Introducing Charlie, a ginger and white feline intrepid explorer; a Cheese Plant with Attitude and reflections on the kittenhood of Biggles and Garfield. They weren't THAT bad, were they!? 

Getting your kittens or cats in pairs is much better, not only for you but for them. If you are out of the house for long periods at a time – perhaps at school or at work – your cat won’t be lonely or bored if he has a playmate. Most of the time they curl up and sleep for hours at a time interspersed with grooming, toilet breaks, feeding and naps.

That is why when Charlie first came to the house as an 8-week old kitten, he was such hard work as Biggles and Garfield, at 7 years of age, already knew the rules of the house. Within a week of Charlie’s arrival, I had a very bad dose of flu and during the couple of weeks I was at home from work he drove me to distraction. He climbed everything in sight – the curtains, up the wallpaper, the plants, the freezer – nothing was too high or too steep for him to climb. He was like a feline Edmund Hillary on his quest to reach the summit of everything within his paws.

I despaired of his future in our household. I agonised whether to rehome this juvenile delinquent because Biggles and Garfield had been nowhere near as naughty as him. Or had they?

I tried to think back to when they arrived. No, I reassured myself, of course they hadn’t – they had been ‘model’ felines – but even as I thought about it, a nagging memory came back of The Cheese Plant Incident. The cheese plant in question having been peed in just once too often had issued me with an ultimatum - ‘it's them or me.'

Despite repotting it lovingly with extra enriched compost, feeding it with a top of the range plant food, and washing each beautiful leaf with cotton wool balls soaked in asses milk it sulked resolutely, spitefully dropping a leaf a week until it stood nude, proud and unembarrassed and poking its tongue out.

I sadly let it go to wherever it is nude, proud and unembarrassed cheese plants go once they have given up the will to live and undeterred, Biggles and Garfield found another houseplant to annoy.

As I was at work during the day these activities went on unseen by me and it was only at the later stages of a plant’s sad existence that I became aware that anything was amiss. Occasionally I would notice that the soil around the plant had been disturbed and it was only when I discovered a poo (around the poor lamented cheese plant) that I began to have my suspicions. But, I reasoned, there was a perfectly adequate litter tray with the best litter available for them to use – why would they want to use the cheese plant as a latrine?

Why indeed! And then other memories came flooding back and I realised that in their looks of mock shock horror at each of Charlie’s escapades they’d led me to believe that they had been the most perfect of kittens.

Charlie’s behaviour was normal kitten behaviour. He was just exploring his world and it was unfortunate that I had the flu at the time and couldn’t cope with his antics. He was such an adorable little kitten that I didn’t really want to rehome him. He had already had one home for 5 or 6 days before coming to me as his second home. I didn’t want to admit defeat so he stayed. He was put on 3 months probation to clean up his act or else. I didn’t really want to think about the ‘or else’ but I needed to be tough.

When Biggles and Garfield were Charlie’s age (8 weeks) they used to sleep on my bed at night with me. They each had their own defined spot which they stuck to without fail. It was quite amusing as Garfield had bagged the upper portion of my torso and Biggles was relegated to the lower portion. 

Before they settled into this routine though, they would regularly have wrestling matches the minute I tried to sleep. This would involve jumping over me several times to escape one another, landing on various parts of my anatomy and generally jumping up and down before hurling themselves headlong into a full blown wrestling match with paw locks, full nelsons and whatever else they could think of.

After a month or so of feeling sea sick in my own bed, I decided it would be better for all of us if they were put into the dining room for the night. Their food and drink was in the kitchen which led off from the dining room and the litter tray was under the dining table (for privacy) so they had all their comforts to hand. Various toys and suitable beds were at their disposal – the cheese plant, which, as far as I was aware, hadn’t been tampered with at this point.

They soon came to recognize the signs that meant it was time for bed and accordingly cleverly devised some cunning evasive action. This varied from hiding anywhere in the house refusing to come out – despite me shaking the box of dried treats maniacally as a lure! – to digging their claws in my shoulders if I had managed to get hold of them and refusing to unhook them.

One of Biggles’ favourite tricks was to hide behind the curtain which covered the front door. The curtain had been put there as a draught excluder because the gap between door and frame was so big an elephant could have easily walked through without breathing in. It was quite usual to find mini snow drifts behind the curtain during winter months.

Biggles’ plan was excellent the first time he did it as I had no idea he was behind the curtain. He would be almost wetting his pants giggling as I roamed the house looking under units, behind sofas, and on top of cupboards. The more tired I became, the more plaintive my voice got as I desperately craved sleep. Finally, barely able to contain himself, the curtain would twitch and his hiding place would be revealed.

The trouble was that, at 12 or so weeks, Biggles lacked originality and behind the curtain was the first place he would run and hide and it would therefore be the first place I would look! He always looked cross and surprised to be found so quickly, so sometimes, if I was in a reasonable mood, I wouldn’t hurry to find him!

Please click here for Chapter 2

To read about Charlie's shenanigans when I had the flu, please click here:


Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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