Houston, we have a problem,
Clive Bond, the family cat with the cravat and attitude, is well used to the cat flap. To say he and it are friends would be overstating the situation. He flies through it hastily, so it can not hit him on his furry behind.
And then he sits in his small empire, the back garden and the forest beyond, and stills his beating heart, and looks about him for voles.
He adores his empire. It is all that a cat could wish for: dark hidey-holes, crevices and climbing trees, swaying grass and teasing flies.
Of late, though, he has begun to show a propensity to travel further.
Mac and I hitched up the lead and headed off, down the drive, up the path to the gate to the forest. It is a little like that gate in Peter and the Wolf, the one Grandfather forbids Peter to go beyond. And with good reason. Here, there are not ferocious wolves, but the route that used to form a favourite hunting trail for kings and queens through the forest is now a very main single carriageway road.
Mac knows it of old. He doesn’t like it – none of us do – but it’s how we get to the rest of the forest, uninterrupted acres of woodland stretching out without fence or boundary. We treat the road with respect, and once it’s behind us we kick the dust off our feet and head onwards and upwards.
But this morning we got to the gate, and like Cato from an unexpected quarter, Clive Bond bounded out with a routine which I would swear included karate. Eyes like blowlamps, as one of my favourite poets would say. If I didn’t know better I would have concluded he had been indulging in a little experimental LSD.
But no; he was high on life. On the intoxicating plans he had for the day. Which included hijacking the dog, and then accompanying him wherever he was going.
If Clive was on hallucinogenics, then I was the Kitty Police.
NO! I admonished him; and then did a swift mental survey of the effectiveness of the other NOs I have administered in this cat’s short life. The way to Hell is paved with NOs. Clive treats them like kitty litter. He meows in the face of my NO.
But if I put him into the house he would go all cyclical. He would hurtle through the house, apprehend the cat flap, negotiate it and be back out by the gate in the time it took to lead the dog to the gate.
What to do?
Reader, I bagpiped him.
Bagpiping a cat is simple, especially if he is a cat of very little brain. One picks him up and sandwiches him firmly under the arm so that if he were an old Scottish bag and featured protruding pipes, one could play him at the same time.
But he didnn’t like it. Not because he was not comfortable, but because he wanted out. Yeah, baby. He had seen the Big Bad World through the gate and he wanted him a piece of it.
I popped him in the porch, a sealed unit where the wellies live, to await our return.
He was the closest to displeased I have seen him.
But now, every morning one must confine a crazed cat before stepping out further. And now I fear the only way is to entertain the notion of a lead. A cat on the lead: a sure way to get branded a nutjob by your neighbours.