Pouncedaries shifting

The cats are at it again. One moment you think you’ve finally figured them out and then they go and change everything. Or in this case, they’ve redefined boundaries. Now, it didn’t happen overnight and certainly not all of a sudden, yet it seems as if from one day to the other the Brothers have done some hatchet-burying and engaged in a bit of sibling-bonding. At least they don’t try to murder each other anymore when one comes within clawing distance of the others. We even caught them napping together ! Well, sort of. Close anyway. Nose-to-butt close at least. Brusque moves are still a big no-no and heavily frowned (and raked) upon, but we dare to hope they might one day meet up and won’t start a claw-fest on the spot.

The relationship between the two Brothers has always been a rather thorny one. Loup-Garou may have initiated tentative ouvertures towards Zorro when both were but kitlings, but after 9 years of suffering he has learned well enough to leave his bro’ to his evil devices. Zorro has always gravitated towards the tender care and undying friendship of Critter the Dog anyway. But when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge last year he was at a loss. Literally. Having lost his staunch ally, his shoulder to cry on, his soft and warm buddy to lean to, the hapless tuxedo-tom floundered in a veritable sea of emptiness and loneliness and his mourning threw him into the deepest depression I’ve ever had the distinct displeasure to witness.

But then Bean Sidhe happened. The Kitten From Hell is the über-socializer of the House of Chaos and has never ceased his efforts to get that big ol’ putty-tat to ease up on the inter-feline détente. Bereft of his surrogate mom old mean Zorro has no choice now but to seek solace elsewhere and our chubby cheerful coonie-mix has taken it upon his little furry shoulders to help the old grouch develop a more kind and genteel disposition. That doesn’t mean Zorro isn’t struggling with it however, but you can see him trying. At least Bean Sidhe is the only feline to my knowledge who has never been attacked by Zorro. Apart from the odd swipe maybe, but with “attack” I meant “open wounds, blood squirting if not running, a shivering wreck cowering in a corner”. None of that has happened with little sweet Bannikins yet and we have high expectations of his apparent ability to avoid Zorro’s claw-fest tendencies.

Nevertheless, you can imagine my shock and initial bout of disbelief when I observed Zorro sitting on the sisal mat next to the feeding bowls (that mat tends to migrate from the workshop to the living-room to the kitchen and back and is currently located at the feeding bowls) when Bean Sidhe sauntered over for a quiet snack and smack! planted his rather formidable behind squarely on… Zorro’s slightly less-substantial behind. Tails entwined. Backs itched. But neither feline budged so much as a hair and stoically sat there: one munching blissfully, the other staring moodily off in the distance. Had Loup-Garou done the dastardly deed the living-room would have been too small, the kitchen too. It would have been messy. But with sweet chubby Bannikins anything goes and apparently so did Zorro’s usually explosive temper. Not even a claw was hinted at. It was a marvel to behold, and a memory to treasure for telling the great-grandkids on long cold dark winter nights to come.

But yes, the times they are a-changin’. Somehow Loup-Garou and Zorro have managed to hammer out a co-existence that does no longer involve the fine art of kin-slaying. These days one can be regaled at the sight of two black-haired felines softly snoring in unison and in touching distance to boot. When they meet somewhere in the House of Chaos no longer is it “out come the talons and up goes the hair” but “wearily the antagonists observe each other from over the Iron Curtain”. A careful sniff is enacted prior to the twain disbanding again with tails held high in supreme disdain for the other. And when food is doled out we no longer have to watch out for the twofold 16-taloned buzz-saw, but just the press of lithe feline bodies trying to push each other out of the bowls.

Yet… Traces of his old grumpy self doth linger in Zorro’s nature. One can quietly observe a Loup-Garou blissfully soaking up the sun while enjoying a peaceful nap in the veranda and behold a Zorro sneaking by, reaching out with a tentative paw, and then rake his brother good and well with one swift hacking swipe before dashing off to the garden in pursuit of mischief there. Zorro is still very fond of practical jokes, the kind of jokes that end up with the first-aid-box being needed, but at least he doesn’t want to see dead bodies. No. Not killing your dearly beloved brother ensures much more fun to be had in the future, when you can repeat your cruel sibling-bashing to your heart’s content. You see… siblings can’t run away from you. They’re family.

