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Cat Chat
By Chris Stalker V.N.

A reporter’s life
Welcome to Cat Chat again, how time flies! I just seem to get one column finished and it is time to start again! I had a lot of reporting to complete after my week with Royal Canin in March. You have already seen my reports on the Royal Canin Feline Convention in France and the Felis Britannica show in the last two editions of Our Cats. In this issue, you can read the final part of the ‘trilogy’, my report on the World Cat Club Conference.

You are also subjected (!) to more from my reporting notepad in this issue as I have managed to get my BSAVA report and photos sent in on time.

Just as I thought I was catching up, I found myself at the Manchester and District Cat show on May 6th. My show feature and photos will follow in the next issue. It was good to see Vince back on the show circuit, he too had his camera – so there will be a nice spread for this great show.

I also met Rob Dean (from the Our Cats news desk) at the show and was pleased to see Charlotte (Vince’s PA) on the stand in the afternoon. The Our Cats stand was busy with folks signing up for their subscriptions and buying books etc.


From editor to owner!
Our Cats readers have been asking me what I have been ‘up to’ since I left Our Cats. Well, of course, I haven’t ‘left’ completely, as I now regularly write this column and continue to do show features and attend various events on a freelance basis.

But my exciting news is that in January, I became Editor of the ‘Bed & Breakfast News’ magazine and when it was offered to me for sale, because the owner wanted to retire – I said yes! Readers who are old enough may remember the commercial on TV many years ago, featuring
Victor Kiam, whose slogan was, “I liked the company (Remington shavers) so much, I bought it!”
Well, that has happened to me! I am now running my very own publishing business as owner/editor of a monthly magazine. The best part is that I am working from home and able to spend much more time with my cats.

My magazine is for proprietors of B&Bs, small hotels and Guest Houses – rather like Our Cats is the magazine for cat exhibitors and breeders! I will soon be writing an article on ‘Pet Friendly’ places to stay in Our Cats and would love to hear from you (my addresses are on this page); if you feel your experiences can contribute to this. Please see www.bandbnews.co.uk


Kit Wilson appeal
Frederick Linden-Wyatt (Chairman of the Heart of England Cat Club
Publicity Officer for Felis Britannica the UK member of FIFe) asks our readers to please take a look at www.heart-of-england-cat-club.com where you will see that some Heart of England Cat Club members are trying to help their canine friends. Please call me on 01933 355552 if you require any further information.

Your contributions
Please keep your contributions coming in to ‘Cat Chat’. I am grateful to Sally Gillies for her amusing article about her Burmese, ‘Perdita’, reproduced here and to everyone who has sent me items for this issue and future issues.


On Cats & Dogs

Cats do what they want.
They rarely listen to you.
They’re totally unpredictable.
They whine when they are not happy.
When you want to play, they want to be alone.
When you want to be alone, they want to play.
They expect you to cater to their every whim.
They’re moody.
They leave hair everywhere.
They drive you nuts and cost an arm and a leg.
Conclusion: They’re tiny little women in cheap fur coats.

Dogs follow you around with their tongues out.
They only respond to simple commands.
Their needs are basic and predictable.
They whine when their needs are not met.
They always need to have something in their mouth.
They scratch a lot and sometimes drool.
They make loud noises and sometimes smell bad.
They need to be trained.
You can always tell when one has lived in a house for a long time.
They’re rude and rowdy, especially when they’re with others like them.
Conclusion: They’re men that wag their tails.


News from the Emerald Isle
Lorna and Ken Taylor wrote to tell me their news. “We moved to Co Carlow in Southern Ireland just before Christmas and have joined the Irish show scene.

The Midland Show in Limerick in February was our first show. We were thrilled when our new lilac tortie girl, Hattie (Kymian Henrietta), was BIS Burmese exhibit (see right). Two of her pals, Gideon (Kymian Emperor Ofthesun) and Magnus (Kymian Karolus Magnus) got their first Irish PCs and BOB. Hattie got her first CC at the Irish Supreme in Dublin on 23 April and the boys got their second PCs.



Gideon, Magnus and Raffles (Kymian Daylight Robber) were all PAT Cats and we are hoping they will pave the way for cat visitors in Ireland. There is a similar organisation called PEATA but as far as we understand only dogs are registered at the moment. We have applied to join and will let you know how we and the cats progress.”

