How To Age 10 years in 1 Week – Part 2

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So in the past 5 days, you must have aged about 5 years. By the end of the week you’ve aged even more.  The story continues…

After a tense ‘phone call, you race back to the vet to collect your poorly cat. You pace up and down the waiting room nervously. What is taking so long? When the vet calls you into his consulting room, your stomach starts to somersault. “She’s been on a drip all day, so we’re not worried if she won’t eat or drink,” he says. “It’s her breathing we need to watch. Count her respirations – they should be between 20 and 30 per minute. If her breathing becomes more laboured, ring this number immediately and we will admit her again. Otherwise, we’ll see her tomorrow.”

The nurse brings your blue cat carrier through and hands it to you. Somewhere in there, hiding in the darkness, is your precious animal, relying on you for some intensive tlc. No pressure.

033“She hasn’t used the litter tray all day, so we’ve given her a laxative,” explains the nurse. You look across at the cage where your cat has been hyperventilating all day, and you can’t help but notice that the litter tray is full of what looks like the layers pellets you feed to your chickens each day. Feeling your lips twitch into a small smile, you realise that your poor chuffin cat wouldn’t have known whether to crap in it or eat it.

“Erm, how long will it be before the laxative takes effect?” you ask, nervously eyeing the cat carrier.

“Oh not long, maybe 10 minutes,” replies the nurse cheerfully. “We’ve put an incontinence pad in there for her, just in case.”

The laxative actually takes 9 minutes to work… whereas you take 10 minutes to get home. As you turn into the lane down which you live, your chuffin cat lets out a strangulated whine and the air fills with a putrid stench. Luckily, as the mum of 3 boys, you are adept at driving with your head poking through the side window. Now who’s hyperventilating?

“Oh Pooh!” you exclaim, as ironically that is the nickname you call your chuffin cat at home. “Oh poo!” you exclaim again, referring to the odorous deposit your cat has unhappily made, as the stink wafts through the window and past your nose.

Unfortunately the lane is littered with potholes, which you do your best to avoid, particularly those that make the car lurch suddenly from side to side. You are sure that your cat’s luxurious fur would make a great spreading brush, but not in a cat carrier full of crap.  When you reach home, you carefully grab the carrier and stagger as rapidly as you can through the lounge, ignoring the bemused faces of your boys who are eagerly awaiting the return of their much-loved pet. The stink that follows you through the house soon wipes the looks off their faces.  Imagine the ‘Bisto kid’ advert, but in reverse.

Chuffin cat on the prowlHaving placed the carrier on a washable floor, you hold your breath whilst carefully lifting off the lid on what has become your cat’s unintentional portable litter tray. Your cat slowly totters out and you relax as you see that she’s quite clean, having laid her reluctant turds in one corner of the carrier: no mean feat for a large cat in a confined space. You observe your cat making her way round the room flicking her paw out as she tries to get a bandage off her leg. She also adds a flick of the tail every so often, for a bit of variety. It’s like watching ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’ from Monty Python – flick, swish, wobble, flick, flick, swish.

You make her a nest near the fire, padded with bubble wrap (one of her favourite things) and lined with son no 3’s fluffy hoodie (another of her favourite things). Gently you place her in the nest, and sit with her to ensure she is happy and settled. She looks at you gratefully, closes her eyes and purrs a little (one of your favourite things). You count her respirations regularly and feel your mood lifting as the count decreases: from 60 per minute, then 40 and finally when she dozes off a magnificent 29. Just what the vet ordered.

Later, you make a bed up on the settee to enable you to nurse your poorly cat through the night. When the rest of the family have gone to bed, you snuggle down under your duvet and your heart swells as you feel the ton weight of your beautiful chuffin cat land on your bladder. Your bladder also swells during the night, but you don’t want to disturb the sleeping beauty crushing your body, so you lay there listening to her gentle snores… now down to 21 per minute. Perfect. A Chuffin SmirkBy the morning you are sure that the circulation has been cut off to your legs, but still Her Chuffness is deep in slumber. Eventually you place your hands under the duvet and strain to lift the lead weight off your body. She stirs and lets out a whinge, but still doesn’t move. You manage to slide clumsily off the settee and land with a thud on the floor, due to pins and needles in both legs which makes coordination particularly difficult. As you look up, is that a small smirk you see on the chuffin cat’s face? That would be right.

