By now you'll be familiar with my friendly room mate, Pusia. In many ways she's the ideal cat to share a house with. She's clean and tidy. She's quiet and when she does a pooh she always does it in a field close by, never indoors. I've not lived with anyone like that before!
Recently I've found that she's just a little too relaxed around here. We both have to be diligent in guarding our territory. For her it's probably a little more critical than for me. Just recently we discovered that we have a serious threat looming on the horizon. One that I've spoken of before but that's not been quite so evident as yesterday!
Pusia is a very cool cat. She's got a beautiful coat. She's got that 'otherness' that makes cats so special. She's aloof and pretty much looks after herself apart from when she wants food or treats. On top of that, she's pretty smart. I love to watch her out hunting. She also seems to take great pride in the fact that I'm watching. On Thursday she proudly showed off her camouflage skills to me!
Watching her creeping through the grass transported me to the plains of Africa. Momentarily I was in some Rudyard Kypling story and Pusia was the intrepid tiger. This photo doesn't actually show off how well she's camouflaged. There have been times when I've walked right up to an earthy bank, calling her, only to find that she's sitting right under my nose and blending in perfectly with the different shades and colours of grass and soil.
Pusia has, however, let her standards slip a little bit. The other morning I got up and gave her food at about 6am. She was delighted with her breakfast of tuna and cat milk. As usual she ate about a mouse sized portion and then walked away, stretching out her back leg behind her and licking her lips. It wasn't long before she was installed back upstairs on her cushion and relaxing into another period of crucial slumber.
These little naps are so important. How else could she perform so well the rest of the four hours she's awake during any average day?
As it was the weekend and I could relax a little myself, I decided to go and do some Yoga while she was distracted. I went through my usual routine. It's quite arduous and I work through a series of Ashtanga moves that end after about 40 minutes with a ten minute meditation session.
You can drift during the meditation. You quietly observe your breath and listen to anything else that's engaging with your surface consciousness. I listened to the birds singing. I could hear a faint rustling in the leaves. There was a slight crunching noise of a cat eating more food downstairs. And I could hear the familiar soft breaths of a cat sleeping - at the same time as hearing the munching and slurping sounds of a cat eating downstairs. Something didn't seem right.
I checked on Pusia and she was still fast asleep on the cushion. In my bare feet I padded downstairs. When I wandered into the living room I found that all Pusia's bowls were empty. The plot had thickened. She normally leaves about a third of her food and once it's been there for a few hours I put it into another container for the feral cats. They're fed out in the garden.
On this occasion the bowls were licked absolutely dry and the dry food dispenser was covered in slobber. If there's one thing Pusia is not, it's a messy eater. She delicately nibbles away at her food and I often see her carefully teasing one biscuit after another out of the dry food dispenser which she eats with the dainty little nips. The evidence was mounting that there'd been an intruder in our midst.
Pusia has a cat flap upstairs in the bedroom. Occasionally she prefers to come and go via the kitchen door. On these occasions it's easy enough to wedge the door open and give her freedom that way. So that's what I'd done.
On closer inspection I saw there were a few muddy paw prints on and around the brick I was using to wedge the door open. Equally, Pusia had not had the urge to venture outdoors on that particular day. She'd also been clambering over me on the bed earlier and there wasn't a sign of a paw print on the bed! So with a growing sense of anticipation I acted on the growing evidence and opened the door to peer outside.
There wasn't a sign of any intruder. Too late, I thought. The crafty thief will remain a mystery. Though I often see the feral cats around and about on the farm I rarely get very close to them. Pusia often sits in the window growling at them as they pass through the garden. Until now I had no reason to feel at all challenged by them. Then I saw him calmly staring at me from beneath my car!
What is it about cats and cars? They seem to think that the underside of a car is the safest place on Earth! This little fellow certainly thought he had the situation sussed. As I watched him he just gave me a satisfied look and licked his lips luxuriously. Yes! I'd found the culprit all right.
In some ways I quite admired his guts for venturing into Pusia's territory and snaffling all that food while she wasn't looking. He'd certainly licked the bowl clean, drained her milk cup and made a serious impact on her dry food store. No wonder he looked so sleepy and satisfied. I couldn't begrudge him the feast for one moment.
I have to admit that I washed all Pusia's bowls very thoroughly after that. When she finally appeared downstairs again she could tell there'd been a stranger on her territory. She wasn't happy at all with the smells she was picking up. She was very accusatory when she stared at me suspiciously. I'm sure she was thinking, first you take in Beata's cat and now what? As I tried to stroke her she gave me a friendly little nip. I'm busy, it said. Having put me in my place she continued the serious business of her own investigation.
Well Pusia, I thought, if you hadn't been sleeping on the job then none of this would have happened. As a further precaution I shut the kitchen door. It was funny watching Pusia following the trail of clues as the mystery unfolded. Eventually she traced the scent to the kitchen door and looked at me appealingly. Oh, I thought, now you need me!
When I opened the door I left her to it. Moments later there was a little growl and I looked outside to see the space under the car had been vacated, in a hurry I suspect. Pusia was curled up on the doorstep purring. Airily she glanced at me and then just carried on the job of cleaning her fur.
She was a lot more settled and happy. She even allowed me to give her a little stroke. Obviously the curious case of the crafty cat burglar had been solved.