Picture below: Caught in the act… Bean Sidhe sitting on Zorro. It’s a pity they shifted just before I took the picture !

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Melancholy grey

This afternoon, on my way to the baker, I found to my dismay that a neighbouring cat passed away on the sidewalk. He might have been killed by a car but -mercifully for passing children- of any sign of injury, apart from his pathetic remains looking downright and thoroughly flattened, nothing was visible. A considerate yet unknown person apparently had picked him up and deposited the small furry body on the soft green grass growing between the road and the sidewalk, then walked away. An elderly neighbour called the police for removal of the remains and was trying to find out who owned the deceased pet because it still had a fairly new and clean collar attached. The old man had stopped me because he wondered if I knew who might have owned the cat and also because he needed someone to listen to his story anyway. With the utmost respect for his age taught to my by my much beloved Mother, how could I not oblige ? And besides, I had known the cat: a gorgeous generously-pelted dark-grey orange-eyed ex-tom yet I never knew his name.
May the Goddess kindly keep his furry little soul in Her ever-loving embrace.

This sad happenstance comes with a grey-clouded day and a drizzle bringing a chill to everyone, so it has turned me melancholy indeed. But I remember. Oh yes, I remember. The same drizzle that had the baker complaining about the weather had so lovely adorned the pelt of the dead cat it had me pausing in bittersweet reflection. It was as if Mother Nature had deigned to caress him one last time and at the same time subtly enhanced his now-faded beauty for all to admire. Tiny tiny silver little droplets arranged on the unmoving pelt in a most decorous pattern like an epithet that cried out how preciously short our time is on this world and how beauty is but temporary. Tiny tiny silver little droplets arranged like a chilly-cold blanket on the lifeless form that had once been a living breathing exquisite and magnificent purring being. So small a life and yet… it had been the world to someone who had so lovingly selected a bright red collar with bright yellow and green spots to enhance this formidable beauty.

And a formidable feline he had been ! Oh yes I remember… Orange-Eyes proudly strutting along the sidewalk, on a leash with his caretaker. Not afraid at all of my late German Shepherd who was as always mightily interested in anything small and furry whose very form cried out to her fuzzy and eternally befuddled canine brain as being “puppy” and thus “something to be cuddled and licked and nuzzled to within an inch of its life” and would thus make her descend on the hapless furry being with all of her 45-kilo canine charm. Not an inch did he back away, but looked at her with those mesmerizing enormous orange orbs in which you could drown if you didn’t watch out. But just in case, just to be on the safe side, you never know do you, he had puffed out his grey coat to a respectable size anyway. Not in the least intimidating the over-maternal canine of course, but he couldn’t have known it. He did seem to recognize, however, the complete, utter and total absence of menacing growls and flashing canines (oh, was that a pun ?) and so he settled for being nuzzled. Only when the tongue came out did he respond in kind with his talons. Which made Critter reconsider immediately on her maternal devotions to anything furry and small. It was a tribute to her gentle character that a fight did not ensue, but it was in no small amount equally due to the cat’s cheerfully chubby disposition. And this would happen from time to time as chance had it. Purrs and head-butts ? Oh yes I remember.

We all have our time and place under the Heavens, and sooner or later we all have to say goodbye and venture out into the next adventure that is life on this crazy rock. And when that happens we happily leave the mortal shell behind and the being that is “me” or “you” goes on to whatever fun is to be had Elsewhere. However, those of us who stay behind for a little while longer are left with the sad remains and we wonder, we cry… and we remember too. I dread to find any of the feline denizens of the House of Chaos the same way one day as I have found Orange-Eyes today, for a car does not easily stop for a hapless feline crossing the road and despite a speed-limit of 30 kilometers per hour due to a school being at the end of the road the cars racing down our road rarely do so at slow speed. Certainly not the ambulances who need to reach the hospital in the other street as soon as possible. I can only hope I have taught my furry friends well, the Brothers have proved over the years to be wary enough of the traffic, and young Bean Sidhe at least seems suitably impressed by the roar and ruckus of the metal monsters to keep him frozen with frightened immobility on the sidewalk whenever he plans to cross the street and sees one approaching.

