on despite its struggles. Then its bright black eyes begin to dim dim, its movements become more feeble, and it slowly sinks below the water. A dying swan. With strong sweeps of my paw I paddle to the river side, crushing the loosestrife as I drag this noble prey to the bank. I am the greatest hunter in the world. I wake to the single feather.
Celia says this is a disgusting blog. As I have said before - she doesn't understand me.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why do cats love to hunt?


My game bag is currently truly impressive. I am getting faster and better at catching and killing rabbits. My score now stands at about 20. Rabbits are take-away meals for cats like me. Celia says that the garden is now strewn with corpses. I don't know why she should complain. I'd bring them into the house, except that she has installed a cat flap which is just too small. Earlier in the summer (so called) I carried in several youngsters, mostly dead but some alive. But the rabbits are now young adults and I just can't squeeze them through. What does she expect me to do? Bury them, as if I was a dog?
Sometimes I eat a bit of them. Sometimes I don't. Occasionally William eats a bit too. It just depends on how we feel. We do not hunt to eat. Of course, were we living in the wild we would. But because we have plenty of cat food, we just hunt. Mostly I just go and do it. But, when I feel philosophical about it, I try to think why I do it. It's a drive inside me. An instinct. And the glorious moment when I spring into the whole sequence of eye, stalk, pounce, grab and bite, just thrills me. A great cascade of excitement and joy runs through me from the tip of my nose through my whole body down to the last centimetre of my tail. This moment is what I was meant to do. This is what I am - a predator. At that moment I am fulfilling my true destiny.
The only flaw in this glorious life is Celia the Moaner. She whinges ceaselessly. If I bring in a living rabbit, she grabs it with a towel and takes it away. (I don't think she realises that I scoot out a bit later, sniff the air, and go straight to where it is and grab it again. Mind you, occasionally she can hear the rabbit screaming with terror. She hates that though I find the screams immensely thrilling.) She's not much better about the dead ones. "It's like the Somme battlefield. It's disgusting," she said to Ronnie. Her tone of voice was disagreeable, very disagreeable, but I know for a fact that she dislikes the way rabbits eat her vegetables. She bags the corpses and throws them in the dustbin. She complains that I don't eat them. If she feels like that, why doesn't she eat them? Many humans enjoy rabbit pie.
I have added a picture of a particularly fine specimen that I left near the car. She says it is revolting to put a corpse on a blog. I say it is a trophy not a corpse. I am proud of it. I wanted to pose with it, one paw uplifted in triumph but she refused to take the shot. She thought it might make readers feel she was an accessory to murder. What hypocrite she is.
She is a kill-joy (literally) on the topic of me and rabbits.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Who's the cat addict? Is it love or is it addiction?


Cat hoarders are definitely cat addicts. But what the 'normal" cat carer like Celia. Is she an addict? Ronnie claims she is. He even wrote a book titled One Hundred Ways to Live with a Cat Addict. He claims she is obsessed with me and William and neglects him to care for us. He is particularly upset by the way she often leaves the marital bed half way through the night to come and sleep in my bed in the spare room. (I enjoy the compliment but I wish she wouldn't take up so much room.)
He claims she shows all the threefold signs of addiction - a mental obsession with cats (writing this blog for instance), an emotional attachment which means she hates leaving us for the day (like today when she is going to London), and a physical need to be cuddled by us (William really doesn't like this side of her).
I feel that her reactions are entirely proper and normal. She puts our welfare first as a good human servant should. She defers to us. She shops for the food we prefer. She looks after our simple physical needs. Cleans up the litter tray twice a day (important), grooms us daily (particularly William who is long haired), treats us regularly for fleas, treats us regularly for worms (we are both hunters), and vaccinates us each year. It's the least she should do. These are the duties of a human pet. I consider this nothing but our due.
OK so she thinks of us almost every five minutes. She fusses when I stay out late hunting. She gets anxious if she doesn't know where we are. She wants to cuddle us more than we want to cuddle her. There may be some dependancy in that but so what? Isn't that natural from an inferior species? This isn't and never could be an equal relationship.
It is not cat addiction. It is the proper behaviour between inferior human and superior cat.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Who's the cat addict? Cat hoarders, of course.


