I Tawt I Thaw a Puddy Tat’s Owner

The first house we bought was in Twickenham, Middlesex (outside of London) back in the mid-nineteen-nineties.

It was a cute little two-up-two-down semi-detached terraced affair with an apple tree in the back garden and a front garden that was so small that the front door effectively led straight out onto the street.

There wasn’t any hallway in the little house so the relationship between the living area and the street was quite intimate to say the least.

We didn’t have the most auspicious start to our ownership of that house. The previous owner vacated a week or two before we got to move in and, as vacating owners sometimes do, they took everything away with them that wasn’t cemented in.

This included such inconsequential items as lightbulbs and doorknobs They also took one item which had traumatic consequences. They took the back door cat flap.

Oh dear.

No, we didn’t actually have a cat but the neighbourhood seemingly had a few. This was obvious when I opened my new front door and peered in. The sunlight beamed in through the hole where the cat flap had been. It illuminated the carpet on the living room (no they didn’t take that).

Oh dear.

The carpet was littered – is there a pun there? I don’t care, I’m too sick recalling this – littered, it was, with cat poo. The smell was overpowering and the visuals were nothing to write home about either.

It was a poor welcome to our new house.

As a result, I became temporarily embittered towards all the cats of my new neighbourhood. I’ve never touched a cat in anger (bear that in mind for later) but I was certainly not above glaring at passing moggys angrily and even muttering powerful swear words under my breath. I know, I was terrible wasn’t I?

There was one particular cat who I suspected as the main culprit. He seemed to be resident a few doors up from us and he was the target of the bulk of my suppressed vitriol.

One Sunday afternoon, some weeks after we first moved in, we were sitting in the living room enjoying the early spring afternoon outside our open front door. There were three of us in the room, my wife, her sister and me. I was the one closest to the door.

I glanced idly away from the TV towards the open door and I froze. Directly outside, pointing its pencil-sharpener butt at our climbing ivy – and thus in the front door – was the neighbour’s cat. I’m no expert in feline asses but my assessment was that this one was about to squirt all over our ivy and possibly into the house.

I gestured at the girls, shushed them, and rose ever-so-quietly from my couch. I got behind the unsuspecting cat, right at the door and drew my boot back as I took careful aim at its ass…

Okay, let me hit the pause button here for a moment. I know a lot of cat lovers come through here and what I am about to say now really is the truth. I was not going to actually kick the cat – it’s not in my nature – but I certainly did intend to whiz my boot within a few millimetres of its offending orifice and make it think twice about ever defecating on my new property again.

… so I drew my boot back and took aim.

Did you know that peripheral vision is extremely sensitive to light and movement? Well, it is. And right at that moment, my peripheral vision told me that a man was approaching along the sidewalk. Furthermore, in one of the few possibly-genuine psychic events of my life, I knew (I just knew) that this man owned this cat.

With my foot swung out at 65 degrees behind me, I seemed committed to the drop-kick but, in a balletic movement worthy of Nureyev himself, I swooped down on my one planted leg - my other leg was still out behind me - and laid my hand on the kitty’s back in a gentle caress . The cat bristled and jumped away.

“Ah”, the approaching gent said, “I see you’ve met Thomas.”

“Yes, yes,” I replied, “a lovely cat, really lovely”.

“He’s a character all right,” laughed my new neighbour, “terribly sociable.”

None of this was helped by the fact that my lovely wife and her sister were in absolute hysterics behind me in the living room. The stunning level of my doorstep hypocrisy – not to mention the impossible body-formation I was somehow managing to maintain during this wonderfully friendly discussion – was too much to not enjoy.

“Well,” my new neighbour said, after an impossibly long pause, “'must be off.”

“Right, well, see you then.”

And he went… and his cat went with him… but not before briefly squirting my ivy.

Bloody cats!


Susan at Stony River said...

I nearly woke the kids laughing so hard; what are you doing up so late?

I am emphatically NOT a cat lover. But, thank heavens for your instincts, and good balance--I'm glad you got away with it!

Anonymous said...

LOL I always thought he was a very flexible guy from watching Fawlty Towers.

And btw, I totally think it'll be a while before I'll get over this 'almost kicking' a poor defenseless kitty!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear! What a tale! Cat pee has to be the worst smell and you never seem to be able to get rid of it. I love cats except for this unfortunate aspect of their persons.

I do hope you managed to discourage this one from further anointing your ivy.


Anonymous said...

Ah, Ken, always good for a... cat... story. Nice recovery, though, I'd probably have nailed the cat then had a neighbor mad at me for years.