That morning you take her back to the vet. You can report that she has started to groom a little, and has even eaten a little tuna – oh yes, she couldn’t believe her eyes: a plate of tuna, and you hand feeding her too. Shame she spilt much of it on your duvet, bearing in mind you have an aversion to the mere whiff of fish. The vet is most pleased, albeit still a little concerned about her breathing. He thinks she has a virus and decides that you can keep nursing her at home, he doses her up on painkillers and hands you a packet of antibiotics (to prevent any secondary infection). You look at the tablets, and then look at the chuffin cat. She hates taking tablets as much as you hate giving them to her. These have to be given twice a day too. Double whammy. Still, the best news is that she won’t be kept in. You pick her up off the examination table and she reaches up to pin her paws around your neck, clinging to you koala-style. She clearly hasn’t heard what the vet said, so you reassure her and willingly accept the hug. Then the warning: the vet says to watch her carefully and that 24 – 48 hours after she’s finished the tablets, she could suddenly go downhill, giving you emergency numbers to ring if that happens. She would then need a chest x-ray, something he had wanted to avoid due to her severe ‘white coat syndrome’ (sound familiar?!). He also wants you to ring him at 5pm sharp with a further update on her condition.

Having delicately stuffed the chuffin cat back into her cat carrier, you head on home feeling happier. You’ve already rung ahead and asked son no 1 to go and buy a litter tray, as the chuffin cat has to remain indoors – something she has always rebelled against, being very much an outdoors kinda feline; how else would she keep the rodent population in order?

Arriving home, this time minus the noxious fumes, you are delighted to see the chuffin cat amble towards her food bowl and survey the contents. She looks up at you and gives a small <miaow>, You approach her and start to gently slap her rump – something she likes you to do as she eats (yes, really!). The sound of her teeth crunching on the biscuits is music to your ears.

Son no 1 appears home with his purchases: a litter tray the size of a small skip (“She’s a big cat, mum!”) a mahoosive bag of litter (not that which looks like the chicken food) and a bag of catnip (not for use in the giant litter tray). He hands you the bill: just over £20!! You could have made one for less than that!

Poorly chuffin cat and sick chicken comparing symptomsYou now have a dilemma: don’t forget your sick chicken who wants to accompany you in the garden, at the same time as you need to be nursing your sick cat who has to remain indoors. Hmmm. How does that work then? You place a chair by the patio door and pad it with a soft towel, in the hope the chuffin cat will sit there and enable you to watch her whilst you and Cobweb Gladys peruse the garden foliage. Of course, the cat sits underneath the chair on the hard floor, clearly miffed that she has to share your attention. Cobweb Gladys on the other hand, seems to be improving daily, growing stronger and eating more.

Later, you need to collect son no 3 from school. Having put the chickens away, you ask your Handsome Husband to keep an eye and make sure that the chuffin cat doesn’t go outside. Cue a telephone call just as you reach the school: “Erm, I’ve lost the cat”

“You’ve done what?? How on earth can you lose a sick cat? She’s not exactly going anywhere very fast!” You can feel the exasperation rising in your voice.

“Where was she when you left home?” he asks.

“Under the chair by the patio door, sulking” you reply, wondering what on earth you are going to tell the vet at 5pm. (“Erm, yeah the cat, right. She was great the last time I saw her… then my husband lost her, so she’s been busy outside doing all the things on the naughty list that she shouldn’t be doing.”)

Of course whilst his back is turned, the chuffin cat has crawled into a box. Clearly starting to feel better, she is up for a game of hide and seek. It’s apparent that your Handsome Husband doesn’t spend enough time with his feline charge. Evidently she is in a box, behind a chair, in the corner of the room. Where else would she be? How inadequate of him not to know that.

Her Chuffness convalescing outsideHaving located the chuffin cat you ring the vet, as requested, at 5pm, You update him  – she is now eating, drinking and wanting to go out. He reiterates that you need to keep an eye on her, but agrees that she can go outside if she is pestering you. He’s getting to know your cat well. You are delighted to spend what is left of the afternoon in the garden with your pair of poorly pets, letting the sunshine bathe them both in warmth and happiness.

The following day, your chuffin cat needs to start her course of antibiotics. Cats and tablets are not a great mix in general, but when that cat is THE chuffin cat, things usually get completely out of hand. Yes, we are talking riot police on standby. The first tablet is administered with great difficulty – lots of fighting, scrabbling, clamping of jaws, shaking of heads and general riotous attitude.  Not necessarily just from the chuffin cat. Of course, by the evening you are better prepared: large towel, suit of armour, gauntlets, goggles, big syringe of water and one fluorescent pink tablet on the table beside you. The result? Her Chuffness takes one look at you, surveys the scene, swipes the tablet and swallows it herself in one gulp. Yes, really. What a splendid idea; why didn’t you think of that yourself?

