Little Tiger, burning bright
With a subtle Blakeish light,
Tell what visions have their home
In those eyes of flame and chrome!
Children vex thee – thoughtless, gay –
Holding when thou wouldst away:
What dark lore is that which thou,
Spitting, mixest with thy meow?
– H.P. Lovecraft
This is a photo of the beast that, until about five minutes ago, was sleeping on the towels in our wardrobe. She is now sitting on the windowsill, staring out onto the street. No, wait – now she seems to be meditating.
I’m usually not big on posting biographical details of my life in this blog – they’re not really of much interest to anyone except me – but the cat is obviously such an important part of my everyday life, as well as my philosophical outlook, that it might be a good idea to say a few things about her.
(She has now moved to my table, to check out the sounds Zathras is making in the aquarium. He just went back into the water. Kitten is now sitting on top of the aquarium, staring in. We call this Cat TV.)
I first met the cat when she was still a very tiny kitten, more than four years ago, back when Verena was still living with Mr. Morden. The three of us were writing Star Warts: The Panto Menace, our first panto – though thanks to Mr. Morden, Verena never got any credit for the writing.
(The cat has now buggered off to the other room, where she’s sleeping on the bed.)
Anyway, I remember the cat as this incredibly cute, hyperactive little thing. And that’s pretty much what she’s still like. The only thing that has changed in the last few years is that she’s become a lot more fond of humans.
After Mr. Morden left Verena, and during the time that Verena lived with a roommate (a choice now greatly regretted, since that person has caused so much trouble), the cat kind of went wild. Not because she missed Mr. Morden, but because she’s a cat who likes to go out, and with Verena being the only person who could go downstairs and pick the cat up, there were many cases where the cat spent way too much time outside, and was then not so happy to come inside again – especially since the old lady downstairs would let her into her flat so often that the cat probably didn’t know where she lived. (Not knowing if the cat was inside or outside made picking her up even more difficult.)
By now, however, these problems have been solved. I figured out a system that both the cat and everyone else is happy with: we let her out sometime around 12 at night, and I get up every morning at 7 and pick her up. (We can’t have a cat flap because the people living in this house object to that, and the outside of our door belongs to the house, not to us. Yes, that makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? And the door downstairs is even more out of the question. A cat flap would be too ugly. Besides, half these people hate everything that lives.)
So this is our daily ritual:
- I get up at 7, tired and cursing.
- I go downstairs. We live on the fourth floor.
- Downstairs, the cat is sitting behind the glass door and silently meowing at me. Why is this door closed, human? Why are you so slow?
- If she’s not there, I open the door and go “psspsspss” and she shows up, running maniacally. The human! My best friend!
- If she’s still not there, I use the recording of Verena whistling on my cellphone, and wait. She usually shows up after a few minutes. Ah, human – there you are. I thought I heard you whistling. What exactly do you require?
- If she still doesn’t show up, which is rare, I worry and try looking for her in 30-minute intervals.
- Once she’s there, kitten is very happy. She purrs loudly and rubs herself against my legs. (If it’s raining, she meows annoyedly when she comes in, and is even happier to see me.) Walking up the stairs is a bit of a challenge, as I have to stop every two steps and get headbutted by the cat.
- At this point, I have lost any verbal skills I may otherwise possess. “Ooooh little kitty-bitty, ooooh-yooo-yoooo-gooo-gooo little monster baby thing. You want to have sweeties, honey? Let’s go upstairs. Oooh, yes, you have fur, isn’t that wonderful? Yes, little monster, I like you too. Let me walk, you monster. Oooh little kitty.” And so on.
- Once we get into the flat, it’s time for food. Normally that used to mean going to the kitchen, but lately I am suffering the results of an experiment gone wrong. I wanted to see if the cat could learn to associate treats with the windowsill, you see; and so I always gave her her treats there. And it works, just like in Pavlov’s Cats: now the cat has a way of telling me that she wants her sweets now, human! So now every morning the cat runs into our room and jumps onto the windowsill, waiting for her morning dose of treats.
- Our cat loves all the Whiskas treats, but she absolutely despises all Whiskas food. She won’t touch it. Odd, isn’t it?