After William told me he thought I had a catnip problem and suggested Catnip Anonymous, I really gave it some thought. I looked at my catnip use and decided that, although I enjoyed the occasional binge, I was just a recreational user. I mean, I am young and healthy, and if I want to get legless with catnip why not? Where's the problem with that. I enjoy a sniff. Or two. Or even several. Lots of cats do. Doing catnip doesn't necessarily mean you are an addict.
But addiction doesn't have to be about substance use. There are behavioural addictions - human, of course. Some humans seem to be addicted to cat abuse. They shout and scream and throw things at us, when we are relieving ourselves on a nice bit of freshly dug earth in their gardens.
Others are codependant about cats. They can't get enough of them. They became cat hoarders with 70 cats in the house. William came from just such a household. There was a whole basket of kittens, and 60 adult cats. They were sitting on the sofa, under the sofa, on every window sill and ledge, every chair and table. Everywhere you looked there were cats.
William says it was awful. The cats couldn't get away from each other. As every cat knows, we like to keep a proper distance between ourselves. Friendly cats may snuggle up together, but most cats space themselves out - like these two cats on a housing estate in Nailsworth. (Celia is always photographing cats and she was just driving past these two and noticed their spacing - friendly but not too friendly.) Keeping a proper distance is how we deal with too much company. Being close is nice for humans but stressful for us. We can behave in a sociable way but we are not pack animals like dogs. We hunt alone.
Cat hoarders say they love cats but they make life very very difficult for us. Often they run out of money and so the cats in their care (if you can call it that) are disease ridden. William had fleas, lice, earmites and infectious giardia when Celia took him home. It cost her £800 just to restore him to health.
Cat hoarders are in denial. It's not love. It's cat addiction.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I've got a new dealer.


All drug users need reliable dealers and it can be tricky finding the good stuff. Some of the catnip sold in pet shops has been cut with artificial chemicals. Indeed some sell sprays that are entirely artificial. I don't go along with the idea that catnip can be safely made in laboratories. I don't do the stuff in cans. It's too hard line for me and I don't trust it.
What I enjoy doing is organic pure and natural catnip, made into small bundles with a bit of string attached so I can pull it around. That's exactly what came through the post the other day. My new dealer, called Maureen, lives in Lancashire, rescues cats for Cats Protection. That's one of her rescue cats, Duffy, in the picture. (There are more on www.prestoncpl.com ) He looks a bit like me - not quite so handsome, of course.
Maureen makes a mean catnip mouse. I mean she calls it a mouse. It is actually a little sack with a string attached. Mmmmm. I took a good long sniff and it went down well. I could feel it hit my lungs and that curious feeling of irresponsibility and crazy kittenhood, began to course through my body.
Non drug users won't know what I mean. Some cats stay clean and sober all their life. They just don't get turned on by the stuff. But catnip users know these clean and sober cats are missing a lot. I clasped the new mouse in my front paws and lay on my back and thought all sorts of weird deep thoughts. Then I scrabbled with my back legs, chewed it, thrust my nose as near to it as I could and inhaled. Of course I inhaled. Don't believe those cats that say they didn't inhale. If you don't inhale, you don't get the hit and where's the point in that?
William, who was peeved that I monopolised both the mice, told me I should join Catnip Anonymous. He thinks I've got a drug problem. He's very judgemental but I know for a fact he likes a sniff on the side, when he can get it. He hides his drug using. I am open about mine. Who's the addict, then?
Phwoar....that catnip.

Friday, August 03, 2007

George cheated... he tried to take credit for my weasel


This is my weasel. I, William the bold hunter, caught it. Over the years I have caught several. It takes skill. They are very fierce, fast moving and, if you get it wrong, they can give a very vicious bite. They go for the throat. Luckily, I have never yet got it that wrong. This one I caught the other day, and left on the lawn. Because I was brought up without a cat flap I don't bring prey inside. (It's difficult enough doing the cat flap without trying to do it with a mouse or a weasel in my mouth. I only got the hang of it a couple of years ago when Celia installed one for the first time.)
Anyway I caught the weasel. I brought it home. Placed it on the lawn to admire it. (You don't eat weasels unless you are starving.) And what happened? George bagged it and brought it through the cat flap and deposited it in the dining room. Celia and Ronnie came back to find it. "Look what George has done" she crooned. "He's caught a weasel. He's such a good hunter." I felt sick to my stomach at this betrayal.
It was left to Ronnie to put her right (as he often does). "Nonsense. George may have brought it in, but William caught it," he said stoudly defending my hunting prowess. I like Ronnie. We have a man to man relationship.
To mark my skill, they put it back on the lawn and took this picture. Not every cat can catch a weasel. George for one can't. He's just a rotten cheat.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Where's the best place to leave this dead mouse?


