I promised you cat news, and here I am, delivering cat news.
Like a boss.
Derek and the kittens have settled into a mostly uneasy truce in the house. I say mostly uneasy, the kittens love Derek and are at ease all the time, everywhere, with everyone, because they have the most gigantic egos of any cats I have ever met and automatically assume that everyone loves them and all will be well, all of the time. Derek still dislikes them intensely, but I’d say we’ve gone from a simmering rage to a low level of ‘farkinell, what have those pair of utter dickheads done now?’
As we know, Derek was very inexperienced at being a cat when she arrived at our house. She has, over the years, been putting in the work which sees her increasingly embracing her feline heritage. The kittens have been something of a revelation to her, revelling as they do in 100% cattitude 24/7.
She spends quite a lot of her time sitting on the arm of the sofa or ensconced in the middle of the kitchen table as they romp around her, swinging off light fittings, shinning up curtains and rolling like tumbleweed through the highways and byways of the house. She is studying them. I know this, because occasionally she will flurry into life, replicating something she has seen them do to see whether she likes it or not. Generally she only does it once before abandoning that activity forever, but who knows? Maybe she’s storing up all the individual actions until she has an entire cat routine, which she will roll out in splendour one day in the future, like a proud gymnast on the mat. For now though, she’s just practicing and biding her time.
Take, for example, this last Thursday, where I spent a lot of the day hunched over my kitchen table sewing and making. Normally I can do this with absolutely no trouble whatsoever because Derek is not the kind of cat who feels compelled to get involved with things like threads and shiny needles, and deliciously bristly pin cushions, or shoving buttons off the table and killing them. The kittens however, are a different story.
I was attempting to make a skirt out of 12 metres of assorted sari fabrics. This was quite the task for many reasons. Firstly, 12 metres of material is hella heavy. Secondly I cannot sew for shit, and thirdly the kittens thought this was the best thing that has ever happened in their short, furry lives to date. This was for them, the equivalent of a day out at Alton Towers complete with unlimited access to sugary snacks.
They jumped on all the folds of material just after I had carefully draped and pinned them, forcing the already straining pins to shoot out and across the floor, where they had to be repeatedly rescued for fear of one of the kittens actually embedding one in their paws. They got inside the skirt and shinned up the dummy inside. They did variations on this, with one on the inside and one on the outside attempting to swarm up the seething folds of kitten filled fabric. When I picked them out and forcibly removed them, they decided this was part of the most excellent game and redoubled their efforts.
After this they decided to split up and come in at different angles, because after all, there was only one of me, and I couldn’t be everywhere. Hence one of them trying to flick the pin cushion off the table, while the other dove head first into the sari fabric. This went on for some time. I’d say it’s the most active I’ve been since the advent of the cold from hell. I think I did my ten thousand steps and some.
Derek simply watched and waited, hunkered down on the table.
After the sari skirt activity, I had to start making a collar. This involved lengths of wire, ribbon and beads. The kittens were very enthusiastic. Just imagine being helped by a, hyperactive toddler who is unable to ever listen to you because they are shouting: ‘HALPIN! HALPIN! I ARE HELPIN SO VERY GOOD RIGHT NOW. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME HALPIN WITH ALL THE HALP IN MY VERY BONES. I ARE BLIRIANT.’ Then times that by two. There were beads and ribbon and bits of wire flying about everywhere and I was quite fed up. I spent a lot of time mumbling things like: “I bet bloody Christian Bloody Dior never had to make the New Look with the help of bloody cats.” etc.
After about four hours of non-stop helping, the kittens were quite worn out and had to go and have a lie down. I seized the day, and sat quietly with all my accoutrements laid out on the kitchen table, threading and wiring and ribboning away. I’d just picked up a lovely string of beads when Derek, who had been sitting amidst it all like a small, furry hovercraft, leapt up, swiped the beads out of my hand, flung them across the room and then ran away from herself. I don’t know which one of us was more shocked, frankly.
In other feline news, the battle for cat supremacy is still very much being fought. There has to be a top cat, and up to now it has been Derek, largely because she’s the grumpiest one of all. In recent days however, Anorak has been on the move and I am sure that before the spring is out, he will be on top of the pile.
Ronnie P, who has nothing in his head but clouds and fluff, is resolutely at the bottom of the pile and will remain there for evermore. He would be hurt about this, except that he can’t hold two thoughts in his head at any given time and therefore can only be sad for a brief period until something shiny catches his eye and all is forgotten.
Anorak is all about deep thought. He never loses his temper. If a fight is in the offing he removes himself from the scene and goes to his study where he thinks things through and comes back with his next move. It’s not so much that he will be top cat, he will be head of the household by Christmas and we will all be under his sway.
It’s a good job that he’s a benevolent dictator, otherwise we’d be in real trouble. He’s very gentle. He doesn’t like cuddles much, but he does love to be loved, so instead of cuddles he likes to boop noses with you. If he’s feeling particularly affectionate he will wind round your ankles, usually as you’re about to come downstairs, because he still has a lot of cat in him, despite his interesting ways. Don’t be surprised if I rock up with a neck collar on or with my leg in plaster one day.
His way of dealing with Derek is fascinating. He watches and watches her, and then, when he’s decided he’s going to give it a go with her, he comes as close to her as he can before she seethes at him. As soon as she makes her displeasure clear, rather than puffing up and challenging her, he flops down, shows her his belly and washes his paw. She is so confused by this she gives up and goes away, and every day, Anorak pushes it a little further. Last week, he came trotting round the corner, nudged her face out of her food bowl, and ate some of her biscuits. She was so shocked she stood back and let him and as soon as the shock wore off and she started to swear, he flopped over and submitted. Then her brain exploded, and he pottered gently off into the distance.
Last night, she was cuddled up on the sofa and he was on the arm, watching her. After a bit, he climbed up onto the back of the sofa, crept along it and down, right in front of her face. She sat watching him in stupefaction. They were probably two inches apart at this point. He reached out with a paw and booped her gently on the nose. She made a sound like a kettle and he retracted his paw, shinned backwards up the sofa and flopped back on the arm again as if nothing extraordinary had happened. He fell asleep almost instantly and she sat staring at him in utter bewilderment, as did I.
It’s all to play for, but if I were a betting woman, my money would be on Anorak.