"Cats are creatures of habit," my parents would say to me about 18 months ago, whenever I whinged on about getting a cat. As though 18 years of Felix had never happened and I was under the impression that having a cat was a bit like having a pet can of baked beans in terms of responsibility (the added advantage of a can of baked beans is that you can also eat your pet with a minimum of mess if you ever get peckish). However, I would like to now respond to such adages as "cats thrive on routine" with one witty riposte: BOLLOCKS.
I live with a creature that is more inconstant than a pregnant woman hyped up on caffeine. I have to adapt to whatever habitual whim he’s exhibiting at any given point. For example: around January, when I finally caved in to the constant whining outside the bedroom door and let him sleep on the bed and, having got his wish, he then slept on the bed every night for several months. Always in the same spot – the other side of the bed to me (my side is next to the alarm clock, bedside lamp, glass of water and other bedtime accoutrements. This is important. I’m not giving up being within arm’s reach of the snooze button for anything). Then he went through a phase of spending every night in his basket. Much nicer for me, I get a night’s sleep without being periodically woken up by the prodding of paws into my arm or fishy breath in my face. Now, he’s back on the bed but with a subtle difference. He wants my side.
I don’t know what it is. Maybe it smells more strongly of me. Maybe it’s less far to walk after the initial jumping-on and he’s practising to be even more of a fat, lazy, bastard. Or maybe he’s just reached that particular section of the ‘how to drive your human crazy’ Cat Manual that he must have stashed under the sofa. And so, every night is now a familiar routine of tipping the cat off my side of the duvet, a flashing of claws as he tries to cling on/sculpt my hand into something not-hand-shaped and a pathetic mewling to illustrate just how evil I’m being. Then I must hop into bed quick smart, otherwise he’ll be straight onto the turned-down duvet and curl up with a gleam of malevolent satisfaction in his eyes. And then, just to make the point, he’ll spend the night flattened out between my body and the edge of the bed. It’s only a matter of time before there’s a comedy falling-off-the-bed moment that results in a not-so-comedic and actually-rather-expensive trip to the vet to repair a damaged and bloody head.
And it doesn’t just stop at my side of the bed. He’s also attempting to colonise the few remaining sitting places that are mine. Several times last week I came home to discover him sitting on the sofa, not on the side with a big scrunched up throw so he can flex his claws without shredding the cushions, but on the side with virgin, unshredded, sofa cushion, last week’s papers and the remote (maybe this is a feline version of the Princess and the Pea? When a cat is so, *ahem*, self-padded and royally looked after that it can’t feel the remote through the rolls of fat?). I’ve also watched him make as if to jump onto my computer chair – the very arse-resting implement I perch on now – until I made "don’t you bastard dare" noises and he slunk off.
Which brings me to this afternoon. I was sure he was in the flat but couldn’t see him anywhere – not my bed, his bed, the sofa, the chair by the window, the rug, not sitting in the Abel and Cole box I left in the hallway on Wednesday that he’s decided is the perfect spot to have a wash (that’s one box that will not be getting returned – organic veg and cat fluff, mmm). Fair enough; though the last time I thought I’d lost him he turned out to be under the bedclothes – oh yes, under – so I even had a look there. Nothing. *shrug* Must be out.
Bit later I forced myself to clean the floors – something which, in all previous dwellings, I did maybe as often as once a month, but now due to the influx of cat hair once a week seems slatternly – and was begrudgingly giving the living room a cursory sweep. Of course he was lying on the computer chair. And to judge by the amount of hair swept up after he’d been brutally evicted, it wouldn’t be the first time. I swear, if he starts sleeping on the kitchen chairs I’ll kill him. The kitchen chairs are upholstered in white. They’re always tucked under the table and just getting up there would probably involve a concussion-worthy headbang, but I’m not putting it past him…
We’ll be back to normal in a couple of weeks. Or he’ll have developed some new habit. Perhaps he’ll become a sink sleeper for a while. Or only eat cornflakes. Whatever it is, he’ll abandon it, never to be spoken of again, at just the point I start to adjust.
Got to keep me on my toes, right?