I have been inspired by Smudge's last comment to tackle the question of where is the best place to leave a dead mouse - in order to delight or horrify our humans. I suggest the following possibilities:
1. At the side of the bed, where the human foot will land on it as a human gets up in the morning.
2. Floating in the lavatory.
3. In a bedroom slipper, concealed so that it will only be discovered when toe meets mouse.
4. Under the human's pillow near the nightdress.
5. On the pillow at night just near the human nose.
6. In the shower
7. In a handbag.
8. In an envelope file on the desk.
9. Inside a filing cabinet.
10. In the toaster. Only one mouse at a time. If you have a human who only toasts one piece of bread this has the possibility of toasted mouse first thing in the morning.
Any more you can think of? The aim is maximum surprise and human emotional reaction. All contributions in comments please.

Major TV network reads this blog.


I blogged the floods with a picture (blog below this one) and gave my survival tips. NBC, the major (and best) American TV network, read it and sent a camera crew to do those ridiculous labradors.....
I've been on the TV, of course, before this. But not on camera.
Maybe a presenter's job beckons...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

How to survive flooding - take to the beds



Rain, thunder, stormy winds and floods hit Oxfordshire. I did the only thing a cat can do. I found a nice dry place and settled down to sleep through the crisis. William and I took to the beds, not the boats, as sensible cats do in these circumstances. I bet that the two cats in Noah's Ark were tucked away somewhere warm sleeping out the journey - perhaps behind the Aga in the Ark kitchen.
I expect Noah had trouble with the dogs, specially if they were labradors. What ridiculous creatures they are. During the flood they were jumping in and out of the water, getting in the way, and generally enjoying the crisis. (You can just see them in the picture). They could have got on with rescuing cats from drowning but instead they went chasing after balls and making fools of themselves. But when they left the water and shook themselves all over their humans, they gave me an idea I hadn't thought of before.
We napped and the rain pounded down for hours. We gave up going outside and started using the litter trays. After all, that's why they are there. Who wants to venture out in driving rain or sink paws into the wet earth in the soaked kitchen garden? There were small floods on the paving just outside the cat flap, larger pools near the garage and a lake near the garden shed. The pond overflowed, as usual, and the garden was boggy throughout.
Later, when the storm became a little less fierce, I ventured out, got very wet and rushed back inside. This was the only fun moment in the day. I leapt on to Ronnie's lap and shook myself. His reaction was gratifyingly extreme - loud shouts of "Get that bloody cat off me."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A COMMUNICATION FROM THE HON. MISS RUBY FOO


Greetings Underlings!
We are please to communicate with you and inform of the momentous events that have overtaken one in recent days. Having been callously evicted from one's Oxford lodgings by persons who failed to heed one's lineage, we found ourselves in deeply distressing circumstances.
We feel it appropriate to drawl a veil of discretion over this period of our existence, but suffice it to say it involved a thankfully brief encounter with local male of the low, working class variety. We consider this momentary association to be of a painful memory, as were its consequences. We consider it would be wiser for all concerned if one "moved on", as the contemporary term would have it.
Followng the "incident", one was graciously aided by the kindly offices of a human from an admirable organisation the purpose of which is the rescue of members of my species who have fallen upon hard and distressing times.
Following a period of recuperation in comfortable quarters, one allowed oneself to be transported to a new place of residence set in the heart of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. If one is to voice a small criticism of this journey it is in regard to the condition of the conveyance used. We found it a battered and aged mechanial brougham, one that had clearly seen better days. Those of one's background are more used to transportation of a more stately nature. However, we will let it pass.
The new place of residence proved both comfortable and one's new servants, a Mr and Mrs Callan (married couples are always so much better, don't you think?), are amiable and kindly. Mrs Callan, in particular, is affectionate and gentle of touch. Mr Callan is similar, although one wishes he would desist from making what he, doubtless, considers is a Siamese cat call. But that is a small matter
We also greatly commend the food offered in the new abode. This included a choice of gourmet meals and, on several occasions, carefully sliced breast of chicken. We were greatly encouraged by such kind treatment and felt that, following our aforementioned unpleasantaries, would prove a residence worthy of our presence.
The only drawback to this residence is that there is clear evidence of other, and lesser, members of my species. Further investigation has revealed that one, is known locally as "Gorgeous George". He is, one cannot be fail to observe, a bit of a thug who boasts of his violence to other species and is a self confessed drug user - sniffing not injecting, he claims. We could not help but feel certain qualms about the possibilities of fights, corpses in the shrubbery, the thumping sound of rap music, noisy, late night parties, and the wafting smell of catnip.
His companion, however, seems to be a friendly tabby and white gentleman known as William. He is what one believes in popularly known as an "old buffer" with white whiskers, of the kind to be seen snoozing in the afternoons at the Cat Traveller's Club. One shall, needless to say, keep a dignified distance from both these gentlemen, in particular the one called George.
Following another journey in the unsuitable vehicle, we found ourselves in another residence from which there was no view of the countryside and which is, one believes, known as "an apartment". Sadly, our nerves being somewhat frayed, we have yet to fully adjust to our second set of new surroundings.
At present, we have taken refuge behind what one believes is called the "built-in kitchen unit" and will only emerge for nourishment and other personal requirements until such time as one's confidence returns.
Dated this nineteenth Day of July, Two thousand and seven.
(Signed) The Hon.Ruby Foo

