Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mr X & Juliet - A Love Story

Juliet in her pre-loving the world mood with butter on her paw to encourage her to love us.

 Warning:  The following story may contain ACO material (suitable for adult cats only to read).  If you prefer not to know about cats in season falling in love with totally inappropriate males don't read any further.

Juliet has fallen in love.  Sadly her feelings are not reciprocated.  The object of Juliet's love is very embarrassed about the whole thing, is not a cat person and would rather not discuss the whole sordid incident, so we'll call him Mr X.  I'm sure none of you have the slightest idea who Mr X could be even though Graeme is the only Mr anything in the house.

We are minding Juliet for a few weeks while her real parents, my son Justin and daughter in law Savannah, are on holidays.  Juliet is a beautiful Domestic Long Hair tabby cat, about seven or eight months old I think.  They had tried to arrange cat sitters closer to home but I think their friends must have had a premonition about what was about to befall us all.  At first Juliet wasn't too keen about moving in with us and took quite an aggressive position on the whole "here for a holidays" idea.  She hid under chairs, sulked in corners and generally made us all feel guilty about relocating her.  She used language no young cat should even know and used it regularly.  She swatted and scratched any living creature who came within swatting or scratching range and generally acted like a very feisty hostage.  I tried the old "put butter on a cat's paw" trick to see if I could calm her down a bit.  She enjoyed the butter, but retained her dark thoughts about us.  Little did we know that this was all just PMS.

Even though I'm not totally convinced it's not an old wives tale, I've used this trick successfully on most of my cats when they move in with us and usually, by the time they have finished the tasty treat and cleaned their fur thoroughly they zone out and are at peace with the world.

After Juliet had made sure she'd ruined any chance of Justin and Savannah enjoying their holiday she mellowed a bit.  Not much at first, but little things like not trying to shred my hand if I tried to pat her, and refraining from growling threateningly whenever one of us passed her hiding place, began to happen.  I hoped that soon she would at least tolerate our presence in her gaol.  Almost overnight Juliet's outlook changed and she began to view the world as a good place to be.  She began purring and rubbing up against our legs.  Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, the same mouth that I'd threatened to wash out with soap.  She'd hop up on my lap and politely pass the time of day with no references to being held hostage in our discussions.  Life with Juliet was looking up.

Then it happened.  The reason she'd mellowed became obvious.  Juliet was in season.  I have only lived with one other female cat in season and it was an experience I never wanted to relive.  I had been stuck in a tiny flat with three young cats, one of whom behaved more like a cat possessed than the friendly little tortoiseshell she usually was.  Topaz, the cat in question, climbed the blinds, crawled along the carpet on her stomach, tried to bite the heads of the other two female cats who had always been her best friends, and meowed a low moaning meow non stop.  The vet, when I rang him, said he couldn't spay her while she was in season, so I hunkered down and rushed her off to the vet's, along with the other two girls, as soon as Topaz was back to her normal self.  Having endured that over 30 years ago (it left a deep scar on my psyche as you can see) I wasn't too thrilled about Juliet's delicate condition.

I must say Juliet was a lot more discreet about the whole thing than Topaz ever was.  Juliet began by flirting with us both.  She would drop to the floor, turn her tail to one side and then roll on her back, making demure little meowing sounds to entice us closer.  I took pity on her and patted her or rubbed her tummy and she appeared grateful for these small bits of attention.  Then, as the days progressed and we hadn't got passed the patting and tummy rubbing stage of our relationship, she started to prowl the house looking for a boy.  Our only male cat these days is The Redhead (Tristan our ginger de-sexed tom).  When he arrived home one morning after a night of chasing mice in the grain shed, Juliet met him at the front door, rear end first, tail cocked to the side.  She cast him what she felt was an alluring look over her back and gently meowed at him.  Poor Tristan backed up as quickly as he could, saying he wasn't that kind of cat!  To be fair, I couldn't blame him, Juliet's last welcome had been to attack him with claws out and bad language in place because he had the effrontery to enter his own house.  Now, here she was, a Jeckle and Hyde cat who wanted bygones to be bygones.  Tristan wasn't having a bar of it.