20141027-003201-1921873.jpgAs the week goes by, Cobweb Gladys recovers tremendously. You realise she is feeling better when you find her pottering about the dining room, eating the cat’s food whilst standing on the mat which reads ‘Beware of the Cat’. Her large red comb has gradually risen by several degrees each day, so that now it is pert at 12 o’clock where it should be.

Chuffin cat chillingYou spend a nervous 48 hours after the chuffin cat has finished her meds, watching her like a hawk to see if she deteriorates in any way.  She remains stable if a little quiet. Then the crucial moment arrives, as you walk across the lounge, when you are ambushed, rugby tackled and tunefully serenaded by your one and only chuffin cat. You realise how much you’ve missed that rebellious attitude and furry mischief.  Bring it on in leaps and bounds, literally.  Life would not be the same without Her Chuffness, let alone your thick chicken causing mayhem and shouting obscenities across the garden.

How to Age 10 Years in 1 Week – Part 1

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Cobweb Gladys - 3 days oldTake one small white chicken: a much-loved little hen who you have raised for the past 6 1/2 years, after adopting her as a 1 day old chick. Go down to the coop one day and find that little hen looking very sorry for herself – her head hung low and her usually pert comb flopping heavily over her left eye. Not so much Pirate Pete, think more along the lines of ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody from Harry Potter.

So you go to the kitchen and you cook up some scrambled egg, adding a tasteful garnish of fresh parsley. Your Handsome Husband enters the kitchen. “Oooh scrambled egg!” he says appreciatively.

“Think again!” you reply with a frown. “This is for Cobweb Gladys.”

As you head out of the door, leaving him salivating and somewhat perplexed, you add, “There’s some bread on the side, you can have that.”

Wife of the Year, that’s me.

You place the tasty breakfast in front of your little hen, and sigh as she refuses to eat it. You let both chickens out into the garden, and follow the poorly hen’s every move like a crazed stalker. Over the next few hours you pick random leaves and offer them to her to peck, marvelling at the variety of greenery on offer for the average garden-dwelling omnivore. Then you sigh again as you realise that what minute amounts of food or drink make it into your little hen’s beak, soon squirt out the other end twice as fast…that’s if it doesn’t dribble out of her beak first.

Cobweb Gladys SelfieLeaving your boys on sick chicken duty, you head indoors to cook your little hen a nice bowl of warm rice, mixed with chopped grapes and mealworm. You put tonic in her drinking water (minus the gin) and take it all down to the coop. Your little hen stands at your feet, so you pick her up and tuck her under your arm. She nestles against you and blinks slowly.

“What’s happened, Cobweb Gladys?” you ask in a soft voice. You feel so helpless; you’ve never seen your little hen look so poorly. She just closes her eyes and bows her head. You place her down gently on the dirt floor of the coop and she slowly makes her way up the ramp to the hen house…oh so slowly. Meanwhile her sister, Dim Doris, munches noisily on the treats that you have provided, wondering if it’s her birthday or maybe Christmas, but not really caring either way.

The next couple of days pass in much the same way. You miss the coarseness of your hen’s voice shouting obscenities at you from across the garden, the way she always scuttles towards you at full pelt from the moment she spies you. You dose and you nurture and you cook; oh yes, you cook up all sorts of treats to tempt her.

By the fourth day it is raining, but you still let your little hen out of the coop – she only wants to be near you, even if that means sitting in a chair under an umbrella, listening to the rhythmic tap, tap, tap of the raindrops. You chat to her about all manner of things and she listens carefully with half-closed eyes.

“Come on, Cobweb, you need to get better.  We’ve still got lots of fun to have together” you repeat over and over again.

Her Chuffness resting in a hammockThen you discover your chuffin cat, usually so full of life and cheeky attitude, looking forlorn and refusing to eat. I repeat: refusing to eat! That single fact in itself rings alarm bells. So you dash her to the vet, who checks her over and shakes his head. He holds her down, shaves her throat and takes some blood: brutal but necessary. She sits hunched and dejected, her fight having ebbed away.

You kneel down and press your forehead gently against that of your ailing cat. “Noggin” you whisper in a choked-up voice – a word from your shared vocabulary, a word that means everything yet nothing. You close your eyes and sigh, a tear making its escape down your cheek.

Your beautiful, naughty-natured cat won’t be coming home. Instead you have to leave her attached to a drip, laying on a heat pad in the sick ward. She watches you leave, her glassy eyes pleading with the little energy she has left, a look that punctures your heart.

You are tasked with taking her blood samples directly to the animal lab, to speed up the process of investigation. Then you return home, to an empty house brimming with memories of your cat’s unique chuffness: her discarded catnip mouse, a clump of fur carelessly tossed on the carpet, her battered scratching post rudely upturned in the corner.

