Saturday, 11 February 2012

The call of the wild: not always irresistible

The great outdoors is a challenging place. Misty, always an outdoor cat, has had particular cause to make that observation recently.

He has, as I’ve pointed out before, become much more affectionate recently, even on a few occasions coming to lie on my legs while I’m watching Boardwalk Empire, for instance, a huge improvement over his earlier inclination to limit all interaction with me to the occasional scratch when he wanted my attention, followed up with a bite if I didn’t respond quickly enough.

He’s even taken to sleeping on our bed at night again, not something he ever used to do, regarding it as a waste of time when he could have been out terrorising — usually briefly and horrifically — the local population of small rodents. But it’s clear that this tendency to curl up with us may not be entirely motivated by affection.

In his new mild-mannered persona, Misty no longer nips my ankles when he wants to go out. These days he just sits quietly and patiently by the back door until we wake up to his needs and slide the door open. The other day, though, when the blast of cold air hit him he started back, took a look at the treacherously gentle white blanket on the ground, turned and fled.

He hadn’t altogether understood the situation though. A few minutes later I found him by the front door. Presumably his thinking was that if leaving by the back door only led him into this unpleasant snow stuff, which had insolently turned up without so much as a by your leave, he’d try a different door in the hope that on that side of the house the world had a more benign aspect. 

Imagine his disappointment when he found this wasn’t the case. He gave me a filthy look, as though to say he’d expected more of me. ‘This is no better than the other side, you poor fool,’ he seemed to be saying, ‘did you think I’d put up with this kind of behaviour at the front of the house having already rejected it at the back?’ Fortunately, in his new mild incarnation he didn’t resort to violence to express his displeasure as he most certainly would have done a few months ago.

Instead, with unwonted gentleness he resigned himself to becoming, temporarily at least, a house cat. 

It's safer indoors. 
Though I’m not sure I'd look for comfort where he does
And I’ve discovered that it wasn’t just a white threat he was avoiding, but a black one too: his nemesis, the black cat that roams this neighbourhood, has been giving him a bad time. Misty is one of the largest cats it has been my pleasure to know, but size isn’t everything, and the black is, sadly, more than a match for him. The other day Misty came back badly clawed and bitten under his jaw. 

Such is his dominance over me that I didn’t even think ‘ha! a touch of your own medicine, my lad. May it be a lesson to you.’ Oh no. I immediately agreed with Danielle that veterinary treatment was a must, and urgent, with no expense spared. The antibiotics and painkillers have done a wonderful job apparently, even causing him twice to vomit on newly changed bedclothes, but hey, that's all part of the delight of cat ownership.

These days he goes outside rarely, sometimes only when we push him out (I don’t know why I saw ‘we’: Danielle’s the only one with the courage to treat him that way, the only one who has inspired enough respect in him that he doesn’t treat her with the highly effective viciousness he would inflict on me if I tried that kind of thing). Or occasionally he goes out with Janka: nothing like a dog, Misty seems to feel, to make good tracks to step in through the snow. 

To say nothing of how effective a large black protector is at at keeping a vile black interloper at bay.

Misty's protector. But she likes the snow


Anonymous said...

Even if I don't share your enthusiasm for cats and dogs, I entirely share your enthusiasm for Boardwalk Empire. Would you call it a suitable heir to The Sopranos?


David Beeson said...

We're really enjoying - and yes it's a most worthy heir!