So, Juliet had to cast her net further in order to find a boy.  I can only think what happened next was brought about because she homed in on the only testosterone possessing creature in the house - Mr X.  She began her seduction more discreetly this time.  At first she wound herself around his legs, tail cocked to the side, and tried to whisper sweet nothings into his ankle.  His ear would have been better but it was almost six feet off the ground and Juliet measures about  15" tops on all fours and even lower in what had become her natural tummy on the floor, tail to one side pose.  When this got her a little scratch on the head and kind word, Juliet decided to up her seduction techniques a level or two.  She began to stalk Mr X.  Where ever he was in the house, so was she - purring and flirting.  She'd drop to the floor, raise her rear end and give him the come hither look over her shoulder.  When Mr X proved to be a slow learner she began marching her back feet up and down while still looking him in the eye and purring demurely.

Mr X finally got the hint but embarrassment was the only emotion Juliet managed to stir in his breast.  Mr X tried ignoring her, no longer giving her the little pats and kind words.  This had no effect on her pursuit of the new love of her life so Mr X began giving her not so kind words.  I found myself retrieving the love struck cat and putting her in another room at regular intervals throughout the day.  I'd give her a pat and a tummy rub as consolation, but as far as Juliet was concerned it just wasn't the same thing.

Things came to a head two nights ago.  Mr X was sitting at his computer and Juliet was under our bed, plotting her little heart out.  After a while she snuck out of the room, and crept into the lounge room.  There she eyed her quarry sitting at the other end of the room, concentrating on the computer screen.  Juliet sidled up to where Mr X was sitting and gazed up at him with adoring eyes.  Nothing.  She gave a tiny little mew to announce her presence and still nothing.  Finally she jumped up onto his desk and began rolling around on her back professing her undying love.  I'm afraid I wasn't much use by this stage.  I was rolling around myself, but with laughter.  Mr X assumed his now familiar hunted look, picked Juliet up delicately and put her on the floor a few feet away from his seat.  He then resumed his computer work.  Juliet,ever the optimist, began backing up towards him, rear end in the air as usual and kept backing up until she reached his foot.  Mr X didn't even notice.  I was still incapacitated with laughter so couldn't step in to retrieve her.  Finally I said, "He's just not interested Juliet."  Mr X looked up from his computer saw me still doubled up with laughter, looked down and beheld Juliet, up against his foot doing her best to radiate sex appeal from every hair, and he gave me a forlorn, hunted look.  He also mumbled something like, "And that's putting it mildly!" to the cat.  I took pity on him and once again moved Juliet to another room.

Juliet's stalking continued for another day or so.  Mr X found lots of reasons to be out and about on the farm and Juliet sought consolation buy sulking under our bed.  Today Juliet is back to her old, non in season, self.  She no longer loves the world as she used to.  She is back to tolerating my presence but really wanting her own Mum and Dad to come rescue her.  She hasn't given Mr X so much as a glance today.  He is able to come and go without assaults on his person by a small cat and is much happier for it.

Oh, and please remember - if Mr X ever finds out this got out - you didn't hear it from me.  OK?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Christmas Everyone.  From everyone at Spring Rock

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lancelot & Guinevere

 Lancelot taking his job as quilt inspector very seriously.
A few weeks ago I wrote about Lancelot, my black and white cat and his bad behaviour towards the kelpies.  Two days ago we found Lancelot curled up under a bush in the garden, dead.  He appears to have died in his sleep.  It was the day we had booked Guinevere into the vets' to be euthanased because the tumour on her leg had got to the stage where she couldn't cope anymore.  Thursday was a very bad day for me.  We buried them side by side - together as always.

Lancelot and his sister Guinevere were born on the farm at Spring Rock shortly after we took possession - a housewarming gift from their mother, Mum-Puss, I always thought. It was the first time in about 25 years that we'd had kittens in the family - I usually end up with older cats seeking a new home for some reason or another, and kittens were a novelty for all of us.  Both kittens soon wormed their way into my heart despite the fact that Guinevere channelled her feral cat father for the first seven years of her life and hated all human beings on principal. 

