Friday, 21 February 2014

The Kitty Letter Chronicles: The Curious Incident of the Cat in the Night

(with apologies to Mark Haddon)
Some of you probably know that night-time is the natural habitat of us felines. Unfortunately for those of us held in house arrest by you humans, you are quite the opposite - so we have to adapt to your routine to make you feel loved (and in order to get the food, attention and adoration that we so richly deserve)

What you probably DON’T know  is that when you lot have finally given into your human natures  and succumbed to sleep (even the likes of DanglyMan who seems to be doing his best to evolve into some kind of a nocturnal animal), THAT’s when we come into our own.

You might think that once you’re snoring softly – or not so softly – beneath the covers, we stay curled up at your feet where you’ll find us when the birds start squawking their dawn chorus outside the window as the sun comes up.

Think again. Night-time is my time.

It’s when I finally have the chance to conduct a proper patrol of our shared habitat, unencumbered by shouts of “Get down!”, or endless maulings and fussing interrupting my inspection and musings on The Meaning of Life.  

Timing is everything. My humans don’t make that easy. Big Red and NoisyKid aren’t too bad, heading to their beds after three or four hours or so staring at the box with the moving pictures. But for some reason, they get unaccountably annoyed when I follow them to give them a personal performance of my latest impressive dance routines on their beds once they’re tucked up under the covers.

Some promise of salvation lays with DanglyMan, who I can pretty much guarantee will be around for a couple more hours after the others have gone to sleep (lightweights!). It’s our chance for some serious man-to-man time when I can share my pearls of wisdom with him, in between performing my balletic moves round the lounge and delivering therapeutic massages on his belly. But eventually, even he surrenders to the night and heads for his bed. I go with him. After all, I wouldn’t want him to feel unloved, would I?

Only once he is purring like a diesel engine with his mouth wide open (what manners!) and his arms flung across Big Red snoozing shoulders am I truly free.

Then, at last, it’s time for my true nature to come to the fore. A time when there is nothing to do except to wait and to hunt. There’s a shortage of prey in my prison but a cat has to make the most of what he has to paw, doesn’t he? Where my nature drives me to track down voles, moles and hedgehogs (whatever they are), I have to hone my hunting skills on socks, stray scraps of paper, dust bunnies (or which there are far more round here than there should be - subtle hint to Red there) and stray insects. 

It’s not ideal but what can I do? Instinct drives me, even when I don’t know why I’m running down the hallway with what the thing Big Red calls ‘Swiffer’ (but I call ‘Darling’) to hide out and hug in my special hidey-hole.

I find people confusing. Some of you humans think God has put you lot on earth because you’re the best animals. Of course, we all know you’re not (I don’t think I need to state the obvious here, do I?). Human beings are just an animal that will evolve into another animal, and that animal will be cleverer and more cat-like. Then maybe human beings will be put in zoos or have to tolerate being fussed and patronised like pets just to get their basic sustenance.

Dogs are different and, to be fair, I can see why so many humans prefer them. You always know what a dog is thinking. It has four moods. Happy, sad, cross and concentrating. Cats are more interesting – and that probably is too much for some of your number to deal with.

Being clever is when you look at how things are and use the evidence to work out a new way of getting what you need. Like me letting my humans believe that I’m so devoted to them that I’ll lay down with them and spent the whole night by their sides.

It’s my way of making them feel special. It’s not a lie. A lie is when you say something happened which didn't happen. You lot don’t understand anything I say to you, despite your constant yapping at each other and in my direction, so how could I lie to you? I just let you believe what suits me. 

For example, this morning when Big Red opened her eyes, there I was (literally in her face) making sure the first thing she saw was a thing of beauty, thus setting her up for a good day. She thought I’d been keeping her company all night. I hadn’t, but surely it’s not a lie to let her believe what she wants, is it? And if that beautiful start to her day makes sure the first thing she does is to fill my bowl with some yummy crunchies, well that’s a result for everyone, isn’t it?

So, next time you glare at me as I curl up like the world’s most gorgeous throw pillow on the sofa while the sun is high in the sky, stop and think before you call me lazy. I’m not idle, I’m just gathering my strength for the rigours of the night to come.

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