And now, I mourn for Orange-Eyes. Such a sad end to a life that hadn’t reached its natural fullness yet, for he was not yet old in years and bent under the infirmities and indignities of age. Would he have suffered ? I don’t think so: his eyes stared unseeing into an eternity we can only guess at, his little furry face not contorted with the agony of death-throes I have seen on other poor purrling’s faces. It must have been swift. Merciful.
I can only pray it was.

Picture below:
Now that we are on the subject of Those Who Are No Longer Here… This is a picture of the late unlamented Rataplan Frankenstein. He looked quite reprovingly at me: “Why use this silly lion picture for a mousepad when you have the Very Real Thing in da house ? Now gimme a back-rub with that mouse !”

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Want to find less gloomy environs ? Then board the Friday Ark for a small yet refreshing voyage. Or visit the Carnival Of The Cats next Monday where light entertainment awaits the sore and moody.

What got his tongue ?

Bean Sidhe is awfully silent these days. You greet him in the morning, and his furry cherubic face would split open in the wide smile we have come to know and adore, and out comes… nothing. Not even a squeak. Clearly he was about to emit his cheerful “meee-eee-eee-eee-w-eee-w-ew-ew-eew” and like us he suddenly notices something is wrong. Snap! says the snout and a mucho bewildered kitty stares at us with forlorn eyes. No cheerful ditty.

This sudden loss of voice needed inquiry, and so the hapless kitten, al 4,5 kilos of his, was firmly but gently taken into The Mistress’ arms and a thorough inspection was performed on his furry chubby form. An indication as to what may have happened was soon discovered: apparently he got hurt, and terribly so, and must have screeched his little lungs out and his vocal cords into oblivion. Was it a fight ? No other marks were visible. Was it an accident ? Possibly. A deep scratch mars the perfection of his white inner thigh-pelt and a wad of fur had already formed to top it off. Said wad was instantly popped open by The Mistress’ inquisitive thumb-nail and it revealed the gash that was underneath.

Now, a wound in the inner thigh can look spectacular but isn’t really that bad. There is lots of loose skin there and in Bean Sidhe’s case only the layer of skin seems to have been breached, not the muscles underneath. Thus next The Mistress did what every sensible cat-servant does when confronted with an open wound: she sniffed at it, checking it out for infection – which has a rather distinct smell, as everyone who has ever lanced an abcess can tell you. Nothing smelled amiss however, the wound seemed to be clean, adding strength to the hypothesis that it must have been an accident. Cats’ claws and teeth are filthy and always lead to abcesses. In this case only a dollop of isobetadine liquid was needed in order to disinfect the wound and our little furry patient was subsequently left to his devices.

Such a neat and pleasant patient too ! Bean Sidhe submitted meekly to my gentle ministrations and even when I hurt him by probing and inspecting the wound he would only place his paws on my cheeks with the hint of a threat from his claws, but his heart wasn’t really in it. He’s such a darling ! And when I used the isobetadine salve on his wound this morning he just let me be at it and made no fuss at all. I wish all our feline denizens were like him. His lack of voice added to his misery though, since he could not voice his protest as is his wont. There’s just a croak. A feeble one. Poor Bannikins…

It’s been 3 days now since we discovered his injury and he still hasn’t got his voice back. But what he is most definitely not is pathetic. Oh no, apart from him needing a bit more sleep than usual, I’ve rarely seen him so feisty as in the past few days, playing with the other cats all the time and generally being the holy terror he usually is – albeit a bit more so. It is as if he wants to forget his pain by immersing himself in pleasureful activities. Even Zorro, the mean grumpy cat-hating feline, has proved to not be immune to the little one’s charms and has deigned to engage in boisterous play with the kitten. No fights whatsoever, which mightily amazes -and delights- the simian denizens of the House of Chaos. There’s just a lot of cat-me-if-you-can all over the place. Zorro has never been seen playing with fellow felines before and it was a marvel to behold.

