Cat Schism

Um. What to write about….? Maybe it’s time for a cat update. The total, as of this minute, is nine. (Maybe ten… but Brown Cat has gone walkabout, and we’ve not seen her for a few days.) What is slightly interesting (if you happen to be interested in this sort of thing) is the change in distribution between the possible cat-home locations. As well as Little Tom joining the ranks of what we loosely describe as ‘The House Cats’, Barn Mother Cat has also decided to grab herself a bit of the inside action.

Now the odd thing about this is that we haven’t actually gone out of our way to encourage Barn Mother’s admission to the House Cat Club. Nor indeed, have the other House Cats. She is not a very popular feline, (except, of course, with the local cohort of testosterone-hyped tomcats, who quite clearly find her irresistible). She is, after all, a bit straggly-looking, tick and flea-infested, and most definitely arsey. With a capital A. She brings a whole new dimension to the meaning of the term ‘hissy fit’. But whatever her shortcomings, Barn Mother is a Cat Who Knows Her Own Mind.

And as the cold of winter has descended upon us in a mash of freezing white and dreary grey days, Barn Mother has decided that the time has come to abandon her latest, greatest litter of hardly-kittens to the hardly-comforting delights of the barn, and to move into The House, where the air is warm, the cushions are soft and the living is easy. She didn’t wait for an invitation – probably she realised this was unlikely to be forthcoming, given her general lack of popularity within the immediate neighbourhood. So one evening, while we and the House Cats were variously engaged in our customary winter evening activities of TV-watching and sofa-snoozing, she quite simply opened the door (using the handle, as if she had been doing it for years), and waltzed in, past the gob-smacked dogs drooling on the other side of it, to help herself to the dish of House Cat food, and a bowl of House Dog water. And she has been helping herself to our hospitality ever since.

Of course, once the dogs had overcome their shock at her brazen impingement on the inner sanctum, they reverted to cat-chasey type, and generally give her their adrenalin-pumping, pushy-nosed attention every time she passes within five metres of their living space. And the other cats growl, and stare, and make snide comments about her dubious heritage, loose morals and trampy appearance. But Barn Mother cares not. She just keeps on coming. She keeps on coming in, and eating their food, and lying on their rug, and even – shock-horror -curling up to sleep inside their favourite cardboard boxes!

Cat 5914 - The Cat previously known as Barn Mother

The sheer audacity of it! She has yet to aspire to the heady heights of Lap-Catdom, but today she did sit still long enough for me to remove a colossal tick from her scrawny neck. And, as she deigned to allow me the honour of scratching her scabby chin, I do believe I detected the slightest hint of a barely audible purr.

So, the house is full of cats and dogs, and a palpable aura of tension. An atmosphere of silent edginess – a sort of tight, breath-holdy sense that, if just one animal moves a little too fast or gets a little too close to another’s personal space, the shit will hit the fan and all furry hell will break loose. Meanwhile we wait, calmly, patiently, for the status quo ante to segue into the status quo, secure in the knowledge that, just as things start to settle down, one or more of those four feisty young felines currently residing in the barn will pluck up the fluffy courage to venture housewards, and herald in yet another era of critterly discombobulation.

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