There comes a time in every male cat’s life where he becomes obsessed with populating the local area with kittens sporting his genetic imprint.
Why making small versions of oneself should entail brawling with other local males, roaming an impossibly wide territory and spraying everything that does not move (and a few things that do) with scent which would make a vulture wince, I have no idea. But it is this skillset which has long necessitated drastic action when a young adult cat reaches maturity.
The question is: when is a young man, all be he feline, mature?
The question taxed us over the breakfast table. How could we possibly tell whether Clive Bond is mature enough to have The Snip?
“Do you think Clive Bond is mature?” I asked the kids as they bustled about getting ready for school. Maddie gazed thoughtfully at the cat who was stood on two hind legs trying to prize the cat food cupboard open. After fruitless attempts he wandered off to ride the bike in the porch.
Maddie shook her head. “Mummy, I am afraid Clive has a way to go before he is mature enough to be neutered,” she declared sagely.
Still, it might be meet to get a professional opinion.
I walked the dog in haste and put the cat in the basket, and thence into the car. We sped to the vets and when the time came I was invited to put the cat box on the vets table.
In time-honoured tradition the cat straddled the exit to the box. Who teaches them to do that? Expertly, each of those four feet anchored him soundly within its four walls, though just minutes before he was fixing himself to various parts of furniture rather than enter the same small space.
I hauled him out. He sat down. This was new.
The expanse of glossy black tabletop was interrupted by the gleaming white scales. They looked promising, Clive thought. Maybe they’re a game. He tried a paw on it, gingerly.
“Mrs Shrewsday,” the long-suffering vet instructed, “I wonder if you could keep Clive off the scales until I have calibrated them? Thank you…”
I made apologetic noises and removed all trace of curious cat from the scales.
When his presence on them was finally desirable, he considered them passé. They were just the route to somewhere else: the keyboard of the vet’s computer.
Oh, help, I thought. Bond has already renamed my Twitter tab on my Mac computer jkjjjjjjjjdfllllllllltmnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd. I hate to think what he might do if he got hold of the vet’s computer records.
Yet removal, with Bond, is a cyclical thing. You have to say NO very loudly indeed twenty times at least before he gets the wider picture. This, in a vet’s consulting room, could become embarrassing.
But the vet says he’s almost mature enough. In January, the vet said, he will be ready.
I looked doubtful.
The day sped by in a blur. At four o’clock my niece arrived for tea. We had put all the lights on in our main sitting room in her honour, and a cheerful fire was burning in the grate. The Christmas tree glimmered pleasingly.
And then, the three of us, myself, my son and my niece, watched as something appeared to happen in slow motion.
The seven foot tree began to list crazily in our direction. And then, slowly, majestically, it leaned, like a pine on an alpine slope, and fell.
And finally, like an executive stepping out of the lift on the ground floor of some smooth and swanky hotel, Bond emerged from the undergrowth and strolled off into the hall.
I thought, then, of Corporal Clinger from that peerless television series, MASH. Is that cat smoothly evading a diagnosis of Mature Enough, simply to avoid The Snip?
I wouldn’t put anything past Clive Bond.