We did have to wipe away a tear though. The day before yesterday we saw Bean Sidhe playing with Zorro the latter’s well-known “jack-in-a-box” game, which Zorro used to play with the late woofie Fenris exclusively. But instead of Zorro hiding in a box it was Bean Sidhe who was tucked away in the laundry basket. Zorro would then saunter by, all innocence and ignorance of the dire fate awaiting him, and Bean Sidhe would jump out and “scare” the older cat. Just like in the old days with Fenris. Back then it was Zorro who would jump on the 40-kilo German Shepherd who would then act suitably spooked. On and on they played it, all day long. And now it seems Zorro has finally gotten over his hostility against fellow felines and has taught the game to the youngster. Oh joy.

Still, it left somewhat to be desired. When he played with Fenris Zorro would also emit fearful sounds to add to the spookiness of the game. Bean Sidhe, at the moment literally speechless, has to do it mute.
But maybe that is the trick that turned the old cat-hater friendly. Maybe, because Ban-Ban can’t make growling and screeching sounds at the moment, does the older cat not feel threatened. It might be the lack of voice means lack of menace and the older cat feels more secure because of that.
I’d better not administer the honey then.

Picture below:
Bean Sidhe (in sign language): “Boo”
Zorro: “Yup, I’m scared”

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Charm Offensive

Bean Sidhe has discovered begging. No, serious. Until this day it seemed as if he didn’t know what begging was. He would sit next to you and not stare hungrily at your breakfast but keeping an eye on it nevertheless, and then -when his patience ran out and no tasty titbits were forthcoming- he would simply climb you and grab whatever you were planning to transfer to your digestive system with the air of one who owns all he surveys and knows he can get away with just about anything ‘coz he’s cute. Not so anymore though, now he will weave his little dance of meowls just like the others: huge moist eyes pleading, long-suffering misery written on his furry little face, whiskers semaphoring utter starvation, paws trembling and tail beseeching. He wouldn’t stoop down to Loup-Garou’s pathetic “iew” though. His call for alms comes out like a raspy “awrewr” and the message is clear enough… “feed me”.

It didn’t add: “… or suffer the consequences.” He hasn’t gone into the threatening stage yet, something which is more of Zorro’s territory. Zorro’s idea of a charm offensive is being offensive, charming is for sissies like his behated brother. He likes to come over, have a good scrutiny of whatever meal you were starting to dig in, then position himself next to a vulnerable body part, and just when you think he’s loosing his interest you suddenly -but subtly- find a very sharp body part of his gently resting upon yours. With the unspoken invitation of ripping you to shreds if a shred of food won’t make its way to his mouth. Now.

Cats can be very charming when they want it. Such magnificent creatures, so fastidious in their appearance, cannot but be manipulative to the core when it comes to getting what they want. It might puzzle you, since the miniature tigers shouldn’t need the art of subtle convincing when they have a veritable built-in arsenal at their disposal, but you should remember that the cat is -in essence- a lazy animal. Why should he exert his beautiful body for such mundane things as stealing or fighting for food when threatening bloody murder will do just the trick and won’t involve any of those exhausting things like actually moving, scratching and biting ? Besides, his fur could get ruffled in the process.

Thus the cats have invented the Food Dance. That strange weaving-between-the-simian’s-legs which is actually not intended to trip you over, but to put your attention firmly upon the two most important items in the household: the food in your hands and the cat at your feet. Both should be combined as soon as possible, if the cat has anything to say in the matter, and his frantic calling regarding the subject is meant to add emphasis to the message. If there is more than one cat present the calling gets a more urgent tone and even greater volume, since he must now compete with other hungry feline mouths and he can’t be sure his will out-call the others. You get the dubious honour of a cat-serenade: a polyphonous cat-a-phony of frantic “feed me”-messages brought to you by the sweetest voice a cat thinks he has. At the House of Chaos this means a close harmony of “mOw”, “iew” and “awrEwr”, but if The Mistress is slow with the unloading of the grub it becomes “MEOW”, “MIEW” and “MEAW” which is actually more pleasing to the ears. The feline denizens of the House of Chaos have yet to discover that food is coming in more slowly these days because their voices are improving.

