Waiting for the visitors to arriveIt’s a funny thing: we all know how to deal with visiting cats, don’t we? They’re intruders to be seen off at once and no quibbling. Similarly, when I bring rodents or birds home, they don’t seem to be welcome: Mum and Dad either take them off me and make them disappear or, if I’m reluctant to abandon them to an uncertain fate, ask me to leave with them.

But when humans visit, it’s a very different story. Mum is busy tidying and cleaning, cooking and baking beforehand, rearranging the furniture until Tammy is completely disorientated, fussing over the patio, trimming the roses, and generally not in the mood to play with me. She gets like that anyway sometimes, visitors or no visitors, but she’s ten times worse when visitors are on the horizon, as though we weren’t perfectly fine as we are.

Where it gets really puzzling is when the guests appear up the driveway, because they are not, as one might expect, being chased off. Far from it. There are exclamations of joy and other embarrassing human displays of happiness and affection. The guests get to park their cars on the forecourt and are then allowed into the house or garden without so much as a hiss or a scratch. They are served food and drink that has been jealously guarded from me beforehand; they get to sit in my armchair and on Tammy’s sofa; they are shown around the garden and allowed to do pretty much anything they like.

I was pretty perplexed by this behaviour to begin with. Who wouldn’t be? But clearly, in human terms, it’s the right thing to do, and if you can’t beat them, I say join them. It’s not that hard, in fact, with a bit of observation and the will to learn. I have both, and so, over time, I too have become the perfect host for humans. How do I do it?

Bilbo in the gardenWell, to begin with, I make a point of admiring every single car on the forecourt, and if any windows are left open, I express my appreciation on the inside as well. It’s the path to a male human’s heart. In the house, I sample any delicacies that are laid out, to make sure they’re up to scratch. The other day, for instance, I found the milk for the coffee to be just a little bit off and drank most of it to save Mum the embarrassment of serving it to her guests. Fortunately, she had a fresh bottle in the fridge; I checked that out, too, and to my relief it was fine. Another tragedy averted. Sadly, my range of good deeds is otherwise limited in the house.

In the garden, on the other hand, I can express cordiality on a grand scale. I spend absolutely hours weaving between bare legs, admiring painted claws in sandals and allowing guests to scratch my chin or stroke my back. They really love me! When that’s done, I entertain them with agility displays: I race like the wind around the large rhododendron bush; I scale the elder tree to a dizzying height; I launch myself back down to earth with heart-stopping speed; I turn somersaults; I jump across the pond without falling in; I do my four-paw crab walk levitation with a twist. All this to cheers from my audience.

Scaling the elder tree keeping an eye on thingsBy the time our guests leave, I’ve had praise showered upon me from every direction and we’re all great friends. Which leaves me wondering whether Mum is maybe thinking of opening our house to all the neighbourhood cats as well, so we can be friends with them, too. I’m not sure I’d like that. Better keep chasing them away, just in case she gets ideas.

Till the next time ...




The Very Best Toy for Cats

"Of all the [cat] toys available, none is better designed than the owner himself. A large multipurpose plaything, its parts can be made to move in almost any direction. It comes completely assembled, and it makes a noise when you jump on it."

Stephen Baker