What do you do when the furry love of your life head butts the clean-shaven love of your life? Whose side do you take? Should you take sides at all?  The names in this article have been changed to protect the embarrassed! 

You’ve probably heard it said – and no doubt wondered if it were true – that tomcats seem to bond better with women, while female cats prefer men. I do have women friends who have female cats and men friends with toms so there are always exceptions to the rule, of course.

So what happens when you’ve spent time on your own with just your furry beloveds for company and a NEW MAN enters the scene? We all know that cats need to be introduced to newcomers on a gradual basis but what is the best way to introduce a new boyfriend to an existing feline family?

Garfield, Biggles and Charlie all lined up on the sofa to eyeball the NEW MAN. He was tall, blond haired, with sparkling blue eyes and wore trendy wire rimmed glasses that made him look older than his tender years and more sophisticated.  He had cats at home so thought he was used to their wily ways. He hadn’t reckoned on the forceful powers of the Feline Dating Panel from Hell.

He bent down to speak to Biggles first, leaning in quite close to speak to him. Biggles spat as hard as he could and completely covered the trendy wire rimmed spectacles! Garfield and Charlie were very impressed at such an accurate aim and Charlie practiced getting the spittle ready in his mouth, although he had to keep swallowing it again because the new person was patiently wiping his glasses clean and taking ages.

Finally, he leaned down to speak to Charlie, who at the time was only 10 or so weeks old. Charlie was caught unawares and hadn’t got any spit ready at the time so he looked to Garfield for guidance – he wasn’t sure if he had to like the new person or not.  Garfield just nodded at Charlie which he took to mean ‘give him all you’ve got’. So Charlie rallied as much spit as he could and spat as hard as he was able. It landed on the trouser area of the new person.  Biggles and Garfield were very impressed at his aim for one so tiny, but Charlie didn’t want to own up and tell them he was really aiming for the glasses again. So he kept quiet and took the accolade that he was a good spitter at trouser areas in new people.

Patiently, the new person took the soggy hanky and wiped it over the front of his trousers, looking over at me as he did so. I’m not quite sure what was implied in the look, but I pretended not to notice. We hadn’t known each other too long and I wasn’t getting into any debates on trousers.

Garfield sat waiting for the new person to come over to him. He had devised a questionnaire, which he now got ready. Crossing his legs at the knee and balancing the questionnaire precariously he began questioning the new person mercilessly. Biggles got a lamp and shone it into the new person’s face to make him crack under pressure but he kept cool.

After several minutes of intense questioning, Garfield put down his pen. It seemed that, reluctantly, the new person had passed the criteria laid down by the Feline Dating Panel and he was given a certificate and a verbal warning.  Beads of sweat met across the new person’s brow and trickled down his face, making his glasses steam up.

Haughtily Biggles left the room, followed by Charlie who was still practising his aim. Only Garfield remained, and he sat watching to see where the new person was going to sit. He made an error of judgement in choosing to sit next to me. Garfield leapt in between us trying to prise us apart, blowing a whistle and waving a red card.

I took Garfield to the kitchen and had a little heart to heart talk with him. In fact, Biggles and Charlie were there too, so I took the opportunity to let them all know that Michael would probably become a regular visitor to the house from now on and they had better get used to the idea. I gave them all some of their favourite sweeties in the hope that they wouldn’t feel that life would change all that much with Michael being around. Grudgingly, they accepted the sweeties, and ate them without appreciating them.

I returned to the front room where Michael was relaxing, seemingly oblivious to the upset and consternation he had caused. He smiled at me and his blue eyes crinkled at the edges. I walked over to him and sat down on the sofa. He was just about to lean over me to kiss me when from out of nowhere, a flying ginger carpet landed on my chest and head butted Michael, making his eyes water and his glasses drop down his nose.