Bean Sidhe has to work on improving his begging techniques though. When those trademark huge moist pleading feline eyes appear at your knee and you peer down into his pathetic-looking furry face from over your breakfast the trick for said feline is to use that special moment by delicately placing a soft but urging paw upon your knee, for utmost dramatic effect. Said feline should not however endeavour into this powerful bit of feline persuasion with a muddy paw on a simian’s new clothes. It somehow puts the human off, it somehow breaks the carefully constructed atmosphere of cuteness begging. At that point the charm offensive turns into simply offensive and all feline hopes of acquiring the coveted morsels must be abandoned forthwith. Insisting won’t help, since it will only enrage the simian further. Just lick your paws and your pride and wait for a better day.

Still, he’s learning. He’s been observing the brothers and no doubt he’s been having chats with the neighbourhood cats as well. Just imagine a rugged bunch of tough neighbourhood toms and they’re sitting there with the youngster talking shop… on the subject of begging. I do wonder what tips they’d be swapping… “go for the Moist Look, try to sniff an onion lad” or “you would work on that meow, don’t try to imitate an old hand like Lou-Lou, establish your own style” maybe. It certainly would include: “place that paw slowly kid, re-e-a-a-l slowly and make that touch-down count”. But I guess they forgot to mention that most important tip of all: “wipe your paws mate, y’ain’t wanna beg wif muddy paws”.

Picture below: Bean Sidhe at age 4 months still had to grab the finer points of begging…

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Be sure to visit the Carnival of the Cats tonight, where our feline friends frolic…

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A purring bed-mate

The British hotel-chain Travelodge has done some research and came with interesting findings: they have discovered that more men than women sleep with a teddybear. 20 % of the male respondents to a query, and 15 % of the female respondents, admitted that they need a teddy-bear in order to fall asleep. 63 % respondents said they need a hug from their partner. 8 % of the women and 3 % of the men sprayed perfume or aftershave of the partner on a pillow in order to feel less lonely in bed. Oh my. And to think that all you really need is a cat…

Cats are our friends. They are our companions in good times and bad times. A cat will always snuggle close to you (if you allow him to that is) and the soothing rumble of his purrs will always gently lullaby you to sleep. All of this in return for some kibbles and a bowl of water, a roof above his head and a pillow underneath his royal feline posterior, a caress and a friendly word. The cat seems demanding, but all he really wants in return for his precious friendship and company is a bit of comfort. Perfect deal.

Okay, I must admit that there are some cats who won’t snuggle close to you. Some are cranky and hate it, some won’t trust you, some prefer the quiet of their own little nests. But most can’t resist the soft lure of The Nest: seductively beckoning them with the fluffy-soft pillows and the down-filled cover, enticing the feline with promises of good snuggles and a warm comfortable repose to come if he would only submit to the good-gracious all-encompassing glow of its home-coming embrace. The Nest is Home. The Nest is where the simians retire to after a long day of hard work, where they can unwind and relax, and do feel disposed to treat an enterprising kitty with the overload of scritches and snuggles any self-respecting kitty covets. It is Quality Time for all to enjoy and revel in. A moment of true bonding between hedonist and servant.

So why be content with a lifeless ball of plastic pelt when you can have the real and warm living, breathing, wriggling, purring scratchy thing ? Granted, a cat needs a bit of maintenance and he can at times be a grand nuisance, but when you compare his lithe body with an inanimate lump of faux fur, his glittering eyes full of malice and glee with two dead plastic buttons, his raspy tickly little tongue with a plastic of felt flap, his mobile and sensitive aural organs with two flaps of whatchamacallit mystery tissue, his prehensile and downy-soft tail with a stump you’d rather not look too closely at, and his fuzzy soft little paws with several lifeless appendages not worth the bother of identifying what they were made of… who will win ? The cat of course ! That smiling walking talking breathing living doll !
Well yes, I admit, a cat smirks, and prowls, and meows. But you get the message.

