How to Introduce a Cat to a Chicken, Part 2

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Have you ever wondered if a highly-strung chicken and a naughty young cat could be friends?  Judging by my ‘Friend not Food’ post earlier, you would assume not.

014Doris has never been the brightest chicken in the coop. Throw her a grape and she often stands motionless, staring at you with her beak open, a vacant look in her eyes. The grape can land on the floor directly in front of her, and she will still be gazing up at you.

“It’s there, you daft ‘apeth!” you can exclaim, pointing to the ground.

Only then will Doris look down and gasp (in a chicken-like manner) “Well I’ll be blowed! How the chuffin ‘ell did it get there??”

“It bounced off your beak and landed there when I threw it to you!”  (She’s not called Dim Doris for nothing).

And the plump little hen will shake her head, give a little chuckle and attack the grape viciously. It’s a shame that she doesn’t show the same attack mode when Gloria Chufflepuff appears.

Being a fluffy ninja, Gloria just wants a sparring partner; someone to ambush and chase and slap.  Yet Doris just wants to eat. Therein lies the problem.

Whereas Doris used to dilly dally about in the garden when I called her to bring her back to the coop (much like an errant child: “Hang on a mo, I’ve just found a worm!”), she now scuttles furtively into the relative safety of her enclosure. However Gloria still persists in trying to play.  021Many a time recently I have been replenishing the chicken food in the coop, when I’ve heard a noise from above. As I’ve looked up, I’ve been showered in dirt and cobwebs (dusting the coop isn’t high on Doris’ list of priorities) – only to find a wide-eyed furry face beaming down at me through the coop roof saying, “Oooh look! A CHIKIN!”

I mean, stalking from above?  That’s a bit out of order. Don’t chickens have a right to privacy?  Imagine being slap bang in the middle of a dust bath and looking up to discover a voyeuristic cat ogling you! Shocking.

Once Gloria had mastered the coop-top spying manoeuvre, she decided to take things a step further. There was I, merrily poo-picking in the coop… well I say merrily… maybe I’ve exaggerated a bit there. 067Doris hopped outside, having found an interesting speck of nothingness to peck.  As I followed her out of the coop, I pulled the door closed behind me… and turned to discover a fluffy face looking back at me. Yes, the cat was sitting inside the chicken coop, and the chicken was gleefully stomping about outside in the garden!  Doris thought this was hilarious, and in an act of blatant bravado she kept waddling up and pecking the outside of the enclosure.  I had never seen Gloria so subdued, her whiskers twitching as she blinked her big, green eyes. It wasn’t easy trying to swap the occupants over, believe me.

008Several days later, I had an even bigger surprise: having been bent double whilst undertaking the coop cleaning chores, I stood upright to be confronted by Gloria nonchalantly sauntering out of the pop hole of the chicken house. She then sat at the top of the ramp and had a quick wash, before looking at me with an expression that said, “WHAT??”.  Clearly impressed with the sleeping quarters, she had decided to make herself at home.

We have now got to the point where Gloria accompanies me down to the chicken coop every day. I open the door, Doris waddles out and Gloria bounds in.  014017Sometimes they sit together in the coop, pointing and laughing at me as I clean.  At other times, they play leap frog or rugby with Doris’ yellow ball.  Of course outside the coop, on the grass, Gloria reverts back to her ninja training and Doris often has to dive for cover, clucking loudly in annoyance.

 

So there we have it: yes, a thick chicken and a cheeky cat can be friends. But only if they live together as room-mates in the chicken coop.  Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad – with so many cobwebs down there, Gloria could make excellent use of her beloved feather duster!

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Things We Have Learnt In Gloria’s First Year

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Balloon Peek-a-Boo!

 

We recently celebrated Gloria Chufflepuff’s very first birthday! To mark this major milestone, here is a list of 10 things that she has taught us.

 

Gloria's motto for the dayNo box too small1 No box is ever too small.

2 The recycling bin is an endless source of amusement, with items to chew, mangle and throw about the house, particularly at night.

3 The optimum time to indulge in a spot of feline karaoke is at 4.45am.

4 We will never have a bath alone. Nor use the toilet in peace. Showers may be communal at the very last minute.

5 No bed is out of bounds. Even a bed behind a closed door. Human beds are far more comfortable than a soft, fleecy cat bed. Hell, even a concrete floor is more comfortable than a purpose-made cat bed.

What do you mean it's not my birthday any more?!6 You may dance in your water bowl, but you should never drink from it.

7 Shedding fur is a technical business. The rule: only leave white fur on a dark surface, and dark fur on a light surface.

