The Claw

It is one of the cat’s most useful tools. It certainly is multi-functional: climbing, fighting (both offense and self-defense), picking something up, demolishing, sorting stuff out… even communication is served wonderfully with a strategically placed claw. You have no idea how fast even the densest of simians can be convinced of something when a tiny claw is hooked in just the right spot. And some felines become adapt masters at its use. The older a cat grows the more experienced of course, but it takes a truly devious and cunning mind to discover all of the myriad uses of The Claw.

Loup-Garou certainly qualifies as a master. He has grown his into huge sturdy nails that despite their size have retained their razor-sharp nastiness. This feline furriend is usually a placid and easy-going fellow, but if you try to force him into something he does not want (like the carrier box for instance) you will find out soon enough how expertly he wields his Mother Nature-given tools of trade. This obsessive couch-potato also uses his spiky appendages to anchor himself with when he’s snuggling down upon your lap. Move and cringe simian !

Zorro, being El Grumpy Maximus Severus, is always ready to use his piercing equipment at the first possible opportunity. Ever ready with the lightning-quick swipe or the strafing rake, he turns the act of clawing into an art of agony. And he has developed and mastered in particularly the claw-hook-movement: first he sinks his claws into your hapless hand and then he … sort of… gropes. I can assure you from personal experience that this is a most effective deterrent for any simian activity this feline overlord deems repulsive. Which is about anything you do except feeding him. Or the occasional gentle pat. All the rest is fair cause.

Bean Sidhe has yet to grow fully into adulthood and hence is technically still a kitten. No matter that he is already larger than Loup-Garou (but doesn’t weight more… yet…) deep into that lovely kitty heart of his there still lurks a frolicsome kitten and it often shows. So this is why he still has to learn the trade so to speak, and his many attempts at developing himself in the clawing department are often cause for mirth. For one thing, he actually suffers from vertigo and thus hates to climb, and so he will only avail himself of that function of his claws when it is really, absolutely and irrevocably necessary. Poor kitty. having to haul up his mass of 4,5 kilos is no mean feat either, I can assure you, and that may explain his reluctance to seek higher places. But there is nothing wrong with the offensive capacities of his set of knives and we suspect that he is responsible for the rather spectacular injury Zorro is sporting on his left front paw these days.

Hrimnir, sweet little kitten Hrimnir, is in full development and can thus be observed at leisure if you want to learn more about how cats learn to use their equipment. That doesn’t mean he’s a total dunce of course, or harmless for that matter, but he has yet to master the finer points of claw-use. For him, at the moment, it is mainly a grappling tool, something to use to grab coveted stuff with. And best with the full paw extended to boot. But mind you, those needle-sharp tiny claws of his are a force to be reckoned with. And the glee with which he manages to scale any vertical surface in order to get somewhere he wants to be is truly a joy to watch. Not a joy to undergo however, as the tattered remains of several pairs of jeans can attest, and I’m afraid I may have to hit the stores again. Not to mention the daily chore of seeing to my injuries: a multitude of scratches on both legs where those nasty pin-prickers have managed to puncture through the sturdy jeans-fabric and into soft skin.

Nevertheless they all grow out of that phase. Bean Sidhe has, although truth to tell he occasionally shows up at my desk and hooks in just to show he can do that, but never with the intention of really jumping into my lap. Hrimnir is still in the full-scratch-climbing phase and I must make sure to fend him off in time when I’m not wearing jeans. This also means every visitor to the House of Chaos must be warned in time that there is one itty-kitty in da house who is still practicing his skills with his cat-u-puncture set.

Picture below: Hrimnir showing off one of his sets. Of course he was wanting something, how else could I have taken this picture ? But can you imagine how something that small can hurt so much ?

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Would they let him in at the Carnival of the Cats, armed as the tyke is ? Maybe when he is escorted by responsible adults… In any case it takes place this Sunday at the most appropriate spot of all… The Scratching Post !!

HOUSEKEEPING NEWS: The Mistress and Grumpy Man will be away all of next week because we are competing with our robots in two Fighting Robots competitions. For that we have to travel all the way from Belgium to Roaming Robots in Pwllheli, Gwynedd in North Wales and later on to Robots Live at Hemel Hempstead in England. We will be back on Monday September 3rd.