 

Perdita and Old Ron by Sally Gillies
Have I mentioned my neighbour-over-the-road, Dear Old Ron? He is one of the Old School who believes in community, and people helping one another - so he does all the helping he can. You do have to be careful what you ask of him though, not just because he had a huge heart attack and triple bypass three years ago, but also because once he has started a mission he will see it through to the end, which may take slightly longer than predicted and involve the emptying of attics and Things in the cupboard under the stairs in the hope that they may be the perfect gizmo that he needs to complete the task. He can be immensely ingenious too.

He managed to change the upstairs landing light bulb, mysteriously placed to hang over the stairwell, just out of anyone’s reach, by strapping a broad plank to the banisters and using it to support him whilst leaning further than a person should over the abyss, but he changed the bulb all right. That was before the heart attack, I hasten to add and have now had the flex fixed and put in a very long-life bulb. He it was who fixed the cat flap for St Cato, but that really was a long story and I digress.


It is this very cat flap that our Perdita, who has recently come to live with us, has learned to negotiate. No slouch She when it comes to learning. First she learned how to get back in from outside, where she could only go if I let her out, which meant that I could keep an eye on Her. She liked sitting in the trellised corner seat but never stayed out for very long until the other day when I heard the flap click and realised that it must have been Herself. Just as I wrestled with the bolt, the lock and the malfunctioning handle, the phone went. It was someone wanting details that had to be dug out so I was delayed for several minutes. I was not worried when I finally went out to check where she was (there isn’t much room but there are hidey-corners) but she wasn’t there. Thinking that she must have slipped back in whilst I was ferreting among papers, I searched the house, but it was only when I looked out of the upstairs back window that I saw her, crouched in the Albanian Garden next door.


The next-door garden got its name from the time when about 18 Albanian asylum seekers were billeted there. The tiny dark garden was, and still is, completely neglected - a rubble of rocks, some dying trees and the rest is weeds. Even grass doesn’t want to grow there. Perdita adores grass. She was crouched with her back to me, gathering her skirts around her to keep the spiders out. She obviously didn’t like it there. I still wasn’t worried, thinking that all it would take would be for me to show her the gap in the trellis that St C uses, make some encouraging noises and in one bound she would be free.
Not so.

I crooned and wheedled, even meowed, but she would not turn Her head. I began to worry. Perhaps she was injured. After all, the descent to the Albanian Garden can only be described, in the words of the wonderful vet, as ‘alternative’. It had taken St C at least a year to learn how to avoid it and one could hardly expect even the most intelligent of cats to get it in one. Perhaps that was why She would not acknowledge me? It should be said that our fences are quite high and the only way to the undesirable place is the aforementioned gap.


I could not help feeling that she was reproaching me for having allowing This Terrible Thing to happen as it gradually dawned on me that the way back up was not as easy as the alternative descent. The way back up involved a very confusing mass of ivy and dead twigs attached to a very small dead tree leading to the aforementioned gap in the trellis. The whole thing became immediately much more complicated. It was not just the confusing tree; it was, I remembered, that She was not a great jumper. She judges her leaps very carefully and, no matter how tempting they might be, refuses those over about 4’ 6”. The whole fence was about 6’ and the gap, if she could see it, about 5’. She had probably already done the calculations and decided that they were beyond her bounce.

Have you ever considered how amazing the ability of the most average cat is when it comes to calculating, to the last millibounce, just how much turboforce it takes to leap onto a shelf? This I say having just been bombarded by St C who, telepathically, wished to demonstrate the point from a very high shelf just behind me. I never even heard him get up there. Excuse me whilst I get First Aid.

Thus it was that She ignored me, almost completely, but did deign to stalk, very carefully, around the Albanian Garden, indicating delicately all the while just how much this hurt her little paws. She has very, very delicate paws. Each step was that of ‘The Little Mermaid’ but she continued in her search, ignoring me whilst poignantly making her point.

The phone rang again. It was Dear Old Ron-over-the-road. There had been a very loose arrangement that at some time over the Easter weekend I would pop over for tea. To be precise I had been greeted by Mrs. Old Ron on my way to work the day before with the announcement that ‘We’ll have you over this weekend’. However, I had plans. OK, so my plans were not brilliantly social but nonetheless, I had Great Intentions to solve my filing situation, not to mention insurances and that nasty musty patch down the front room window frame. I like to think that I am not quite alone in such ambitions. Oh, all right, it’s just me then.

