Monday, 8 February 2010

The Kitten Diaries - Part III The Winter of our Discontent

Hebe's Diary January 2010

The furry, ferrety, fiend aptly named Spook is still here and life for me has become a case of 'off ground touch'.  I move around the house on higher levels, a table, the back of the sofa, a cupboard or the ironing board, anywhere that I can scan around and see if the little beast is in the vicinity.  It doesn't stop him of course, but gives me more chance of seeing him coming - a little Hebe-seeking missile.  I have moved into secret places easier to defend, on top of  the under-stairs filing cabinet, the back of the wardrobe, or squashed for hours in Arabella's knicker drawer - still he finds me.   My one sanctuary, one respite from the constant annoyance of being 'Spooked'  is the garden where he is not yet allowed.  Snow put paid to that leaving us all stuck indoors cooped up together, stir crazy.

One ominous morning Arabella appeared with the cat basket and shoving the little monster in it said "Don't you worry Hebe, things are about to change..!"

Arabella's Diary January 2010

There was a little girl and she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good she was very very good
But when she was bad she was horrid!

My parents used to chant this to me although I was neither that good nor that bad as a child.  The last two lines can be more pertinently applied to Spook.   Let's start with the good..

In 'good' mode Spook can be totally adorable.  He likes to join in with absolutely everything, ironing, dusting, vacuuming,  each tedious household activity is a new game 'chase the duster', 'attack the vacuum', 'swing on the shirt sleeves whilst they are dangling over the ironing board', 'bat at the flowing tap water whilst you are trying to wash up'.  Sudden soft paws on your shoulder and a kitten is perched there craning his neck to see into the fridge, to view the casserole stirring, or even simply to nuzzle you affectionately under your chin.  He nuzzles a lot and likes to touch his wet nose to yours in eskimo greeting. 

Spook's favourite game is 'fetch'.  He will bring me a bottle top to be thrown and retrieved amidst much scampering and scuffling whilst I lie on the sofa trying in vain to concentrate on a TV program.

Or Spook's newest variation on this game where, whilst lying in bed reading, I was suddenly presented with a tampon (wrapped) and the demand that I spend the next half hour chucking it around the bedroom for him to return.  Eventually, when he has played himself out, Spook will softly curl up on your shoulder, his head tucked under your chin or resting a velvet paw on your cheek he will purr loudly then sleep - and this is when he is very, very good.

But when he is bad he is horrid!  January was an absolute nightmare  marooned in the house with a manic kittten, a moping cat and the Bedsock stuck in Plymouth. Spook excelled himself with wickedness.

Hebe is a very gentle cat, she likes to take things slowly, has always been wary, suspicious and easily spooked.  And that is how he got his name - jumping out of things and alarming her, leaping on her from heights, constantly chasing her around the house long after any semblance of a shared game has disappeared. Even sleeping curled up a bit too close to Hebe on the sofa leaving her in a permanent state of alert awaiting the next attack to inspire another bout of hissing and growling.  He has no respect for her personal space. They are now both banned from the bedroom at night where Hebe would normally sleep, her comforting weight against the small of my back or at her happiest when she is cuddling my hand.  Spook has somehow deemed the bed his territory and will not allow her on there making it impossible to have both in there at once. Sometimes I sneak Hebe in at night and lock him out where he will whine and whimper for ages and I will be sleepless wondering if Hebe needs to be let out.

And food!!!! Eat, eat, eat.. he will eat anything, no opening of a cupboard or clattering of a plate goes unheard by Spook who materializes next to you grabbing at some anticipated titbit. No bin is opened without a kitten dived in, head disappeared into the rubbish to be hauled out by his hindquarters emerging with perhaps a decaying vegetable or piece of orange peel clamped firmly in his teeth.  Every meal cooked  he appears on top of the stove peering into the pans, every meal eaten  the Spook out of nowhere snatching at the food.  Shouting, ejecting, door-slamming nothing will make Spook stray from his purpose.  Now every room has a water spray at the ready - a mist in the mush seems the only way to push the message through to him.

Hebe and I have one hope. When the snow thaws enough to make the short journey to the vets Spook is bundled into a basket and off to be neutered.  We are pinning our hopes on this affront to his maleness calming him down.  My normal tears and fears induced by any visit to the vet are not there - I am out of sympathy with him but I am sure that my love will be re-ignited when he returns all needy, forlorn and wobbly from the operation.  A few hours later the vet calls.  "Lively little fellow isn't he? Came straight round from the anaesthetic wanting to play and has already wolfed down some food....."

Spook's diary January 2010


Rothschild Orchid said...

Fantastic post Arabella. What a great way to start a monday, chuckling away at Spook. I love that photo!

He sounds like a kindered spirit to Silvi who will even run off with the melon rind off of your plate if you are not careful.