Now picture this… it’s the end of yet another typical day that was filled with all kinds of nuisances (bosses) and stress (bosses) but now you ease your tired body down unto The Nest and prepare for a few hours of bliss. Then you hear the soft patter-patter of The Real Boss entering the room. He slowly sails over to The Nest and his crooked tail imperiously inquires whether there is a.) an occupant and b.) the occupant has fingers with which the owner of said tail can be scritched. Curiosity satisfied the cat then hops onto The Nest and occupant and demands instant satisfaction of long-starved senses by deft application of fingers to pelt. The Purr-motor spurs into action, and feline limbs start administering proper encouragement of the Good Stuff forthcoming (hey, it worked with Mama Cat to get Milk didn’t it ?) while the rest of the feline form undulates under the gentle caresses in order to get each and every spot thoroughly pleasured. Then movement slows down, into a physical equivalent of drowsy murmuring, and the rumbling purr slowly ceases while the source of said purr gently drifts off into slumber. A warm body now lies snuggled into the crook of your arm, or on your shoulder, or anywhere else where the cat finds it’s comfortable, and you -the human- find yourself gazing down upon the prone and somnambulant cat wondering how the heck did this killing machine get this close to your jugular. In case you didn’t notice… you’re sleeping with a tiger.
Now, what kind of teddy-bear is a match for that ?

In the Nest of Chaos there are usually 2 of these furry bed-mates active: Loup-Garou and Bean Sidhe. Only very rarely does Zorro feel he needs the human presence badly enough to risk sleeping in the vicinity of his brother. Or any other cat for that matter. And on those nights when he does deign to grace The Nest with his august presence you won’t find any of the other felines around. Maybe Bean Sidhe might try to sneak in, but he’s become wiser over the past months, and has taken to rather avoid Zorro’s ire than provoke it – even if he does win the ensuing fights. Bean Sidhe seems to be developing a kind of sensitivity to the dignity of the older cats that we didn’t expect from our clowny coonie. But then, perhaps to Bean Sidhe’s eyes, we are all teddy-bears to play and snuggle with, and Zorro is merely a booby-trapped teddy-bear.

Pictures below:

A very very rare occurence… Zorro sleeping in The Nest, and on The Mistress’ pillow no less ! (Bad quality due to picture having been taken with a cell phone at night, Grumpy Man turned on the light and The Mistress was Not Amused…)
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Bean Sidhe giving an excellent demonstration of a booby-trapped teddy-bear.
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Sense in the schnozzles

The feline, one of nature’s most fastidious creatures, has some weird and disgusting habits. We find it most surprising for such a neat creature, so obsessed with his good looks he spends more than half of his waking time grooming his pelt to within an inch of absolute perfection, that he could deign himself to stoop to such revolting behaviour as resting his august posterior on a pile of dirty laundry or planting his bewhiskered snout smack into a rotting fish-head. But maybe the cats consider us humans to be the wacky ones ? What’s wrong with appreciating a strong yet succulent aroma ? What’s weird about relishing in the fragrance called Eau de l’Homme ? Are you monkeys nose-blind or what ?

Truth to tell we perhaps are. We rarely use our noses for anything else than sniffing out dinner, a partner or danger. Even smelling at flowers has become a rarity these days when people are more obsessed with how their dens smell than appreciating a flower’s fragrance. We prefer artificial olfactory-habitat-enhancers because flowers go bad after a few days and you have to dispose of the bodies on a regular basis. But that leaves a feline mightily puzzled… to his sensitive little schnozzle all artificial junk reeks the same and usually contains a bewildering plethora of all kinds of stinks jumbled together in a miasma that might please a nose-blind simian but terrorizes the much better equipped animal. Cheap incense gets them running for cover too, I know that for a fact, but usually because it is too concentrated at first. After an hour or two the disgusted felines trot back towards their usual spots and only then do they seem to approve of the atmosphere. Lavender and Sandalwood do have soothing properties after all.

