Heinlein’s Cat

One of our cats understands English and can walk through walls and locked doors.

sleeping cat

Foster-cat: happy and dreaming of the seagulls he can chase

Foster Cat had to go to the vet today to get his broken fang removed under general anaesthetic, and have the second of his vaccinations done. The poor old boy had been starved since 6pm the night before and he was a bit confused as to why his life of luxury had changed. He protested loudly at the indignity of having to use a litter tray. He told us in no uncertain terms that he was hungry. Last night he lifted his tail and sprayed on The Boss because he’d said the V-E-T word aloud in Foster Cat’s hearing. This morning he peed on me for daring to put him in his cat basket.

Assessing the weight-velocity ratio of the local seagulls, and likelihood of catching one

On the 10 minute drive to the vet, Foster Cat amused himself by pretending to be dead: he miaowed plaintively, then gave a long, loud, truncated howl, then made no noise until I stopped the car and ran round to check on him. Then he started up the cycle again. Me and the minxes got to the vets, nerves in tatters.

I think I’m now looking for a new vet. Two weeks ago when I took him initially to our usual vet, I was told that he needed to have a complete primary vaccination course again (ie 2 jags, some weeks apart), a fang out, and a scale and polish. I agreed to the extraction (he was in pain – can’t have that!), but explained that he gets really stressed travelling – could we save him a journey and get everything done at once? The vet agreed, said that he could have the 2nd jag 2 weeks later whilst he was having his tooth sorted, and so we booked in for today. You can imagine, then, how grumpy I got when I was told at lunchtime when I phoned to check on him that he in fact *couldn’t* get the jag, and would have to return next week – there needed to be a gap of 3-4 weeks. I tried to pressurise the surgery to have the vet visit him at home to do it and save him some stress – her mistake, so surely it was the least she could do? Non. And don’t even start me on the impact this almost had on a last minute short little holiday I’d booked, with the cats at a friend’s new cattery. The owner and I pored over a flow diagram explaining when cats were safe to go to a cattery. I’d rather miss the camping trip than put Foster Cat’s health at risk, but we both think he’s fine to go. Phew!

When he returned home tonight, he looked a bit groggy, so we gave him his favourite dinner: pouch of chicken cat food in gravy (he’s no connoisseur). He settled at the top of the stairs and looked a bit out of sorts. I stroked his big, panther head for a bit. He stretched right out and put his head on my lap, purring like a lion, rubbing his chin on my knees. We had a bit of a moment, there, me and the old boy. He’s never let me tickle and rub and stroke him for so long – he’s strictly a “60 seconds and that’s enough of all that nonsense, thanks, where are your standards, stiff upper lip, what?”, kind of cat. I’d been a bit worried about him having an op, but I hadn’t realised just how much till then, when he was safely home and had forgiven us for bundling him in the basket! I think giving him second dinner helped with that…

“Bow before me, Furball” said King Cat

I guess that’ll be him back to normal, then, letting himself in and out. He can open any door on a mortice lock by balancing on his hind legs and pulling down the lever handle until the door opens. At night, he regularly scares the bejasus out of me by suddenly appearing at the sliding doors, up on his back paws, mouth open and front paws squeaking eerily down the panes. Foster Cat? More like Zombie Cat!

And the claim about walking through walls? Well, how else can a massive cat lumber from room to room totally unseen and unheard? Although his favourite spot in the house is at the end of Midi Minx’s bed (aye, he recognises a kindred rascally spirit in my 4 year old!), sometimes he goes missing. Then, The Boss will start at one end of the house, I’ll start at the other, but despite searching everywhere, we regularly can’t find him. Only to have him appear a minute or 2 later from somewhere that it’s *impossible* to hide in, eg the bathroom.

His owners (my brother and his family) are abroad for a few years and miss him terribly. They call him the Terrorist and say he’s always been like this. Today I’m reflecting on how much this tricksy, wilful, gentle, funny old cat is loved, and by so many people: Maxi whispered that she loves him even more than Killer Cat (shhhhhh, her real name is Daisy).

PS In case the title is bothering you, Robert A Heinlein wrote a book titled “The Cat Who Could Walk Through Walls”

How Many Beaches in One Day?

I felt pretty yuck yesterday (11 July) – my Mum would have been 64, and it suddenly really upset me. I guess that’s the thing with grief: you think you’ve learned to live with it, and it suddenly kicks you up the arse. Anyway, I could either have mooched around feeling sorry for myself all that grey day, or I could gather up the minxes and get out to the beach in the bracing wind. What do you think I did..?

