Cat Dancing

Our relationship with Puddy, the stray cat, is pretty well established at this point. You would hope it would be, it’s been over three years since she had her kittens in the shed etc. etc. etc. Pretty well established, yes, but there are still elements that make Puddy and us a sort of a moveable feast. Our routine, though present, is always subject to reassessment and revision. Always, I might add on the part of the cat.

That’s why this entry is called what it is. Life with a cat, or at least our cat, is a constant dance of demand and requirement, veering from total contentment to gross displeasure. Ninety percent entirely predictable but ten percent completely not.

Just now, for instance, Sunday morning, I’ve been hanging clothes on the line when Puddy saunters around the side of the house, fresh from a night on the neighbourhood tiles.

“Good morning, Puddy, how are you today?”

Puddy rolls around under the clothesline, exposing her soft milky white belly. A portrait of undying love and total submission. Easy to assess, easy to deal with. But suppose I was to stoop down and attempt a little head stroke. Not a tummy stroke, obviously, that would be death from most cats. No, just a harmless head stroke. Puddy would immediately turn into Gladiator, bucking and hissing, wielding her multiple swords with unmatchable speed and agility.

I would be toast.

So Puddy and I express our enthusiasm for each other at a reasonably safe distance. When she’s hungry and keen for the food I’m bringing, she will twine in and out between my feet and do clawless paw-battle with my shoes. She will meow very softly, which is her only tone of meow, and be a model of feline warmth. Just don’t touch, mate. Don’t even think about it.

Puddy spends the night indoors most of the time now. At least during the Winter. Last Summer, she largely went AWOL each night and came back in the morning, ready for the breakfast dance. This year will probably be the same, the signs are already there. But for the entire Autumn and Winter she has overnighted in the front hall, with her food and water and litter box (which she hardly ever uses). No cat dancing required here; it would seem. A straightforward B&B transaction. You would think so, wouldn’t you? But, no, there are nightly hurdles to be surmounted, gymnastic floor exercises to complete.

Puddy likes being indoors, particularly out of inclement weather, but she is an outdoors semi-feral cat through and through. Too long behind glass and she gets restless and tense. There are cats out there that have to be kept in check, other houses to visit and charm. We can’t just sit here all day and night. So, some nights, she simply doesn’t want to come in. At least she thinks she doesn’t… or maybe she thinks she does. Therein lies the problem.

Many evenings, round midnight, you may find me at my front door, tired and ready for bed. You may see me wearily addressing an indistinct furry bundle out in the garden gloom.

“Well? What’s it going to be? This is the final call, it’s now or never.”

The cat may come in. She may make biscuits for a while in her furry, familiar basket. But when she’s in this humour, she will probably bugger off again, out into the night, and no amount of persuasion will bring her inside.

Other evenings, she’ll be waiting at the door for me to come home for work. She will hop into her basket and not budge again until the next morning. A hard day, I guess, up and down our little street.

So, the nighttime cat dance, as described, can be intricate and a little bit wearisome but it is made considerably more complex by the introduction of what we shall call ‘the living room factor.’ What was a simple three-step Waltz now becomes an intricate Argentine Tango of feline desire.

It’s simple, really.

We both like having Puddy in the living room of an evening. She apparently likes it too because she comes and sits on the window cill and presses her pink nose on the place where the window opens, perhaps believing that this act alone will gain her access. She mimes a Meow that I know would be silent even if the pane of glass was not between us. And we, being the soft touches that we undoubtedly are, let her in. I open the window and she slinks in, eying me distrustfully as she passes me. She bounds onto the carpet from the window with a surprising lack of grace and makes straight for her chair. She has her own armchair, with a purple blanket on it to try to minimize the shedding fur element. There she will stay for the evening. If I were being cute (I think I did it in an earlier post) I would say that she watches television with us, but she doesn’t really. She doesn’t give a toss about anything on the screen, dogs, cats, lions, tigers, Puddy doesn’t care. She preens and rotates and rolls and sleeps and sleeps and sometimes just sits imperiously and watches us as if wondering why we are still here, in her room.

Around eleven o’clock, the dance begins.

For our sins, we are not comfortable with Puddy overnighting alone in the living room. She is a scratchy, fur-shedding machine, and we are not natural cat people. We fear our nicest room might suffer for her overnight presence. Silly, perhaps, to you seasoned cat people but there it is. Puddy has her domain in the hall, and she is most welcome there. It is comfy and warm, and all the necessaries are in there. So, at around eleven o’clock, it’s a simple transfer from the living room to hall for Puddy. Nothing to it.

You know that’s simply not true.

At eleven, we open the window and open the front door. In pursuit of a few unignorable treats, Puddy goes out and around to the front door. She inspects her hallway domain. She makes biscuits and samples a few crunchy food items from her bowl. But damned if she will stay. Having seen, first hand, the wonders of the living room, has she decided that the hall is simply not up to scratch, or has she rested sufficiently during her hours in the armchair and now it’s time for late night street adventures? I don’t know. Nobody knows.

All I know is I’ll be standing at my front door, round midnight, doing that dance with Puddy the Cat yet again. Will she come in and stay? Will she go off adventuring? Your guess is as good as mine.

The overriding thought I have at these times is for my next-door neighbours. I picture them ensconced in their bed and glaring at each other in the dull glow of their bedside lamp.

“There’s that bloody eejit again, calling his bloody cat.”

1 comment:

Jim Murdoch said...

It's odd. Although we have much in common thee and me, it's these wee cat updates that make me warm to you the most. Not the wife posts. Or the kid posts. Or the writing posts. The damn cat posts. As I said, odd. Our—and by "our" you know I mean next door's—cat has also been with us for three years. The day we got the keys he was sitting on the bin outside our garden and so he was the first local I spoke to but it took him six months to realise what a soft touch I am.

Now we generally see him twice a day, often thrice, for half a packet of meat and a handful of crispies. He virtually never leaves without cadging some crispies and, if he times it right, he'll get some from me with his meal and another generous serving from my wife as a parting gift. He will tolerate some petting. Two strokes is our thing. Three and he'll move off although he doesn't mind if we use the comb on his head for a bit although Carrie has the knack there.

A couple of weeks back I was headed to the train station and I saw Spock in the street so I went over to say hello and he sprawled on the ground having a good ol' scratch. Most unlike him. Of course, as with you, I had the gumption to realise this was not an invitation. But it was cute.

Carrie got into a conversation with next door a few days back, mostly about the cat. He's eight and, as we suspected, has poor eyesight. He, apparently, will endure quite a bit of attention from their kids but not the adults. So, it's not just me.

One thing he never does though is purr. Never known a cat who didn't purr. Weird.