Back In The Saddle Again

small_243854954It’s been much too long since I sat down to write a blog entry. Last time I spoke about writer’s block and you may be forgiven if you think I’ve been suffering once again from that affliction. Alas, my story is a tad more complicated than that. It’s a tale of home invasion and a certain type of harassment that severely hampered the freedom I enjoy in this household. Would you like to hear it?

About a week ago and without any warning (to me, at least), a rowdy horde descended upon this house and I was kept from the computer for days on end. “A horde?” you say. “That sounds intriguing.” Well, it wasn’t and I think you will agree with me once you hear the details.

The “horde” is a certain segment of Miranda’s extended family. Her sister arrived on one of her periodic visits and this time she had her three rambunctious and ill-behaved offspring in tow. I can say with some authority that most cats see human children as creatures to be avoided. These immature beings are, by nature, impulsive and their incessant curiosity causes them to chase, poke at and pelt unsuspecting felines with bits of cereal and other projectiles. It is most disconcerting.

I have learned from past family visits that I am well advised to lay low and appear only at meal times. Normally, I spend a good chunk of my time on the computer – at least when my providers have gone out somewhere or are asleep at night. Alas, the children slept on cots in Miranda’s office, so computer access was well and truly blocked during their visit. How then, you may wonder, did I spend my time?

small__5600397342Since we have been experiencing what seems like weeks of uninterrupted rain and cold here on the west coast, my outside sojourns have, of late, been brief and to the point. I embark on the usual circuit around my territory, sniffing for signs of intruders and leaving my own distinctive marking in strategic places. Occasionally, I see Periwinkle in the distance – probably hurrying through a similar routine of her own. Sharky is outside most mornings, surveying the neighbourhood from his rooftop lookout. I give him a friendly flick of the tail and receive a nod in return.

Having fulfilled my obligations, I’m off back home to dry off and finish my breakfast. When the horde descended upon us, this routine was somewhat hampered by my need to avoid grubby little hands and careless feet. I learned the art of slipping unobtrusively into the house, grabbing a quick bite and then slinking off to Jacob and Miranda’s bedroom to while away the day in semi-alert slumber. It was very, very tiresome indeed.

My new regime worked well for the first day or two of the visit, until one pesky male child discovered my shadowy sanctuary.  “I found Cato! He’s in Auntie’s room!” he shouted with unseemly triumph. I edged deeper under the bed and he seemed to give up and go off somewhere else. Relaxing with what turned out to be a false sense of security, I was startled to see him return with some sort of glowing stick in hand.

In a loud and piercing voice he proclaimed, “Ha! Luke Skywalker is here to save the day. Come out, mean and horrible space cat. I’m saving this planet from the likes of you!” The stick found its mark on my right flank and, if I may indulge in a little melodrama, I left numerous claw-shaped skid marks on the carpet as I flew out of the room and all the way down to the bowels of the house.

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I spend the rest of the day hidden behind some boxes in the basement crawl space…traumatized, resentful and exhausted. Eventually, I fell into a deep sleep that was punctuated by nightmares of being chased by hundreds of sharp-clawed kittens (now that I think about it, kittens and small children do have a lot in common). I have vague memories of Miranda calling my name, but even bad dreams were preferable to facing those children again.

Eventually, hunger pangs trumped my fears and I crept back upstairs to the main floor. Miranda leapt upon me with sloppy expressions of affection. “Cato, darling cat!  Where have you been all day?” Kiss kiss. Hug hug. Ugh. I endured this and, once she put me back down again, sat in front of my food dish to make my preferences known in no uncertain terms.

I must say, the trauma of the day was somewhat alleviated by my dinner of freshly poached salmon. Hunger assuaged, I noticed how quiet it was in the house. Dare I hope the horde had gone back home again? That would be a satisfying end to my tale but, alas, it was not the case. They all trooped in again later that evening, chattering about burgers and fries from “Micky D’s”, whatever that is.

small_457982921In the meantime, there was a small oasis of peace in the early evening. Jacob arrived home and, during the quiet lull after their evening meal, we settled into our usual routine of sitting by the fire in the sitting room. Tummy satisfied and spirits revived by my very satisfactory dinner, I allowed Miranda to scoop me up and stroke my fur awhile. As she chatted to Jacob about mostly boring things, I did eventually discover what was in store for me in the days ahead. At one point, she turned and looked at me. “Cato, I’m betting that those nephews of mine did something to upset you today. That’s why you hid, isn’t it?”

Very perceptive of you, Miranda.  Ooh, yes…I love it when you scratch under my chin…aah…

She continued, “I’ve decided to make life less stressful for you. They’re here for another couple of days…”

No! Whipping my head round, I gave her a very hard stare.  Her brow wrinkled a little. “You know, I could swear you understand what I’m saying sometimes, Cato.”

Of course I do. Best you don’t know that, though. I stretched a little and curled up on the sofa beside her.

Sipping her hot drink, she said, “Jacob, I think we should set up a little ‘Cato hideaway’ in our bedroom. We can put his food and water dishes there and the litter tray will fit nicely in the back of the closet. We’ll keep the door closed and warn the children to keep out. What do you think?” She may have been talking to Jacob, but I purred my approval nonetheless.

Well, it wasn’t very enjoyable, but Miranda’s plan helped me through the next few days. Amazingly, the children obeyed their elders and steered clear of my sanctuary for the remainder of their visit. They left for home yesterday morning and life is blessedly normal again. Miranda has returned to work and I am free to tap away on the computer to my heart’s content.

I am reminded of a song I heard yesterday evening on a television program that Jacob was watching. One scene showed a Stetson-clad cowboy named Gene Autry, who was crooning a simple tune about returning to a favourite activity, presumably after an enforced absence. Though I may not have any desire to sing about it, I can relate to his heartfelt joy at being “back in the saddle again”.

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Would you like to hear Autry’s cowboy ditty?  I found a short clip on YouTube:

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Photo credits:

Cat at computer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/asmuch/243854954/

Cat at window: http://www.flickr.com/photos/elycefeliz/5600397342/

Boy with sabre:http://www.flickr.com/photos/leszekleszczynski/8219707251/

Cat sleeping:http://www.flickr.com/photos/fredsbabe/457982921/