Are cats greedy ? Do they even know the meaning of the word ? I guess they just see things differently than us hapless simians who obviously don’t have the same priorities than any self-respecting feline. And face it, we will never be able to even aspire to the same rarified heights of ultimate hedonism as our feline overlords. They, after all, do have their priorities right and in fine working order !

Yet, from a simian’s point of view, cats are wont to display a certain level of greed when confronted with something they want, be it food, milk, treats or anything you’re in the process of ingesting. The voracity with which they make their wishes as on the subject clear is appalling and doubtlessly the dreaded “swipe and swallow” has been more often executed with shameless success and obvious glee than we simians like. Cats, like every predator, like a successful hunt. They also like to gloat about their prowess.

Hence, it is not without surprise that The Mistress has to fend off a certain kitten when she is having breakfast consisting of a very yummy slice of roastbeef on a slice of bread. It is, however, with speechless amazement that she observes how Hrimnir not only manages to shoulder Zorro aside at the feeding bowls, but even gets away with it unscathed and unretaliated. Zorro, for what may perhaps be the first time in his 9 years of life, has been sent walking. The sheer tenacity with which little Hrimnir manages to hoard the grub all to himself is a wonder to behold.

Observe how he does it: the bigger cat is blissfully munching away and suddenly he finds the tyke’s furry little head between his mouth and the food. Next tiny paws batter him unceremoniously and relentlessly aside. If he hasn’t gotten the message by now the entire small body follows and no way he’s ever going to be able to connect with the grub again because said tiny form is busy shoveling it whilst dancing in the rest. In his own cute kitten-ish way Hrimnir is rather ruthless.

Yet the simian denizens of the House of Chaos too fall prey to the youngster’s voracious appetite and complete lack of polite and social manners. The Mistress has to fight for her daily morning mug of milk, literally forced to swat the tyke away who keeps coming back again and again and again. Preparing dinner is accompanied by a steady chorus of the kitten’s own version of “WANT”, something he insists on performing on top of his voice and in endless repetition, during which he energetically paces to and fro with the clear intention of causing The Mistress to trip and drop whatever juicy morsels she happens to be handling. Having dinner is an adventure in itself, with Hrimnir masterfully perfecting the accusing hungry stare whilst simultaneously swiping for the odd titbit.

I knew bringing that kitten into the House of Chaos was going to liven things up a bit. But I never would have thought I would have been able to locate the perfect brother for Bean Sidhe who eats anything even remotely edible whatsoever. Appetite, meet Gusto.

(Bean Sidhe, by the way, managed to steal some of my medication yesterday and tried to eat it. Fortunately he decided that the taste of my stomach medication was too horrible before he tried the very strong painkiller I must take in order to be able to get out of my bed and function at some level. I must be more careful. It could have killed him.)

Picture below: this is what happens when I have my mug of milk. You can see the bottom of the mug in the far left corner. And yes, those tiny itty-bitty claws are in fact as sharp as they look.

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It’s Friday again and that means we can all visit the Friday Ark in order to plunder the buffet and have some fun.

Wordless Wednesday

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Tummy Tuesday

This week it’s Hrimnir’s turn again to shine in the spotlights. I kept our good old trusty Canon EOS 350D ready and gave the tyke a feather ball. The result was some 100 pictures and 1 tummy.

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Of course, many more magnificent mmmmmtummies can be found at LisaViolet’s Dairy. Every Tuesday in fact.

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Keep Good Company

“Oo Hoo Oo Hoo
Take care of those you call your own
And keep Good Company”
–from ‘Good Company’ by Brian May (Queen)

We simians often have romantic notions when it comes to our pets. We are wont to ascribe behaviour and thoughts to our animals that are too human and maybe not at all being done or felt by said pets. Yet you can’t deny that animals do seem to have feelings and they do exhibit behaviour that we can understand. It’s just that we attribute too much to our furry friends and they cannot explain to us how exactly they do and do not behave. But undeniably the feline denizens of the House of Chaos must have picked up some simian behaviour during the years they’ve spent here. And I think there is ample proof for that.