MIAOW’ warned Garfield. I was killing myself with unsuppressed laughter but poor Michael didn’t think that being head-butted by his girlfriend’s cat was a laughing matter. He went to sit on the other sofa, nursing his wounded pride and mopping his eyes.

Round one to Garfield. He sat on my lap, dribbling with delight, Garfield, I mean, not Michael. Michael was sulking and the twinkliness had gone out of his eyes and they were now a steely blue. He asked if I wanted to go out for a meal with him and I went upstairs to get ready. Garfield followed me upstairs to make sure that I wore the appropriate clothing for a restaurant.

I chose a short skirt. Garfield retrieved his eyebrows from the ceiling. ‘You’re NOT going out in THAT!’ he exclaimed, and so that he didn’t sound too jealous he added, ‘you’ll catch your death of cold in that.’ I was unconvinced, but decided that maybe it was a bit too short for a first date and wore trousers instead. ‘Much safer’ Garfield muttered under his breath, before adding out loud, ’there, that’s much better. Purrfect!’

I came back downstairs to find Michael stroking Charlie, although as soon as Garfield walked in the room Charlie did try to spit again, but he hadn’t had enough time to accumulate any so it just came out as a big ‘H’ sound. The twinkle returned to Michael’s eyes when he saw me and he complimented me on how nice I looked. Garfield congratulated himself on his wardrobe choosing abilities and winked knowingly at me. ‘Have a nice time,’ he said, ‘and don’t be too late.’ 

We got back much later than I thought and were greeted by three little worried ginger faces pressed against the window. ‘What time do you call this?’ Garfield demanded of Michael. ‘She’s got to go to bed early and rest and you keep her out all hours.’ He followed me as I walked through to the kitchen to get their supper. ‘Might as well make it supbreakfast,’ Biggles said, ‘I’m starrrrrrrrrrrrrrrving.’  ‘So am I,’ Charlie whined.

I asked Michael to wait in the front room while I prepared their supbreakfast and settled them down for what was left of the night. When I returned to Michael he was petulant again.

‘You think a lot of those damn cats,’ he mumbled. ‘Well,’ I tried to placate, ‘they’re all I have and cats don’t like changes to their routine.’ Michael stood up, eyes steely blue again. ‘Well, I’m not coming second to any cats,’ he said, ‘sorry, but there it is. It’s either them or me.’

‘In that case,’ I said quietly, ‘you best close the door on the way out.’

The next morning, I was up early and came down to give Garfield, Biggles and Charlie their breakfast. Biggles ran upstairs to search the bedrooms, while Charlie was sent in all the rooms downstairs for evidence of Michael. They reported back to Garfield who took the news in his stride.

They ate their breakfast while I ate mine, and then Garfield and Biggles went out, while Charlie used his litter tray. I went into the lounge and sat down and mulled over the events of the previous day. I couldn’t believe it really. Who did he think he was, purporting to love cats yet making me choose between my own three companions and him! What a nerve! As nice as he was, I was not giving up my cats for anyone.

Garfield, Biggles and Charlie all came into the room. I told them the news and that I was feeling a little sad because Michael had seemed such a nice guy, although I was annoyed with him as well. Charlie was most put out. ‘Oh no!’ he exclaimed, ‘I’ve been practising my spitting and now it’s all for nothing.’

‘Don’t worry,’ I said, smiling at him. ‘I’m sure you’ll have the opportunity again sometime in the next millennium to spit on another male visitor.’ He seemed pleased with that idea until I added, ’although with my run of luck with men we could all be very very old before the next man walks through the front door!’

Biggles and Garfield came and sat next to me. Garfield put his paw on my knee. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said. ‘You’re far too good for the likes of him!’ ‘I agree!’ said Biggles vehemently, ‘did you see his tie?’ Charlie came up and sat on my lap, stretching up to nuzzle my chin. And there we sat for some time, each lost in our own thoughts. I looked down at my three furry beloveds now fast asleep and knew that I was truly blessed. 

Copyright © 2002 by Pauline Dewberry



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