Why does that blasted dog have to come and stay when it’s a long weekend or when there’s a religious festival with food involved? This is MY time for sleeping late, extra hugs and tasty tidbits, not his. I don’t care if it’s his first birthday. I don’t care if he’s bigger than me. That idiot has absolutely destroyed the tartan mouse toy I got for Christmas. I never play with it but that’s not the point. It’s my toy and if anyone’s going to ruin it, it should be me! I’ve had to skulk around outside in the cold wondering where my next meal was coming from while slobbery chops got all the attention from Mummy. Even my friends were too scared to come around and visit me because HE’S there. Yet everyone seems to think that I’m perfectly okay with this. Well I’m not okay with it. My anxiety levels are through the roof!
I was hoping to talk to Whittaker about The Dog Problem. After his talk to our group a few months ago I felt so much more relaxed around dogs and Whittaker was so kind and approachable. But a few weeks ago, my sister Serafina broke the news to us that Whittaker had tragically been hit by a car just outside the library. This was typical of Whittaker – he loved the library and seeing all the people and the books, so I suspect his mind was elsewhere. He was rushed to the vet, but his injuries were too severe, and he had to be euthanised.
I felt more bereaved than I probably should’ve done and thinking about Whittaker now made me even more depressed. It wasn’t as though I’d known him that long, but he had become my hero and I never imagined for a moment he would end up as just another tawdry road traffic statistic. Sadly, Whittaker is not the only cat to meet an untimely end on the roads around the village lately. Nobody else I knew personally but according to Serafina there is quite a list of grim tragedies.
Serafina wants to me to organise a series of workshops for cats on road safety and says that we should all take responsibility for what has happened. I don’t want to shirk my responsibilities, but I really don’t feel up to it at the moment and why the hell should I be answerable for every cat that gets killed by a car? To hear her talk, you’d think that I was the one driving like a maniac deliberately mowing down cats. It all makes me feel even more dreadful.
I’ve tried to tell her that I’d be the worst person to conduct workshops on road safety. I have a panic attack just thinking about crossing a busy road. Squeak does it all the time when he comes to my house and now I’ve started to worry about him. Maybe that’s what Serafina means when she says I should take responsibility. Maybe I should tell him not to leave the house? But who am I kidding? Squeak wouldn’t take a blind bit of notice of anything I said. That’s one of the things I like most about Squeak. He’s his own man.
As I plunged deeper into despair, Ron came round and managed to make me feel even worse.
“Got any food?” he said as he emerged from a flax bush and leapt onto the deck.
“Yeah but you can’t get inside. Mummy’s out and …”
“… ah, that’s right,” he said disappointed. “Is she still at the hospital?”
“What?!” Fear shot through my body like a lightning bolt along with the all too familiar sense of shame. The last time Mummy had to be taken to hospital was – well, it was when I tripped her up when I was still a young kitten.
“Calm down. She’s coming back … I think. Serafina’s owner has driven her to have a cat scan.”
“A cat scan?” My mouth suddenly went dry. It felt as though I’d been constantly licking myself for a fortnight. A wave of nausea spread through my body and I began to shake incontrollably. They knew. Or at least they would after this cat scan thing. Right now Mummy was probably being probed by forensic experts. Before long the police would be involved, and I’d be taken away and euthanised. Just like Whittaker. Except that Whittaker was an innocent victim and I wasn’t.
“Don’t panic,” said Ron seeing my woeful expression. “It’s nothing to do with cats. Serafina said it’s some kind of x-ray thing that they put on a computer – “ Ron’s voice trailed away and I suspected that this was all the information he had managed to retain. I sighed feeling deeply relieved and grateful to my sister Serafina. She was the only one who really knew what had happened on that fateful day two years ago when I tripped Mummy up and she ended up getting multiple sclerosis. I’ve tried to talk to Ron about it in the past but he’s pretty hopeless when it comes to the big issues.
To change the subject, I told Ron about The Dog Problem and he reckons that I need to do something to lift my self-confidence. He suggested I should catch a large bird and present it to Mummy as a clear demonstration of cat superiority and matchless hunting ability. I can see that going down like a lead balloon. For a start I’ve never been that good at catching birds although I once enjoyed a whiff of success by catching a slightly lame sparrow. The reaction I got from Mummy didn’t boost my self-confidence in any way that could be considered encouraging. I don’t want to relive that awful experience again. Suffice to say that there was a lot of shouting and I ended up staying indoors with a dirt box for a few days.
Despite this, Ron had planted a seed that had the makings of a reasonably good idea. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet, I have to say with all modesty, that I am darned good at catching rodents. I can single-handedly exterminate a nest of mice without too much trouble at all. But I needed a grand gesture – not just a tiny field mouse. I needed a fully-grown rat.
All of us cats know where the rats are but as a rule we leave them to the homeless cats. Rats can be quite fierce, and they put up much more of a fight than a mouse and you certainly don’t want to get too carried away and go after a gigantic water rat. They can be quite fun to chase but even a medium sized rat can be exhausting, and the cat doesn’t always win.
That night I sneaked out and identified a suitable target. I adopted my Ninja-style ambush approach catching it cleanly but he wasn’t giving up without a fight. In the struggle, I nicked its ear with my claw and it was bleeding profusely when I jumped through the bedroom window with my trophy. Mummy had been sound asleep but I knew she’d want to see this, so I let out a series of “look what I’ve got for you” meows. Unfortunately, the act of opening my mouth released the rat which, apart from the bleeding ear, seemed none the worse despite my foiled assassination attempt. The rat, myself and Mummy ran into the lounge in that order and I sensed a certain tension in Mummy’s voice. The rat disappeared god knows where and I found myself locked in the lounge with rat whilst Mummy went back to bed, leaving it to me to flush out the rat and sort the whole mess out. This wasn’t going quite how I’d planned.
Morning came and there was a palpable sense of disappointment once Mummy discovered an extraordinary amount of blood and learned that there was still a sizeable, healthy rat at large in the living room. I think at some point in the night I must have dozed off because I bleakly noticed that the sensors on Mummy’s new TENS unit had been chewed beyond recognition. She had bought it today after having the cat scan because the muscles in her back were very painful. Another complete fiasco! Feeling hopeless and dejected, I was banished to the bedroom whilst Mummy attempted to chase the rat out of the open sliding door.
From what I could hear she didn’t appear to be having any more success with the rat than I’d had. That rat had a sadistic cunning streak and without me there to supervise operations, Mummy had her work cut out. Then, from my vantage point looking out the bedroom window I saw Ron stroll in through the lounge slider. He was obviously hoping to cadge a bit of my food for his breakfast but I knew he’d be clean out of luck there. I settled down to watch the action. Ron was going to get a lot more than he bargained for.
Then everything happened at once. I heard Mummy shouting at Ron followed by a triumphant cry, then both the rat and Ron ran out the lounge slider. The rat ran into the bushes and Ron pelted headlong in the opposite direction toward the man cave. I have absolutely no doubt that Ron had no hand whatsoever in making that rat leave the house. Judging by his speedy exit, he was equally as scared of the rat as he was of Mummy shouting at him. Yet I have a funny feeling that Ron’s version of events will be subtly embellished every time the rat story is told amongst the cats in the village.
I got the most appalling telling off, but I knew she wouldn’t stay mad with me for long. Later after all the drama had subsided, the blood wiped away and the TENS sensors disposed of, she poured a glass of wine and sat down to her computer. I cheekily jumped up on the tabletop and looked skyward, purring loudly and adopting my most angelic look.
I was back in the good books again.