I asked the minxes what they fancied doing that day: CBeebies or how about the beach? They each bounced up and down in glee and asked if they could have boiled eggs in their picnic (Note: normal kids would have asked about buckets and spades, sandcastles, etc.) So: eggs hard-boiled, cartons of juice packed, sandwiches made, little pots of raspberries, cherries and baby tomatoes compiled, a ton of tissues (Midi’s sporting green bogeys) and nappies packed, and we were off.

Yeah, it’s tricky with 3 little minxes and just me to keep them out of mischief. I’m often asked how I cope. I reply that I don’t. The reality is that I employ strict discipline and very low expectations. And take a car if we have to go further than a mile. Well, the weather threatened to turn to ‘downpour’; a car offers an impromptu picnic and nappy-change spot; it can also cart the Sherpa-load of food and clothes changes you generally need.

We hit the middle of Cummingston beaches, the one that’s normally really interesting for beach-combing. Last time we were there we found enough good green sea glass to make 2 necklaces, and even a bit of red sea glass and a little cowrie shell. Yesterday? Nothing. Unless you count the red plastic diesel container. And the hundredweight of limpet shells that Maxi attempted to collect, probably for her latest beach sculpture. Hmph. Even she agreed it wasn’t a great day for beach-combing, so we ate half the picnic and wandered to the next beach (oooo, all of a few metres) and checked out the rock-pools. Nope, no sea anemones or starfish today. So we toddled a few more metres along to the next beach, a clean, sheltered, sandy cove. Maxi built some castles that looked suspiciously like the mountain sculptures from ‘Close Encounters fo the 3rd Kind’, Midi scampered around the sandstone slabs checking out the relative traction of her bare feet versus her wellies (that’s my girl!) and Mini licked the baby barnacles that made the rock face look like Moon rock. I got the hint that she wanted the rest of her lunch…

We watched a huge group of people from an Outdoor Centre set up 2 top-ropes over on Cummingston stacks. Bless, with all their orange helmets they looked like baked beans on toast! Watching the nesting seagulls catch food for their hatchlings reminded us not to go near the natural arches or caves. After an hour or so, we moved camp all of 2 minutes walk to the swing-park, where the minxes really enjoyed themselves. Midi especially clambered up and down the mini climbing wall, and tried to teach Mini how to place her feet and do it. Obviously I had to stay spotting for Mini, so Midi took some pictures because Maxi was busy dangling upside down on a rope somewhere. With Midi’s sudden speech development, and new climbing and photography skills, she’s becoming quite the accomplished little 4 year old!

Alas, we had to get home to take Foster-Cat to the vet. I was aware that his Real Owners had let his vaccinations slip for lots of reasons, but I wanted the vet to check him over anyway. He’s about 13 years old, seems to be quite active, still, and is hungry all the time. He’s a big cat, but is it fat? Am I feeding him too much or too little? I also have a firm belief that he understands English: he’ll sit on the doorstep mat and look disdainfully at me when I open the door to let him in, not moving until I say, “No, no, after you, Your Majesty”. Also, ever since I mentioned the word v-e-t, he’s suddenly started peeing against the minxes’ tent, my tent, the sofa, the kitchen cabinets… Maybe he’s getting his own back on me, because when I talk to him I affect a fake old man voice, like Grandad Tumble on CBeebies. Oh man, you don’t think he can read, do you?!

Anyway, he miaowed pitifully in his cat basket, but was good as gold at the vet, relishing all the strokes and attention. The vaccination was trouble-free, I got good advice, he’s a fit, healthy cat, and… he needs his broken tooth out. Ouch. And ouch in my wallet, too, but I can’t have him in constant toothache, can I? Poor old boy – it’s been broken off for a while. But the vet assures me he’ll be fine under anaesthetic. Hope so.

Whilst at the vet’s, the minxes were super-hyped up. Mini had only had 10 minutes nap, so her eyes were spinning and whirling, and she was on a different planetary system to the rest of us mortals. Maxi was very interested in everything going on around her, with lots of new, exciting posters to read and comprehend, so was totally oblivious to her family and cat. Midi was a little star: I’d warned them all beforehand that I’d have my hands full with a heavy cat and 3 tired little girls, so Maxi was in charge of Midi, Midi was in charge of Mini, and Mini was in charge of Foster Cat. Midi decided that she’d actually be in charge of everyone because they just weren’t up to it, so tried to responsibly hold her sisters’ hands in the carpark, whilst holding on to me, the cat basket, and open all the doors for us. She just didn’t get that she couldn’t do everything at once (awwwwww) so caused many a snarl-up. She tried so hard! It left me wondering where my Naughtiest Little Minx had gone. Not too far below the surface I think. I hope… 😉

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