You look at the telephone, waiting for it to ring with what you hope will be positive news from the vet. Anything, just please make it positive.

Cobweb Gladys in the gardenThe silence is too much to bear, so you head down to the chicken coop. As you approach, you hear a lowly <cluck>, somewhat despondent but still far more than you’ve heard from your little hen all week. You open the coop door and she potters gingerly out into the garden. You watch as she pecks carefully at a few selected leaves. There it is: a small glint of sunshine battling its way through the funereal thunder clouds. You need that right now.

A crane fly lands gracefully on the ground near your sick chicken. Never before have you been so pleased to see an insect beheaded before your very eyes, as your little hen pecks at it then shovels it slowly into her beak. Such a shame that her sister suddenly snatches the insect carcass, pulls it from Cobweb’s beak and eats it herself. Still, half a crane fly is better than none. That will help the protein quota. You’ll take that.

After what seems like an eternity, the telephone springs into life: the news you’ve been anxiously awaiting. You hold your breath and listen. Your cat is still poorly, but stable…however the blood results haven’t shown anything nasty; in fact they haven’t shown much at all which is confusing the vet. They indicate that your cat is fighting something big, maybe a virus. (You can recover from viruses, right?) She has been pumped full of antibiotics and painkillers to try and help her. Then the vet drops a bombshell: he is concerned about your cat’s breathing. Her heart is racing and her respiration is far too fast. A decision is made: being on the sick ward is distressing your poor cat and making her worse. The vet asks how you feel about tending your ailing cat at home, counting her respirations, checking her breathing – can you nurse her overnight then bring her back in to the surgery the next day? Yes, you can do that. Yes! Just let your chuffin cat come home, let you nurse her. You can count, you can cuddle, you can nurture. Who needs sleep anyway?

You usher the chickens back into their home, surrounding the coop in a bubble of positivity. “Come on Cobweb!” you say to your little hen. “You can do this.” She looks at you and cocks her head on one side, her comb still flopping over her eye. It looks like she’s trying out a new ’80’s hairstyle. You nod at her and she blinks slowly. An agreement of sorts. This has to be the start of her recovery.

And now you have 2 sick pets to care for.

 


A Cup of Tea

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What a beautiful day. Determined to make the most of the glorious sunshine, I ventured outside. As I inhaled large lungfuls of fresh air, I noticed a pretty yellow butterfly. Perched on a fox turd. Nice.

I could hear the perturbed chickens shouting obscenities at me from the bottom of the garden. Accompanied by the chuffin cat, I went to release them from their coop. As I opened the cage door they looked up at me, squawked and hurtled off onto the lawn. As opposed to the chuffin cat who hurtled headfirst vertically up the nearest tree.

Son no 3’s voice drifted across to me: “Mum! I’m stuck on the trampoline!”

I ambled across to him to see what the trouble was.

“Every time I move, I get an electric shock” he complained.

“Best sit still then, love” I replied with a smile.

Chuffin cat on a slideThe poor little chap was having a bad day. He’d already spent half the morning tied to a tree, courtesy of his brothers. Having struggled free, he’d then had a fight with the chuffin cat as she wouldn’t let him play on the slide – she was having far too much fun clambering up and down it and completely refused to take turns. Now this.

I left him in his bouncy prison, rocking a funky new static-spiked hair do, and went inside to make a drink. I love a nice cup of tea, particularly Earl Grey … although my family don’t call it that after son no 3 once misheard the name, causing much hilarity: he thought it was called ‘Old Gay’ and the name stuck.

I looked through the window to see the chuffin cat was now playing hide and seek with the chickens. Well, she was hiding, they were seeking. A large crow suddenly landed in the garden, a menacing gleam in his eye. He didn’t stay for long – who chased him away? Yes, that’s right: Cobweb Gladys the small white hen, whilst the chuffin cat bravely cowered behind a blade of grass.

I brought my cup of ‘Old Gay’ outside and wandered towards a garden chair. The chickens instantly spied me and came running full pelt, their little spindly legs working hard as their fat, feathered bodies waddled from side to side. I placed my cup on the ground and they took it in turns to peer impertinently at the tea. Much to my annoyance, a small black fly decided to nosedive directly into my cup. Chuffin cat stuck up a treeIn a frenzy, Cobweb Gladys plunged her beak into the hot tea. It didn’t stay there long: she shook her head in a stupor, knocking the cup and spilling the entire contents all over the grass. Not to be outdone, Doris DooDah decided her errant sister should lose her ‘Head Chicken’ status at that precise moment, and she launched a full scale mutiny. The chuffin cat hit major panic mode and shot up the apple tree, her claws splintering on the trunk in her haste to escape. There she remained, shouting loudly as if to provide a running commentary on the battle unfolding below her.

