Friday, 22 February 2013

Comic Canine (and Feline) Capers

Ted and Cleo, our dog and cat respectively, do not get on. Cleo has her own room downstairs where she reigns utterly supreme: if Ted ever ventures too far inside her domain she emerges from her specially-made box (lined with heated pad) an incandescent fury of sharp claws and furiously hissing tongue. Not surprisingly he is very respectful of her in there. Likewise, if she ever goes into his space (the rest of the downstairs), he chases her without further notice. 

So you could say a happy status quo exists between them with near-perfect symmetry and harmony.

Teddy is also not allowed upstairs (apart from special occasions like xmas eve when he slept in L's attic room because Digby, an enormous black hairy bouvier, was staying for Christmas, and although  Ted likes to think he is sociable, in reality he can only manage a few hours before his conversation is exhausted and he retreats beneath the table with eyes imploring me to make the other dog/s go away), so there is no special preference for one above the other. 

Before we reached that oasis of calm they shared the whole house- which meant in reality that Clee spent her days asleep upstairs on our bed, lying on whatever black outfit she could find (usually M's work trousers- not great with a white cat), and running the gauntlet of passing Ted when she wanted to go out the cat flap to the loo. Needless to say he spent his days guarding the bottom step waiting for her. Over time this meant she gave up even trying to get outside to the loo and started leaving poos and wees on the pedestal mat at the base of the loo (don't worry- there aren't any pictures). 

This comes close to but does not beat the time my parents were feeding a cousin's cat in Wimbledon. The human parents left for their holiday happily forgetting to pass the key on to mum, so she spent a fortnight lowering bowls of cat food through the letter box using an intricate system of ropes and pullies to ensure the poor felines didn't starve. When the cousins returned home she feared the worst, but they reported back quite cheerfully that there was no cat mess anywhere in the house- the clever cats had done it all in the loo!!

I digress.

For a few months therefore Cleo broadly lived upstairs, and during that time she developed a rather charming habit of sitting on the edge of the bath whenever I was in it. I'd tell her about my day and she'd purr quietly. We've been together a long time- since before husband and children - so we know each other pretty well. She has been party to all my secrets, triumphs and disasters over the years, all of which she greets with the same inscrutable "I am above your petty concerns but I pity you all the same for being at the mercy of such paltry emotions" type expression on her face that is so well known to all cat lovers. 

One day I was in the bath and she hadn't showed up, which was unusual. I was just starting to get worried when I heard the cat flap bang violently, quickly followed by the the sound of paws pelting frantically up the stairs, presumably with Ted in hot pursuit. She screeched along the landing, flew into the bathroom, leapt up on the side of the bath, lost her balance because of the momentum, went straight over and disappeared under the water. 

Have you ever seen a wet cat? 

I tried, unsuccessfully as it happened, not to laugh.

Cats hate being laughed at. Even more than being watched when they go to the loo. They also hate looking stupid. The worst of it was that there was no way she could pretend she'd meant to do it. This was far worse than the time she head-butted the wall when she'd been aiming to jump on the window sill. And even worse- Teddy had not chased her up the stairs at all because he knows not to, so the soaking really was for nothing.

Sadly she never sat on the edge of the bath with me again, and not soon after that we moved her to her own room downstairs. 

There is a matching story for Ted, just to even things up, because that seems only fair.

Last week he was trotting merrily round the yard with me while I fed the horses. Once he'd exhausted all his favourite bunny holes he sat down to watch me, and as he did so the yard cat appeared behind him from no-where. For no reason that I could see it suddenly decided  to run past Teddy. Approaching from behind as it did, Ted was obviously unaware it was there until it raced past at full pelt and scooted down to and underneath the five-barred gate and on into the next field.

Ted (understandably), set off in instant pursuit, little legs working furiously, and tongue yipping with joy as he gave chase. Surely, this time, he would catch it, it really wasn't that far ahead. If he just kept his eyes on the cat and nothing else....he wouldn't see the fast-approaching 5 bar gate that the cat had scooted under effortlessly.

The result was that he ran full pelt into it. It stopped him in his tracks I can tell you with the most awful noise, the sort of sound that makes you wince even if you haven't seen what's going on, which unfortunately I had.

Terrible mother- I fought (again unsuccessfully) an overwhelming urge to laugh.

The poor lad- he sat down shaking his head looking rather bewildered as if he wasn't sure what had happened. All thought of the cat had obviously been knocked out of him because after a moment he got shakily to his feet and trotted unsteadily back to me, whimpering.

I felt very ashamed of myself for laughing and thought for a horrid moment he'd hurt himself, but examination mercifully showed only a tiny bit of blood where he'd bitten his lip. Nevertheless I spent the rest of the night checking his pupils and shaking him awake in case he had concussion. M (needless to say) found the whole thing hysterical.

I'd like to say Ted will never do that again, but he has form: a couple of years ago he made himself very unwell by licking a toad, despite being told not to. He spent the night retching and frothing at the mouth and I thought "he's learnt his lesson, he'll never do that again", then a week later we found him in the garden looking guilty with a wet toad at his feet.

Ted with his ENORMOUS cousin Digby

Cleo, the White Fairy Queen



  1. I do miss my cats but Snippet would eat it if we got one. I love the image of you chatting to the cat in the bath. Mine use to do the same but never fell in. Yes,I have seen a wet cat when having to do a bum washing exercise and it's not attractive is it!

  2. Em it was seriously the funniest thing. It makes me laugh even now to remember it!

  3. Hello! Thanks for your comment on my blog. Yes, we are very lucky to live where we do and it is certainly very beautiful. I would love a cat but sadly they make my poor husband cough and wheeze and splutter!

  4. Hi Annie, I saw a great advert a few years ago- a woman got fed up with her dog and husband not getting along so wrote this very funny piece advertising them both, saying she'd keep whichever one wasn't claimed!


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