Nice to see another puss that likes to play fetch. I've found the best way to tire them out if you haven't got time for them is a quick game of fetch at the top of the stairs. After five minutes of running up and down to fetch their toy they usually collapse in a heap and sleep for several hours ;o)

Poor Hebe, I hope he calms down a little after the op.

RO xx

VP said...

Similar to RO, we've found a game using a laser pointer (chasing the red dot and leaping up high after it) is the best way to tire Skimble out.

It has made him rather a lean mean machine when it comes to catching mice though!

Arabella Sock said...

Do they still make slinkis? If there was one that went back up the stairs as well as down it would keep him entertained for hours. Really I think he needs to go outdoors to wear himself out racing around but after losing Luka it is going to be really hard to allow him that freedom. I can't see any effective way of fencing in the garden and I can see him just being off like a shot the minute the door opens.

Rob Clack said...

Great post! Minds me of a cat we once had with a similar appetite. On one occasion we accidentally dropped a raw brussels sprout on the kitchen floor. He caught it first bounce and spent the next 10 minutes desperately trying to like the taste!

Crusty Bedsocks said...

Spook needs a mini version of this! :o)

Ms B said...

Have you been influenced by that thrilling read, Christine's Diary?

Yan said...

I love his eyes - does he always look so aghast, or is it just the camera? Hebe's eyes make her rather Sphinx-like.

Poor little fellow. He'll probably calm down eventually ... what does Calpol do to kittens?

Rothschild Orchid said...

Good point, have you tried druging him? Nip even sends our tiger Leo into a soppy stuper. Or how about one of those robot hovers with some bottle lids tied behind it -he could chase it all day and you'd get the housework done?!

Plant Mad Nige said...

Every sentence a joy to read. Thanks!

I can't believe your vet used a general anaesthetic, rather than a local, just to snip off Spooks jewels. Such a trifling op, too - but with rather big consequences. I suppose they can charge more, if knock the patient out.

We knew a cat, near where I lived in Africa, called Fuchsia, who got his name rather curiously. The vet had called at his owner's farm to see to the cattle, and while there, castrated the kitten, tossing the remnants of his manhood into a bush near the verandah. (Kenyan vets were bit crap at bedside manner, in those days.) Anyway, when visitors came to tea, one looked at the bush and said 'That's curious little flower - is it some kind of fuchsia?)

Spook looks an absolute darling, by the way!

HappyMouffetard said...

Poor Hebe. Poor you. But most of all, poor Spook! His expression says it all!

Arabella Sock said...

Yan - Spook quite often looks aghast or assumes an extremely focussed and stubborn look when he is assessing which is going to be the next best form of attack.

He is an "absolute darling" in some ways but he has been making Hebe's life a misery and that upsets me a lot. I think we would have been better to have got two kittens so that he had someone his own size and age to race around with. I feel a bit sorry for Spook really because he just wants to play all the time.

Nigel - a friend of mine put me off fuchsias by being somewhat snobbish about them. I was starting to think that I shouldn't have been so easily influenced and it was about time to try some in pots again. Now I'm afraid that I will never look at another fuchsia without seeing that image you have implanted in my brain!

Gail said...

LOL...If that last photo doesn't speak volumes! gail an excellent read, thank you very much!

Meredith said...

Hi, just stumbled upon your blog for the first time, and I have to say that was an adorable post. :) You have your hands full, no doubt, and I hope it gets better for you.

I do have a surefire way to prevent Spook from leaping on countertops and coming to check out the stove while you're cooking: Flypaper. It sounds awful, but you really only need to have it laid out for a couple of jumps before the message is received. We had to do it with one of ours shortly after his adoption at age 2, and we've had an issue again. (Much more effective than spray bottles!)

I feel so badly for Hebe. Hope it gets better soon!

Meredith said...

Er, that should read, "we've never had an issue again." ;)

Yan said...

I don't know how to tell you this, but I think you have been outed.

In yesterday's Sunday Times, p13, main section, there is a picture of you with Prince Andrew. So, Goga Ashkenazi, (or Arabella Sockova), we now know who you are, because you are wearing the Poinsettia hat in the picture. You need to be more careful when hobnobbing with royalty, the paparazzi are always around!

Arabella Sock said...

Hi Meredith, thanks for the advice on the flypaper. I have a stock of it in the greenhouse so I will try that out on the cooker. He's a cunning little devil though and usually manages to find his way around obstacles to his desires. We shall see!

YAN!!!! That woman's stolen my


Yan said...

Heavens! If they'd put that picture in the ST it would have been obvious that she was a Sock Wannabe in a stolen hattiewat. 100% Cashmere wouldn't have a facial expression like that - it needs a Govt Health Warning.