There’s a battle of wills going on in our house. Occasionally it involves roaring and shouting followed by a couple of days of sulking or overt disdain. And then things get back to normal.
It kicked off a couple of years ago. It was New Year’s Eve. We had visitors for the holidays. One had brought a fine hunk of ham to add to the lentil soup. Only just out off the boil, it was cooling on the terrace. We were inside sitting around the kitchen table having something to eat.
‘Oh, I didn’t know you had cats,’ the ham-bringer said.
‘We don’t,’ says I. ‘The neighbour has a black-and-white one and there’s a stray tabby who hangs around occasionally.’
‘Ah. He’s outside now. How sweet.’
No more said. We kept on chatting but my friend was curious to see what had the tabby so interested. She got up to look and let a roar out of her that’d have stopped clocks three villages over. The cat had been helping himself to the ham. Not the fatty outer part but the good stuff, on the inside. And he’d eaten nearly it all. He took fright and quickly waddled off as my friend tried to open the sliding doors, the pound of ham in his belly slowing him down. She was upset. Really upset. Superstitiously upset. I was NYE after all. The last thing you want to set you up for the New Year is a robbery. I was trying (and failing) not to laugh at the good of it. Cheeky cat. But then it wasn’t my ham.
Fast forward a year or so and another friend was visiting. Sure she’d bought a loaf of bread when she was shopping, she couldn’t find it anywhere. She’d put it under a tea towel and left it on the table, or so she thought but there was no sign of either. Later that evening as she went down the garden, she spotted the tabby coming out from under a bush. She caught sight of a piece of red chequered cloth. There was the tea towel and the half-eaten loaf of bread. I laughed when she told me. Clever cat. But then it wasn’t my bread.
I’ve a habit of leaving meat out overnight to defrost. Working away in my office one day, I heard a strange noise coming from the kitchen. I went to investigate. The bag of pork chops I’d left on the sink was now sitting on the floor by the door out onto the terrace. In the middle of the floor lay the bone of one chop, meat all chewed away. The three other chops were still in the bag. And there was the cat, bag between his teeth, trying his damndest to lift the chops over the lip of the door. My inner fishwife came out as I ran him out of the house. I wasn’t at all impressed. I ranted and raved for a while, thoroughly pissed off. It was my dinner.
There were many more incidents. We damned that cat to hell and back. Another day, I made some cherry and orange cakes. I left them cooling on a rack on the table, covered with a cloth. Every time I went into the kitchen, I checked to see if the cloth had been disturbed. All was good. That evening, I went to wrap them for the freezer and lifted the cloth to see that one had been half-eaten. I wasn’t amused but I had to admit, he’s a clever cat.
We call him Kisrabló – the little thief. He’s pure brazen, Cheeky as all git out. I feed him scraps and he’s well clued in. He knows what’s cooking. He comes when he smells chicken and ribs. He’s not interested in pork roast or fish (unless it’s smoked salmon). He shows up just at the right time, even if we haven’t seen him for days. He sits. And he stares. Just sits and stares until we notice him. No mewing. No noise. Just that stare.
Last summer, he ruined a cushion on my chair on the terrace. Got up on it with mucky paws. I wasn’t impressed. We had a talk. I thought he’d listened. I got him a basket and lined it with a blanket. I showed it to him and told him that it was his – no more chairs. He stayed the odd night and left the cushion alone. This year, when the chairs went out and the cushions went on, he waited until we had a wet day before walking through the mud and then climbing on the chair. When I caught him, he looked at me defiantly as if to say ‘whatcha gonna do about it’. Aha. A challenge. I’d noticed that he gives the lavender plant a wide berth so I’ve just washed the cushions in lavender detergent. I’ve got his number. Let the summer games begin.
P.S. Am grateful for the diversion 🙂