I could regale you with cat stories. My current neighbor had a few years where she didn't believe in kitty birth control, and at one time they "owned" but didn't feed as many as fifteen to twenty. As a result, most of them spent their days plotting new ways of getting into my garage where we keep the food for our ONE cat. Fiendishly clever, cats.

Lidian said...

One of the best episodes of Fawlty Towers! (they are all great though)

Matthew S. Urdan said...

I hate cats. Not only am I exceptionally allergic to them, they hate me.

When I was a teenager, there was this kitten, all forlorn, wet, mewing sadly. Me, being the stupid animal lover that I am, I went to pick up the kitten, wrap it in something warm and get it some milk. The grateful kitten proceeded to climb up my arm, raking my flesh with its claws, crawl up my shoulder, slash at my neck, leap off my back and onto the ground where it ran away under some brick.

I needed lots of benadryl (anti-histamine) to stop the sneezing the hives and to calm the red blotches all over my skin from the allergic reaction that was taking place in my body.

My brain couldn't figure out what had just happened. One moment, everything was just fine. The next, out of a gesture of warmth and compassion, it found itself having to deal with a violent chemical storm with leukocytes and histamine and benadryl raging through my blood vessels like Black Mamba cutting through the Crazy Eighty-Eights on her way to dispatch Oren Ishi-i.

I guess it's no surprise that that day was the last day I've ever shown any kind of kindness towards a feline. Maybe that's why dogs love me so. They sense my ill-will towards cats and know intuitively that I have made my choice and that I am there for them.

I don't think there's ever been a dog that hasn't taken a shine to me. They know that I'm on their side.


hope said...

I'll be standing over in the corner with Matthew, nodding. Grandma had Siamese cats and they are the most evil creature ever created! I have my own horror stories. Needless to say,I might not have been as um..flexible as Ken. I do recall threatening to kick one of Grandma's cats out the door when it bit me for no good reason and she replied she'd toss me out behind it. Geez, where is the love?

Dogs. That's where the real love is. I salute you Ken, for not accomplishing your mission. You're a better human than I when it comes to felines.

Fiendish said...

Ken, if you weren't the best writer I know and I therefore felt obliged to give you another title, you would definitely be the person who has lived through the most hilarious incidents. Although I'm aware that's probably connected to the above.

Brilliant. And excellent example from Fawlty to back it up, I must say :)

Catherine @ Sharp Words said...

Muahahahaha, serves you right for attempting to kick a cat! (Although if you had managed it, the cat probably would've sprayed all over your foot.)

Ok, I admit that I put my foot to my own cats' arses on a regular basis. But not with shoes on. And only very gently, as a nudge to get them out of the door when they're dithering. None of them has ever been hurt this way.
(We won't mention the 2 I ran over.)

Ken Armstrong said...

Hi Susan, thanks, I *do* love to get a laugh :) Why's everybody on to me about staying up late - I'm 45 years old!! :)

Reggie: 'Almost' is the key word 'Almost'. If anyone's upset with me over this story, watch out for one in coming weeks called 'Walking the Dog', I'm afraid to post it.

Hi Margaret: Oddly, in my current home I find that a half full plastic bottle of water will dissuade would be feline wee-wee-ers - something about the refracted light dancing around and rendering them too nervous to perform... 'fine by me!

Hi Mike: care to define 'nailed the cat'? 'Reminds me of a terrible joke about a priest, a cat and a sinful urge... but let's not go there right now.

Hi Lidian : Basil Rocks, end of. :)

Hi Matt - another similarity - I too break out if I touch a cat and dogs bow down before me and urinate quietly.

Hi Hope: well, my middle name is Felix so there should be some tolerance...

Fiendish, you need to get out and meet more writers! :) But thanks. I think the key is that I enjoy it so much when silly things happen to me - others like to forget, I like to celebrate them!

Catherine, so long as you didn't run over them deliberately, you must be forgiven. :)

Anonymous said...

(Mike again, testing out OpenID)

Yeah, I guess that was poor word choice, wasn't it? Booted the cat across the street probably would have been better.

Kat Mortensen said...

Okay. First let me admit to the fact that I am a cat-lover (as you may know, I am owned by 4 of them). Having said that, I can completely understand your disgust with their bodily functions and deposits. You see I'm also the Keeper of the Litter Boxes. It is I who maintain 4 boxes immaculately. I who am responsible for the daily scoopings, and sweepings and sloshings about with a mop to keep the cat-zone tidy. None of them go outside, so it is a perpetual occupation and one with no respite. I am well aware of the overpowering odours that accompany such beasts and I am not averse to your having had the notion to give one a swift kick up the backside. I've been there. Many times. You handled yourself with aplomb and dignity.