Last week the Mistress opened up a bag of dry food with fish as the main ingredient. Grumpy Man complained of the ensuing stench but if you think it had the cats running for their bowls with relish you’d better think again. The company that makes the stuff adds extra smell in order to attract the customers but usually it attracts only the simian customers. The feline ones won’t care because they know darned well how to distinguish fake from real. If they come anyway it’s because they hear foodstuffs rattling down into their bowls and it might for a change be edible, you never know if a cat gets lucky. They are however very very interested in whatever I’m chopping up on the kitchen counter. If it’s meat and it’s what the simians eat… it must be a cat’s ambrosia.

The dirty laundry though, that’s another story entirely. There a lot of people who consider it utmost disgusting when a beloved feline companion settles down into a pile of worn clothes, stench and all. A man’s socks, his shirt from a hot summer day… the simian faints at the faintest whiff but the feline takes a good deep sniff. And why would he do it ? The answer, and hold on to your garters ‘coz it’s a beaut, is… love. Not the smooch-smooch-I-love-you love, but the I-feel-so-comfortable-with-you and you’re-safety-to-me love. The cat likes familiarity. All day long he spends much effort to impart his own personal odour onto you and your garments. The result is not only that both you and your wardrobe will start smelling slightly like him (to his honker at least, you won’t notice a whiff) and that he starts to recognize your smell as something familiar, something of “home”. It also explains why a cat will always and immediately take up residence on regular visitors’ clothes and bags as soon as he spots them lying around in the house… he wants to make certain that everything will smell like him as soon as possible, and if he actually likes the stranger he wants to pick up some of his/her scent too. It’s all cat-politics you see: if you smell like mine you are mine. “Mine” if familiar. “Mine” is safe. And at the end of the day, when a tired feline friend blissfully immerses himself in the smell of you by sinking down into that pile of dirty laundry, you can hear a contented purr rising slowly from the debris. The Cat Is At Peace With The World.

Trust a cat to sniff out the danger, even in the tiniest amounts present. The other simian denizens of the House of Chaos know when the Mistress has been using Sherry to enhance a delicious sauce in today’s dinner: the cats won’t touch the leftovers. Alcohol is poison to the cats. Likewise they won’t touch chocolate and steer clear of anything that contains caffeine. A cat always checks out his food by elaborately sniffing at it and only when the olfactory warning system has been satisfied that there is no danger present will he settle down and start shoveling the grub. Of course he also likes to experience a good whiff and you can see him enjoying inhaling the wafts gently undulating from warm meat. Zorro can sit next to me on my desk when I’m eating springrolls and his furry little nose twitches with every movement my hand containing the roll makes. You can clearly see him savouring the scents, whiskers quivering with delight, and it just makes your heart melt how he looks when a titbit makes his way towards that furry snout of his. Still he can’t resist giving it the sniff-over treatment before ingesting the proffered morsel. You never know with simians.

Picture below: Hmmmmm… Eau de Visiteur….
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Tufts’ terror

Visitors beware ! Ye who would enter the House of Chaos now and in the foreseeable future should be wary of the furry onslaught, the sneaky drifting will-‘o-the-wisps formerly known as pelt, the tufts’ terror… it’s close to springtime again and the feline denizens are moulting, shedding, prowling about in a cloud of fur.

