Friday, 8 November 2013

In Cahoots with Cats


     A recent post dealt with keeping your cat interested in life in general by relating to its senses in a way that's meaningful to a cat. It can be really useful to do this but you also run the risk of causing your cat to think you've completely lost the plot.

     Does that aloof look that Pusia gives me mean that she's in awe of the fact that I evidently understand her or does it mean that she's thinking,

     "Hey! Come on! You're a human! What the heck are you doing acting like a cat?"

Pusia seems to think I'm a bit strange when I try to relate!
     Sometimes we just have to admit that a cat knows us better than we think. I realised this recently when my neighbour was chatting to me and Pusia decided to take advantage of the situation!

A History of Violence

     My neighbour, whom I shall refer to as Mrs Smith from hereon in, loves animals and wildlife. She was, however, horrified when I told her that a cat was coming to live with me. Mrs Smith has a bird table and she spends a good deal of her time defending the birds from marauding rats. In her opinion, the last thing she needed was a cat on the scene. The depth of feeling Mrs Smith has was expressed when she cried,

     "Keep it [the cat] away from my birds!"

Criminal record: A feral cat with a history of violence!
     Pusia was not a new threat to the birds. As we live on a farm there's a thriving feral cat community and foxes abound. The feral cats have snacked on birds for a long time. Some of them (the ones I recognise) even have a pet name that I've given them. 'Freddy' will occasionally venture into my kitchen when the door's open and sit quietly enjoying the company.

A Cat's Gotta Do...

     It's true that cats do pose a threat to wildlife. Recently it's been shown that it's more likely to be negligible than worrying and, in any case, there's no way of quantifying it. It's in a cat's nature, however, to hunt and kill small furry things that move fast. But we shouldn't forget that's pretty much true of any natural predator. The fact is, cats have a lot of other things to do that they consider much more important than hunting. Sleeping, for instance...

Important business. Do not disturb!
     What Mrs Smith was forgetting was that I have no desire to let Pusia catch the birds but we have to accept that occasionally she, or one of the ferals, will get one. I reckon that Darwin would say we're doing the local bird population a favour. It stands to reason that the ones that are caught must be the sickly and weak members of the bird population! Right...?

     Surely we're really cultivating a super bird breed that will eventually one day fight back!

Partners in Crime

     I try to help Mrs Smith with her ongoing struggle to protect the birds. In an attempt to make it harder for Pusia to catch them we moved the bird table further away from the wall. After all, who puts a bird table next to a wall that's perfect for launching yourself at otherwise distracted and happy little birds?

     In spite of this it just made the task of stalking the bird table all that more interesting to Pusia. She undertook a major investigation to solve this new mystery and actually ended up spending more time around the bird table.

The bird table's disappearance was just a bigger mystery to solve...
     Then things took a turn for the worse the other day. As I was chatting to Mrs Smith through the kitchen window Pusia seemed to sense that I would cover for her. Over Mrs Smith's shoulder I saw Pusia take up position amongst the lovely border plants and flowers. With some defiance she stared at Mrs Smith's back and squatted down to do her business. Please, I thought, let it be a pee and not a poo!

     I could have tutted at her and tried to make her stop but, on the other hand, what you don't know can't hurt you. Instead I guiltily engaged Mrs Smith in conversation and tried to occupy her for as long as Pusia needed.

     Thank heavens for small mercies! With a sinking feeling I observed Pusia start to scratch the earth - it must have been a poo. I could actually sense her smug satisfaction as she trotted up to Norma who, surmising that Pusia had just arrived on the scene, then felt obliged to make fond clucking noises as she was subjected to the cat who owns me duplicitously rubbing against her and purring. Only I knew how satisfied that purr sounded!

Human Kind Cats

     And so it seems that humans don't hold the monopoly on understanding cats. Cats also do a pretty neat job of understanding humans!

     Pusia tries to control me, it's true. I understand this and actually kind of like it. This morning I found myself on my hands and knees hand feeding her biscuits that she otherwise refused to eat. Wrong moon phase or something...

     There's also something great about coming home to a house that's lived in while you're away and being told off by the stroppy cat who wants feeding.

     But through this latest encounter with Mrs Smith I've realised that Pusia senses we share a common adversary.

Keeping a lookout for Norma!
     I can't help wondering now whether Pusia feels that we are partners in crime. When she checks out the window and glances back at me she seems to be saying,

     "Come on! Let's have some fun while she's not looking!"

     Her bold use of my distraction to take a covert poo in Mrs Smith's garden certainly seems indicative of this. And I suppose my collusion through not deterring her is evidence enough for her to think that too. 

     Do I mind being manipulated by a cat? Not at all. She's a beautiful free spirited being and it's these little liberties she takes that makes her so special to me!