Lancelot wasn't the brightest cat we've ever met, actually I think he would have won the dumbest cat prize if we'd held a competition.  We put his slowness down to Mum-Puss's old age when she had him.  He used to constantly bash his head against the glass in the windows when he saw a bird outside, in his efforts to get at it, and my windows aren't even that clean!! It didn't a matter that his first, second, third or thirtieth attempt met with cold, hard glass, he honestly believed that if he kept trying the glass would disappear and he'd be able to bat the bird out of the tree or sky or where ever it was.  If he was outside and he saw a bird fly overhead he'd jump up with an outstretched paw, thinking he could bat it out of the sky. Maybe he hoped that's he'd learn to fly too - then watch out birds!  Needless to say, bird life at Spring Rock had no worries about Lancelot's presence here too.  The bell on his collar was really just for show.  Lancelot tried the patience of Mum-Puss regularly and there were lots of ear cuffings and harsh words spoken between the two of them at times, but more often they could be found curled up together with Lancelot enduring yet another face washing session.  Lancelot was a gorgeous, affectionate boy who I miss dreadfully.

Guinevere waiting for me to sit down so she can climb on my lap.

Guinevere, as stated, spent the first seven years acting more like a hostage than a member of the family.  I would pick her up regularly in an effort to show her I meant no harm, but no sooner was I upright after lifting her, than she struggled to get down.  I always let her go straight away, wanting to prove I could be trusted. I'm nothing if not patient.  Shortly before Mum-Puss died Guinevere suffered a reversal of opinion about one human at least.  After seven years of this, she finally decided to trust me.

At first she would sit on the chair behind me and gently touch her nose to the back of my head.  If I moved a fraction of an inch, she was off like a flash.  When I passed this first test over and over again, she surprised both of us by climbing down onto my lap for a second.  She didn't even have time to sit, she was gone so quickly, but the fact remained that she'd crossed a line that she couldn't take back.  I wasn't allowed to move or pat her and slowly she stayed on my lap a bit longer each time until she finally settled down and became my friend.  I was allowed to pat and pick her up after that and Guinevere became the most soppy, affectionate cat I've owned.  She still hated the rest of the human race mind you, but me she loved.  She would regularly insult friends and visitors who would see her nestled on my lap, looking the picture of a cute, affectionate cat, and come over to give her a pat.  She would fix them with a glassy stare, rise from my lap, and leave the room with her tail in the air, bristling indignation from every hair.  Visitors soon got the message - leave the tabby cat alone.  Shower affection on the black and white fellow or the ginger cat, but don't touch the tabby.  And that was fine with Guinevere too!

I have to lie down in the middle of the day most days because I have an injury to one of my discs.  I usually lie down and read for a while around 1.00 p.m. to rest my back, often nap, and recharge for the afternoon.  Guinevere always joined me and chose to have her rest snuggled up against my right side with my arm around her.  If I was late lying down, Guinevere would follow me around the house nagging me to come to bed.  On the days when I just couldn't afford the time to lie down, Guinevere's day was ruined.  She would eventually stalk off to my bed and have her own, solo lie down, but she left me in no doubt that it just wasn't the same.  When the two boy cats discovered our resting routine they decided to join in the fun.  Guinevere did not approve.  If one of the boys beat her to her favourite spot she would tackle the problem in a very pacifistic manner.  She wouldn't raise a fuss, show any temper or bad manners.  She would just lick them to death.  Well, not literally to death, but she'd get them in a headlock and keep washing their face until they could stand it no longer and left my side to seek dryer spots on the bed.  Guinevere would then settle in, sigh happily and all would be quiet for the remainder of my rest.  Resting without Guinevere just isn't the same.

So, I'd like to say thank you for sharing your beautiful lives with me Lancelot and Guinevere.  I will miss you for a long time to come.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Socks And The Ghost

I'm experimenting with various looks for my blog. I'll try out different backgrounds and colours to see which I prefer and finally settle on some combination. Until then who knows what it will look like when you come back next time!

