Cats do not eat lettuce.
This is what I tell my kitten, as he attempts furtively to bear off a crisp green leaf without being intercepted.
But I intercept him just the same. I have that litter tray to think of.
Cats do not eat baubles, or guitar strings, or the live end of the Apple laptop charger. They do not drink tea, or coffee, both of which render my kitten spiral eyed and as Baloo once said – the Disney Baloo, not Kipling’s – “gone. man, solid gone.”
Cats should not eat toast. Or shortbread. Or dog food. Jumping up on tables to scrounge broccoli or peas, in a cat, is just plain weird.
And slowly, reluctantly, I am coming to the conclusion that Montgomery Shrewdsay, ginger Siamese tom-of-all-trades, saunters to the beat of his own drum, shimmies up the great Christmas tree of life in his own, idiosyncratic way.
Perhaps this is what cats do. They begin with a kittening beginning, and mewl their way onto the internet with impossible gorgeousness, and then – bam – their personalities kick into gear, and lurch forward, engines revving.
I had an old witch cat for 18 years, and her personality grew into ours like two tree trunks of different species intertwining. She was as opinionated a person as Margaret Thatcher. I had a Siamese stray cat whose chief talent was love – agape, the greek love without self-interest. For a brief time I had a sleek black adventurer, a tuxedoed cat-of-mystery, though he adventured somewhere else last Summer in the warmth of a June evening.
And is now, once again, a mystery.
And I spotted a small lion cub in a cage in his ninth week on this earth. Should I be surprised that hunting and foraging is his favourite activity, despite the full food bowl which sits out of the dogs reach waiting for his attention? He has the gait of a Chinese guard-cat and the colouring of the African Savannah. He has extreme youth and yet he approaches humans with the confidence of an emperor.
And he does eat lettuce, and dog food. And my watch And this morning, I hastily removed the apple charger from its designation as breakfast. He was not happy to relinquish it.
“Cats,” I told him sternly, “do not eat Apple laptop chargers. Especially not those.”
He gazed at me levelly. Cats do not feel remorse. They voraciously devour the moment.
Cats eat life. Whole. For breakfast.