Tuesday, 6 August 2013

How to Handle Ninja Cats

Cats of Nine Tales

     If you have a heart, it's almost impossible to look at a cat without smiling. I've recently started to enjoy the company of a cat in my own home. It's such a pleasure to see her in the morning. She's always glad to see me when I get home. I think. With a cat it's hard to tell.

     The point is that a cat has a very special role to play in our lives. My partner, Beata, has two. Each cat has its own story. Often it can be complicated. I'll come to my partner's cats before too long.

     For the moment, here's Pusia, my adorable Ninja cat. I'm going to tell you a little bit about her and how she reminded me that, however much we like to think otherwise, a cat is always independent and wild.

Origins of a Cat

     Pusia came to me when her previous humans emigrated. I wasn't that struck on the idea of having her, to be honest. I thought it would mean being tied to the house. I had never wanted the ties or the responsibility of a pet.

     Then I went to her house to see her humans and she jumped onto my lap, curled up, went limp and started to purr as she stared into my eyes. From that moment it was love!

     Literally five days later I was driving back from Kerry to Cork with Pusia in a little cat basket next to me in the car. I'd say at that point she was regretting choosing me as her next human. The journey was two hours and she cried the whole way.

Settling Cracks

     That first time I let her out in my living room she was a bit unsure. It was the sweetest thing I'd seen in a while. She was shaking and busy sniffing everything cautiously. It was all so unfamiliar to her.

     She spent a good deal of that first day, to my amazement, seeking me out and draping herself across my knees. Everyone had told me she'd hide for about a week. But every time I so much as appeared to be about to sit down Pusia would replicate the charge of the Light Brigade!

     Despite her initial reticence I soon found out that Pusia has a brave soul. I first heard her growling when my neighbour was out in the garden. I have to say it was a frightening sound. Then she repeated it when the postman arrived in the morning and even gave a gruff little bark, almost like a dog!

The Ninja Spirit

     Her real character came out when she saw one of the local feral cats through the window for the first time. I'd read in a book that this can be very upsetting for a cat in new territory. The shy and retiring little kitten evaporated! She wanted blood. Even though I'd reached the point where she was allowed out I decided to keep her inside to avoid a fight.

     The way she reacted convinced me she's a very intelligent and resourceful cat. Apart from her Ninja type skills to disappear into her surroundings (under the bed, behind the sofa, that kind of thing) she also possesses a single minded determination that keeps her focused beyond belief!

     Instead of meekly watching the feral cat from the safety of the house, Pusia charged around the place. She ran upstairs. She ran to the front door. She found every place she could to observe the movements of the intruder. She obstinately ignored any attempts to distract her with cuddles, food or games. Instead she became engaged in a vicious game of cat and, well... cat!

It Ain't What You Do

     Just to put all this bravado into perspective, as you can see from the photo above, Pusia is a very pretty and quite small cat. The feral cat she appeared to be challenging is a rather large and tough looking creature! That, however, seemed to be the last thing on Pusia's mind.

     Subsequently it was inevitable that they would meet outside sometime. When they did it was quite interesting to watch the interaction.

     Pusia, who had been patrolling her territory, proudly walked back to the open house doorway and plonked herself down in it, staring defiantly at the feral cat who just froze. A little stand off ensued until the feral cat started to stalk casually towards the house. I was ready to jump in and defend Pusia (something the books had warned me I may have to do). As I was about to become the cat owner equivalent of the United Nations peace keeping force, Pusia let out this little growl. I'm not sure who it was really directed at but it served the purpose of stopping both myself and the feral cat dead in our tracks.

   I sat down. The feral cat lay down and rolled onto its side. Pusia calmly started to clean herself all the time keeping a watchful eye on the feral cat.

Walk on the Wild Side

     And so the situation resolved itself. Pusia has established her territory. Her Ninja mind game skills have now firmly placed her in control of the situation. In truth, there was very little I needed to do to help her. 

     You see, as far as cats are concerned we're just in their lives by invitation. Our inclination is to be over protective. She didn't need my protection. She already possessed all the necessary confidence and skills to make it work on her own terms! Little did I know that this was just the beginning of my training. She'd only just started.