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cats Protection kittens make special cats (like me).


Yesterday, while I was hunting down the hedgerows, Celia went off to her local Cats Protection fete - details of the charity on www.cats.org.uk. Never buy a kitten, get a Cats Protection kitten. They will grow into splendid cats like me and in some ways, I suppose, William. At the fete she met her namesake, a tiny (not very well) kitten called Celia. This Celia (named after Shakespeare's Celia in As You Like It) had been picked up on the streets of the nearby market town. She was confused, frightened, lonely but not yet starving. She had been weaned on to solid food. Either she had got separated from her mother or her human family, having sold the others, had chucked her out to live and die.
My Celia once picked a small shivering kitten out of a hedge in a Somerset layby on Christmas Eve. A similar story. A human had sold most of the kittens as Christmas presents, and had decided that the surplus could be thrown away. Or even out of sheer low life ignorance had thought a small kitten might survive in the wild, despite the winter weather.
There are moments when I find humans sickening....
PS. Steffi and Paul Next Door have barred the doors and the cat flap in a very unfriendly way. A strange smell, ever so faintly oriental, has been wafting out from under the front door.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rumours of an oriental asylum seeker next door


There are some ugly rumours around of a new cat coming to live next door. Up till now Steffi and Paul Next Door have been ideal neighbours. Both William and I have been welcomed at any time and given rather nicer cat food than we get with Celia. Beds have been provided for me, George, when I felt like a sleep over in the afternoon. When builders and other human intruders were in the house, Steffi's bed was a very nice alternative.
Moreover they seemd to have a proper attitude towards me. Steffi valued my mousing prowess and at one time wanted to borrow me to get rid of the mice in her London flat. They also had a suitably humble attitude. All this now seems to be at risk.
The first sign of a possible intruder came when I rubbed against Steffi's ankles. There was a distinct smell of cat. Worse still, the smell of an oriental. The only interesting, and possibly less unpleasant aspect to the smell, was that it was female. Do we want a female oriental immigrant next door? No, we don't. She has been living on the street and indeed gave birth there when she was rescued by West Oxon Cats Protection. We feel sorry for her but we don't want asylum seekers like her in our backyards. William and I agree, for once, that while we have fellow feelings (after all we were both Cats Protection kittens) we think she would be happier somewhere else. Perhaps in the village across the fields. Or, since she has been on the street, in the nearby market town. She will find overflowing dustbins from Thai restaurants are available there - the sort of food she has been used to no doubt. More suitable for her than the huntin' rattin' and sportin' countryside, we feel.
Not In My Back Yard. Purrlease.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

George's war chant at the sight of rats


This is my war chant. I borrowed the booms and the ricka ticka from the rather similar Walthamstowe High School for Girls hockey chant used in the l930s. War chanting is the rhythmic expression of rising excitement. This is just the humanised version of my teeth chattering at the sight of prey. Got to explain it to humans, you see.

Boom, boom, boom chicka boom. Boom ricka ticka ticka boom.
Boom screw the cat trap, boom wow the rat trap,
Boom boom boom.
Ratticus Catticus sis boom bah. George is a rat killer. Ya ya ya.

PS. Still working on the rap version.

Monday, July 02, 2007

When did cats domesticate humans?