To give you something to read while I experiment, here is a story about a gorgeous Kelpie I used to own. His name was Socks. I got him as a fully trained working dog who needed a new farm to work. The problem was he was trained to obey whistle commands and I can't whistle. It took us a while to work out our language problems before he became the best working dog I've ever owned. Sadly he would only work for me, which caused Graeme a lot of frustrating hours trying to get Socks to bring the goats in (we owned Angora goats back then) from our very steep, hilly property (we lived on top of a mountain at the time). Socks would just look at Graeme when issued with a command, turn his head sideways as if to say, "Who? Me?" and trot off in the general direction of the goats while making no promise to bring them in. Once out there he'd fain deafness and just wander around the goats, passing the time of day with them and generally ignoring an increasingly irate Graeme. In the interest of Graeme's sanity and Socks' reputation as an outstanding Kelpie, I'd eventually convince Graeme to let me tell Socks what to do, but Graeme always had to try first.

After a few years of living on the mountain I entered university as a mature age student. I was away from home for most of the day most days of the week. The pets all adjusted and found things to amuse themselves while I was gone. When I came home one day I found Socks throwing himself at the glass door, hackles raised and a low threatening growl rumbling away deep in his chest. I pulled him away from the door, but he returned as soon as I let go. Starting to feel a bit scared, I tried the door. It was locked. I moved around to the back door, checking the windows as I went. They were all locked too. This was in the days before mobile phones and I had no near neighbours so the only thing to do was what every stupid heroine in a horror movie does. I opened the door and took a few trepid steps into the house. I nearly fainted when I was almost knocked over from behind.

Socks wasn't allowed inside and had never tried to flout the rule before. He was always content to sit on the veranda and smile at us through the glass door. Today rules were thrown to the wind as Socks almost bowled me over in his effort got get inside and get at whatever it was that had tripped his doggy radar. I took a few calming breaths and tried to follow Socks as best I could. He tore into the lounge room with all the hackles raised on his back growling very low. I was just about ready to make a run for it at this stage, but now that I had access to a phone I held tightly to Socks' collar (he was eager to get to the end of the house for some reason) and phoned my unimaginative husband to tell him all bout Socks and his vendetta against an unseen threat. Graeme's take on this eerie happening? He thought Socks was just being"silly". My description of Sock's killer attitude and raised hackles failed to impress him so I realised defending the house against intruders or ghosts was up to Socks and me.

Very slowly, and I must admit, very reluctantly I gave Socks his head and followed him on his inspection of every room, armed only with my university books in my backpack. Socks stalked past all the doors in the hall, giving a perfunctory sniff just inside each room until he came to our bedroom at the end of the hall. If it was possible for him to raise his hackles higher he did, he stalked into the room and headed for our dressing area where our full length cupboards faced each other. He then threw himself at my mirrored cupboard doors and growled and barked a challenge to whoever or whatever was in there to come out and fight like a dog! I thought he might have been lunging at the dog in the mirror so I opened the side at which he was lunging so the dog disappeared. Socks ignored the closed mirrored part of the cupboard (and the dogs in Graeme's mirrored cupboards opposite mine and dived into the open part of my cupboard. There he proceeded to threaten my clothes and shoes. I could hear him inspecting everything thoroughly, sniffing here and snuffling there, but even after he'd had time to thoroughly go over all my belongings he wouldn't come out of the cupboard. I wrestled him out only to find that he sat down and refused to leave the house voluntarily. Needless to say I was more than happy for him to stay as long as he wanted. By this stage I was a nervous wreck and would gladly have made Socks a bed inside my cupboard if that meant he'd stop spooking me with every growl and suspicious look.

We never did find out what it was about. Socks eventually calmed down enough to be persuaded to leave the house and after a few hours seemed to forget all about whatever it was that had started the whole drama. It took me a bit longer to stop jumping at small noises and seeing things in dark corners. All the windows and doors were locked just the way I had left them and nothing was disturbed anywhere (apart from me!). As for my four cats - they had rushed out of the house the minute Socks rushed in, so they weren't around to tell me their side of the story either.

So I believe one of two things happened. 1. We had a ghost visit who'd said something insulting to Socks as he/she passed through the locked door, or 2. We had a burglar who managed to get by Socks in the first place, came into the house, didn't steal anything and locked up after wards. Maybe he just tried on my clothes before he left - that would explain Socks focusing on my cupboard.