BF was thoroughly enjoyable (as ever).


Matthew S. Urdan said...

@Ken, well, even though dogs bow down before me, they don't urinate quietly. I don't invoke fear in the dogs, I invoke friendship and warmth and a nice scratch behind the ears in dogs.

Although...there was this one time after I moved out of the house I was so angry with my mother for something to do with her health and smoking or something stupid like that I barged back in, slammed the door, literally screamed at my mother and Buffy was quick to run and hide until the firestorm was over, repressing her need to jump on me, get her ears scratched, get her walk and her treat.

I must have looked like Satan walking in the door that day for Buffy to be so fearful and sublimate her wants until the storm blew over. But even then, Buffy didn't urinate. She knew I wasn't yelling at her.

Alan said...

I have a video award for you on my blog and it's one great honor, so don't you forget it.

I will even let you embed this exclusive cat video award on your site so you can proudly show it to everyone and watch it EVERYDAY.



Dave King said...

Mmmm, well, perhaps, but try as I will I just cannot see you as Basil Fawlty. In lieu of which...
If you have dropped by Sharon's blog recently (and if you have not, you really ought) you will know that she has been good enough to pass some (4) awards on to me, which I have been pleased to accept. The condition of acceptance is that I in turn should pass them on. This I am glad enough to do, and for that purpose have picked out those blogs that have given me the most pleasure over the longest period of time. Yours, I am happy to say, is one of those. If, then, you would like to visit my blog and copy the visuals to yours, please do so. Obviously, there is no coercion here. If you decide not (for whatever reason), that is not a problem. If you do accept, please pass them on in your turn.

Jim Murdoch said...

What peeves me is that there are two cats in our block of flats and I never get to see them. I could forgive the smell in the hall if I could at least get to pet one of the wee buggers from time to time. It's not their fault. They were never built to be kept in a place like this. It's like our cockateil gnawing chunks out of our picture frames, what am I suppose to do? Muzzle him?

All I can say is that if you had kicked that cat then I'd be on a plane over there, forget about Shuggie.

Ken Armstrong said...

Hi again Mike: I knew what you meant, mate, liking Irish Music and having sex with cats are mutually exclusive hobbies.

Hi Poetikat: I spent a while being glad that your boyfriend (BF) was being highly enjoyable as always... eventually I realised that you were, of course, referring to dear Basil.

Howdy Matt : "But even then, Buffy didn't urinate. She knew I wasn't yelling at her." This fan fiction gets a little extreme sometimes! :)

I was only kidding about the urination bit - one little dog always did a little widdle when I came around but the others held on okay. I think The reason dogs respond to me had something to do with the fact that I've never ever met a dog I was remotely afraid of - I think they sense that.

Hi Alan... Aw the liddle puddy tat!!! :) Cute as hell!

Thanks Dave, this is very kind of you. I'm always very pleased that my rather lightweight brand of fluff keeps you coming by - I really appreciate it. :)

Hi Jim, yes, other people's pets can be so elusive - I recently had to drop by everyday to feed a neighbours newt, while they were on holidays. I expected an ever-burgeoning relationship but the bugger never moved the entire fortnight. 'Started to think he was dead except the food was always eaten. He was fine. :)

'Slightly terrifying end to your comment. Should I fear that, if I progress beyond my Minority-Report-style anti-feline thought crime that I should expect a burst of poetic rough-justice landing at my nearest airport (Knock).

If so a bit of notice would be appreciated as I think I'll go back to Florida for a while, 'let it all die down a bit...

Anonymous said...

Its ok. I don't like dogs that much anyway... some can be mean! Ok, ok some cats can be mean too...

Kat Mortensen said...

Ken, you do realize that I'm married?

That was my belly-laugh for the day. Thanks!


Cleveland Real Estate said...

I just wanted to be your lovely wife standing off to the side and laughing...

I was so into this story, it's one I didn't want to end. Honest.

Thank you for your... "You know what you did!"

Laura Brown said...

I moved into a new basement apartment only to find the people upstairs had left open the door and allowed (encouraged actually as the litter box was in my main room) their cats and kittens to use my whole apartment as a toilet. I like cats. I never forgave the cat owners and I didn't stay long at that apartment. My family had owned that house for 20 years so when I bitched about the place being full of cat $hit they did have to go down and clean it up. Though my brother (the owner at that time) had to finish the job cause the cats had made a big toilet mess right behind the refrigerator. It was gross.