I sighed in frustration. How could a simple cup of ‘Old Gay’ have turned an idyllic afternoon into a scene from Gladiator?

Son no 3 appeared, evidently having managed to extricate himself from his static cell.

“Mum, I’m hungry. What’s for tea?” he asked.

“Roast chicken!” I replied tartly, looking at the squabbling heap of feathers fighting at my feet. “Take your pick!”

"Got any grapes?"

A Twerking Mouse…?

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A strange thing happened the other night.  As I was driving along the lane that leads to our house, I saw a mouse. That in itself isn’t strange. We have a large mouse population in the neighbouring hedgerows and woods. Just ask the chuffin cat – she’s on first name terms with a whole variety of local rodents. This mouse was different. It wasn’t scuttling along the dirt track or bouncing through the shrubbery. No, this mouse was poncing about on my car bonnet.  That’s right, on my car bonnet. How very absurd.

I continued to drive slowly down the lane, one eye on the hedgerow, one eye on the mouse, an eyebrow raised in disbelief. The mouse seemed to be having a splendid time cavorting up and down across the bonnet. Every so often he turned and put both front paws on the windscreen, like an open invitation to play pat-a-cake.

Then the ultimate insult: he turned round and stuck his rear end in the air towards the windscreen. Not only that, but his body jigged up and down as the car jostled along the bumpy track. Yes, that’s right – the mouse was brazenly twerking on my car bonnet! Most uncouth for a rodent of any standing in the community. Bizarrely enough, I was actually playing a Robin Thicke song in the car at the time too.

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Pulling up outside our house, I grabbed my phone and took a photo. As you do with a twerking mouse. Quite satisfied with its achievements, the romping rodent then disappeared underneath the car bonnet. I went indoors and told the rest of the family about my experience. Having assured them that I hadn’t been eating magic mushrooms, we all laughed at the photo and promptly forgot about the whole episode. Until a week later when exactly the same thing happened again – yes, driving along the lane, Robin Thicke started playing in the car and up popped the twerking mouse on the bonnet again!

Now as far as I’m concerned, one appearance is an isolated visit; two appearances make it a residency. I wondered if I should track down the mouse to try and extract some rental income. Let’s face it, he wouldn’t be difficult to find – just look for the mouse with the muscular fingers (from clinging onto the bonnet) and pert buttocks (that amount of twerking must be great for toning!).

On the bright side, it could be quite a good selling point if you like a spot of unusual on-board entertainment in your vehicle. Imagine the marketing campaign:

FOR SALE
nice car, low mileage, careful owner
includes electric windows, central locking, twerking mouse

A twerking mouse? On the car bonnet? How disgusting.  Ill catch him and teach him to do the salsa instead.

A twerking mouse? On the car bonnet? How disgusting. Ill catch him and teach him to do the salsa instead.

Thirst

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Good morning, human staff member!Chuffin flower power

What?  Me?  Drinking out of your flower vase?  No, you must be quite mistaken.  I was just admiring the scent, whilst rearranging the flowers for you before you got up.

The flowers on the floor? No, that wasn’t anything to do with me.  You’re just not very adept at flower arranging, are you?

Yes, the water level in the vase does go down quickly.  Isn’t it amazing how much water these flowers need?  Very thirsty, these flowers.

Fur in the flower water?  Hmmm, yes there is.  Mind you, there’s fur in all manner of places in this house.  You should clean more often.

Why am I on the windowsill you ask?  Well somebody has to protect the house whilst you staff members are lazing in bed.  I mean, anyone could come and steal these flowers.  Where would we be then?

Thirsty?  Me?  Why would I be thirsty?

Anyway, now that you’re finally awake you can fill my food bowl.  You’ve neglected to feed me all night.  I might pass out soon through starvation.

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Oh, and I’d put some more water in the flower vase too.
For some reason it looks empty.

 

Top 10 Tips – How to be a Proper Chuffin Cat

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Close up!1 Compose your own haka, then perform it to all the garden birds on a daily basis through the kitchen window.

2 Flirt with the milkman. Not only does he loudly praise your singing talents, but he keeps similar hours to you too. Plus he has free milk.

3 Survey the clean, fresh water in your drinking bowl regularly, but never drink from it. Instead, venture outside to lap from the most stagnant puddle that ever existed. Failing that, why not take a nice, long slurp from your human’s favourite flower vase. Just pull the flowers out with your teeth and scatter them across the floor if they get in your way.

