And what about the felines in our midst?

All this furious activity on civil liberties recently has meant that I’ve not mentioned very much about Lady Voledoomcat, the feline resident of The Grannary. She’s just about 13 years old now, a reasonable age for a moggie, but still has a spring in her step and a claw in her paw to catch the unwary.

One of her favourite, if less-active, pursuits is to sneak into the spare bedroom when neither myself nor herself are paying enough attention. If she can achieve this just as the two of us are haring out of the house to get to work in the morning, all the better. And this will be the consequence:

Cat under a duvet

Cat under a duvet

Lady V came to us as a rescue kitten. She was about seven weeks old when we got her. It was a little heart-wrenching to take her from her mother, who was also up for re-homing, but we felt it would be difficult to re-home an adult cat as well as a kitten. She slept the first night downstairs in the parlour, but, being a softy, I took her back up to bed with the morning tea and toast. And there she stayed all day until we came home, snuggled down under a fold of the duvet until we came back to offer her companionship, amusement and something horrid out of a tin. So, she’s always had a thing about getting in under duvets, although strangely enough, never when we’re under them.

Always a cat for the stretched-out legs, as she approached the last of her pre-teen years, she discovered and adopted a new position on the lap. She would alwys just lie straight out with her head on her paws, but now she has decided that she must turn her head to the side and rest it on a knee. Perhaps she just likes the way it fits under her chin; who knows.

Even more recently, she has discovered the pleasures of the writer at the keyboard. Now she will spend ages sitting in the diminishing space between my tummy and the desk and look up adoringly at me. It’s all terribly sweet, until she decides she has to drool over my chest. Then all sentiment must fly away and the cat must chase to find it elsewhere.

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A thing about the bathmat

Lady Voledoomcat has revealed a vice; she has started tiddling on the bathmat, which is logically located in the bathroom. This may be a belated revenge for us having left her for over a week at Christmas and New Year, or it may be to do with the bad weather, or even the fact the Pong (the Bikers’ new kitten) is starting to get outside and interface with local feline society.
One bad consequence of this behaviour has been going in to shave in the morning barefoot and finding the floor wet-and-warm where it shouldn’t be.
There seems to be very little we can do to break her of this vice, apart from keeping the bathroom door closed, but that can’t work forever infallibly. The Lady of the House is agin punishment regimes such as shutting Lady V out in the cold, dark, wet night – in any case, all she does is sit on our bedroom window-cill and squeak, interrupting the BS. The short-term consequence is that we now sport a litter tray instead of a bathmat in the necessarium, which means a little grit between the toes if one is careless on exiting the place of ablutions in the bleary-eyed morning.
So, if anyone has any useful suggestions – at least ones which are likely to be acceptable to the females of the household – your correspondent would be interested to hear them.
Answers on a blog-card to …

Fuzzy kitten

Fuzzy kitten
The Bikers next door have acquired a kitten to replace their beloved Spike, who went under the wheels of a timber lorry a few weeks ago, causing great heartbreak in their household. The kitten was found wandering around a boatyard a few miles up the road and no-one in the area knew anything about it, but it made its way next door due to the effectiveness of the local grapevine. However, having acquired the kitten the day before yesterday, the Bikers had to away to Edinburgh overnight and we were cast in the role of kitten-sitters. We made the early decision not to bring small scrap into the Grannary because (a) it would piss off Lady Voledoomcat and (b) would disrupt small scrap’s settling-in to her (we think it’s a she) new home. There is a (c), in that we definitely don’t want the kitten to think of next door as her home as well.
Anyway, I have been given strict instructions to visit the kitten every three to four hours, give it 1cm of food in the bottom of a ramekin and generally act the genial uncle to it. So far, mission accomplished and kitten is gobbling in food at the bow end and pumping out the other stuff at the stern, so no problems in transit.
The picture of the kitten was taken with my camera still set at the highest ISO setting after the lantern parade, hence I must apologise for the fuzziness, but in a way that suits the wee beastie.

Duvet cat

Lady V under the duvet
Ever since she was a kitten, some ten summers ago, Lady Voledoomcat has just had this thing about being snuggled up under the duvet. It’s all my fault, really. When she was brand spanking new to the pre-Chookery Somerset household and a replacement to my beloved t’Othercat whom I’d left behind with the kids and first Mrs PtC, I brought her up to the bed after her first night. She tucked herself up under a corner of the duvet and didn’t shift all day. Since then, the bed has been her place of safety, of comfort and peace. Recently, she has been wanting to get in to the spare bedroom so, Her Maj being a kindly soul, admitted her. This is the result. Cat hairs all over the pillows and a dozy puss-cat into the bargain. But, you have to admit, sweet!
I suppose I have to explain t’Othercat. Well, I was young and single and had always had an affection for black tom-cats. I went home to visit my mum in Herefordshire one weekend and discovered that her neighbour’s cat had produced three kittens; two black boys and one tabby girl – collectively known as Sooty, Sweep and Sue. Well, I went back down to my bachelor pad in Bridgwater with the two toms, who became my great pals and domestic tearaways. I had the problem of naming them, feeling that Sooty and Sweep were a little too tweee for meee. The bigger chap got called Harold and the other one, well I couldn’t actually think of a name for him other than … t’Othercat. Caused no end of confusion in the vet’s as you can imagine; veterinary receptionists aren’t generally in the job because of their academic qualifications and explaining that the element of his name which represented the definite article was not capitalised and was followed by an apostrophe seemed just that little bit much for their brave-new-GCSE levels of literacy.
So, I hear you ask, what became of Harold? Well, I got married and he left home. True, absolutely true; a very prescient cat and I followed his example nine years later.

