Sunday, 12 March 2017
The missus is away this weekend teaching "Wire Beading" at the WI's Denman college in Marcham near Abingdon and I've been entrusted to look after our growing collection of pussy cats.
In order of seniority there's our beautiful ginger tom "Ginja the Ninja" - that's his official name: aka "Billy Bongo". There's our black and white long haired "Silvo". These two are strays that adopted us many years ago. Then there's "Pru" and "Smudge", they're not ours but turn up every morning at our front door. And then there's the newcomers "Pixy and Dixy - now 5 months old.
The kittens sleep in the front room and are shut in: that's because "Billy Bongo" doesn't get on with them (they love him) and he sleeps on our bed. By the time I'm up "Bongo" has already been let out usually around 5 am.
The morning routine is as follows. I get up, shut the bedroom door so that when I release the kittens they don't fly upstairs into the bedroom and pee on the duvet. I let the kittens out, and I unlock the door into the kitchen followed by two ravenous adult cats in the making. On opening the cat larder drawer - containing more food than in the rest of the house - Pixy and Dixy have their eyes fixed on me and the packets of food I bring out. This is not a straight forward manoeuvre: it requires knowledge, a good memory and cat/kitten mind reading skills.
There is an abundance of choice, which represents a major test of one's memory. What was the last thing they had before they went to bed? I realise it would help if I left out the previous night's packet on the side; but I always forget. Should I rummage in the waste bin. I do and hope the one on the top is the one they had last night. In the lower cupboard is the store of plates, saucers, pans etc on which to place their breakfast. A pouch of delicious "lamb, with red peppers, in a shrimp sauce." is opened. I note the approving sniffs from the two bundles of delight and place it before them. By the time I've provided a bowl of clean water, a small bowl of single cream and some biscuits, the plates are emptied and they're gagging for more. Another pouch is opened and its contents devoured .
Now it is the turn of "Billy Bongo" and "Silvo". I shut the kitchen door leading to the backroom, to keep out the Thompson Twins. I then open the kitchen door leading to the patio. The two aged toms are lying on two of the garden chairs we have not sat on for at least 4 years. I greet them with many strokes and for my pains receive a friendly swipe from Billy Bongo with claws. Silvo follows me back into the kitchen suggesting in his mewing way what his breakfast preference is this morning. Billy Bongo has gone off to chase a feline intruder. Silvo gets through 2 sachets of cat food. Since he's almost toothless his food has to be finely chopped up, but a shovel technique he's honed over the years makes short work of the "Tuna, with a sardine jus" and "Delicious bites of chicken and turkey in jelly." I put a plate of biscuits on the window ledge for "BB" - his preferred feeding station. A fresh bowl of water is placed on the patio for them and any other thirsty feline visitor.
If the smell of kitten poo is overpowering, I will deal with that before any of the aforementioned tasks. Otherwise it's next on the list. Invariably, the kitten will have playfully scattered the cat litter far and wide. After removing any "solid matter" or pee sodden litter I will sweep up and if necessary refill the litter tray.
Now is the turn of the front door "guests". "Pru" belongs to a neighbour across the road, but that doesn't stop her ram raiding our front door. "Smudge" is a recent "arrivee". We don't know where is home, if indeed he has one. He does, however, see us as a convenient and regular feeding halt. The two do not get on; which makes for much spitting and hissing as I open the front door. I, of course, have shut the door between the front and back room to prevent egress for the "Terrible Twins." The two front door guests get what they're given as by now I'm pretty pissed off with my pussy chores. I've had no complaints, plates are licked clean and I'm allowed to stroke the blighters.
I finish the morning feeding routine with a few handfuls of bird seed for the resident collared doves, and other assorted avians. Now I can sit down to my breakfast of boiled egg and bread, fruit, Greek Yogurt and honey. Leaving me a time slot of a couple of hours before I begin the afternoon feed.
After just two days I'm exhausted. How does the missus manage?