Happy Hour

Every evening the same old ritual enfolds itself again and again. The Mistress goes to the bathroom, changes into her nightclothes, goes upstairs, takes the nightclothes off again, and then snuggles into the Nest. Several pairs of very interested feline eyes follow her every move. And if she is not being fast enough about the going upstairs bit, scolding pairs of feline eyes await her in the hallway. Usually there is at least one cat waiting there, eager to mount the stairs and get on with the truly most important event of the day.
The Snuggling.

Usually it is the black one who stands ready to urge her on. Who precedes her on the stair steps. Who jumps into the Nest even before the Mistress had the chance to click on the reading light and shed her nightclothes. Sometimes, though, he’s a bit late but you can hear the swift pitter-patter of softly furred paws on the stairs heralding the imminent arrival of 5.5 kilos of soon-to-be extremely happy cat. Loup-Garou doesn’t just love to snuggle down with any simian in the Nest, he has taken the whole event straight into the lofty realms of the Art form. And his favourite spot is next to the Mistress’ head, between the pillows of the Mistress and Grumpy Man. And, if he feels like it, sometimes on top of the Mistress’ head as well. Grumpy Man usually gets his nose full of tail. Guess who is the boss in this House hm ?

But as Loup-Garou lies softly purring into my ear I can feel a vibration trembling its way towards the Nest and I know that soon a white and black she-kitty will arrive as well. But at the Nest she stops shyly, not sure if she is welcome in it, and so she announces her presence with her formidable purr. Frankette is wont to purr in happy anticipation of good things to come. She likes it in the Nest. Alas, she does not like it in the Nest if also Bean Sidhe is present. But because Bean Sidhe rarely ventures higher than my knees smart little Frankette knows to check out things first at the head department and progress downward from there. So, when I make it known to her that she is -indeed- welcome, with a happy chirrup she jumps in. And after the initial snuggles at my head she will position her little form daintily somewhere in the vicinity of my shoulders. And she does tolerate Hrimnir’s presence there. Sometimes.
Usually it ends in a hissing fit and one she-kitty swiftly vacating the bedroom. Frankette is actually not so fond of company.
However, she is -for some reason that still eludes me mightily- very fond of Grumpy Man’s armpits. I can agree that the smell emanating from that particular region can turn on a simian female with a vengeance, but a she-kitty ? I must admit that if Eau-De-Grumpy Man didn’t include some heady pheromones I would be knocked-out straight by the other molecules. Frankette positively buries that sensitive nose of hers into it. Which leads me to conclude that she is not a normal she-kitty and needs some professional counseling, like, urgently.
Sadly, Freya too follows the same inclination, so I deduct that she-kitties are crazy.

Hrimnir sleeps often with me. He will first come over to me(and Grumpy Man when he’s available), collects his due share of scritches and pettings, and then proceeds to curl up somewhere near my shoulders, and preferably on Grumpy Man’s spot as well. Since he is the cat who gets along fine with all of the resident Feline Denizens of the House of Chaos his sleep is rarely disturbed by hostilities. Which allows him to adopt sleeping poses that can sometimes verge on the ridiculous but are always mega-cute. Even when you disturb him because you are changing your sleeping position he will not deign to be bothered by it. Easy-going he is, that kitty.

At some point Bean Sidhe will arrive too. First, though, he will check out what’s happening in the ‘hood by sitting on the windowsill and taking a peek outside, from between the window blinds. This always happens with a terrible clattering sound, and we suspect he revels in it. After a while he will be bored, and decide to joins us in the Nest. But he rarely comes up higher than our feet. When he does though, it is to lie down on my chest and collect scritches. Bean Sidhe can be so happy when he get chin-scritches, his entire body radiates bliss in the mega-watt range, his whiskers will tickle the sky in rapture, and his front paws won’t know where to knead. He’s that kind of kitty yes, the kind that will wallow in utter bliss when you give him chin-scritches. But after that he will always proceed to his customary spot on or near the feet. Since he is about 6 kilos heavy you can bet we are relieved with his choice of napping spot.