The strongest proof of all was brought along by the saddest of occasions: when woofie Critter finally succumbed to the frailty of old age her Bestest Furriend Zorro spent countless hours at her side. Whenever you saw Critter snoring someplace you would find Zorro staunchly but snugly lying close. And during her final night he would not be elsewhere. I had ample opportunity to take as much pictures as I wanted because EL Grumpy Severus Maxiumus wouldn’t budge from her side and even gently groomed her face and ears. It was all he could do in order to comfort the ailing exhausted canine and I can’t talk often enough about it because it speaks volumes of his love for her. He did love her and cared for her as best he could. Not many humans would do that. He even spent many months in severe mourning, losing hair and health, literally grooming himself to the point of bleeding, because he no longer had the comforting presence of his Big Buddy to find succour with.

Cats can make friends and become very loyal to them. Zorro proved that. And even though he has always been hostile towards other cats, him being extremely partial towards dogs, the entry of the kitten Hrimnir into the House of Chaos has somehow opened that gruffy heart of his and he tentatively became friends with the kitten. Hrimnir is in fact the only feline who can dare to approach Zorro and not be punished severely for the sheer audacity of it. In fact, I caught Zorro doing nosey-nosey with Hrimnir, which in his case amounts to fierce passionate friendship !

Zorro has injured himself last week, probably during a fight – most likely even because he has always been très grumpy and this does not exactly endear him to the rest of the feline community in the neighbourhood- on his left fore-paw. He has ugly slashes all over his paw and wrist and on Monday he sported a huge abscess on his leg. He is perfectly capable of taking care of it himself and I do tend to let Nature run its course (keeping a close eye on things though). But healing takes a lot of energy and so Zorro spent more time than normal sleeping on the Couch of Chaos. The other feline denizens are careful to leave him alone there, but not young Hrimnir. No. In what is clearly an endearing show of feline loyalty he too settled on the Couch, not for a nap, but for simply being there. Cats know the force of simple presence. Young as he is Hrimnir chose to keep Zorro company.

Both Bean Sidhe and Hrimnir are more socially inclined than the Brothers. No doubt some genetic inheritance is involved here because both are descendants of Gentle Giants (Bannikins is part Maine Coon whilst Hrimnir is part Norwegian Forest Cat) and you clearly see the difference of attitude when you compare them with the Brothers who are full-blooded European Shorthairs. They are more wont to seek out the others and form bonds of friendship. With both felines and simians. (Not canines because there are none in the House of Chaos.) Yet the twain do have their personal preferences: where Bean Sidhe is more the “close-proximity-cat” Hrimnir is a full-fledged close-contact lap-cat. Bannikins is content to just sit or lie there close to you, whereas Hrimnir craves physical contact.

As I am typing this Hrimnir is sitting on one of the arm-rests of my desk and were I not typing he would have been laying with his front paws over my left arm – the one that is not moving when I surf. Since I am typing and hence my hands are moving only his tail is draped over my left hand. Yet he sits as close to me as he can because the keyboard is in the way of my lap. Sometimes I wonder if he hates the keyboard because of that. But there has been a change for him to rejoice over… I have a new monitor… bigger yet smaller than the old one which was a 19″ CRT whilst the new one is a sleek but enormous 22″ LCD. This allows for more deck space on my desk and that suits Hrimnir mightily fine thankyouohsoverymuchindeed. Not to mention Bannikins who is overjoyed that his 4.5 kilo frame finally has ample room again to lounge at his leisure as close to me as he can without having to resort to -ugh!- my lap. Did I mention Bannikins likes close proximity but no laps ?

They simply like to be there and keep good company. I wish I knew more simians who do. It is nice to have friends who only want to snuggle close and be there.

Picture below: Caught in the act… Zorro lies healing and Hrimnir… just happens to lie there ?

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I laid down a cloth in order to protect my lovely plaids from Zorro’s bleeding paw. You can’t see the carnage because he’s laid down his head on it. As every child knows: pushing or rubbing on the hurt makes it go away. 😉

It’s Sunday again and that means we can all go and have some fun at the Carnival of the Cats and forget our worries for a while. It will take place at Strange Ranger‘s whose feline denizens are desperately seeking for a way to ease their boredom of the past days.

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Feather fever

Your feline furriend sits and observes how you unwrap all kinds of toys for him to frolic with. He calmly watches how you try to entice him with balls and sticks and bells and whatnot. His excellent improvisation at playing the beautiful statuette is perfected with a distant stare when you are waving a mousey in front of his furry countenance. And then it culminates in the flawless execution of the most bored yawn ever witnessed by humankind.
But the yawn shuts with an audible click when out come the feathers. And the magnificent statuette explodes in an 18-clawed frolicking frenzy. Fea-vurs !!!