8 A food bowl can never be too full.

9 It is impossible to play ‘hide and seek’ with a chicken; they squawk unexpectedly at the most inopportune of moments. Even games of ‘tag’ are somewhat one-sided. The best game to play with a chicken is ‘leapfrog’ – if you get it wrong, they provide a wonderfully soft landing.

10 A feather duster can be used for many things including chewing, biting, ambushing, pummelling, ninja warrior practice and carrying around the house using only your mouth. It should most certainly never be used for housework.

A big smile for the camera

 

Teenage Travesties

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Teenage selfie!Recently an email unexpectedly landed with a thud in my inbox. The title made me raise an eyebrow: “Having tricky times now that Gloria is a teenager?

Tricky times? Seriously? Has the sender been secretly watching me through my front room window? Or maybe they’ve been reading this blog…Angel wings

The email merrily continued with the heading “Keeping your kitten in line“. Ha. Ha. Ha. Are you kidding me? Clearly these people have never met Gloria Chufflepuff. I have more success in keeping my 3 boys in line than I do this rambunctious explosion of fluff. Don’t let those ‘angel wing’ markings on her back fool you.

An endless supply of dental floss for GloriaShe may have a few bad habits…” You don’t say!  Are we talking about swinging from curtains, toppling scratching posts and pulling towels from rails to throw around the room? Or maybe partying in the litter tray at all hours of the night. Do we also include sitting in front of the television screen so that nobody can watch it? Half-eaten remains...with cat teeth marksOr eating freshly baked goods meant for a cake sale at school? Hmmm. What about wearing the standard lampshade as a hat and using the tassels as dental floss? Riiight.

Does she ignore you, hide or clash with other pets?” Tick, tick and, oh yes, tick. Although it’s not so much ignoring you as answering back. You see, Gloria just loves to have the last word, no matter what the debate. She is particularly gobby, albeit in a cute, cuddly way of course.
Not the best camouflage gear, but a great colour match for the eyes...Hiding? Are we talking about trying to camouflage herself by sitting in the recycling bin with a baked bean can wrapper on her head? That’s just one way to try and ambush an unsuspecting human. (There are many more, believe me…) I think the picture says it all, eh?
Clashing with other pets: maybe we should just head down to the chicken coop to answer that one. Or read my last blog post here:  Friend Not Food!

AttitudeMake the Rules” read the next heading. Oh do come on! Really? “Now is the time to nip any behavioural problems in the bud…” continued the email. I smiled in a self-satisfied way. You see, some progress has been made in this department.
Popping balloons and gagging on the soggy remains = tie balloons up high out of the reach of pole-vaulting cats.
Eating flowers and poisoning herself =  keep your house boring and drab by refusing all offers of cut flowers and house plants.
Turning on kitchen taps = turn off water supply to house. Oh no. Wait. That won’t do. Remove taps? No. Redesign kitchen? No! Oh.
Repeatedly trapping herself in bathroom at night = remove bathroom door. No! *sigh*
OK so maybe we haven’t made much progress on that either.

Let’s go back to the email. Next heading: “Manipulative Moggies“. Ah. Right. “Do you feel controlled by your cat?” Now you’re talking. I mean, how do you deal with a cat who sits in the middle of the kitchen floor shouting, “HAM!” each time you make a sandwich? The advice is usually to ignore such behaviour, yet how can you ignore an elite fluffy ninja who can give an ankle a friendly nip, climb up human legs using claws alone or somersault onto the kitchen worktop at lightning speed? Controlled by our cat? Tick.

The TeenagerSo there you have it. All boxes ticked on the email. Yes, we have definitely hit Gloria’s teenage years.

The action plan?

Absolutely nothing.

A Feline Facial?

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The day that Gloria realised she could jump onto the kitchen worktop gave no cause for celebration.

She had spent some little while jumping up and performing what could only be described as a ‘Scooby Doo scrabble’, moving all 4 fluffy feet together in a manic frenzy as she landed on the edge of the worktop and fell off. Repeatedly. Never one to be deterred, she clearly decided it was worth persevering with this charade, mainly because it could lead to an impromptu munch on some otherwise forbidden food that had been left unattended to cool.

Antici.....pation!

Antici…..pation!

Of course, once she actually managed to stay up on the working top, she realised that there was something even more exciting to be discovered: running water. Oh yes.

The first I knew of this was when, having been out, I returned to find Gloria sitting beside the kitchen sink with her head bobbing up and down as she watched the water running from the taps with fascination. She was so entranced that she even failed to notice me standing there watching her, hands on hips, shaking my head.

