Central Heating for Kitties

There are times when the material in the Shrewsday household tumbles out with bewildering abundance.

Where shall I start?

Our cat is old.

She is senile, and impossibly moody and beloved. She is convinced nobody understands her except my husband, Phil.

About 17 years ago, when I suggested we have a cat , he vehemently opposed the move.

Three weeks later she set her four tiny paws across the threshold and began her scheme for world domination.

She has only ever managed to dominate a tiny corner of the world, but she does this quite effectively using her six-foot bodyguard, Phil Shrewsday.

I remember clearly watching her standing on the roof of our garage in Kent awaiting him with piqued boredom. Phil would scurry off to fetch a high garden table so she might alight from her recreational space with ease.

All that was missing was the red carpet. No-one seemed to entertain the notion that she could jump down by herself, being, as she was, a cat.

She liked to be lifted up, too. It worked both ways.

It was most enlightening to arrive home one day, screeching my car hastily up on the drive and slamming on the brakes, and watching an alarmed Kit Kat employ emergency procedures and run straight up a vertical wooden plinth to the garage roof, completely unaided.

Aha, I thought: we have discovered your secret superpowers. You are Ninjakitty.

Phil didn’t believe me. He never saw the psychokitty side of this formidable creature. Whenever she sat full square in front of the television screen; whenever she practiced Thai punch-walking up and down Phil’s sleeping form; whenever she wailed like a banshee from the ninth circle of hell for attention, her bodyguard would rise and attend to her every need.

She was always, without fail, a feline damsel in distress to my husband.

The damsel has grown old. Now she is more like a dowager.

These days she prefers to stay in the room of the house which has always been the busiest room in the house: our kitchen.

Our kitchen is a little outdated by today’s standards, but it’s a moderate size in English terms: its furniture is sturdy, and in the centre stands a utilitarian wooden table. It has two large windows: one which looks out on the world, the other which faces the garden, and after that the forest.

And the world potters in, and we make the world a cup of tea and we chew over world gossip; and subsequently, refreshed, the world goes home.

Or so it sometimes feels. The kitchen is a public room. It’s where we all sit and talk. It’s where we eat. It’s where Felix constructs lego on the table, and Maddie does her homework. It’s where Al eats his red pasta and I eat my green pasta. It’s where Macaulay lurks, waiting for the opportunity to pilfer or downright steal.

And it is where Kit Kat chooses to spend her days, dozing while Rome burns.

At night-time, the heating is turned off in the kitchen.

Kit Kat has the voice of a gorgon. Mythically harsh, as piercing as a siren call, she thinks nothing of waking her bodyguard ten times in a night to pander to her every whim. The wages of ignoring her call are sleep deprivation. Conversely, cater for her every need and twenty minutes later she will be back for more.

So she must sleep in a cold kitchen. I urged Phil to turn the heating on, but he was quite alarmed by the whole suggestion. Instead he has devised a personal central heating system for his small fluffy princess.

When I am cooking dinner, he heats a brick.

And when it’s time for bed, Kit Kat gets the warm brick, radiating a gentle heat, next to her box. It lasts most of the night.

Today, my sister and her family arrived back from a forest walk for tea and Christmas cake at our house. We sat round the table, watching Al and his investigations:”Kit Kat,” he was enquiring with stage courtesy, “do you have bones?”

I glanced up at the oven and saw, to my dismay, that it had been left on since dinner.

Phil leapt up:”It’s ok,” he declared; “it’s only on low.” And he opened the oven, took out a large brick and put it on the working surface: for all the world as if people put bricks in their ovens as a matter of course.

There ensued what can only be described as a bemused silence. We are not a family short of words, but to encapsulate what had just happened-and more importantly, why it had just happened – was beyond us.

That’s Phil. A surprise round every corner. The material just keeps on coming.

Meanwhile, the cat’s snug as a bug in a rug.


50 thoughts on “Central Heating for Kitties

  1. I’ve got one just like him at home – Phil, that is. Soppy as a sandwich over our dogs. Their cushions have to be arranged just so before bed; blankets carefully draped; door left ajar enough to allow access to the water bowl but not so much as to cause a draught.


    1. I know! Would that we had our blankets carefully draped over us as we settled down to sleep, our pillows lovingly arranged! Ho hum. They may be eccentric but I suppose they are men of honour, Tilly.

  2. The man’s just doing what he has to do to maintain peace and sanity in the home. Besides, it’s good practice for keeping the real Queen of the house, Lady Kate, content as he tends to her every whim.

    Of course, that is probably the case already….mmmmm?

    1. Well I don’t get a hot water bottle lovingly put in the bed for cold nights, Lou πŸ˜€ However I can’t really fault him. He is indeed a softie about all of us…good bloke all round, if a little eccentric….

    1. πŸ˜€ They need to start making round stones instead, Myfanwy.

      Hold on, there are loads of them in Cornwall: next time I shall bring up a large round stone and try an oven experiment!

  3. What a fun tale! I am forwarding the link to it to my sister, Kathy; she who is married to Phil’s American twin, Steve.