Don’t play with your food

Readers of a nervous disposition should look away now, because I am about to reveal the unadulterated truth about Lady Voledoomcat’s appalling behaviour when it comes to the treatment of small rodents.
I was down in the kitchen this evening when she came in through the CatFlap(R) with a small furry thing in her mouth. I immediately shouted “Out!” and she took her anticipated meal out to the patio. I decided to watch what she did with her catch, which appeared to be a small vole.
At this stage the vole was in fairly good nick, if a little shaken, and could probably have made a good getaway had it been anywhere near some long grass. Lady V had other ideas and let it try its best whilst literally dancing around the poor beast. She would actually spin around completely and catch the vole again and again. The next trick was to let it get to the wall and try to climb up; she would permit only so much of this before pawing it to the ground again, mouthing it and patting it about. By this time the vole was visibly tiring and unable to make any further escape attempts.
The cat had plenty of play left in her, however, and proceeded to sprawl out in the evening sunshine and roll around, displaying the classic “playful kitty” method of springing the vole up into the air and down again. By now the little thing was twitching and its chest would convulse as its end came nearer. Lady V rolled around on top of it, enjoying the warmth of the ground, and displayed a complete nonchalance towards the fate of her prey.
Only when the poor wee thing was no longer moving did she decide that playtime was over and teatime had arrived. She proceeded to devote herself to her carnal appetites and the vole disappeared completely in little under two minutes. She then came in to seek appreciation and the usual domestic attentions from the household.
No doubt some readers will question my role as passive observer in this drama and protest my failure to intervene on behalf of the vole. If I had tried to get out to her, I’ve no doubt that she would have picked up her prey and carted it off to some location where she could entertain and feed herself with disapproval. The other point is that she does this several times every day and a single intervention is pretty meaningless in the overall scheme of things. If I’d stayed upstairs the drama would have been played out in the kitchen unobserved by me, so feeling guilty for observing and accepting Lady V’s behaviour is irrational and unreasonable, however much some sense of guilt creeps in from being a witness to the microcarnage.

Wild raspberries

Late home this evening after a very early start and spending most of the day down the far end of Kintyre (meetings, blooming meetings!) and no sign of Lady Voledoomcat. Now, she is a great one for firkling around in the long grass all day long, but she’s usually infesting the kitchen when himself appears at the end of the working d., but not this evening. No sign of her even after I’d cooked some fish, which normally has her flying through the CatFlap(R) at close to the speed of a very hungry cat. Now, call me soppy if you will, but I thought I’d just toddle out and comb the verges for her corpse …
… which took me as far as the Old Gamekeeper’s, where I stopped for a natter and a cup of tea. Wandered on along past The Chookery and found ripe wild raspberries in the verge, so helped myself. Back over what might one day be the village green and meandered up along the burn towards the edge of the moor. The light on the hills at this time of year is fabulous; the hills themselves have greened up considerably in the last week with the welcome rain. I thought to myself that I couldn’t wish to be anywhere else (apart from a small village in Herefordshire or Somerset with a decent pub and warm real ale). Back on down the track and yet more wild raspberries just leaning into my path for my delight. Small pleasures which are so seasonal and fleeting are the more pleasurable for a’ that.
Oh, and herself was sat upstairs by the computer when I finally came in again …

At least the cat’s at home

Much to our surprise, The Cat has taken to the new house in no time at all. We kept her in for a few days, which was not without its hazards, because she is only prepared to use her litter tray for pee. Other matters get hidden, and I very nearly sat in one when I was plumbing the washing machine into the pantry.
We’d let her out onto the small patio (for want of a better word for it) a couple of times and been out with her and she was fine with that. On Thursday, we decided just to open the CatFlap and let her get on with it, which she duly did. She is queen of all she surveys now, even to the extent of guarding the house against Spike and Warf, the two cats who used to live here and who now live next door. We have decided that the reason she is so much at home here is that the garden is small and enclosed and reminds her of the town house in Somerset from whence she was removed to Scotland just over a year ago. It is certainly good for us that she’s happy and settled, and it makes the house that bit more like home already.
Sprawly Cat