Am I prepared to be owned?
This is a question I’ve asked myself many times since I committed to an Australian Mist kitten some weeks ago. When the desire to have the company of another being overtakes common sense and fiscal responsibility, people do surprising things. You see, I have had past experience of this particular feline breed, so I have a rough idea of what I’m in for. Why then, am I prepared to do it all again?
Perhaps I like being owned? Perhaps I’m at a point in my solitary existence where I need to be needed? There’s something else, though: after being surrounded by people for so long and finding myself suddenly quite alone, I’m in danger of becoming a self-centred mutterer.
An Australian Mist kitten is the most satisfying alternative to taking a live-in lover, but without the need to look alluring at 4.40 a.m. That tentative touch of a nose or paw in the pre-dawn is better than being woken by the rattle of cup in saucer and the aroma of coffee. A Mist doesn’t care what I look like, her only desire is that I respond with a grunt and a caress. Oh, yes, it’s pretty important that I’m prepared to get up then, too, because it’s been all of 24 hours since we played with the en-suite handbasin plug, after all.
Thus my previous life of scant routine and limited household order spiralled into utter chaos in less time than it took to open the cat carrier. Within moments of introducing the inquisitive bundle of pale fur to her new surroundings, my house took on the appearance of a war zone. At 13 weeks old, Calico (named because of her colouring) took only a couple of hours to scale the heights of her 187cm cat-tree. In the same time frame she learned that she’s quicker on four legs than I am on two – and promptly took advantage of the fact. She discovered that her water is more fun to jump into than to drink, tissues are interesting to pull from the box and that the gap between the screen door and the sliding glass door is big enough to squeeze into but not quite big enough to reverse out of.
Much more has changed since the addition of Calico to the household. The simple task of taking out the kitchen garbage, once no more challenging than tying a knot in the bag and carrying it out the door, now requires the planning of a military manoeuvre. Mistakenly believing my knowledge of Felinese was quite good, “Wait here, I’ll be right back,” resulted in a ten-minute foray into the depths of the jasmine jungle, so I now find it necessary to lure Calico into a room – any room – and swiftly close the door to contain her. Ditto to retrieve the mail. Receiving visitors is similarly regarded by this “bred for indoors” animal as an opportunity to escape into the wilds of a (mostly) feline-unfriendly neighbourhood.
With the New Year comes the trashing of the ambition I had long held to write with a quiet companion whose tranquility and mute companionship would translate into productive hours at my keyboard. Clearly that is not going to happen, since the keyboard is a stepping stone to the display cabinet upon which is a collection of commemorative and fragile goodies, oil lamps and so on.
Perhaps, in the fullness of time, the meaning of “No!” will be understood.