The art of living with cats

My cats have been particularly crazy since I moved house. We are, finally, through the being-woken-up-multiple-times-a-night-by-psychotic-purring stage that gave me unwanted insight into the life of parents with a newborn. (Newborns purr psychotically, right? That’s what I heard, anyway.) I would never wear fur, of course, but there’s something about stumbling downstairs by the light of the screen on your phone, narrowly avoiding stepping on the remnants of the latest kill, and following a cat to a food bowl that already has food in it that makes one wish tippets were still in fashion. And Belle is very fluffy and stylishly black and white…

I’m still woken up mostly between 4am and 5am but I get up at 5.30am anyway so that seems completely reasonable. Or, at least, it does to my feline overlords. So, that minor inconvenience aside, here are other rules for living with cats.

  1. Understand that a cat can stretch to accommodate any size of seat. So, the same cat that will force itself into a shoebox can also fully occupy a two-seater sofa.
  2. Cats want attention when they want attention. This is most likely to be when you absolutely have to leave because you’re already running late; or when you’re just carrying something hot and heavy around the kitchen. Lazy Sunday morning, tea, papers? No cats to be seen. Uncap a pen to start on the crossword? Cats everywhere, particularly sitting on the newspaper. Bonus points for them if they have wet paws even though it’s not raining.
  3. The same cat that will sleep contentedly through the noise of the food processor will also jump off the sofa and race to the door if I turn over a page too abruptly.
  4. Cats are unpredictable gourmands. That same food they’ve been eating happily for months? No and no. They will still wake me up at 4.30am of course, but only so they can sniff disdainfully at their food bowls and go out.
  5. The best place for a cat to sit is exactly where it’s most inconvenient at the time. On my laptop while I’m working; on the exercise mat while I’m working out; in the middle of the floor in an unlit room at night. The worst place for a cat to sit is anywhere out of the way, unless you’d quite like them to keep you company just then.
  6. Cats like playing but it’s a mistake to think that you are playing with them. They are playing with you. This is why, in the middle of the fun game with the catnip mouse/ rolled up paper/piece of ribbon, they will suddenly lose all interest and stroll off as if you are the dumbest loser ever and they’re done pretending to be friends with you.
  7. Whatever is on the other side of any given barrier (door, window, curtain) is irresistible. Particularly if it’s nothing.
  8. Cats are paranoid and don’t trust furniture. The same shelf/bookcase/window sill that has been there all along will suddenly present itself to their attention as though its existence is a complete surprise and possible threat.
  9. The act of getting off a sofa without disturbing a sleeping cat requires as much flexibility as a yoga class and should be recognised as a form of exercise.
  10. Cats can choose to be stealthy or noisy. This is so they can float up the stairs in the middle of the night and then jump on you to provide maximum shock.
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