- Once the treats have been devoured, it’s off to the kitchen. Kitten only eats food with jelly – everything else is dismissed. She is particularly fond of tuna and chicken; rabbit is also OK. Salmon is evil.
- The human who brought her up – in 99% of all cases, me – has to stay with her while she eats. Sometimes I have to go to the toilet, which results in the cat sitting in front of the door and meowing like hell. It’s cute, and incredibly annoying.
- The next step varies. I go to bed, but sometimes she needs something done first, like a cave. Kitten loves caves. The easiest way of making a cave is to throw a blanket over the armchair, but she gets bored after a while and new caves have to be invented. Thankfully it’s possible to rotate. (Sometimes she just sits on the armchair and meows. That’s a clear sign, but I’m so good at understanding the cat that I can tell what she wants even without that. It’s a little scary.)
- Once I’m in bed and falling asleep, kitten usually runs across the flat and plays with stuff. Lately it’s the carpet. (Verena notices none of this. She sleeps like a rock, I sleep like a feather.) She also drags herself across the sofa and armchair with her claws. This is all fine, except for that she also meows, because she’s offended that no-one is watching or playing along. It usually helps if I get up in bed and look at her for a bit, or just say “Yes, kitten.” After a while, she realizes that she’s rather sleepy herself, and goes to sleep somewhere. I can finally rest for a bit.
Doing this every single morning is the reason that I’m almost always tired. But it’s worth it, because this way the kitten is happy.
Other fascinating cat info:
- Kitten likes to get up in our bed (we have a loft bed, and so does our roommate) and sleep under a blanket. Sometimes she crawls under the blanket herself, but mostly a human has to do it. When she wants this to happen, she climbs up on the bed and meows until someone fulfills her wishes.
- She’s afraid of hats. Well, of people wearing them. And no, she was never abused by a hat-wearing person. I think the problem is that hats change the shape/outline/size of a person, and that scares her.
- Once, she climbed into the aquarium while no-one was watching. When we came into the room, we found the cat lying on the land part, with the turtle sunbathing next to her. It was rather surreal.
- Another time, she went to the other aquarium while the other turtle was sunbathing. Instead of getting scared, as these turtles are wont to, Zathras obsessively tried to get to the cat through the glass. They were fascinated by each other. How bizarre is that?
- Our vet seems to hypnotize the cat. She stands still as a rock, though she’s (understandably) not very fond of injections.
- She hates being petted like other cats. If you try it, she will try to claw off your face. Well, she’s slap you first, but if you continue, beware. What she likes is being massaged. Go figure.
- She’s also been increasing the range of her vocalizations in the past couple of years. I think it’s because I talk to her so much. Cats vocalize very differently for humans than they do for other cats.
- Our cat does not watch television. She has no interest in moving pictures at all. Verena’s parents’ cats do watch television. What’s with that?
- I can hear the cat coming down from a bed in my sleep, and over loud music. Apparently my brain is trained to recognize “thwupp” sounds.
- I spend way too much time pondering cat intelligence.
- Is the cat capable of recognizing when she’s being talked about? I think so. I’ve seen her ears twitch when she’s being mentioned; sometimes she even suddenly looks up at us knowingly. She just doesn’t want us to know that she knows. Cats play mind games.
- I can stare the cat down.
- She’s not very good at defending her territory. Mostly she runs away from other cats, usually screaming so loud we can hear her from a long distance. Even if she hasn’t even been touched. Nevertheless, she pretends to be a tough street cat.
- I’m not good at carrying the cat in my arms, though I regularly pick her up and swivel her around. (She likes this.) Verena is excellent at picking up the cat, and the cat loves being carried around by Verena. But then, to her Verena is her mother. As for myself, I think the cat thinks of me as her idiot kid brother.
- Like all cats, she constantly does incredibly stupid things and then pretends that it was intentional. No wonder humans like cats: they are goofy and elegant, stupid and intelligent, tough and fragile – all at the same time. Just like us.
And now you know about the third member of our little family, the insane creature known as Cat. Oh, I almost forgot – she doesn’t have a name. Except Cat, kitten, monster, and so on. Things have been tried in pre-Jonas days, but names just glide off her shiny black fur. Think of her as an Elemental Cat.
Remind to write a post about why God is a cat. It explains everything.