Humans are anthropocentric in their views about domestication. For years and years they have believed in a myth - that we cats were domesticated by humans. Their general view was that humans went out into the desert, found some wild kittens of Felis silvestris Lybica, brought them home and then brought them up as companion animals about 4000 years ago to become Felis catus. This happened in Ancient Egypt when gods were worshipped in animal form including goddesses like the cat Bastet.
Now those in charge of the cat genome project, headed by Stephen O Brien, chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, have had to accept that this isn't how it was. It all started much earlier. The scientist discovered five lineages of mitochondrial DNA in modern cats. Because of this variation, the researchers believe domestication occurred a half-dozen times or so in the Middle East.
According to the genome research the five female ancestors of Felis catus were Felis silvestris Lybica, African wild cats, mousing their way across the deserts some 130,000 years ago. So that settles our ancestry. But how did it happen? Five separate sets of adopted kittens? I think not. More likely five adventurous female Felis silvestris Lybica. The discovery of five different events of domestication suggests domestication was the other way round - or so I think. Cats moved into human life of their own accord.
The theory was that cats turned up in human settlements when man first started growing grain. But now we know that early man settled in one place before the advent of grain farming. And the cats moved in on him. Why? Not because grain brings mice but because human garbage (with or without grain) brings rats and mice. Rats are bigger and better prey. And also because humans offer dry shelter for us. Of course rats can be found among wandering human tribes that don't settle in one place. Celia has seen for herself the rats in a Beduin camp. But because we cats have a decent sense of territory (unlike dogs who started following human tribes much earlier) we don't move around much. Tents are dry shelter but they keep being taken down and set up in a new place. So we had to wait till man was civilised enough to settle in one spot.
Then we moved in. It was nothing to do with captured kittens (a ridiculous idea). We moved in and we began to overcome our disgust at Homo sapiens, a species which hitherto we had avoided at all costs. In order to benefit from their garbage rats and mice (and later more mice when they started grain growing) we had to put up with them. And their buildings gave us valuable warmth and shelter, so we moved a bit closer. Or at least those five desert cats did. And their descendants who could put up with the nearness of mankind flourished better than the descendants that simply couldn't bear being around this blundering species.
There's a posh word for it - commensality. We began living side by side, seperate but equal. (Well, not exactly equal. More like separate but essentially different in status, cats above and humans below.) Then we began to tame them so that they started behaving better to us. They threw us the occasional scrap of food as well as understanding our valuable contribution to the grain economy. We worked as natural pesticides and rodent control operatives. Their babies and children grew up near cats and became socialised to them. We also socialised them by sleeping close to them for warmth and amusing them with our antics.
Some cats have even put forward the theory that Homo sapiens (so called) started settling in one place because they looked at our behaviour and imitated it. First they learned about social hunting from dogs, because they followed the wolf packs and, like hyenas, shooed off the wolves and ate their prey. So they imitated their hunting methods, were successful, and some of the wolves started following them instead. But imitating dogs could only help with primitive hunting and social life. They needed more to become modern and civilised.
They saw that territoriality worked for cats and opted to follow in our paw prints. It makes sense to me. Having a proper home den and a hunting range helps with the safe bearing of kittens, whether cat or human. And this is a great deal more likely that nonsense about humans kidnapping kittens and taming them to their requirements. Everybody knows that, as Saki put it, "the cat is only domesticated as far as it suits his own ends." I would merely add humans are the most completely domesticated species on earth. They show much more of the juvenility of domestication than we do. (More on that later perhaps)
Our lineage dates back 130,000 years (beat that, Debretts!) and we domesticated humans.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Boundaries, collars and the famous Mr Lee


Since we got out of gaol, William and I have been checking our boundaries, updating our marks by rubbing our chins against tings, scratching tree trunks, and putting well aimed urine sprays at key points. Boundaries are everything to a cat. With them, we feel safe. Without them, we get very anxious indeed.
Celia is too stupid to know where most of them are. Humans are sense challenged in many ways. They can see but they can't smell anything. All our chin rubs go unnoticed and even our spray marks in the open air aren't strong enough for her. She does notice the scratch marks on the tree trunks. And even though she is visually competant, she loses sight of us very easily. Most of the day she doesn't know where we are. Which is how we like it.
Some humans are crafty. There's a cheeky human who has attached a camera to his cat's collar. Mr Lee is the cat and his privacy has been completely invaded. The camera takes regular photographs showing his every movement - when he sits under the car, his meetings with neighbouring cats, his excursions in the forest, his boundary walks. It's all on www.mr-lee-catcam.de I asked Mr Lee's permission to post his photo on this entry. Here he is. Of course, it's shocking that he allowed his human to photograph his life but it's interesting too.
I wouldn't let Celia put a collar on me. Neither would William. We don't approve of collars ever since we met a thin wounded stray with her paw caught in her collar. And it's a question of pride. Dogs wear collars as sign of their inferiority to humans (if you can believe any species could be inferior to homo sapiens). As cats are superior to humans, a collar would not be appropriate - though I'd quite like to see Celia and Ronnie in one. They'd look sweet.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