This scenario sounds familiar ? Sure it does. It never amazes me how I can literally strew the toys around but only the ball-with-feathers attracts feline attention. Oh yes, the ball that tinkles rouses them too, most of the time. But if you want to see a feline denizen of the House of Chaos moving you’d better whip out the feathers. Because for some obscure reason, no doubt a very sound evolutionary one, our cats will hunt anything that sports those tickly wispy appendages. Woe the bird that strays into the Garden of Chaos ! Woe the ball-with-feathers that is unwrapped by the Mistress…

I first discovered this when Bean Sidhe entered the House of Chaos. In order to play with the kitten, since no playmates were available unless the two elderly cats would feel obliging but I bet they wouldn’t, I had purchased a stick with feathers on top of it and on one of our first evenings proceeded to present it to the hapless kitten when he was snuggling with us in The Nest. The effect was dramatic. Immediately his tiny seeing-orbs were glued to the stick’s top, his head bobbing up and down with the movement of the stick, his tiny furry body quivering with anticipation of the joy to come. And then he exploded in the fiercest playing frenzy I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. Oh boy ! How he loved that stick.

The elder cats didn’t care much for any toy but the stick soon caught their attention too. Alas, Bean Sidhe is a rather thorough kitty and when he was finished with the stick only a few sad remnants that once proudly sported brightly coloured tufts of feather were left to protrude from the stick. Not much to play with then. And thus a new stick was purchased and soon joined the lot of his predecessor. *sigh* I knew this was going to cost me a fortune, but if it kept little Bean Sidhe happily occupied it was worth it. One shudders at the thought of what else he would have demolished if he didn’t have the stick to keep him busy with.

Fast forward a year later and enter Hrimnir. A new feathered stick was purchased in order to celebrate the occasion and subsequently demolished. But then, during one of her bouts of shopping, the Mistress discovered a new toy, a new surprise for the kitties… a feathered ball. Bright red with yellow/blue stripes and 2 feathers on top, green and red. The ultimate cat-toy. And when I gave one to Hrimnir you could safely state that all Hell did indeed break loose.

Hrimnir is absolutely crazy about those balls. He bats them and chases them and tumbles around them and throws them into the air. He does the entire ground floor of the House of Chaos with them and I could say we already found them little balls in the strangest places. He also manages to lose them in an astonishing rate. I’m already down to my third package (with 4 balls in) simply because we can’t find the other balls anymore. And when we do find them they are usually sans feathers too. Every Wednesday, when the Cleaning Lady does a round-up of all toys and drops them into their designated basket, we find less of them and thus the supply needs to be refreshed every month or so.

A feathered toy is just about the only toy the feline denizens of the House of Chaos would fight each other over. Or move at all. Even Loup-Garou, the Ultimate and Consummate Couch-Potato, has been seen trying his paw at one of those feathered balls and we definitely had him moving for the stick-with-feathers. But Zorro, El Grumpy Severus Maximus, has deigned to swat at them when one happened to roll by. To our towering surprise he didn’t subsequently swat at the rambunctious kitten that followed it. So he must have been having fun ! Will the sun go up in the West tomorrow morning ?

Nevertheless, the elder cats have found one positive side to the presence of this little feather-balls that immensely pleases them: as long as Hrimnir is joyfully occupied with chasing them balls he is not available to be romping with his elders. Which suits those indolent sloths mightily well indeed.

Picture below: Hrimnir with his new Best Friend (until he loses it again)

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Would there be feathers on the Friday Ark ? We’d better board it in order to find out now shouldn’t we ?

PS: Zorro is still ill. The wound at his left front paw proved more extensive than we thought (or saw) and only until he licked the fur off his paw did we see the other claw marks (so now we know he must have gotten hurt during a fight). He sported a huge abscess above the wounds (from elbow to wrist) this morning but fortunately it sprang when he was grooming his wounds. It looks like it is draining well but we will visit the vet tomorrow morning if it doesn’t get better by then. Many thanks for your purrs and purrayers those who sent them !

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Wordless Wednesday

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Check out the website of Wordless Wednesday for other magnificent pictures from all over the world that don’t need any explanation…

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