Establishing who’s the boss in my house is a tough one. You may have heard the saying, “A dog has masters, a cat has slaves”. It’s certainly true in my home!
I have a much-loved, adorable, tortoiseshell moggy called Peanut. I named her Peanut because when I rescued her, she was a tiny kitten the colour of a dry roasted peanut! What better reason. She’s the first pet I’ve had since living alone (quite happily, too). Although she’s now two-and-a-half years old, she’s still quite petite and looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. But … don’t be fooled by her angelic looks. She’s no angel. She’s feisty, doesn’t like being picked up or held and is picky about her food, only eating the expensive stuff. She doesn’t like the beef or lamb cat food, only chicken, turkey or fish, fussy little madam. It’s just as well that I’m vegan with the cost of meat these days! To begin with, I found it challenging to buy poultry or fish cat food, but cats are carnivorous, and it wouldn’t be fair to expect her to be anything else. It was my choice to take her in; therefore, it’s only reasonable that she is fed naturally and responsibly.
She also does what comes naturally to cats – she’s a hunter (unfortunately for me and her prey, of course). I’ve lost count of the number of mice I’ve had to chase around the kitchen floor after. Not the easiest of tasks in a wheelchair. Some have survived to tell another tale (pun not intended), but others, sadly, have met their demise.
She did catch a baby bird the Spring before last. I managed to rescue it from Peanut’s jaws; it appeared uninjured but was definitely in shock and hardly moving. I wrapped it in soft tissue for warmth and protection and popped it into a relatively small empty box. I then had the slowest of journeys up to the vets an hour away while trying to shield the little mite from the wind and the broken paving beneath my wheels. Once I arrived, the vet examined it and declared it to be uninjured, as I’d thought. That was a relief. They took it in to care for it and were going to send it to the local wildlife rescue centre until it had grown enough to be released safely. It turned out to be a baby Great Tit. Unfortunately, the butterflies she catches fare less well. Last week, she caught a slow worm (rather lovely creatures and much-needed for the garden, as are all worms). Fortunately, this one did survive completely unscathed and got put back in the garden, whereas Peanut got put in the living room with me to give the slow worm time to make a quick getaway. They can move pretty fast.
Going to bed is another matter. She doesn’t like being shut-in, but I couldn’t have her bringing in all and sundry while I sleep upstairs. Firstly, I’d be none the wiser when I got up, and secondly, I wouldn’t stand a chance of finding her live prey in the morning if it had run under the fridge or washing machine. She’s got her biscuit, water, and litter tray, so is quite comfortable. But the fuss she makes when I go to bed is only to be seen. I’ve tried taking her up to bed with me in case she’s lonely; she then decides to shin up the curtains and plays leapfrog from the chest of drawers to the dressing table, knocking off everything on them. I wouldn’t mind if she quietly settled down next to me, but I swear she thinks she was an Olympic athlete in one of her previous lives. But, for all that, I love her dearly and couldn’t imagine being without her. She’s become a good companion … when it suits her!