I explained to Ol’Ron and he, blessedly, said that he would be right over. We sat at the little garden table with mugs of tea, contemplating the situation, hoping that the sounds of our voices would tempt her home, but no luck there. Then he came up with the solution. ‘How about a long plank?’ We’d put the plank over the fence and she would walk right up it. This idea appealed to him immensely. ‘She’ll walk the plank,’ he kept saying, chuckling away whilst I cringed politely and then I remembered the would-be bookshelf propped behind the little room door and went to fetch it. Sadly it was far too short to do the job and we were both a bit scratched by the bits and bobs along my side of the fence, so it was retracted. Not to worry, said Ol’Ron, he had a much better number; he’d just go and get it. Whilst he was away I put a strategic bowl of grubbies on the trellis seat, hoping to lure her that way, but she (unlike Old Threetums) is not a great eater and that too failed.


Some time later he returned with the longest plank I’d ever seen. We had trouble getting it through the hallway but the route through the little room into the kitchen was decidedly tricky and getting it out through the back door was something of a psychic act - I swear it went through a space warp - but somehow we got it into the so-called garden and managed to balance it on the bottom rung of the trellis, just over Perdita’s head. I tried to explain to Ron that, from that angle, she just might not realise its potential. She didn’t.

‘Not to worry,’ he reassured me. ‘She’s an intelligent cat!’ So we sat and drank more tea whilst he told me all about his sister’s latest operation (nasty). There were no signs of Perdita’s intelligence so I took another look. He was right, she IS an intelligent cat. She had sussed the potential and was trying it out, but the plank was wobbly and she didn’t fancy it a bit (don’t blame her there). Then I had an idea which I did not think would work.

My aluminium stepladder can be persuaded to become one gurt big long ladder. She had shown no signs of wanting to climb the bunk bed ladder in the spare room so I really did have doubts about the idea, but we were getting a bit desperate - Ol’Ron no doubt because he had thought that he would have been doing his Social Duty by having me over for tea (an hour at the most) and equally because my garden chairs are not all that comfortable and he is an amply proportioned soul.


We lugged the ladder out and did the ladder-dance. This ladder, whilst immensely useful, is not cooperative. It resents every act it performs despite what it said on the label - well, to be fair, it never said that it actually performed all those acrobatics willingly. So, several nipped knuckles and grazed foreheads later, we managed to send the extended ladder over the fence and balance it just so that it might act as a kind of upside-down kind of staircase.

Well, he did anyway. Exhausted, we sank back to the excruciatingly uncomfortable chairs, our cold tea and more details of just what his sister had got now. She really is not at all well but I could not pay due attention. There were rustles from the other side of the fence and I feared rats, or maybe giant tortoises? It did not sound particularly good. By now we were onto the state of his neighbour’s (nevva-didda-day’s-work-in-his-life) son who had turned bright yellow.

The next time I could switch my fascinated attention from the Yellow Boy story I looked round and there was the cause of the rusting - one St C blissed out on the trellis seat beside an empty bowl. He refused to be concerned about his beloved’s dire plight.

By then my behind was positively imprinted by the wrought ironwork of the seat (I had not put the cushions out in the panic) and I hate to think what Old Ron’s was like but, ever the gentleman, he soldiered on with some enthusiasm about his next favourite subject - late night medical programmes on cable TV. ‘And it was THIS big,’ he was saying but followed up with ‘ Ooo, look, there she is!’

And there she was - ears flat back and eyes blazing, but definitely there at the top of the ladder; she just didn’t know what to do next. Getting her back was something else. Have you ever tried to thread a frightened cat through a 4 x 4” trellis space? Well, you probably have and will realise that it is a credit to Perdita that she, unlike the ladder, cooperated as best she could.

‘Told you she was an intelligent cat!’ announced Old Ron, whilst I assured him that he was Just Your Average Sort of Genius. If he had not had the plank idea I would not have thought of the ladder and then all we had to do was get it back again - but that’s another story.

Don’t think She will be going there again for a bit but, as Ol’Ron said, ‘Just give me a call if She does.’

Footnote:
St Cato, an adult Burmese re-home, has been with me for nearly six years now and is 13 years old but Perdita, another Burmese re-home at 14 years old, only arrived a few weeks ago and within minutes had established herself as the deeply-needed Washee that St C needed, and better yet, a reciprocal one (which means I can grow my skin back as am no longer a substitute Burmese). They settled together almost instantly, indulging in frequent, rapturous mutual grooming sessions, and the relationship is still developing. They were both known to be placid, gentle and very loving souls but this was everything we could have hoped for, and now Perdita has had Her First Adventure.