The Cyclical Kitten

Let us assume, for a moment, that what a mature adult cat does at a leisurely pace, a kitten will do at dizzying speed.

Why is that? Why do small things travel faster? Is it their tiny circulation systems?  Is their circadian rhythm different to ours?

I know, now, what Schrödinger was talking about: that bit about a cat being simultaneously existent, and non-existent. I don’t know what all that Thought Experiment nonsense was about. Kittens have no problem being present and absent at the same time. It doesn’t even require practice. It is an instinct.

With quantum physics a way of life, , then, it is fortunate that kittens do not travel in straight lines, but in cycles.

Grown up cats tread the same paths, day after day. They travel in comfortable well-worn cycles, jumping the same fence at the same point, tormenting the same dog,skirting the same flower bed, indulging in a hard-stare with a woodpile from the same angle every day.

But the kitten’s blood courses its little frame far faster, propelled by a tinier heart altogether, and what the cat does slowly the kitten covers quicker than a human eye.

Clive Bond, the Shrewsday Kitten, can approach the speed of light. I kid you not.

He has a fascination with the dining room table, which is unfortunate, because it is one place his paws are not allowed to tread.

So we sit down for breakfast with a bowl of milk and cereal and the kitten is suddenly there, standing by the bowl, about to help himself.

We are all drilled to treat Bond the same way; we admonish firmly ‘No!’ and pick his small frame up and put it where it should be, on the floor.

It is breakfast. I walk over to the sink and wash my hands ready to sit down and enjoy a peaceful bowlside experience.

But there’s a kitten standing next to it.

Bearing in mind my friends’ advice I lift him up and deliver a resounding ‘No’ and put him on the floor and wash my hands, ready to sit down with the bowl and my thoughts…

…and a kitten.


I suddenly feel as though I am caught on a mobius strip: you know those? Put a twist in the link of a paperchain and there you have one: a two-sided piece of paper with only one side. If you had a really obedient linear ant (perhaps we should declare this a thought experiment) the ant could crawl all the way along the strip – having paced both sides of the paper – without ever having crossed the edge.

It’s eternal. It’s infinity. And it expresses perfectly the path of my small Schrödinger kitten.

I can’t even track where he goes. He has a night-time  duvet-path from which we are attempting to discourage him. Scrabble up the bed; enter the duvet; find moving foot-target; charge said target. Embed krampons. Become surprised by random event. Fall noisily out of bed.

Blearily someone sometimes wakes up enough to interrupt the cycle by exclaiming ‘No!’ and scooping the kitten out onto the floor.

You see where I’m going with this.

My friends are right: persistence does break the cycle.

But sometimes I am just too dizzy and disorientated to appreciate that breakthrough moment.


70 thoughts on “The Cyclical Kitten

    1. Kittens are always going to be a hazard in that respect, Shihab, hence the whole kitten-off-the-table thing. It’s good training for the kids to keep hands washed and kitten on the correct surfaces (ie the floor!). But we gain so much from having the kitten in the house: it’s an education for the kids and great company for the dog.

  1. Perfect description! Our tiny black kitten grew into a tiny black cat. Still spiky, still able to be in three places at once. And still getting up on the table…

  2. Ha! I recently got a kitten, and he’s the same way. I’ve also noticed I’ll be innocently sitting watching TV, and he’ll suddenly spring to life and start bounding around the house doing these irregular meows.

  3. Well said, Tilly Bud! I was just about to suggest the obvious point that seems to have been overlooked is that Clive Bond is the trainer, NOT the trainee!! Good luck with the program, Kate, et al. 🙂

  4. In that center picture, he’s just all eyes and crampons! So what’s it going to be on the eyes? The blue appears to be fading to green? yellow? Whatever, he’s adorable.

  5. Dear Kate, thanks for the reflections on kittens, the examples, and the photographs. I note that as with all kittens, Clive Bond’s claws are almost always extended. That’s been hard for me to change with a couple of cats with whom I’ve lived in the last forty years. Two of them would just always have their claws extended, even when they patted my face! Peace.

  6. I thought your previous explanation of Shroedinger’s Cat was excellent, but this surpasses it. There/Not there. Thank you for taking a load off my brain.

    As for the “No’s,” however, I’m not sure persistence works. I think while we’re being firm, kittens just grow up and turn into lazy, sneaky cats.

  7. Kittens really are insane. They’re adorable, but insane. I enjoy reading about Clive because it’s been a while since I’ve had a little one. Kitten wrangling is a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge!

  8. And that’s precisely how some kittens grow into being the rulers of the house! We do eventually wear out. They come and go with such a complete shroud of mystery. Amazing, stealth creatures. And you did give your cat the name of Clive Bond! I think he’s growing into his name! 🙂

    1. He is. Clive Bond, action kitten.

      The vet came out of the door for Clive’s first round of shots, and said enquiringly, “Bond”?

      Phil sat there and said suavely: “Clive Bond, yes?”

      The vet’s face was a picture.

  9. Our grandpuppy, Riley, has the same boundless energy as your Clive Bond. I love the mobius strip reference and I’m betting on Bond to finagle a bit of your cereal.
    Right now, our 2 cats are sitting nearby and looking deceptively innocent. They’re 4 years old and their energy often kicks in about the time I’m ready for bed.
    Enjoy your story.

  10. I have the impression the Clive Bond is basking in the attention bestowed upon him by you, Kate. It seems to be a battle of wits that he’s winning as you lose your mind piece by piece to this tiny, training-resistant critter. If CB ever joins forces with Mac I half expect them to write a blog post themselves on this site when weary you has her back turned.

  11. Clive, you heart bulging feline! I once had a Clive and my antidote was to adopt an even younger kitten. My wild one suddenly turned into a responsible older brother. The transformation was miraculous. They were off on hunting sprees and all sorts of neighbourhood antics.

    I can just imagine Macaulay…

  12. You just basically described my exact experience with our new kitten. As someone who has only owned dogs before, this has been an…enlightening experience. It makes me want to tear my hair out at times, at others I just want to scoop her up and tell her to never grow up. Ah, kitten.

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