Flat Cat Observations

Most mothers are blind when it comes to their own children, and the complete lack of interest other people (like me for example) have in the daily update of the doings and pooings of their toddlers. Note, the words ‘mother’ and ‘children’ are being used in the broadest possible sense.

Many, who do not have human children or whose biological offspring have flown the nest, give their complete love and devotion to their pets; the dog who smothers them with kisses when they reach home at the end of a long day, and the cat who starts meowing as soon as he hears familiar footsteps approach the door.

I had two human daughters, who emigrated to start lives of their own: now I have cats. My husband has dogs, but he lives on a farm which is a different story: I suspect the body corporate might hesitate before allowing four dogs in a two bedroom flat so I stuck to cats, my Cosy cat and another – step cat – I adopted from my daughter when she left.

The thing is, I can’t turn to the person standing next to me in the 10 items or less Woolies’ queue, haul out photographs of my cats and proceed to bore the pants off them by regurgitating all the cute and infuriating things they do. Come to think of it, if I did that to the person immediately ahead of me they’d probably make a dash for the Trolley queue, allowing me to reach the tills faster. Food for thought.

Seriously though, you discuss your cats only with a fellow ailurophile – my friend Yvonne and I will sit into the early hours of the morning mulling over Tigger’s weight problem and how to get cat pee out of the curtains – or on your blog.

We live in a first floor flat, and in the morning or late afternoon the three of us will sit on the balcony looking down at the courtyard garden below us. There are lots of cats down there, denizens of the ground floor, and for my two it’s like watching reality TV.

I’ve taken mine down of course, so they can also enjoy the grass, dig up the herbaceous borders instead of my window boxes, and  sharpen their claws on trees – as nature intended – NOT my brocade covered furniture. The excursions have been a complete damp squib.

Cosy  cat runs into a tropical shrubbery and lurks behind Tree Ferns and Delicious monsters and other rather sinister plants, while step cat tries to affect an unsolicited entry to ground floor flats with the probable intention of beating up the cats who lives there. Btw, Step cat is a thug, and named after TS Elliot’s Rum Rum Tigger.

When they were house cats with a big garden, they rejoiced in bringing home birds and rats and even large spiders: now it would seem hunting is beneath them.

The other thing that is beneath them is using the loo in ‘the wild’ as it were. I don’t dig a hole and squat in the garden, so why should they? First I gave them a sand box on the balcony; the Romans planted lavender around their public conveniences so my cats had their tray fragrantly nestled amidst a grove of potted lavenders, through which they could peak at the world around them.

Cosy cat was happy but step cat emptied all the crystals out of the tray, then proceeded to dig up the window boxes of herbs. Nothing deterred him from destroying those window boxes, although the young man from Vet’s Pantry did his best to help. We used green crystals and VoetSak and Shoo Cat and Epsom Salts but in the end I resorted to covering all my little plants with sieves and colanders to keep him off.

Cosy cat was so traumatized by the destruction of her lavatorial arbor that she developed severe constipation and I realised she needed a personal sand box. The only place to put it  was in the bathroom, so my black and white art deco bathroom was spoiled  by the addition of a small white cat box.

The problem solved? Not exactly. Cosy cat has a habit I have observed in some human females as well: she does not like to attend to her toilet needs alone. And what better time to be guaranteed company while she quivers from her head to the tip of her tail in the act of evacuating her bowels than when I am in the shower, a captive audience?

No matter how much Lush Rose Argon Body Jam shower gel you slather on, there comes a point at which the noisome fumes from your cat’s Number Two will permeate and there you are, lathered up and trapped.

It didn’t take long for step cat to find the little ladies’ loo, decide he wanted to use it too, and scatter all the crystals onto the bathroom floor.

Then there’s some caveat about drinking water out of bowls: step cat will drink only from a bucket in the bathroom or kitchen: if it isn’t full enough he pulls it over. Cosy drinks only from cups: a cup of fresh water needs to be kept next to the bed for her and replenished several times a day.

Then there’s the boredom factor. I’ve heard it said that it’s crueler to keep a cat in a flat than it is a little dog. Having been retrenched, I am there much of the time to talk to the cats and play with them, but how do you play with a sleeping cat? Thug Cat spends most of his time sleeping. He enjoys watching the lower order cats in the garden but when I take them down he certainly doesn’t want to play with them. Or dig. Or hunt or climb trees or any of the other things you might think he’s missing.

Cosy cat loves playing: her favourite game is Catches. She runs out the door and waits for me to follow. When I bend to pick her up, she runs again. This game can go on for half on hour, after which I get bored and go inside. It’s even more fun for her in the shrubbery downstairs where she will dart from Elephant’s Ear to Rubber Plant, while I crash cursing in her wake.

And my cats talk a lot but I can always tell them apart. It might sound like Meow to some but I know what they are really saying is Mummy! But enough. I will tell you about some of the clever things they’ve said to me another time. They really understand every word I say you know, and I swear they can follow the news on television an even have an idea of reading.

Wait – do you have to go? There are so many more things I want to tell you about the cuteness of my cats! Can I show you this file of pictures I have on my phone? And listen, I have a recording of their voices;  you can definitely hear they are shouting Mum! Mum! Wait, please don’t go.


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