A cat’s fur is his pride. He will go to great lengths in order to keep it in pristine order. Not for nothing does he spend more than half of his waking time grooming that magnificent cover nature has so generously endowed him with. Not for nothing has he been born with his own built-in brush, that spiky tongue of his, and a formidable set of combs, 16 claws to use with finicky precision. His lithe body is just made for all kinds of contortions which the kitty needs to perform if he is to keep his ears from growing green and the implant region of his caudal appendage from sprouting interesting lifeforms. The cat is fastidious in his appearance, but you have to admit it is worth the trouble. Ah, magnificence on paws…

But the splendour comes with a price. Everything in this mortal world decays and even the most lovely and strictly looked-after pelt will look tattered and bedraggled after some wear and tear. In order to keep this luxurious coat in prime condition one must regularly exchange the old matter for new glory. During Autumn the glossy cover is supplemented with extra down and a bit more of the covering hairs, in order to better withstand the rigours of winter, but in Spring the whole kaboodle has to come off and make way for new growth that will turn the feline into an even more spectacular specimen of the species Felix Sylvestris. (Actually it should be Felix Splendidis, but then I wasn’t that crazy 18th-century Swede who came up with all those weird Latin names…)

Right now I’m again brushing hairs off my keyboard. It wasn’t the first time today and I reckon it won’t be the last either. The stuff is just everywhere, and the worse is yet to come ! The Brothers have always been rather neat when it comes to their shedding: Loup-Garou somehow manages to keep most of his hair accumulating in The Nest, forcing the Mistress to change covers a tad more often, or elsewhere in the couch, which has a removable and washable cover for just that purpose, and Zorro for some reason never sheds much in the House of Chaos anyway. But enter The Kitten From Hell and everywhere you look there’s white and orange stuff floating about. Take a step and you find yourself in a white-orange cloud. Pick the mewling monster up and your shirt takes on a whole new colour-scheme if it wasn’t white-orange to begin with. Caress the little hulk and your hands have suddenly acquired a pelt of their own. I don’t even dare point a brush towards his general direction without donning a face-cover first. Did I mention I’m actually allergic to cats ?

Bean Sidhe, the proud offspring of a Maine Coon dam, does not sport the impressive long-maned coat and bushy tail of a full-blooded Maine Coon, but he sure packs a pelt. Touch him and you keep poking, trying to find a body underneath the fluff. Caress hm and you’re wondering how a fluff-ball like that can still find sensuous pleasure from your touch. There’s an enormous load of hair on that beastie and it all has to come off in the next 3 months. <SHUDDER> Fortunately the sun has lost his shyness and everytime the rain abates you will find our little dearheart outside terrorizing the denizens of the Garden of Chaos. When he’s out there he can’t shed in here, that’s a fact. And one welcomed with joy by the other denizens. The Brothers don’t like wallowing in the fur of another, certainly not licking up another’s hairs when they’re grooming themselves, and the simians are just plain happy there’s less of Bean Sidhe’s omnipresent fur to sneeze through. Did I mention Grumpy Man is allergic to cats too ?

And the fun is yet to come: Bouncing Psycho fishing fur from his coffee, the Mistress salvaging silky strands from the delicious dinners she’s preparing, Grumpy Man plucking pelt from his workshop machines. When Bean Sidhe enters full-moulting phase we’ll be ankle-deep in trouble and it’ll be from our own purring purrty tribble ! Can you imagine the onslaught ? Open the door of the House of Chaos and enter a cloud of white-orange down, sit down on the Couch of Chaos and try to find black-pelted Loup-Garou in the white-orange mess, accept a drink and enjoy the extra filter on top of it, tuck in the dinner and learn to fish for foodstuffs, pluff up your pillow and wonder why the filling is outside of it. Oh joy.

Yet the biggest ball of misery will be poor little Bean Sidhe himself. Imagine to try and catch up with millions of obnoxious hairs. Imagine grooming yourself and having to stop every 5 seconds in order to spit out the fur. Poor little Banninkins will suffer from hairballs even more than the Brothers if he tries to keep up with his appearance. Fortunately for my little Ban-Ban the Mistress has a full box of treats handy, treats especially designed to help him with the hair and hairballs. He loves them too the rascal, begging whenever he hears the rattle of a box. And don’t worry Bannikins… the brush is your ally and the broom is your friend.

Picture below: Zorro lovingly grooming the Mistress. It’s not that humans are wont to shed during Springtime, but you never know for sure…








The feline denizens of the House of Chaos will board The Friday Ark tomorrow for a leisurely cruise. Be sure to wave them off !!

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