William's nose was put right out of joint


William is not a cool cat. Couldn't be. Not at his age, which is practically an OAP age for cats. (OAP stands for old age pensioner - for cats like Oscar Snuggles across the pond). Only young lean mean hunting machines, preferably black, can be really cool in catdom. Street cred for tabby and white is low, fellow cats. That white and black female next door knew that when she flashed her tummy at me.
William has not been honest about our stay in the cattery. He was frightfully upset by the cat the other side of our chalet, the one in the picture here. He was a look alike - semi long haired tabby and white with markings like W's. Only bigger. Much bigger. Don't let anybody tell you that size doesn't matter. You can't be a cool cat if you are pretty, longhaired and small. Which William is, compared to certain lean black cats. And, worse for him, small compared with the tabby and white next door.
William just tried to ignore him. Then he told me he thought the cat looked like Hitler. Boy, did that show his paranoia. Or it was a pathetic attempt to smear the cat's reputation. Any cat can see for themselves on www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com that Hitler cats have to be black and white. They can't be tabby and white even if they have a small tabby moustache. Tabbies can't do Hitler.
Nor can black rapper street cats. Black is Beautiful. Black Pussycat Power. Slogans for cats... that's another blog entry.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The female prisoner next door ... William writes


She did it again. Banged us up without mercy for several days. George, for whom I have little time, behaved a bit better this time. He seemed more resigned and spent less time involving me in unworkable silly escape plans that would have made my life in prison even worse than it was. I didn't have to bite Gill the Cattery once, because he didn't set me up to it like last time.
George spent most of his time prancing up and down striking attitudes to impress the white and black cat next door. She seemed pretty unimpressed, I thought. She was bigger - and fatter- than him. I think he found it difficult to accept that a female wasn't interested. Obviously we are all - me, George and her, neutered and therefore on the side lines of the sex war. But there is a frisson of sexuality none the less.
She seemed more impressed by me, I thought. Something in the way she would stretch up full length when she saw me. Some females fancy the older tom. We are calmer, more tolerant, less reactive. I let George strutt his adolescent stuff which included some very rude goggling. I concentrated on more sophisticated eye contact. I didn't stare. Staring is bad mannered as all cats (and a few knowledgeable humans) know. I just did a quick eye flash and then lowered them, as if to say "I am the sort of cat that might be friendly, if you played your cards right." I think we came to an understanding - distant but warm.
There was another neighbour cat. I didn't think much of him. He had a moustache like Hitler. But I must let George have his say.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Do robins make cats sick?

Going back to robins. There aren't many left in my garden. I have had three of them. Celia knows about two of them because she found the complete corpses. She was very upset. She doesn't seem to mind about hedge sparrows but dead robins really distress her. She was even more upset when she found some feathers and a long thin leg which looked like a robin's leg. She assumed (correctly) that I had eaten the rest of the bird. Was it a robin? I really can't remember. My interest in birds is a foodie one, not a taxonomic one. Some species taste better than others, of course, but I can't say I take much interest in the differences otherwise. So I eat some and I don't eat others. Depends partly on my mood and what else I have eaten that day.
I do not eat shrews - ever. Foxes and weasels and stoats may eat them and I suppose if I was starving I might manage a nibble. The problem is that they taste awful. There are fatty glands on their flanks which produce a vile secretion. It's stuff to mark their territory as they pass through the grass. Read by another shrew it says "Keep off. This territory already has a shrew in residence." Of course if the shrew is male, and a female is passing by, she might take a sniff and think "Handsome fellow. Might stop for a bit of rumpy pumpy." But to me the smell simply says: "Don't eat me. I taste bad." That's good news for the shrew, of course.
So do robins taste good? I may have eaten one and I have certainly caught two others. Celia says that it might have made me sick even though she can't remember that particular pile of sick (there are quite a few). If any of you cats out there have eaten a robin (the English kind) please add a comment, remembering to say whether you sicked it up or not.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Cat flaps - not as simple as you might think


