How To Keep An Old Cat Young

So the new bread maker has arrived. Did I tell you the old one had departed?

It did, after a swan song involving a series of stolid door stops which stubbornly refused to be carved for packed lunch sandwiches.

Not a lot of people use a bread maker. It sounds like a luxury. But it’s essential: you spend one minute chucking stuff in, stick on the machine and in three hours the house is full of the heavenly smell of fresh bread and tomorrows packed lunch sarnies are sorted.

We never fret about new bread makers, because England is populated by a middle class which buys bread makers because they sound like a good idea, never uses them, and finally sells them on ebay at a considerable loss. Thus our latest one cost us Β£8.36.

However, there has been a slight development.

For the new bread maker has a feature which none of the others had: namely a piercing shriek when the paddle mechanism turns.

The movement of a breadmaker has always resembled a living thing. It can wait for ages without doing anything and then spring into life with a series of Calibanesque grunts. You think it sleeps, and then it makes a gruff comment from the corner like some dormant gnome who has suddenly had an idea.

And now, with this new arrival we have something new: a squeak which sounds like nothing short of someone heinously throttling a small defenceless vole.

For most of us here at Shrewsday Mansions, this ranges from being ambient background noise to mildly irritating.

But to one, it has proved that elusive thing: the elixir of youth.

My four-year old nephew, Big Al, sat at his Red Pasta this lunchtime, munching contemplatively.

“Auntie Kate, ” he Β enquired amid a mouth of spaghetti, “what’s that noise?”

“That, Al, ” I said with rare conviction, “is the bread maker. The thing that mixes everything together has a bit of a squeak.”

Silence ensued. I thought he had forgotten about the whole issue and moved on, but an interval later he observed dryly: “Kit Kat likes it. Does Kit Kat like bread?”

I followed his gaze. Across the kitchen, on her own personal kitty shelf far from the barking crowd, sat the queen of terror, she of the satanic eyes, HRH Kit Kat Shrewsday. A few moments before she had been looking old and grey and full of sleep, as Yeats would say; she is, after all, 18 years old and a tortoiseshell dowager of the first order.

But now, what light in yonder amber peepers broke? It was the breadmaker’s strangled vole impression, and Kit Kat was the hunter.

Kit Kat was convinced that somewhere inside that grumbling white box was a vole, ready to be hunted.

Her crooked posture straightened, her eyes widened; once again, every atom of her fluffy being was focused on the joy of the hunt. She looked young once more.

It should be recorded here that Kit Kat has never, ever hunted anything successfully in her whole life. She is terrible at it. Hunting, for her, involves looking very, very interested indeed. One’s fur is fluffed up, one’s cheek bones high, one’s ears straining for sonic shrieks. But one rarely pounces, and never actually catches anything.

The joy of the chase endures, though; awakened today by a counterfeit shrieking vole.

Perhaps the elixir of youth is not a drink from some far-flung place, but rather the very thing which sets you a-quiver like this old cat. An obsession, a preoccupation, an arrow which slices through the mundane things of life and catches your heart and runs, yes, sprints, capers and cavorts away with it.

What say you?

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38 thoughts on “How To Keep An Old Cat Young

  1. I say yes! Spot on with the elixir of youth πŸ˜‰ ‘… like some dormant gnome who has suddenly had an idea.’ – hahaha – I have a bread mixer to make gluten free bread and know exactly what you mean.

  2. Yup keeps them young – that and sleep! read the other day that cats spend onaverage 2/3 of their life sleeping- wouldnt that be nice:) my two?rubbish at hunting but they get such excitment at the thought of
    victory they havent yet reached the grand age of yours but I think they may

    vitory

  3. If your bread maker’s sound effects can put the spark back into 18 year old Kit Kat, perhaps it could be used to good effect on Podi?

    We have today been invaded by a pair of lainas (a sort of chipmunk/squirrel cross) that have found a way into the house to build their nest on a ledge up beside the skylight. Unlike her look-alike Kit Kat, Princess Podi inherited fully-fledged predatory skills from her feral ancestors, so we’ve never had a house invasion before. But forty feet up? That’s a bit much, even for Podi. That is, unless your bread maker’s strangulated vole effects could be used to turn her into Supercat – to leap onto that ledge and frighten the blighters away!

  4. Excellent! Will it inure you to the squeak? Cat, in his whole life even unto the last months, was energised by the sight of a strange cat in the garden ( any garden, not just ours) which he needed to expel, preferably having thrashed it soundly.
    It’s these simple pleasures that bring such joy.:)

    1. I know πŸ™‚ Nothing like thrashing the neighbours to put that light in your eye, Isobel. And yes: I am looking benignly on that squeak right now. Although for how long I can not rightly say…

  5. I’m laughing at the cat as our Jack Russell often thinks there is something worth hunting in the TV. I would put the bread maker in the garage πŸ™‚

    1. I sympathise. They can have this effect on the best of us. I started using one when I got to Cornwall and realised that contrary to popular folklore no-one made anything other than sugary white polystyrene bread which had been imported from distant counties and allowed to dice with its sell-by date. The bred maker meant beautiful freshly baked bread every morning to go with the rural views.

  6. Hilarious! The comments too πŸ™‚ I am tempted to get one (no I don’t have a penchant for Voles) but our frequent power outages might leave me with fermented bread dough that i shall have to scoop out in the morning!

    1. Yes, Madhu: one of the big requirements for breadmakers is three hours and ten minutes of uninterrupted electricity supply. Relieved to hear voles are not your raison d’etre πŸ˜€

  7. I’m impressed that Big Al noticed KItKat’s reaction. Wow! We used to have a bread maker. I would set it to task before going to bed and we would awaken to the most tantalizing aromas. Hmmm. On ebay you say?

  8. oy! where is my mind…I half expected you to go forth with a tale of the tail bewitched by a call of mating not mauling…ha! I couldn’t keep that thing…I won’t even use my blender due to my own noise ordinance ~

  9. I think your concluding thought is absolutely wonderful and right on! What would life be like if in aging we lost the ability to have an obsession or at the very least some hefty preoccupations! I shudder to think! Good old Kit Kat provides life lessons…along with a noisy bread machine. I wish I could send you mine…it’s in good shape and I don’t use it anymore, But I have been making a few more Ebay purchases myself of “royal memorabilia” and the cost of shipping is another wonder to behold! Debra

  10. “catches your heart and runs, yes, sprints, capers and cavorts away with it. What say you?” hmmmm – I have very itchy feet and am taking that as a sign, hehe. I think I hear some far-flung place calling…

  11. We are bread makers, probably 6 out of 7 days of the week, and I am on my second one… luckily for me free, with one previous owner, who never used it as her hubby makes bread by hand!

    Marvellous things, though I’d not be too happy with a squeak. Mine lives out in the futility so it doesn’t disturb us!

    Seeded bread is my fave.

  12. It is a memory that transport us to that far off place for sure, you see it in the misty and distant eyes of the old. And the whimsical. Your cat looks like she seriously appreciated having her photo taken. Our bread machine was even better value, I have to boast, one of our relatives made such an error of judgement and we were the beneficiaries. May you enjoy the fruits of your new machine and the cat, its imaginary voles. πŸ™‚

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