4 Why use your cat flap when there’s a perfectly good patio door just 3 feet away? Not to mention the army of human staff willing to let you in on an hourly basis, day or night, if you sing loudly enough.

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5 Watch as your human staff member brings you a new stuffed toy. Watch as they place it near you. Watch their excited face as they move the toy repeatedly from left to right and back again. Watch the toy very carefully. Then pounce viciously on the hand holding the toy.

 

6 It is important to announce your arrival in a very loud voice each time you enter the house, particularly during the middle of the night.

Sherbet fetish7 Whilst all conversations with your human should end at your food bowl, this in no way obligates you to eat out of that bowl. In fact, the tastiest food can be found on a human’s plate. Claws are ideal for hooking a tasty morsel. Just don’t get caught, as humans aren’t very good at sharing.  Sherbet fountains should never be shared; wrestle them from your human at every opportunity.

8 Fur balls are no laughing matter and all throwing up, even if you are outside, should be undertaken indoors – preferably on a clean, pale carpet, the tassels of a rug or on a doormat with long bristles. Throwing up is an art in itself, practised by performing a reverse caterpillar movement, loudly and repeatedly. Shake your head at the end for a maximum splatter effect. It is then imperative to vacate the house at breakneck speed and deny all knowledge of any involvement in the entire affair. Practice your look of disdain to use in such scenarios.

Perfect sleeping position9 There are many marvellous places to rest, but there really is only one position in which to sleep: on your back with all 4 feet in the air. Splendid sleep locations include on clean laundry and also on dirty laundry, particularly if it is in a laundry bin – this has the added bonus of providing you with a hideout from which to ambush your human on their midnight trip to the bathroom. Alternatively what about sleeping on the back of an armchair, resting your feet on a human’s head.

Smug face

 

10 The flat roof of a building will make an excellent litter tray, particularly if it is covered with gravel. The joy at squeezing out a turd whilst eyeing up the birds is completely unrivalled.

Of Mice and Mayhem

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IMG_1204The chuffin cat loves to invite guests in for a midnight feast. Unfortunately it’s a bit of a lottery as to whether the guest actually becomes the midnight feast; let’s just say the odds aren’t really in favour of the guest surviving the night intact. Not much of an invitation is it: “Come in for a bite.” Yet she seems to use that line successfully on a regular basis, much to everyone’s annoyance.

Last night was typical of many.  Everyone had gone to bed and I was just finishing off my night time chores.  The house was in a silent slumber, the calm before a storm.  Unknown to me.

A loud rat-a-tat-tat pierced the air: the sound of the chuffin cat having squeezed her portly body through the inadequate cat flap.  She approached me, her head hung low – a mark of respect for me perhaps?  Don’t be daft.  Her jaws were weighed down by a fat brown mouse which she gently deposited at my slippered feet.  For a moment there was silence.  She stared at me, I stared at the mouse and the mouse glanced furtively from each of us to the other and back.

Then all hell broke loose.

In scenes that could rival those in a Tom and Jerry cartoon, the mouse made a dash for it, hotly pursued by the chuffin cat, with me close behind. Why are you upside-down?  The difficulty with indoor rodent hunting at night is trying to keep the noise level to a minimum.  Whilst the chuffin cat is always prepared to hurtle around at breakneck speed, tossing household objects riotously aside, I would prefer to let the rest of the household sleep.  So whilst the chuffin cat’s mind was on playing rodent tag, mine was firmly on damage limitation and noise reduction.

After a while, we somehow managed to corner the mouse by the front door.  I placed a shoe over it and dashed off to the kitchen to fetch a glass tumbler, trusting the chuffin cat to guard her new friend and not swallow him whole in my brief absence.

Upon my return, I discovered the chuffin cat still diligently guarding the upturned shoe, with the mouse sitting behind her blowing raspberries at her back.  Clearly feeling somewhat brazen, the mouse then let out a high pitched <<squeak>>.  As nimble as a ninja, the chuffin cat rotated her chunky body an entire 180 degrees in one pounce, glared at the mouse, and slapped him on the head with her paw. The mouse gave a loud, indignant (albeit slightly muffled) <<squeak>>.  As he went to run, I bent down and slammed the glass to the floor in the hope of catching him.  I peered down through the increasing darkness, and then gasped in horror: the mouse was going nowhere, but only because I had pinned him to the floor – his rear end inside the tumbler, his head and shoulders outside, with the rim of the glass bisecting his round belly.  His little front feet were splayed either side of his head, and his face seemed to have an expression of, ‘well this is all rather awkward’.

