30th January 2011
Kitten has now been resident for three weeks.
As I continue to mull over the pressing issue of this week, you will realise why it is that I write the following confession with a degree of apprehension: if I had been in a position to make an informed choice about my ideal pet, I would have chosen a dog instead of a cat. The reasons are simple, and universal:
🐶 Dogs are loyal
🐶 Dogs are faithful
🐶 Dogs seek to protect their owners
🐶 Dogs bring you their toys to play with them
🐶 Dogs jump all over you and make you feel better after an unfulfilling day at work
🐶 Dogs can be taken for walks, and attract the admiration and affection of people who would otherwise be strangers.
Cats, by contrast are solitary animals, best at stalking the shadows, scratching owners to death, hissing at something that has ruffled their presence, destroying items of property that the owner has had for years, and being generally self absorbed. They are the My Super Sweet Sixteen brats to the canine’s busy and personable Sherlock Holmes.
Or at least that was what I thought before Kitten setlled at home. There have been many acts since her arrival that have made me realise, in bursts of sudden pride, that she is not just any old kitten. She happens to be the cleverest kitten that the world will ever see. Evidence for this follows:
How Kitten Came to Her New Home
As readers of this blog will know, Kitten was discovered on a cold, dark rainy night in January by a kind runner who thought she was a pebble with eyes, before stopping (despite the pressing need to cover 3 miles) and realising that she was a very small, wet cat. The kindly runner (your narrator), believed at the time that Kitten was lost, terrified and at the end of her tether about what to do next. As a post-avid fan of Eastenders, I have learned that such attitudes of end of tetherness generally lead to acts of desperation, a la Billy Mitchell at Christmas one year who caused a storm when he broke into the charity box and took the winnings for himself. Kitten would never do something so obvious.
The more I have contemplated Kitten’s actions and behaviour that evening, I have realised that she was not a helpless, ‘Oh no, I’ve gone the wrong way, I’ve got no owner, I haven’t eaten in days’ typical RSPCA ad lost animal. Kitten was waiting to be rescued, watching the traffic, the people and the world go by as she bode her time in the wet night, unconcerned about wandering back to wherever it was she had started from.
Kitten Come Home
Kitten slept for two days upon her arrival at home. It was unclear whether or not she would be a permanent resident, bearing in mind the oft discussed notion of a Disney penned tearful three year old who may have mislaid her.
It was also unclear whether she would stay based on Boyfriend’s mistrust of kittens, owing to the domestic abuse he had suffered on regular occasions by the last time he had allowed one into his life. Boyfriend dressed up his mistrust as pig in blanket devil’s advocacy, ‘We can’t afford her, she can’t be left alone all day, she will destroy our lives, Earth will never be the same again’; it was useless to concern ourselves at the time with the feasibility of Kitten understanding the implications of Boyfriend’s discourse.
At least, it was difficult to comprehend until Kitten had marked her favourite member of the household: although I had of course rescued her from the rain (if ‘rescue’ is the right word, bearing in mind my growing thoughts on the issue), Kitten seemed to love nothing more than climbing onto Boyfriend’s lap, or underneath his arm – just next to him on the sofa was enough for her. When he arrived home from work (without the duty of feeding her or changing her litter, because I would have exercised such duties upon my earlier return form work), Kitten would appear from nowhere and begin the motor in her belly just because he was in the room.
I can’t say such favouritisim was easy to take. In conversation with Florence from work I updated her on the love affair that was happening under my nose. Florence spoke words that spelt for me a spinning so dramatic it can only be compared to that experienced by James Stewart in Vertigo:
“She’s a clever cat – she knows you’re a soft touch but she’s got to work on him to stay’.
Her insight blew my mind. But it opened me up to recognising how much more than just cheap animal psychology Kitten had to offer us.
Kitten: The Good Will Hunting Weeks
It is true that Kitten spends a great deal of time on her own.
