When I was a kid we had a pet tortoise called Stan. Having a tortoise is easy. Box, straw, dandelions, lettuce, water, bury. Possibly the most exciting part of owning Stan was that moment every day when you thought he had escaped from the garden. A mild panic would set in until, inevitably, he was discovered under the same bush he always toddled off to, roughly 2 feet away from the last place you saw him. And because tortoises are not known for their excessive displays of affection the burden of his death was not a difficult one to bear. But that could be because I’m heartless.
I mention this because we now have a kitten and having a kitten is almost exactly 744 times more exhausting than having a tortoise. The procuration of our kitten is another story for another time but what I can tell you is that it’s not been all fun and games. ‘The wife’ is several steps ahead of me because has already owned a series of deeply mental cats and so can cope with the current trauma we are being exposed to, or at least I thought she could. She’s struggling too. In fact when it’s really bad pretty much the only comfort I get out of owning a kitten is knowing Mrs H is sitting in the same flimsy, leaking dingy. And I suspect she feels the same.
That makes it sound bleak, but it’s not that bad. I mean ‘the kitten’ is very lovely and fluffy and gorgeous and she will grow up to be a very handsome creature indeed. The vet says she’s still very small but we know she’s going to get quite big. She’s also cute (like all sodding kittens). Right now she is with me in the loft, playing inside a half full bag of toilet rolls. This is disturbing and unhygienic and there is a constant threat of suffocation (let alone shared germs) but it is also cute. These are the days of clover and blossom. I wouldn’t ask to use our toilet for a few weeks though.
Cute things can turn ugly. Not proper ugly, even when she kicks off she looks like Cate Blanchett on a catwalk, but boy, oh boy, does she have energy. And a mean streak. Her claws and teeth have hardened as the weeks have drawn on and you can see the killer instinct start to sharpen. She plots to escape, to be free, to hunt, to kill, to bring back her prize, to get shouted at, to look like butter wouldn’t bloody melt. The birds that now mock and taunt her incarceration will soon just be a cluster of stressed feathers and a splash of blood on the side of the shed. The other cats on our street may strut about like Foghorn Leghorn but just you wait ’til you get a load of ours you anaemic ratbags.
Of course, were not being cruel. She is still an animal, a small, defenceless animal (my arse), and she needs her jabs and all that stuff and most importantly she doesn’t need to get humped by some street corner shyster moggy and get herself up the hairy duff. So she’s indoors for now and that means she gets restless. Now I know what the ‘mad half hour’ is, courtesy of my fab sis, I calculate that she has about 15 of them every day. Usually a wake up one, a get out of bed one and a ‘I’m taking a dump in that litter tray you’ve just changed then I’m going to jump around on it’ one. And that’s just before we go to work.
Then she probably just curls up for 11 hours and has her photo taken for ‘sorry you’re dying in agony’ sympathy card manufacturers. And she waits. And she waits. And then one of us gets home and she has a little stretch and we give her a little cuddle and we forgive her for being berserk last night and for a second it’s all like the Hallmark channel. And then she goes berserk again. Until we go to bed. She swipes and bites and oh, the sheer volume of scratches, and we’ve tried all the things the cat people say we should but she just keeps coming back. She’s like a cat version of The Terminator and she absolutely will not stop until we are dead. Or she wears herself out and has forty winks.
I’ve never much fancied having children. I’m sure there are lots of wonderful things about parenthood but I’m afraid it just doesn’t balance out the rest for me and the thought of having your life controlled by something that is also simultaneously utterly dependent on you is only a couple of steps away from the principle behind Alien. So having a kitten is as close as I can bear to having a child. It’s less expensive, less messy, less smelly (though the honk she made in the loft a minute ago has made my eyes water) and I don’t have to answer endless questions (take note ‘the wife’). Over the last couple of weeks she’s had moments where she’s been so infuriating that I’ve heard ‘the wife’ make noises at her that I’ve never heard before. One evening I almost felt like crying (and not because of the farts) and we’ve sat her down and talked to her many times about the ramifications of her actions should she choose to continue down that path.
But she doesn’t seem to give a tiny shit. She knows we’re not going to give her away or send her to the big cat playground in the wheelie bin behind the vets, both options have been forwarded and vetoed. She knows she only has to be cute for 3 seconds to have all her sins washed away. A half hour nap with her asleep on your tummy and the world is a better place. She’s ours and we are hers and I wouldn’t change a single thing.
Except driving to fucking Grimsby twice to buy the ungrateful tart. But as I said that’s for another time.
G B Hewitt. 10.6.2017
Oh, I almost forgot, anyone want to buy a kitten?