“Why you little…!” I exclaimed. Only then did she avert her gaze and look at me with an expression that said, “Wow! Oh wow! Did you know this would happen if you push that shiny bit forwards?!”

Not wanting to miss any of the action, she then turned her attention back to the continuous stream of water. Turning off the tap, I grabbed Gloria, placed her firmly on the floor and said in a very stern voice, “No!”

Not that she took much notice of course; with a flick of her fluffy tail, she raised her nose in the air, gave an indignant <chirrup> and padded off in the opposite direction.

I’m sure it goes without saying that this rigmarole continued for the next few days. Word for word. Action for action. Until one day the situation escalated. You see, Gloria discovered 2 things that day: the hot tap and the plug. Together.

Who knew taps could be so much fun?She cleverly chose a day when most of us were out, leaving a rather unobservant Handsome Hubby home alone with his little fluffy charge. The first he knew of Gloria’s new discoveries was when, having been pottering in the garden, he wandered inside only to hear running water. Yet the water wasn’t running free. Oh no. He could hear it collecting. As he sauntered into the kitchen, he couldn’t believe his eyes: the sink was full to the brim with steaming hot water, with the chuff of a cat sitting beside it, almost clapping her fluffy paws together with glee. Maybe her pores (or paws? Oooh what a pun) needed cleaning, who knows? Handsome Hubby shot across to the sink and turned off the tap. Had he been but a few minutes later, the sink would have overflowed with red hot water all down the cupboard and across the floor.

Pucker up

Hmmm I think I need a facial

Clearly disappointed that her fun facial had been abruptly cut short, Gloria jumped down onto the (thankfully dry) floor and crept off into the lounge to sulk, leaving Handsome Hubby to empty the sink and heave a big sigh of relief (whilst wondering how the hell the cat managed to put the plug in the plughole!).

 

Luckily the bath taps are of a different design: you turn them not push them. So Gloria has to wait for a member of staff to turn those on. That doesn’t prevent her from sitting on the side of the bath to splash the water as it runs from the taps though. No bathtime goes unsupervised with a Chufflepuff in the house. It’s like living with a penguin who insists on wearing a designer fur coat.

Mind if I join you in the bath?

Mind if I join you in the bath?

Friend not Food!

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Doris DooDah has recently changed her name; not by choice but out of necessity. She is now known as Doris ‘friend not food’ DooDah. The reason? Yep, you guessed it: one over-enthusiastic fluffy gladiator named Gloria Chufflepuff.

052We recently decided it was time for Gloria and Doris to meet. Having seen the way Gloria likes to chew an ornamental chicken that we received as a gift, a series of supervised playdates seemed the safest thing to do. Let me give you the run down so far:

Eye contact!

Playdate 1 – through the patio door.
Aim: to let Doris potter about the garden whilst Gloria watches through the glass.
Result: chicken spied cat and squawked in panic. Cat spied chicken, licked her lips, pounced and headbutted the patio door.
Verdict: worrying.

I smell chicken!

I smell chicken!

Playdate 2 – at the coop.
Aim: to take Gloria down to the coop to see Doris through the safety of the coop wall.
Result: chicken spied cat and crowed continuously in a state of sheer panic. Cat spied chicken, paced the perimeter of the coop in a sly, scheming manner then pounced at the mesh enclosure, tufty paws ready for action.
Verdict: could have gone better.

007Playdate 3 – face to face.
Aim: to let cat and chicken out in the garden together, using a human shield between them.
Result: Cat behaved surprisingly well and spent an eternity stalking the chicken in a protracted game of ‘follow my leader’. Chicken couldn’t believe her luck.
Verdict: just plain odd.

Stalking...Playdate 4 – sharing the garden.
Aim: to let cat and chicken socialise in the garden together, since the last playdate went so well.
Result: cat spied chicken and went into full-on hunt mode* (*wiggling bum, stamping feet, flattened ears) leading to ninja battle cry and ambush. Chicken’s eyes went the size of saucers, accompanied by incessant clucking, squawking and use of various chicken expletives (note to self: must apologise to the neighbours)
Verdict: disaster. Chicken needed a grape to calm down.

Doris DooDah is not amused!Playdate 5 – hired protection
Aim: to escort the chicken safely around the garden, chanting ‘friend not food’ whilst cat watches in a perplexed heap.
Result: sons no 2 and 3, along with me, formed a guard of honour around the chicken, who was escorted safely to a bear chair, where she sat beside me and blew raspberries at the cat. Cat sat in the shade and sulked.
Verdict: labour intensive but stress-free.

