Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Something odd has happened to our cat Misty. 

He’s always been good looking of course, and he’s also always been fun, but to enjoy that fun has in the past required a measure of sado-masochism. Particularly on my part.

He became quite wild and, frankly, a bit surly. He insisted on being let in early in the morning to have a bite to eat, after which he would slip out again, I presume for what the Americans so delicately call a comfort break, and then insist on being let in again. He would go and lie down for a day’s rest on one of the beds. So he was indoors at a time when, on most days, we were out.

In the evening he would have another snack and then demand to be let out, for most of the night, though he might come in for part of the evening, when he would lie on Danielle’s lap – she, by treating him with sternness and contempt, had won his respect and affection while I, by meeting his every wish and even anticipating some of them – I would stand by the back door while he primped and preened himself until he decided he was ready to go out – had earned only his utter disregard. If I tried to take him on my lap, he would scratch or even bite me. Scratching, followed by biting if I didn't attend to him quickly enough, was also the way he would attract my attention, when he wanted more food, some water or for me to get out of his way when he wanted to climb up on to Danielle’s lap.

Well, recently he’s completely changed. He comes up to be stroked, even by me, he purrs all the time, he spends far longer indoors (admittedly, the weather isn't really conducive to being outside) and he’s just generally much nicer. Why, he’s even taken to lying on my lap when Danielle’s isn’t available. When he does that my legs basically freeze so I dont cause him any inconvenience, and I stroke him as though stroking a cat was going out of fashion, for just as long as he condescends to stay.

It’s quite extraordinary. He seems to like our little corner of Luton and apparently feels more relaxed there. It’s a wonderful and most welcome change.

In one direction, though, Misty always showed great affection, even in his fierce and aggressive time. That was to our dog Janka. Misty will regularly lie on one of Janka’s mats and when she comes near, he tries to get her to lie down next to him, reaching out with a paw to try to pull her alongside him. It doesn’t often work. She seems rather to resent finding him on one of her mats, as well she might.

Not that she dislikes him particularly. She just seems to regard him as a piece of the family that she’s content to have with us, but little more.

Now Janka’s very good at divining when we’re going to bed. She’ll ignore any number of trips upstairs when, somehow, she knows we’re going to come down again. She somehow knows, however, when it’s definitive, when we’re turning in for the night. Then she scrambles upstairs and into the bedroom, to stretch out on her no 2 mat, by our bed (on Danielle's side, of course).

Not last night. I interrupted my tooth-brushing when I heard Janka emit a few low, querulous barks. When I emerged I found her trying to go into another bedroom – not ours at all. It was dark and uninhabited but still she wanted to get in. So I took a look at our room and understood why she was upset: Misty had appropriated Janka’s mat. Clearly, as always, he was hoping Janka would join her, but though that was obvious to us, it wasn’t to Janka. All she saw was a very large cat hogging pretty well all of her much cherished bed. An interloper. An occupying force. A usurper.

The usurper ensconced on Janka's bed

She barked. ‘What the hell are you doing, you crazy cat?’ she was obviously snarling, ‘find your own bed – that one’s mine.’

Eventually she drove him out. ‘Be like that,’ he seemed to be saying, ‘I was only trying to be friendly.’

Eviction by the rightful owner
Janka couldn’t see the warmth. Misty couldn’t see that he had invaded her space.

Some tension between the two of them, then. But  for my part I’m just delighted that I’m not at the receiving end of any from Misty. I can’t remember when he last bit me. Long may it remain that way.

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