Cat flaps are a boon to the active cat. I can come and go as and when I choose during the day time. Sometimes I pop in and out several times in an hour. Other times when I am on a long range hunting mission I may only use it to go out and come back after three hours for my midday nap on my bed. (With a bit of luck Celia is not on it - she takes up an awful amount of room and seems to think it is her bed.)
Rushing in and out sometimes makes a bit of play time for me. I like the rattle of the flap as I smash through it. Some days I proceed very cautiously first poking a paw to see if it is open, then pushing through with my head. When you think of it, using a cat flap is quite a clever thing to do. Because I have used one since I was a kitten I took to it quick and easily.
William didn't have a cat flap until he was 11 years old. Celia taught him by putting on a wooden clothes peg to hold it open. The nearer the peg to the hinge, the more open the flap. Then when he had gone through, she had to put the peg on the other side. It all meant a lot of human intervention and it took about three months before he really really got it. Even so, he prefers to be let in and out by the door. This is partly because the catflap is quite high off the ground outside. It has to be because the kitchen floor is higher than the outside. Celia tried to help him by putting in a sort of movable step but he hated that and just leaped over it. For an elderly gentleman cat this was rather a strain. Getting a human to open the door on command is an elderly cat thing.
The great thing about a cat flap is the choice it gives me. I can choose when to use it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Did God who made the robin, make me?

Did God who made the robin (which I caught yesterday) make me? Robins die easy, but mice are much more fun because they die slowly. When they sit frozen with fear and completely immobile, I just stare at them. If their immobility goes on too long, I poke them to make them move.Then when they make a run for it, I leap on them all over again - eyeing, stalking and pouncing over and over again. I do this in play for half an hour or so until they die in earnest. Even when they are dead, I often play with them. I throw the corpse up in the air to get it moving. Did God make me in order that I should torture mice?
I can't help it. My instinct is to pounce on small furry objects which are moving or to leap up at feathered ones that are flying past. If God made me, he made me to be a smaller version of the fearful symmetry of the tiger, a small but deadly killing machine. I have to hunt. It is not just what I do.The sequence of hunting, - eye, stalk, pounce, grab and eat - is intelligently designed into my flesh and blood. This pattern is what I am. I know what is play for me is torture for the mouse. Am I therefore evil?
But I am not just a hunter. I think about spiritual topics. Is God a cat? Am I created in the image of God. Even if God isn't a cat, and is more like a human, what have humans to be proud of? They have slaughtered more of their own species than I have had mice or robins. They kill each other. I don't kill cats. The very idea is shocking. If humans are made in the image of God, then it must be a pretty beastly God (except beasts do not usually kill each other). A cat God might be preferable.
This all leads up to a bit of a boast. I am in a Times blog, written by Ruth Gledhill, the religious correpondent. http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2007/05/faith_in_all_th.html#more

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Intriguing... mmmm.... inside the lavatory


When I first came across the big white water bowl I was a kitten. Naturally I jumped on the edge to investigate, then fell in and had to be pulled out by Celia. After that she kept the lid down. Later, when I was a teenager I jumped in again just to see what happened and jumped out by myself. Something about the big white bowl always intrigues me.
Of course, now I know it is a litter tray rather than a drinking fountain. Humans only put their head in it after a very late night. Most of the time they are well trained to use it for both pee and poo. Strangely, the species uses water instead of sand, though I am told in desert areas they sensibly use sand instead of water. Better for the environment, of course. Humans could, if they chose, turn round, have a good look, sniff and cover it up. In Germany, apparently humans do some of this. They make a deposit on a sort of shelf, turn round, take a good look, and even sniff a bit before pulling the chain. In the UK they tend just to deposit and flush.
It's the flushing bit that intrigues me. You see the deposit disappearing down a hole, propelled by a whoosh of water. Not unlike a mouse disappearing down a hole, only mice don't need water. I can't resist watching it. I'd like to do a bit of research into the earlier part of this procedure but humans get embarassed if you try to see what is going on by putting your head down the loo between their legs. I suppose that's instinct. They choose seclusion (not unlike us) for evacuating their bowels. Probably goes back to the days when they were prey for large felines like lions. I mean when you are defecating you are unable to run away.
I am not a lion or even a black panther. But at heart I am a feline hunter. Maybe Celia and Ronnie have an ancestral fear when I lurk round their litter bowl as they are on it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

William reports: "I am feeling better."

