Do you remember Cato Fong?
An employee of Inspector Jacques Clouseau and expert in martial arts, it was Cato’s job to ambush Clouseau unexpectedly to keep his razor-sharp defence skills finely honed.
The two, from the iconic film series The Pink Panther, have delighted audiences ever since the very first film in 1963. As a child I watched the ambush scenes with uncontrollable chortling mirth, surrounded by more children in stitches and a father who could not speak for laughing.
For some time now, we have been trying to find a parallel for the strange alliance which has formed in our house since the small black amber-eyed kitten arrived in September.
The dog and the cat play together. Macaulay is always gentle, but the cat never pulls his punches. The affable mustachioed terrier parries with all the agility of Neville Chamberlain, that unfortunate prime minister of England whose moustache Macaulay emulates. The cat is a wild-eyed kung-fu fighter, for whom the only rule of Fight Club is Don’t Mew About Fight Club.
Yesterday, the dog was on my work-day regime: an early morning trot on the end of an extended lead on the forest path outside out house; and a pitch black walk on a lead through the estate in the evening.
It is a sub standard service for he who is accustomed to having his leash undone and running like the wind through acres of squirrel-populated forest. By yesterday evening the dog was wired. His muscles longed to stretch, restricted by the strangest of prison wardens, The Dark.
But Macaulay’s playmate, Clive Bond, was up for action. We watched as Macaulay played, still respecting the size and delicacy of the cat but with a rougher edge than usual.
We were ready to step in; but the cat adored it. It was all-catdog action, and it would have polled top ratings on WWF. Finally the dog’s cannonball delivery caused a temporary retreat for regrouping by Clive. And, shaking ourselves out of our fascinated spectator’s role, we talked of other things and forgot, if only for a little while, the Clash of The Titans.
And there we were in the middle of a sentence when, from somewhere we still can’t quite determine, the cat flew across the room.
It was like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The flight must have begun in a spring, a kamikaze bound, but by the time we saw it the cat was just flying, man. Soaring through the air.
Destination? The dog’s back.
A second later our own personal bumbling Clouseau was ambushed by our black-panther-Cato who met his target, perfectly, achieving the art of surprise effortlessly. The cat was on the dog’s back, with paws wrapped manically around him in a clamp to make your eyes water.
I’m not sure I have ever seen the dog so surprised. He shook the cat off, but not without effort as the cat was using crampons. One-nil to Cato, and Cl0useau must return to his dog basket to consider his tactics for the net bout.
Cato hones his skills by choosing inanimate objects to practice on, much like a master-swordsman. A gorgeous feathered Venetian mask disappeared from Maddie’s bedroom, only to be found surrounded by black feathers, killed stone dead on manoevres.
So: we have our Clouseau and our Cato.
And I feel sure that this is only the beginning of a long, long story.