Laura Brown said...

I don't like dogs at all. Nasty, biting, barking, drooling creatures.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Ken,

Do you know that stray cats too are one of the primary sources of rabies? Even a scratch could transfer the virus. I don't like cats, I'm scared of their sharp claws.

I can't say I love dogs , but I cried once for a dog(Piper) that I have been with for 9 years. I took care of him since he was a puppy, nursed him whenever he got sick and he guarded my house devotedly. There was a time that he was left for a week alone ( due to some major family problems, he was neglected). When I remembered him I had thought he would be dead when we got back, but no, he was tough, he was still there at my doorstep guarding the house from intruders.

When piper died, I cried. But my son said, he had been well taken cared of and that he died in his sleep. (he took the dog when we left the house, because I could not bring it to the city proper.)

I laughed when I read your post. You have a way of recounting that focuses on the happy and humorous aspect of the story. You're a born raconteur. Kudos to you.

Anonymous said...

Reggie: Dogs are like the jolly idiots of the pet world, cats are the rocket-scientists. :)

Hey Kat: I know you're married! Just having a bit of BF fun with you... and it worked, I got a laugh. 'Makes my day, that. :)

Dear Cecilia, you're welcome, of course, both here and for 'the other'. I'm like a bad penny, I just keep turning up :)

Hi Laura, yeah, joking aside, you will know how dismal it was to find your cute little place in *that* kind of state. I had to call my wife and tell her not to come home - that I had to 'do some stuff' first.

'Nasty barking drooling...' you're sure that's a dog? I think I know her! :)

Dear Jena, you've reminded my now of losing one of my own dogs after thirteen years (I've had several, none anymore). It's like losing a person, it really is. Thanks for nice comment as always.

Daisy said...

::sniffs sadly::
I am sad that you do not like cats. Not all cats go potty where they are Not Supposed To Go.

hope said...

Hey Top Cat...kindly stop by my blog today and pick up your cudos. :)

Ken Armstrong said...

Daisy Daisy! I *do* like cats - I really do. It's just that I am allergic to you so I pay a heavy price for touching you and well, those nasty Twickenham/Jellico cats did annoy me for a while but I got over. Don't be mad or sad Daisy - I'm your biggest non-tactile fan.

Thank you *very* much Hope - I am heading over to 'Inside Government' later to day to try and do a moderately serious post. It *is* good, isn't it? :)

Anonymous said...

OMG, I am laughing so hard.........:)

I AM a cat lover, however, it annoys me when neighbors do not take proper care of their cats and allow them to roam around and annoy others.

I would pay $ to have seen this incident!

tashabud said...

Hi Ken,
I saw this post earlier, but didn't have time to comment, so I just dropped my entrecards.

Your story is way too funny; I laughed so hard.

I like cats and dogs as long as they belong to somebody else. My husband grew up having cats, and his family's side always have cats. So you would think he'd be tolerant when neighborhood cats uses our yard as their private playground and as ther private dumping place for their guts' fillings, yes? Instead, he devolop a great dislike for them after having to shoo them out of our property for 13 years. We don't know who own them. Why owners allow their cats to wonder outside and all over town is beyond me.

Thanks for the laugh.


gemmak said...

Utterly,bloody hilarious! :o)

Anonymous said...

Hi Nicole, thanks for laughing - I like that! :)

Hi Tashabud: "dropping place for their guts fillings" eh? Hmmm... no... sorry... just gotta run to the... (Ken slams the toilet door behind him)

Thanks Genmak. Am I losing it or does your little icon stick its tongue out now and again?? I keep going back down the page to try and catch it... it does!! Too cool.

gemmak said...

Lol...yes, it does, but it's nothing personal! ;o)

Jim Murdoch said...

Odd. As you know I grew up with cats and I’ve only ever known them too choose to poo indoors is when they couldn’t get out. I’m struggling to imagine cats who’re already outside choosing to come inside to do their business. I’m not calling you a liar or anything but that’s not been my experience. And as far as even THINKING about kicking a cat… shame on you Ken Armstrong. Talking about poo I’ve just been reading a book about a woman’s experiences of dealing with her mother-in-law who was suffering from Alzheimer’s and I couldn’t sleep after reading what will forever be fixed in my mind as ‘the poo chapter’. If I was ever in the mood to try and disprove the existence God I think I would point to that and argue that there’s no way a so-called loving and benevolent creator would have designed us to do that.