Tuesday, 31 January 2017

pet habits

Every pet has its own pet habits, and over time develops rituals that no other pet wants or is allowed to do.  The big anxious tabby used to jump on to a particular chair in the kitchen when he was hungry.  How this started neither of us can remember, but it became a definite system of communication.  Other cats might have stared at the food cupboard meaningfully, but he jumped on to his special chair.  No other cat has hit on the same idiosyncratic method of making its wishes known, and I don't suppose any will.

Our Ginger has taken to being allowed into our bedroom in the morning.  That's not so unusual, lots of pet owners let their pet into their bedroom for at least part of the night.  We draw the line at allowing him to sleep in there all night, because I am not ready to go the full Huple's cat, and besides he might want to be let out during the night.  He is an old boy and who knows how strong his bladder is nowadays.  Instead he squawks outside the door when he wants to be let in.  We have told him sternly that half past five is too early, but he's generally there at this time of year between seven and a quarter past.

It's a nice question who lets him in.  The Systems Administrator's side of the bed is nearer the door, but the unspoken convention is that whoever lets the cat in is responsible for it thereafter, and that includes preventing Our Ginger from bothering the other person if they are still asleep.  There are times when Our Ginger curls up nicely between us, dozes off, and everybody can have another fifty winks until it is time to get up.  But there are other times when Our Ginger wants love and affection,  He shows his love by sitting on your chest, or your back, or your shoulder, depending on which way up you are lying, and putting his face very close to yours while purring loudly.  He likes faces, and if he is feeling especially fond he may try to put his toes up the Systems Administrator's nose, or chew my hair.  And he likes being stroked, and demands this token of your love by nudging you with a damp nose, before settling down to purr for as long as the stroking lasts.  Dare to stop and you will get another nudge.  Occasionally he tries to burrow under the bedclothes or decides he really wants to lie on your pillow.

If you were asleep before it is not very easy to go on sleeping with close on a stone of ginger cat lying on your chest, paws pressed firmly against your throat, or even to go on sleeping with your life's partner scrabbling around beside you and hissing Get off, cat as they try to tug the cat back to their side of the bed.  Our Ginger's paws long ago lost their velvet quality because he can no longer retract his claws.  This is mildly uncomfortable when he prods your face, and unnerving when you can hear the little scratching sounds of them catching in the duvet cover.  He dribbles from time to time, as old cats do, and while I know that as Jeremy Hardy helpfully pointed out cats are all covered in dried spit, still stroking a cat that you know on a theoretical level to be coated in cat saliva is not the same as having gobbets of cat dribble fall on your face.  You are not entirely safe even if Our Ginger's face is not directly above yours, since if the accumulation of spit annoys him he occasionally and without warning shakes his head.

But is doesn't seem fair that the Systems Administrator should always be the one trying to placate Our Ginger, delivering the stroking while being dribbled on and trying to haul Our Ginger off me with one arm, simply on the basis of where the bedroom door happens to be.  This morning the squawking started just after seven, punctuated by some thumping and a few squeaks from Mr Fluffy, and as I needed to get up to go to the loo I let Our Ginger in and stroked him devotedly for half an hour without disturbing the SA too much.  It is Our Ginger's bit of protected quality time with us now that he shares the rest of the day with the kitties, and he purred tremendously for the entire half hour.  Dribbling, claws, and all, there is no other creature on earth that is so lavishly and unambiguously happy and delighted with our company as Our Ginger when he is allowed into the bedroom in the morning.

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