I am feeling a bit better. George is still behaving like an adolescent lout, chasing me at all opportunities, lying in wait for me and trying to ambush me on the litter tray. Celia managed to stop him doing the latter this morning. She caught him in mid leap. She's taking a great interest in my deposits. I turn, look, sniff and cover it. She undoes the top, looks at it, sniffs, sizes it up, and takes it away instead of covering it up, as a good cat would. Then she crumbles the clump to see if there is blood in it. There isn't. She was frightfully pleased because I did just one big pee that night instead of lots of little ones.
I had a peaceful night. George is now locked up with his own litter tray, food and water in the spare bedroom. He seems OK about this but it doesn't stop him wanting to chase me. It just means I have the hours of darkness free from worrying. Mostly I wait till half way through the night and join Celia and Ronnie on the bed. Three in a bed, like three in a marriage, is one too many so sometimes Celia leaves to join George. It's not unlike an Edwardian house party at times in this house. Tobermory would have had some thoughts on this.
The living room smells sort of reassuring. There's a plug in (Feliway since you ask) which is beginning to smell nice. George was awful last night - wouldn't leave me alone. But nonetheless his behaviour is just a tiny bit less worrying for some reason. Oh yes and Celia has put my out door basket, where I used to sit to keep away from fierce elderly Mog (more of that another time) on a little raised dais. The idea is to stop George looming over me while I am in the basket. I have spent a lot of time this morning in the basket, feeling a little safer now it is higher up. I also ate some delicous expensive cat food made into a kind of soup - to increase my water intake, says Celia. She chased away George who wanted some. He doesn't need it, she said, but she let him lick the bowl clean. I am to have this day and night.
Perhaps my interest in my health is getting into a sort of hobby now that I am getting older. If you asked me how I am today, I might tell you in detail. I take a pink pill (to fight off urinary infection) morning and evenings. It doesn't taste too bad. This is medication for my waterworks trouble. The tests showed an infection - though it might have been bacteria from the litter tray rather than a secondary infection from cystitis. She is crumbling it with a Vetsyme tablet and I am eating it without needing it forced down my throat. We senior cats can't be too careful.
I'm still worried in general, but I am less worried. Lets hope it stays that way.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A cry for help from William - George is bullying me


Help. This is me, William the Tabby and White, George's house mate (not friend). This is a strong protest and a cry for help. George is bullying me. He waits around until I start moving and then pounces on me. He shoots across the garden at high speed knocking me over when I am having a quiet dig. Normally I lie down quickly with all four paws and claws at the ready to stop him, but lately I have been losing my nerve. I just can't bear it. I run. This is making him worse. And I have developed a worrying problem with my waterworks. I need to go more often and it hurts when I do so.
Celia, after years of study of cat behaviour, hasn't done too well at solving this problem. She has tried yelling at George which has no effect at all though it does warn me that he is coming. She has tried diverting him in full pounce but she's too slow. She did wonder if giving him attention was making him worse but she has heard my protests when she is not in sight and has decided this is George the bully, not George the attention seeker.
I could have told her that of course.
She took both of us to the vet, because at first she wasn't sure which of us was doing the little bits of urine in the litter tray. Both of us got a clean bill of health. Then she locked up George all night and as the little bits of pee were deposited, she concluded (rightly) that I was the sufferer. She gave me wetter food which made me a little better, but then it started again. So off to the vet again. I was so upset I started purring loudly in the waiting room - a cry for help or (as the behaviour people put it) a "care eliciting call." Of course I was known as Mr Purr to Tina who worked at the Elizabeth St Veterinary Hospital. This is the first time I have purred at Cogges Veterinary practice. (Normally I bite, particularly if anybody puts a thermometer near me. Last time the vet nurse had to do pin-down on me when they wanted to do the unspeakable and stick it up my bottom.)
This time the purr led to better treatment. No visible problems, said the vet. But he sent Celia home with some granules, and a pipette. She left me in the main room with the litter tray with the granules, came back last night, used the pipette to get the urine, and this morning took it in its bottle to the vet. Am I suffering from stones? Or is it the unbearable stress of living with George, who ought to have an ASBO.... watch this space.

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