Wahahaha

 

The chuffin cat clearly appreciated this new game, clapping her fluffy paws together with glee.

 

I raised one side of the tumbler and with my toe I tried to nudge the mouse under the rim of the glass … to no avail. By this time, the chuffin cat had switched to hunting mode, the end of her tail flicking violently from left to right.  I grabbed the shoe with one hand, whilst pinning the mouse under the glass with the other.  Balancing precariously on one leg, I stuck out a foot to restrain the chuffin cat.  I placed the shoe next to the mouse’s head and pushed gently to try and coax it into the glass.  It was only when the mouse’s beady eyes began to bulge that I realised I hadn’t raised the glass and I was in fact still pinning him to the carpet, whilst now squashing his head between the shoe and the tumbler.  His distended eyes met mine and in that moment we shared a common thought: ‘HELP!’

Meanwhile the chuffin cat began to miaow, enticing the mouse to come out and play as she wrestled my foot for access to her guest.  Yes, that’s right: he was her guest after all.

With one final effort, I managed to coordinate the lifting of the glass with the shove of the shoe, and miraculously the mouse ended up under the tumbler.  Not under the rim, but under the actual vessel. Had it not been the dead of night, I would have cheered loudly; but it was, so I didn’t.  Instead I tossed the shoe aside and grabbed the nearest flat item – which happened to be son no 2’s DT folder from school – shoving it under the tumbler, thereby sealing the mouse in his glass holding cell.  As he stood on his hind legs and placed his front feet on the side of the tumbler, I gave him a mini high five through the glass.

Opening the front door, I triumphantly carried him across the front garden in the tumbler, and threw him into the flower bed.  He emitted a squeak of thanks (or maybe a rodent expletive, who knows?) and scurried off into the neighbouring woodland.

I went back indoors and wiped the mouse poo off son no 2’s DT folder.  (“Sorry Sir, a mouse poo’d on my homework” … sounds better than last week’s excuse: “Sorry Sir, the cat threw up on my homework.”).

Chuffin snoringAs I went off to bed, I noticed the chuffin cat sitting by the front door, staring intently at the discarded shoe … and that is exactly where I found her again the next morning, curled up in a ball snoring loudly and no doubt dreaming of midnight mayhem and squashed mice.

A Question of Taste

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The chickens were revolting.  Not in the sense that they smelt rancid, well not on a good day anyway.  No, they were causing a riot down in the chicken coop.  Upon further investigation I discovered the reason for their rumpus: their food bowl contained a large pile of dust.  Son no 2 had been tasked with tending them for a couple of days, but he had clearly been feeding them the dregs from the bottom of the bag of pellets.

Cobweb Gladys inspected the bowl of dust, then glared at me in disgust.  Doris DooDah let out a melancholy <cluck> and shuffled off to sit on the perch in a despondent heap.

“Never mind, ladies!” I addressed them cheerfully,  “We’ll get you some more.”

The chickens glanced at each other Cobweb and Cornflake face-offand together let out the avian equivalent of a very loud ‘tut’.  If they could have rolled their eyes, that would have followed.  Cobweb went to join her sister on the perch and there they sat, a perturbed pile of plumage, eyeing me in an accusatory fashion.

Feeling rather guilty, I grabbed sons no 2 and 3, jumped in the car and we shot off to Pets at Home.

Ah the fun to be had at a pet superstore.  The chicken food was soon forgotten as the boys became engrossed in 4 caged degus, fighting it out on a large wheel to see who could stay on it the longest.  Their little beady eyes glistened as their furry bodies heaved and shoved, legs going like the clappers.  So this is what a wrestling match would look like if the men wore furry bodysuits rather than lycra unitards.  Marvellous.

“Please can we get some?” asked son no 3, hope shining from his big blue eyes.

“No” I replied.  “They would frighten the cat.  Besides, they’re too expensive.”

The boys sighed and carried on moseying round the shop.

Suddenly son no 2 piped up, “Wow!  Look!  These are half price – we have to get some!”

Son no 3 ran across to have a look, then recoiled in disgust: his brother had discovered an entire shelf packed with plastic tubs which contained live crickets.

“No!” I said feeling somewhat bemused.  “We certainly can’t buy any of those!”

“Why not?” asked son no 2.  “Will they frighten the cat too?”

“No” I laughed.  “You don’t buy them as pets!”

“But they’re half price!” exclaimed son no 2, clearly trying to appeal to my frugal nature.  He pointed to some locusts: “These are even bigger, so they’re a much better bargain too!”

I shook my head, trying to suppress a smile.

“If they’re not pets, then why do people buy them?” questioned son no 3.