And then the room trembles again, as a rumbling purr roars its way into the Nest and sweet little Isegrim lets his presence be known. When he was a feral kitten he was shy to the touch and would never purr when we petted him. We could approach him and he began to appreciate the sensuous luxury of being petted. And after a few weeks his curiosity got the better of him and he followed the other kitties to the Nest, where he discovered… nirvana. Sort of. Isegrim not only learned to like pettings, he took ferociously to snuggling as well. He is so fond of it that he will spend hours and hours giving you immensely grateful sandpaper kisses in order to show you his undying love, with a preference for fingers and toes. Grumpy Man’s toes in particular. Izzy can just grab that big foot of his between his front paws and start rasping away with enthusiastic gusto. Not just satisfied with just sandblasting away the skin on Grumpy Man’s toes, he will nibble in the spaces between them as well. We call that “eating toe-cheese”. Clearly the little grey fuzz ball relishes toe-cheese.

The only one who has so far not been snuggling down in the Nest on a regular basis is Freya. I don’t know why, since she is otherwise extremely attached to us and wastes no opportunity to get some much-needed pettings all day long. She never enters the House of Chaos without immediately searching the Simian residents for a quick huggy. But so far she has only rarely snuggled down with us in the Nest. Which I find sad, because for me the daily nocturnal snuggling down has become more than a mere ritual. It has become a moment of bonding, when 5 softly (or not-so-softly in some cases) purring fur balls keep me warm and comfy company in the Nest. A happy hour indeed !
Fortunately she seems to be coming around, and lately she has snuggled down with us, with a weird preference for Grumpy Man’s armpits. And when she does snuggle with one of us, you can hear the faint soft but heart-felt purr only a former feral can emit when she knows she is safe and beloved.

On a different note: the feral Zorro-killer called Almost Franky has been entering the House of Chaos a bit often lately, not just coming over for the food, but staying for a quick -and warm and dry- nap as well (especially with the recent cold spell that had us shivering with temperatures of -15°C some nights). Last week I had to chase him off the Nest. Not that he needs much encouragement in order to be chased away by the way. He is feral after all, and we are not exactly friendly disposed to him, him having killed Zorro and regularly injuring Loup-Garou and Hrimnir. But that the vermin-ridden spraying stinking feline pheromones-oozing fur ball dares to repose into our Nest is an insult beyond repair. So far he has attacked and injured Grumpy Man twice already, but for some strange reason he allows me to pick him up and put him outside. His slowly budding trust that I would not attack him has been betrayed bitterly today. You see, I had this big syringe filled with water, and he was having this quiet but exposed nap in the Kitchen of Chaos…
Mèh, it wasn’t his happy hour at all.

Picture below: a very young Bean Sidhe and even younger Hrimnir having a quiet Nirvana-moment in the Nest. Bad quality of picture due to having been taken by a mobile phone at night. But oh so endearing… even more so because the Feline Residents of the House of Chaos so rarely sleep together…

little Hrimnir and Bean Sidhe in the Nest

Don’t forget to visit: The Friday Ark, Carnival of the Cats, Weekend Cat Blogging, Bad Kitty Cats Festival of Chaos.

What if…

It behooves the Simians to think, from time to time, about what would have happened if things had turned out differently. Simians are capable of entertaining such abstract thoughts, whereas Felines usually don’t bother with anything beyond the now. But sometimes, very rarely but it has been known to happen, a feline denizen of the House of Chaos can be caught doing such an un-Feline thing. Freya for instance: She still has her days of feral living firmly etched in her memory, and sometimes she walks around in the House of Chaos, rubbing herself almost desperately against the simian denizens, as if to ensure herself that -yes- these love her and -yes- she has a place here. Warm, well-fed, dry and safe. This sets The Mistress to thinking herself, about the fate that would have befallen her beloved Feline babies, had they been forced to survive as ferals.

Loup-Garou would have been doing fine, one can suppose. He’s always been master of his domain and capacities. Together with his brother Zorro he has in the past been seen hunting in tandem, and he often came home with freshly-caught prey – one time even a partridge. But now, starting his years of decline at age 11, we can not be so sure that he would be able to fend for himself much longer. His older body would start to betray him. Already has he been bested in battle by such young upstarts as Almost Franky (who has by the way killed Zorro not so long ago). Already does he show signs of creaking joints and stiff muscles when he awakes from a long nap. Already has his pelt lost some of its luster and softness. He’s aging. And amongst ferals that’s a death sentence.