    Their home is shared, no ruled, by a cat named Simon, who came to them several years ago when Steve and some co-workers found him, tiny and abandoned with a couple of his siblings along a country road. Henceforth, he has ruled their home and truly loves no one but Steve, tolerating others seldom; preferring to rub round your ankles until he has your attention and then stand back, bare his teeth, and hiss as if possessed by demons! When there are guests he finds a high perch and glowers! We’ve learned to pay him little mind, but he truly is unlike any cat I’ve ever known! At least your Kit Kat seems gracious. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, they are twins: it doesn’t take a minute to realise that from your account, Karen πŸ˜€ And what a character Simon is! I love his attentions seeking: the ultimate come-hither! As for Kit Kat, she’s a passive-agressive dictator. Her stare would ferment hops. When you don’t supply her with what she want there’s just this terrible atmosphere πŸ˜€

  4. I suppose that were I to comment that, to Kit Kat, Phil is a real brick, it would only make sense to readers of British public school stories of the fifties … πŸ™‚

  5. What a wonderful thing for a human to do for a beloved feline – a warm brick to bed down with. Three cheers for Phil! Tom turns the light on above the bird’s cage in the middle of a day when it is gloomy outside so the bird won’t feel sad. I just pay the electric bill and sigh.

  6. How nice, its like the volcanic hot stones but I guess that would be less comfortable for a cat – what a lovely idea,

  7. Our own Tansy May FeedMe has just turned seventeen, and rules the house with a velvet-gloved paw. We put an electric blanket on the sofa in the winter, and she rules from the highest point, reclining luxuriously while she waits for her subjects to serve. Wonderful tale, Kate!

  8. What a wonderful idea! We humans will do almost anything for our feline masters and mistresses. I’m wondering now if a pizza stone would accomplish the same thing — being flat, it could be slipped under the cat’s bed.

      1. Thanks for passing on the recommendation, Nancy. It really is a wonderful book, which such an interesting premise (a dog as the storyteller). Anyone who likes dogs (or not really) will love this book.

    1. From Amazon:

      This is the remarkable story of one endearing dog’s search for his purpose over the course of several lives. More than just another charming dog story, A Dog’s Purpose touches on the universal quest for an answer to life’s most basic question: Why are we here?

      Surprised to find himself reborn as a rambunctious golden-haired puppy after a tragically short life as a stray mutt, Bailey’s search for his new life’s meaning leads him into the loving arms of 8-year-old Ethan. During their countless adventures Bailey joyously discovers how to be a good dog.

      But this life as a beloved family pet is not the end of Bailey’s journey. Reborn as a puppy yet again, Bailey wondersβ€”will he ever find his purpose?

      Heartwarming, insightful, and often laugh-out-loud funny, A Dog’s Purpose is not only the emotional and hilarious story of a dog’s many lives, but also a dog’s-eye commentary on human relationships and the unbreakable bonds between man and man’s best friend. This moving and beautifully crafted story teaches us that love never dies, that our true friends are always with us, and that every creature on earth is born with a purpose.

  9. Oh Kit Kat, you are such a beautiful and worthy princess – I totally relate to Phil! Thanks for such a heart-warming story, Kate, which I rather need right now as Jina has tragically disappeared again. It’s been over two weeks, so hope is starting to falter…

  10. Kate, can you fathom anyone not believing in the intelligence of animals? I had a male cat who growled at males who came on my property and came too close to me! I couldn’t believe it…
    We won’t mention female wiles!

  11. My first argument with MTM was over my dog. He didn’t want a dog. I’d had her for more than a decade. Our makeup was the first time he told me he loved me. He then proceeded to bewitch my dog. She trailed him around the house, had fits when he came home, and did whatever he wanted. She utterly ignored me.

    These men really do know how to mesmerize female pets, don’t they? Phil and Kit Kat’s brick is really touching.

    1. They certainly do, Andra. And male, for that matter. I called Macaulay to us just before we left the forest: he ran obediently to Phil’s side and could not be persuaded to leave him. We’re just the ones who feed them, Andra πŸ˜€

  12. Well, some of my casseroles come out like bricks, but we don’t give them to kitty. Instead, she has her own little heater pad. It must feel good to her old bones, because she hates to leave it. Phil sounds like a hero to me. Cats know a good man when they sniff one. Fun post.

  13. Kit Kat is such a cool lookin’ kitty! I entertained the idea of a cat, but I’ve two problems…allergies, and the fact that I cannot control their wanderings. The brick is brilliant. Love the post…I wish to go on a forest stroll and return to Christmas cake & tea…sounds lovely ~

  14. You don’t know how happy this story has made me! I am glad to know that I am not the only one who’s life is ruled by an cat. And I like your husband more and more with every blog post – still totally believe that it is Kit Kat, not he, eating the pound cake.

    I would try heating a brick for my cat, but he has found something better. I have 3 large servers running in our closet for my IT work. Our cat, Sirius, has found that they generate perfect cat-heat all the time for him. He has made a bed of one of my t-shirts and sleeps by them most of the time. Well, most of the time when he isn’t out rolling in dirt or smacking our kitten around.

    1. Sirius has his life perfectly organised, doesn’t he, Michael? That nest of T shirts by the server sound a really great snug for a cat. The perfect place to recuperate enough strength to go and smack the kitten around πŸ˜€

  15. Is there anything more endearing than a man and his cat? Jack carries our Hob around in the crook of his arm, calling him “my little grey man” and avowing that Hob “can do no wrong”. It’s adorable. πŸ™‚

  16. What a resourceful–and kind heating method. Our cat, Licorice, came to our home when my son was three. He loved that cat! And Licorice lived until the week my son left home for Law School 20 years later. I felt the cat intuited deep change and would have none of it. These old pets are the most beloved. Bless Phil! Debra

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