“For food,” I replied absent mindedly.

“EURGH! That’s disGUSting!” exclaimed son no 3.  “How do you eat them?  They wouldn’t be a very big meal would they?”

“They’re not for US to eat!” I laughed.  “Look, they’re for the bearded dragons up here.  Oh and no, we’re not getting a bearded dragon either!”

The boys could hardly contain their disappointment as I threw a sack of chicken food their way and made my way to the till to pay.

So what have I learnt today?Dim Doris

1.  Chickens might bathe in dust, but they won’t eat it.

2.  Degus put on free wrestling matches to endear themselves to boys.

3.  It might be worth buying some half price crickets, to try and increase son no 3’s protein level.

Insomnia – the chuffin cat’s view

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Sleeping close-upHumans like to spread a common myth: that they need sleep.  What a pile of twaddle.  Cats need sleep, humans merely need to attend to their cat’s every whim.  It is acceptable for a human to take an occasional power nap to refresh themselves, primarily to ensure that they have the energy to refill your food bowl at regular intervals.  Any extra human sleep should be regarded as pure laziness.  As their chief employer, it is your duty to provide your human with enough activity and stimulation to prevent them from falling into a boredom-induced doze at night.  Here are a few ideas which are proven to work:

Allow your human to fall asleep during the evening; this will recharge their energy levels for the rest of the night.  Some humans snooze in a bed, others begin their slumber in front of the moving picture screen.  This can be fun to observe: when their head lolls to one side, you can watch as a string of dribble slowly escapes from their open mouth.  If you’re particularly skilled, you can actually splatter this across their face with a swift swipe of your paw.  They will never know.  A drooling human is a perfect object of ridicule.  Alternatively you can generate some interesting noises if you place your paw in and out of their mouth as they breathe.  No matter how much amusement you can derive from this game however, it is important to be aware that your human needs to be woken the moment they start twitching or snoring.

There are many effective ways in which to wake a sleeping human:

Singing – this should be a cacophonous cry of high-pitched hysteria, performed suddenly, shrilly and preferably next to your human’s ear for maximum effect.  No human can resist a bit of harmonizing in the middle of the night, although sadly they won’t be as melodious as you – hey, they’re only human so your expectations should naturally be very low.

Dancing – humans love to dance.  Once they hear you rollicking about the room, they will be sure to want to join in, waving their arms and stamping their feet in a frenzied, albeit uncoordinated, fashion.

Asphyxiation – sit on your human’s face until they start to splutter.  It won’t take long.  Once they have shoved you aside and have taken an almighty gasp of air, they will be wide awake.  With a mouthful of fur.

Bladder crush – to be used for particularly stubborn humans.  Whether you jump from a tall height, or after running full pelt across the room, just make sure that you land as heavily as you can on the lower belly of your human.  This will elicit an immediate cry of jubilation from them, followed by a mad dash to the bathroom to celebrate.

002All of these methods can be repeated throughout the night if you are unfortunate enough to have an extremely dilatory human who likes to sleep.

Now you need to keep your human awake.  Why not do the Hokey Cokey through the cat flap?  Yes that’s right: in, out, in, out, then shake it all about.  It’s amazing how much noise you can make if you really try.  Of course, your human can easily join in with this as they can fit an arm or a leg through the cat flap.  If they lay on the floor that is.  Bonus.  Or what about finding a nice crackly plastic bag?  You already know that these are hidden in a kitchen cupboard from where they can easily be dragged out using your teeth.  They taste nice too.  The sound of a plastic bag being pummelled at night will really please your human.

By this time, your human will be exceedingly hungry.  Make sure that you sneak quietly outside using the cat flap on stealth mode, to fetch them a fresh protein snack.  So fresh in fact, that they can chase it round the house.  Let’s face it, they could probably do with the exercise.  Your human will show their appreciation by punching the air hysterically with their fist.  Ignore any rude words they might utter – humans say funny things when they’re excited.  Great protein snacks consist of mice, shrews or voles.  You could also bring in frogs or bats. Of course, there is nothing to stop you from bringing in a multitude of snacks, a veritable moving, breathing buffet packed with protein.  Imagine the scene as your human runs, jumps, bends and crawls to catch such a variety of comestibles, thus providing a full body workout.  You can’t do better for them than that.

No matter how much fun you and your human are having though, you must always allow them to go back to sleep about an hour before their noisy timekeeping device is due to sound.  For some strange reason, they like to hit this device particularly hard to start their day.

If you follow this simple guide, you can be sure to maximise your feline:human relationship.  Remember: a haggard human is a much more compliant member of staff.

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