I sit here, bleary-eyed, but thankful.
The small golden eyed cat is sitting on the sofa opposite me, the family familiar, jet-black, glossy coated, perfectly poised. He has passed kittenhood now, and is baffling us all: is this as large as Clive will grow? ask the children; and we shake our heads and say, children, we will just have to wait and see.
This morning, he occasionally looks unaccountably surprised, in his perch on the sofa. But it passes.
Yesterday was hectic beyond belief. It fled by in a blur of football matches, dinner preparation, chauffeuring to the station and small boy’s parties. I spent ear-splitting hours at the local soft play centre and hosted a party tea. There was no time to open my laptop, few seconds even to consider the next move.
But on these very busy days there are always motifs which appear throughout in the memory. One was a small black cat riding the crest of the wave of bustle in this hectic household: being cradled and crooned over by my besotted daughter, or one of the lads with the group of ten-year old boys; here, agitating the dog, there, attempting to drink tea from mugs hastily removed.
“Bond,” I told him at intervals, “cats don’t drink tea.”
He looked sceptical.
As we turned in for the night I checked the two deserted upper bedrooms. Maddie’s armchair had been toppled during the day’s action, but the cat was curled up, unperturbed, near the headrest on an available horizontal plane.
We woke at midnight to hear a low grumble from Macaulay the dog. Bond was having one of his mad moments and he had chosen to bunk down with his favourite playmate: except that Macaulay was partial to his own space at sleepytime. Bond does not read Mac’s signals well. He is not fluent in doggy language, or if he is, he does not care.
I scooped him out and admonished him.
Twenty minutes later I drifted back to consciousness with the indefinable feeling that something was wrong.
And there at the foot of the bed, my little cat was lying stretched out in spasm, breathing shallowly, clearly in distress.
On went the light and I scooped the small frame. At increasingly close intervals, something would make him start, wild-eyed. He was alarmed, and his neck would become stiff and his mouth freeze open.
We were terrified. We had no idea what we should do: so we speed dialled the vets.
We blurted out his symptoms in undisguised panic. He’s had flea preventative in the last 24 hours, we stammered. And…and he has a liking for tea. He helps himself to it when the tea is cold and unguarded. He may have sampled from a mug or two.
At that the vet could not keep the amusement out of her voice. No, she said, the tea would not cause the symptoms, not the flea preventative. And as we talked on, we realised the cat had begun to calm.
We decided to wait it out.
As we sat in the small hours with a wild-eyed would-be bolting cat between us, we heard the first clue as to what was bothering Clive: his gut was gurgling like an industrial washing machine.
Hold on, I said. I’ll massage his tummy.
It was like smoothing out bubbles in sticky-back plastic. As I kneaded, the air within began with protesting whines and cavernous rumbles to make its way towards the emergency exit.
Half an hour later, the cat was calm, His breathing was normal. He jumped from the bed to inspect a catnip mouse.
We heaved a sigh of relief.
Clive Bond had a most ungentlemanly problem: a large amount of trapped wind.
Nothing that a skilled cat masseuse can’t handle.