Bean Sidhe might have become King Of The Hill. He’s bigger and bulkier than most of his age. Had he not been spayed he might have become a formidable he-cat, but in the House of Chaos his more lazy nature has been given ample opportunity to develop in full. We can only guess what he could have done had he been feral. But obviously anything that would render his life more comfortable would have been seized upon, and we can easily imagine him leading a pride of females catering to his every whim and need. He’d been the Lion of the neighbourhood, that’s for sure… pampered by his pride.

Hrimnir, the Peacemaker… now there is a challenge to the Simian fantasy. His injuries during the past months have shown that he would not easily cower to the bullying of a dominant tomcat. He would have become one himself had we not taken him to the Man In White for emasculation. Would his cheerful demeanor have had time to develop in a feral environment, or would his better-developed musculature (thanks to his Norwegian Forest Cat dam) have allowed him to become top-cat ? In either way, we can not envision him being at the bottom of things. At the very least he would have diplomated his way to a secure spot in the local hierarchy.

Frankette, now there is one who would have become utterly lost in the feral scene. Petite and dainty as she is, and fearful and timid besides, she would not have been making many friends or allies – in fact scaring off anyone who could have helped her because she would trust no one at all. She would have been doomed to die young and miserable because of her small size and lack of courage. Her sisters are actually living as ferals, one even having survived a hideous wound in the neck, and have given birth to several litters already, but can only do so because there is a powerful tomcat in the neighbourhood (their brother Almost Franky) who protects them against other toms. But Frankette would not have been able to survive for long. Her character wouldn’t let her.

Freya has shown her mettle as a feral. She’s managed not only to survive, but to raise a kitten on her own as well before finding a Forever Home in the House of Chaos. She’s wily and smart, cunning and very very resourceful. Even now, when she has access to an ever-overflowing bowl of food (3 of them in fact) does she go out and raid for food elsewhere. Often we find gnawed-on bones and bits in the Garden of Chaos, discarded by a successful huntress after having sated her desire for food. She’s still very pre-occupied and enormously obsessed with food, but she has stopped jumping into our dinner plates when we’re eating. That, at last, we have been able to discourage. Raiding other Simians’ waste bins, alas, we could not stop. Her courage goes unquestioned, because you have to be very brave indeed to enter the territory of a strange tom (Almost Franky is NOT the sire of Isegrim – of that we can be sure when looking at the definitely not black-and-white kitten who is a darker shade of grey than his dam) and strange females (who might welcome her as an ally, but could as well have chasen her as the interloper that she was). The fact that she lives with us has greatly enhanced her status in the local Feline population. She walks about unchallenged.

Isegrim has been taught well by his dam. He’s a proud little tom-kitty (although since his recent castration no longer technically a tom) and is developing well. His dam teaches him all her tricks in fighting and hunting. He’s learning from a pro. And the way he evades the Big Bully who’s been terrorizing the House of Chaos recently you can imagine he would have stood up against Almost Franky soon. But would he have won ? He does not have the impressive size of Bean Sidhe, nor the solid muscles of Hrimnir, and certainly not the wiry experience of Loup-Garou. He only has the wits his dam has endowed him with, and which she is very busy at the moment with nurturing. But the sheer brazenness and malevolence of a tom in his prime would prove to be too much for him. And so he might be forced to leave the terrain and carve out a territory for himself elsewhere. Or be killed.

All in all, the prospect for feral cats is always bleak. Even in the rare cases when one can prosper and thrive, it is only temporary because there will always be a contender or would-be successor to fight and overcome. There will always be the daily struggle to find enough food, and the yearly struggle to drag oneself through the gruelling cold months of winter. At least in a Forever Home a cat can devote oneself to the development of one’s finer capabilities, the pleasant sensation of dozing at a warm and soft place, the luxurious grooming at ease knowing one is safe, the gastronomic delights of eating all you want in constant variation of possible foodstuffs. And the endless stimulating games one plays with the other Felines or with the Simians.

I feel that as Simians we have a duty to other animals… to make for some life as pleasant as possible.

Picture below: Almost Franky, in the Kitchen of Chaos, as frank as you please

Almost Franky

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