Cats and Dogs: The Business of Baffling Humans


So I’m standing talking to the painter in the kitchen.  The painter doesn’t like cats, he explains, because they don’t do what they’re told.

Yes, I nod, as Monty the expansive Siamese ginger tom lands on the table soundlessly.

No, Monty, I admonish him. I ease his bottom off the table. He’s not for moving, and the painter is onto another subject, telling me how he filled a particularly difficult crevice in the shelf before painting it, and I’m edging the cat’s bottom off the table, and eventually the behind in question is forced to joust with gravity and lands virtually soundlessly on the floor.

You sanded it how many times? I ask politely, as a ginger tom lands on the table. Flup. Challenging stare.

Monty, I say firmly,( Julie-Andrews-Maria-Von-Trapp style), get down. Cats should not be on the table. Gracious, yes, what a great job you did, what time do you plan arriving tomorrow morning? I ask the painter, trying desperately to make displacing a fat ginger tom’s behind the secondary activity in the room.

I fail. As I talk, the tom simply speeds up his cycle. I push him off, he jumps back up, I scoop him, he defies the floor in a boomerang-light turnaround, a graceful and probably impossible arc the likes of Schrodinger would adore.

I am juggling a cat, I think. In front of a painter, who seems oblivious to the whole thing. Defying the laws of physics seems to be all in a days work for this cat as I desperately draw the surface-level conversation to a close. Goodbye, goodbye, I call thankfully as the painter clutters off with his paint pots.

The dog walks in. He’s impressed at the cat’s virtuoso display, I can tell. He admires, but does not feel envious. He has his own armoury of tactics to baffle humans.

He jumps up on the sofa.

Get down, Macaulay, I admonish.

He turns on the guilt lasers. Invisible yet unstoppable, they work using a subtle form of emotional radiation. Two big brown eyes, hunched, victimised shoulders. A moustache which would have made a seventies he-man proud; a moustache  grubby beyond words, home to a thousand micro-organisms.

But I am prepared. I have turned my force field on. Get down, I say again, and the dog turns the guilt ray up.

It backfires on him. His pathetic seventies-shaggy demeanour reminds me that he needs a haircut. Badly.

I stride off to the kitchen, studiously ignoring the cat sitting on the table, and I head to the scissor drawer.

The next five minutes represent progress in my book. I cut away the decades, transforming the dog from seventies man to a preppy graduate. He does not move away because he did not count on me arriving brandishing scissors. Perhaps he overestimated the power of the Guilt Ray. Or did not realise it might be deflectable.

My husband takes his seat at the other end of the sofa. Usually, the dog garners a place where he can rest his unspeakably filthy chin on my lap.

Today, not so much. Today he catches my eye – important to have the right audience to make a point – and walks with tortured martyrdom past me, the full length of the sofa; away to the other side of my husband.

And he wedges himself between the far armrest of the sofa and my husband’s legs.

See what you made me do?  he emanates.

The cats walks in. He’s not letting on to my spouse about the juggling session earlier.

But he plans to do it all over again tomorrow.


59 thoughts on “Cats and Dogs: The Business of Baffling Humans

  1. Sounds like a very typical day in a cat house….or….a house with cats. Occasionally I have done dances to hide a hairball lying on the floor near a visitor hoping they don’t notice (and judge). They never fail to bring some excitement to the day.

  2. I think your cat merely wanted to speak to the painter and you kept sliding him off the table–he wanted a platform for his speech, as it were. Poor Mac. He’ll probably be back to sit with you tomorrow. After he’s sure you’ve learned your lesson.

  3. Too funny. I have tried to get the animals off the bed. It doesn’t work. Especially at 4am when I am trying to do it without fully waking myself up. They don’t mind waking me up though. Far too often I have awoken to a cat paw in my face. Or a cat nose. Or worse.

    They use us, abuse us, and then accuse of being cruel parents who do not take care of their every whim.

    God I love my cats.

  4. Dear Kate, your story, so replete with feline, cat, and human responses that were wonderfully detailed with words that captured the fancy of all your readers, had me smiling broadly. And then I scrolled down your comments and found the “Simon’s Cat” video and watched it and guffawed! Thank you for making this day one of laughter. Peace.

  5. Poor Macauley must be in the doghouse,grubby indeed, on behalf of this poor canine I ask “Who’s fault is that if I am !” For shame Kate how could you be so unfeeling Macauley deserves better, Fancy omitting a picture of him in preference to one of a cat.

    I’m with the painter 🙂

  6. Your descriptions of your animal companions are just a delight. I can visualize them clearly.

    I’d love to say I’m immune to our cats’ charms, but I am not. Fortunately, they haven’t attempted to take up residence on our table. But they do have the run of most of the house – they’re indoor cats.

  7. And yet we fall, putting up with their nonsense, and somehow even encouraging it…the behaviors that those who don’t love our pets see clearly and we justify. I’m sitting here looking down at my carpet with white dog fur all over it…it’s been there for two days and I haven’t had five minutes to vacuum it up (dear God, please don’t let my mother come over until I’ve managed.) I can’t believe I’m so smitten I can overlook this. And even a cat with attitude and a dog who can guilt you, adorn our lives and it’s just a shame household painters can’t quite get there!

    1. To own a cat or dog is to cross a Rubicon, Debra, isn’t it? Life is never quite the same once one has come to live with you. And you can never explain to non-animal lovers why they take the outrageous liberties they do.

    1. Ha! Two of my favourite cats 😀 They were impeccably behaved when I was there.
      They have long service medals, though, Sonja. They have earned the right to sit imperiously there.
      Hope life in Zurich is treating you all well xx

  8. My dog’s favourite place is to get up on my bed and sit at the pillow end. Every time I let him in my room, we go through the same argument. “Gwynn, no! come here” (to the foot of the bed, and off my pillows), to which the dog heaves the deeply exhausted sigh of one whose day is spent napping and sniffing things and curls up smaller, as if to say, “i’m just so tired, but see how small I am? I have left you plenty of room”. Two or three rounds of this is eventually enough to roust the figure of abject despair from the only part of the bed that eases his weariness, and the three step trek across the duvet is accomplished, with suitably malcontented sighs.

  9. I found you via NR Hatch Spirit lights the way. I love animal stories. I half expected the painter to make some snide comment implying that he’d been watching the whole jugglng match out of the corner of his eye. Cute post. P.S. I’ve given up on the dog and couch thing. She wins.

    1. 😀 Loved your post on the Bone Church, Lindsay, just fantastic research and piece. Nancy Hatch recommended it and she is invariably right about these things.
      Re: the haircut: all the best, and hide the scissors until the very last minute…

      1. Thank you so much! That was really nice of Nancy:) Aww made my day.

        I think my dog can sense when the bath and haircut are coming. She always hides in her kennel. Poor thing, she will never win.

  10. Ha! Animals, they have a way of making us feel guilty and pleased all at the same time. They are full of humor and so much love for us, it’s beautiful.

  11. “Today, not so much. Today he catches my eye – important to have the right audience to make a point – and walks with tortured martyrdom past me, the full length of the sofa; away to the other side of my husband.”

    My pug is also a master at this.

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