Playdate 6 – retaliation.
Aim: for the chicken to ‘man up’ and sort the cat out.
Result: chicken was escorted to bear chair again, using full guard of honour. Cat skedaddled under chair and lurked about, eyeing up the fat chicken above her. Chicken panicked and shot a projectile turd in the cat’s direction – missed the cat, hit a ‘guard’ who promptly resigned. Cat disgusted (and slightly impressed), scurried off to fight a butterfly.
Verdict: success. For a day.

Disgusted...but slightly impressed

Disgusted…but slightly impressed

A Rather Sickly Affair

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Who me?

Gloria has taught us many things in the few months since we adopted her, one of the biggest being ‘how to poison your cat’.

Take the first episode – drinking from a flower vase containing cut daffodils. Harmless enough for a cat, or so you would think. Wrong!

“Mum! The cat’s frothing at the mouth!” came the cry from son no 2.

Just a little slurp

Just a little slurp

And indeed she was. There followed a bout of heaving and groaning underneath the dining room table. Having spent most of the morning removing her face from the daffodil vase, I deduced that the flower water was the cause. A quick call to the vet, who checked with toxicology, confirmed my suspicions. Oh good. Luckily the effects weren’t expected to last for more than 24 hours. So we passed a quiet evening, with Gloria Chufflepuff feeling really quite sorry for herself. Shame.

The following morning, I came out of the shower to discover that our crazy feline had snaffled a cotton reel. Not only that, but she had thrown it around so much that the end of the reel had come free. I was greeted with a lounge covered in streams of cotton: think Spiderman’s den, but with a home-made flair. Two things came to mind: either our chuff of a cat had made a full recovery or she had instead ingested a mutant spider (rather than daffodil juice) thus creating a psycho-spider-cat. Despite son no 3 desperately hoping for the latter, it became apparent as she scampered about the house that the Chufflepuff had recovered. Phew.

Just a spot of flower arranging. Honest. Slurp.

Just a spot of flower arranging. Honest. Slurp.

Fast forward a few weeks…yes it did actually take a few weeks of Gloria attempting to eat anything and everything in the house, before she yet again managed to poison herself – this time by chewing on a beautiful Gerbera plant that I had gratefully received as a gift. What made it worse is that I’d already reluctantly given away a gorgeous bunch of flowers that very day, assuming that she’d make a direct bee-line for them the moment I placed them in a vase. Grrr.

Yet again we had 24 hours of sickness and lethargy coupled with a bit of a runny tummy. Just as I was on the verge of calling the vet for advice, Gloria seemed to make a fortunate recovery…in good time for us to host our smallest boy’s birthday party the following day. Yes her timing was impeccable, as always.

So to set the scene some 24 hours later…it was 1.55pm: balloons and banners – tick; food prepared – tick; bouncy slide in the garden – tick. Our neighbours were already here; all we needed was a heap of rambunctious invitees to turn up. Then the inevitable happened – yes, that’s right: the chuffin cat’s rear end suddenly exploded in spectacular fashion. As I said earlier, impeccable timing. Cue lots of frantic shovelling in the litter tray as I cleared away the rancid evidence, whilst madly spraying a can of air freshener around the room to try and eradicate the overwhelming stench. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the chuffin cat not then decided to run off, deposit herself on the floor of the dining room and rub her arse across the carpet in front of our rather bemused neighbour, who was left wondering if this was all part of the entertainment.

Can I hear my food bowl calling?

Can I hear my food bowl calling?

As handsome hubby grabbed the cat under her armpits and bolted outside, I grabbed some antibacterial wipes and threw them at son no 2, whilst shouting, “Just scrub!!!” and pointing at the putrid tramlines burning a hole in the carpet. I then found some wet wipes and shot outside to join handsome hubby with the somewhat perplexed fetid cat. One look at the state of the cat’s feculent fluffy trousers told me that the wipes were rather an inadequate choice.

Then the doorbell rang: the first guests had arrived. Oh good. Perfect in fact.

Directing handsome hubby to go round the side of the house, I ran through the lounge (skirting round the rapidly disappearing tram lines in the dining room) to the front door to greet an army of excited young boys.

“Straight through to the garden!” I ushered, trying not to sound too panicky whilst wafting the air around me.

Thank goodness the only things on the boys’ minds were “where’s the bouncy slide?” and “which Nerf gun can I use?” How I love having boys!

“Bit of an incident with the cat,” I whispered to the confused parents who followed on behind.

