The smiling assassins …

There is no doubt that cats are at their best asleep … Not that I don’t love them when they’re awake but there is nothing more relaxing and therapeutic than a cat curling up to sleep on your knee. Well, unless you’re me, that is. Oh it’s great for a short time, then the fidgety legs kick in and I cannot stay still and so they de-camp and switch loyalties to enjoy the vast tundra that is Mike’s lap. Not that he is unoccupied for long, as our mob of moggies have all discovered the joy of perfect stillness. Not that Mike is a couch potato, far from it. At every possible moment he is out in the garden or his shed. When he does come in and is relaxed, he can stay still for a long time with anything up to 4 cats on or next to him. It’s a gift.

The one-way cat flapThe other reason I like them best when they’re asleep is that it’s the only time that all the little beasties are safe. I can’t be doing with dead little beasties offered up as tokens of respect and appreciation. Even less do I like LIVE little beasties flapping or scuttling around my house. My daughter maintains that we once moved house because the cat let a mouse go in the house. She ‘s not totally wrong. My motivation to find a new house was certainly revved up by the thought that this mouse could drop into my soup at any moment., although I had already been on the look-out (honestly).

We had been noticing our cat spending a lot if time looking up at a curtain rail. In the end, assuming it was a fly or spider that was mesmerising the cat, I decided to shake the curtain and a mouse bounced off my head, onto the floor. In sheer panic I locked myself into the downstairs loo and shouted My daughter, who was probably only about 6 at the time, to get her boots on and find the mouse!!! You have to understand that she was, even then, a shark loving, dinosaur expert who was not afraid of any living creature (except moths, and if forced to I could deal with those). Unfortunately nothing could be done to find this mouse and even a friend who worked for Rentakil and came armed with all his technical equipment (a shovel and a brush) had no more success.

Well ill we did move house and, to my undying shame and my daughter’s undying contempt, I re homed the cat. I know, I know. Despicable. But she did go to a good home, and I’ve learned my lesson, and all our animals have a good home for the rest of our lives and would be provided for beyond that if necessary. I’ve got no better at dealing with the wee timorous beasties but since Alex left home, Mike has taken over as mouse-tamer and,  if he’s not around,  I have to go out for the day and pretend it was all part of the plan.

We now have a proper cat flap but for a long time we’ve used a customs control sort of system. Show me you’re not “carrying” and I’ll let you in …but there was a cat flap that Mike designed some years ago. A one-way cat flap which it took one of our cats only seconds to work out. She could spring out one claw which would lever the flap up and then she’d put her head under it and climb in. The other slight problem was that the cat flap was cut out of the door itself and hung with it’s slightly uneven edges back in front of the opening with a rusty pair of hinges. More shabby cheek than shabby chic. It had to go and Mike was so fed up with me nagging him about the wind whistling through the gaps that he closed it permanently in the early hours with a six inch nail, but that’s his way, bless him.

Wot – no grub!?!

imageOur little boy has come of age and tomorrow he’ll lose the very things that signal this fact. Yes, it’s the chop for Merlin, but he’s blissfully ignorant at this time and we’re already feeling guilty. The food dishes that would normally have some of their (premium) dry food for midnight snacks are ominously empty and all the other cats are questioning this – politely at the moment. I know this situation will change, so I’m actually going to bed early for once in my life, just to avoid more polite requests.

We all have to grow up, but it’s so hard to decide on an “op” for a sweet little cat who hasn’t done anything to deserve it apart from destroying the house, harassing all the adult cats and biting unsuspecting toes wherever and whenever the opportunity arose.

Yet it it is important as there are too many unwanted domestic animals in this world and not enough people able to care for them. I do believe in neutering cats and dogs and re homing from shelters rather than going to a breeder. Mongrels and moggies make the best pals.  Our cross-beardie collie was one such … A bit of a star in many ways and probably the love of Mike’s life, but he has enough love for all our animals and a bit more for Oscar Charlie our first Shetland cat. All our cats have a “thing” for Mike and we often find 4 of them trying to find a place on his knee, but I put that down to my fidgety legs.

That, I reckon has something to do with being a professional artist. If I’m in front of the TV on an evening to relax, I am either asleep after a busy day, or knitting, or maybe even planning another art workshop or working on a commission. There’s no such thing as time off, nights and weekends, when self-employed. You’re always working, planning, or even just laying there in a stupor feeling guilty because you’re not working.

I do get tired more quickly than I used to – obviously age is a factor but also my own operation a few years ago has contributed to this in a big way because this was an eye operation to arrest macular degeneration in one eye. This was a scary time for me, not only the op itself, which was actually less scary than I’d feared, but the worry about losing one’s sight for an artist is truly  overwhelming. So I have partial sight in one eye but my other eye compensates pretty well, I just start to go a bit bleary after a while, and have to work in shorter “spells”.

So, I never take any operation lightly – we have to take the kitten to the vet in the morning and trust he’ll sail through it as most cats do, but first of all, once he’s in his basket in the car, all the other cats can have their breakfast. Phew.