My personal drawbacks about leaving Kitten alone and unsupervised for long periods of time were based mainly on the scene in Meet the Parents in which the cat destroys the room it has been locked in. This was a ridculous oversight on my part of exactly what sort of kitten we had living in our midst.
On the first lunchtime in which I visited Kitten at lunchtime, she greeted me hungrily. Once I had fed her, and sat down with my sandwich, I realised that something was out of place. It was in fact an unread copy of War and Peace that I had purchased at an ambitious point some months before. The book was lying on the carpet, open to the halfway point. There was a small empty coffee cup beside it.
Kitten has an affinity for computers. I first thought it was because they are bearers of light and warmth. And then, one evening as I returned from the kitchen to the computer and woke it back up again, the search page had lists of returned results relating to Algebraic methods.
Kitten is clearly an academic all rounder.
Kitten as an Encourager to Do More
If you leave a dog on its own, it is likely the dog will be found later desperate for company, and bored with the lack of individual tasks that it can achieve on its own.
I left Boyfriend alone one evening this week, only Kitten for company. Whilst Boyfriend has agreed to allow Kitten to stay in our lives, his atttiude as I left them together that evening was summed up in my final glance of the living room scene: Xbox controller gripped tightly in his hand, a surreptitous look at Kitten as she prowled around his shoulders along the back of the sofa.
When I returned home that evening, Boyfriend was locked unhappily in a blanket on the sofa, the Xbox controller nowhere to be seen. There had been a sequence of events since my departure.
It appeared that Boyfriend had been playing football on the Xbox. Kitten had been attending to the controller, probably, as my growing observations suggest, attempting to help him play better, though Boyfriend had misunderstood her motives and ended up with scratches on his hand as a result.
Boyfriend does deserve time in the evenings relaxing, absorbing the day that has passed and generally having some time to himself to do the things that he enjoys doing. Alas, in the immaturity of one who is so productive, Kitten has not yet realised that people relax in different ways. It is likely that Kitten saw that the carpet could have been hoovered, that the dishes in the sink could have been washed, and felt that these were things that Boyfriend could attend to. It is difficult to gauge. Boyfriend’s game to a prompt end when Kitten, who had been prevented from assisting him in the play, walked purposefully towards the console and switched it off mid-game.
So…You Own an Unspeakably Clever Pet
The first rule is don’t tell anyone. If anyone was to find out that I have a kitten who reads Tolstoy, a kitten that is likely capable of projecting the country’s annual budget for the next year, a kitten that detects a lack of productivity and positively acts upon it – a kitten that can make coffee, there would be no end to the trashy articles that would be written on the issue.
Her uncertain background would be brought painfully to the public forum, and it is likely that as soon as the world knows she was found by a stranger, I would be locked in a legal battle with the tearful three year old who lost her, grew up and became obsessed with the loss as the turning point in her life, allowing it to define her identity, and her very existence, not sleeping until the day that Kitten returns to her. It would seek only to prevent Kitten from growing into the even cleverer Cat that she will one day be.
The second rule is to be careful what you write. As I mentioned earlier, I have admitted here that had the pet obtainment been a matter of choice, I would be writing about a dog chasing its tail for four hours each evening. I am sure though, that Kitten will understand.
It may be that at some point I make my pride public, allowing the world a small look at the feline prodigy that I have been upstaged by. And when that day comes, I have no doubt that it will not be a small feat – Kitten will be so famous that she will out grow my limited conceptions of what she can do.
In a small way she would thank me, allowing me as her owner and carer, some part of her busy new life. Perhaps she will let me do the talking interviews for her (unless she improves the range of miaowings she currently possesses, further defining tones to articulate her meanings). Because of Kitten, becase of the happy accident of finding her that evening, I will be on the cover of Time magazine – perhaps not as the Person of the Year, perhaps they will create a new award just for me and Kitten – Pet Owner of the Year, Genius Discoverer of the Year.
Maybe just ‘Kitten of the Year.’