Meanwhile down the side of the house, handsome hubby and son no 1 were having to shower Gloria’s fluffy trousers using a hosepipe. Yes, really.

The only option was then to shut our soddened cat in a cloakroom for the duration of the party, complete with water, litter tray, towels and copious sheets of newspaper. All that was missing was a good book. To be fair, she seemed to quite enjoy herself in there…until she realised that her food bowl was missing. Clearly, by completely and violently evacuating her bowels, Gloria had made more room for grub – talk about a silver lining. Marvellous. Needless to say, the rest of the party passed without incident, as did the cat in the cloakroom (apart from the frequent shouts of “HAM!” each time I opened the door to check on her).

A Magnificent Pair of Fluffy Trousers

A Magnificent Pair of Fluffy Trousers

The following day I gave Gloria a really good groom, complete with a quick bum fur trim – her fluffy trousers were most unruly after the trauma of the previous day – but thankfully the poisoning debacle had completely passed.

All of this led me to an important conclusion: a poisoning episode should only affect your cat for 24 hours, unless you have an important function the following day; in that case, and only that case, it will last for a full 48 hours.

Grrrrrr Gloooorrrrriiiiiaaaaaaa!!!!

A Morning Call

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It’s morning. You open one eye and glimpse daylight. You twitch your ears to listen for the birds. Yes! The birds are singing, the sun has risen; it’s time to wake up and dance and sing. And eat. First priority: check the status of your foodbowl. Hmmm. Disappointingly it’s only half full. Which really means it’s empty *sigh*

Is anybody awake yet?

Is anybody awake yet?

So where the heck are your your human staff?! This is something of a catastrophe.

A quick patrol of the staff sleeping quarters reveals that, as you suspected, the humans are all asleep. How did you end up with such lazy staff?! They’ve been asleep for hours. Meanwhile you’re completely neglected. Not to mention starving. How very rude of them.

You look at the clock beside a slumbering human (well, that’s the first thing they check when they wake). The numbers read 4:15. You have no idea what that means, but the lights look quite enticing. Mimicking your human, you swat the display with your fat, tufty paw. The clock clatters to the floor and your human groans but doesn’t move. What a disappointing start to the day.

Ah, the fun to be had knocking bottles off the bathroom windowsill into the bath.

Ah, the fun to be had knocking bottles off the bathroom windowsill into the bath.

So you saunter off to the bathroom to test out the acoustics. Launching yourself nimbly onto the windowsill, you sit and survey the scene. There’s not much room so you nudge a couple of plastic bottles and watch as they fall with a rattle into the bath. How satisfying was that! You topple a couple more containers with your paw, just for good measure. Then you start to sing. And trill. And chirrup. What a marvellous array of noises. Then it’s time to jump down from the windowsill and land in the bath, amongst the bottles, with a resounding thud.

Boxing the towels comes next, pulling them off the rails and leaving them in a crumpled heap on the floor: every last one.

Wait a minute! Is that your food bowl calling you again? As you scamper off, you decide that it would be better to take the scenic route: mountaineering across the back of the furniture and swinging on the curtains, using only your claws. This is, after all, the perfect opportunity to practice your training as a fluffy ninja.

A neglected fluffy ninja

A neglected fluffy ninja

And yes, you note with disappointment that your food bowl is still empty* (*only half full). What a neglected fluffy ninja you are. As you look forlornly at your bowl, the realisation hits you – it would be a great idea to make a little more room for food if and when your human staff ever decide to get up.

You head on over to your litter tray, tufty paws striding purposefully across the carpet. When using your tray, you can never underestimate how important it is to dig deep. Very deep. With both paws. Woo hoo! Party time! Only when you have laid your stink pod do you turn around and notice all the nuggets of cat litter scattered across the floor. How disgusting. Your human staff really should keep the house somewhat cleaner than this. You step out of your tray, shaking each foot vigorously as you do so.

Getting into position for a loud morning serenade

Getting into position for a loud morning serenade

Now you really are ready for some grub. A final full-bodied serenade of your favourite tune brings a bleary-eyed human staggering to the door – just in the nick of time before you pass out from starvation.

After a good munch, you notice that your human staff member has gone back to sleep. Again. How very lazy. Although it seems only fair that you join them in their repose to keep them company. So you curl up on their face.

Frustratingly, it’s not long before your human wakes up, pushes you aside and stumbles off to grab a large mug that they fill with a hot, steaming black liquid. Yet with a full belly, you are now ready for a long snooze. Why do humans keep such strange hours?

Snuggles