You think you know someone well, and then you learn something about them that surprises you.
As a young moggie, Smudge would sometimes disappear over the back fence in the mornings. I’d be constantly looking outside and calling him, but he had vanished. The fluff-ball would return later that night or the next morning in time for breakfast. Sometimes he turned up at 10.00 pm and wasn’t particularly hungry. I’d imagined he had been catnapped, but managed to escape.
Recently, I learnt the truth. I was weeding the front garden when someone called out. It was a neighbour from the street behind. She inquired if my cat was still around. ‘Yes, he’s inside having a snooze,’ I replied.
‘Sleepy’ on territory patrol.
On hot days, Smudge made his way over to the front part of their house to a sheltered section, which was cool and comfy. He also visited my neighbour’s place because they had a female, black cat. With his good looks, Smudge has always considered himself a kitty magnet. Apparently, the pair climbed trees together. I was amazed that he had a girlfriend. No wonder he didn’t come home in a hurry!
After I put the rubbish out late the other night, I heard a commotion. Rushing outside, I was stunned to see a fox at the end of the driveway. Smudge was upright, his eyes focussed on the big intruder. I chased the fox away. My not-so-young fluff-ball had sneaked outside earlier and had an altercation with a fox.
One thing Smudge and I both agree on, is that he does his business outside. When away for a night, coming home to a load of his droppings—not to mention the smell—and litter strewn two metres away from the tray, is not ideal.
A mobile vet suggested I reduce the amount of litter—which I did—however, I am still cleaning-up after Smudge. The big mog can’t resist sending granules flying with his ninja moves.
Sometimes I won’t get up after being tortured, or I may sleep in, and having tradesmen around also deters Smudge from going outside. Later, I’ll find a surprise in the shower or dining room.
The offending end.
I left home early and returned at lunchtime, when a worker arrived to discuss a job. From the dining room corner Smudge made strange chirping sounds and started to circle, then scratch the floor. Realising what was about to happen, I rushed over pushing a dining chair out of the way and grabbed Smudge around the belly. His body flopped in my hands leaving all paws dangling. As I sprinted toward the backdoor and turfed him outside, droppings plopped onto the floor leaving a trail.
Earlier, Smudge didn’t go outside, but chose to snooze instead. He always scoffs the expensive, dry food I give him, and enjoys a little bit of wet food too. His droppings were solid, easy to pick-up with a paper towel and flush down the toilet.
A connoisseur of comfort, Smudge has many sleeping spots around the house. His favourite places are an armchair and the couch, the bottom shelf in the hall cupboard, on top of an overnight bag and of course, my bed – mostly when I’m absent.
Due to my study efforts and feeling ignored, he is sleeping back on the bed at night with me. I’d prefer that he didn’t because having a bony chin stuck into my leg is really uncomfortable. I’m a restless sleeper and with Smudge on the bed, I feel guilty turning on my side, rolling onto my back and constantly turning while he stays curled up in the same position for ages.
Recently, I can’t tolerate the weight of the doona on my sore foot, especially when a hefty moggie is leaning on my ankle.
Smudge’s sheet roll.
Early each morning after torturing me to get his breakfast, Smudge will then go outside and patrol his territory. In no time, he will return to bed. When I’m up again he follows me, but sometimes the slacker will snooze for another hour.
Often I wake-up and find myself on one side of the mattress, while the furball is in the centre of the bed, curled up, his eyes and nose hidden underneath a fluffy tail. Yesterday, I found myself balanced on the edge of the bed – literally on a quarter of the mattress – so I shoved him over. Soon Smudge began pawing at my cheeks and flicking his tail across my face.
Twice a day for twelve years, Smudge would diligently scratch my lounge or dining room rugs, and then roll over expecting me to pat his belly. Being told off did not stop the scratching, so I resorted to squirting him with water and used a herbal spray on the rugs, but the defiant moggie was not deterred. Recently, I found two rugs on sale to replace my old ones.
At first, spraying the new rugs with an unpleasant, herbal spray caused Smudge to abstain from his daily ritual. However, the smell even put me off from being in the room. Luckily, after 20 minutes it dissipated. The smarty paws was now on the look-out for alternative scratching material, and much to my horror and consternation, the bedroom mats are constantly shredded.
Smudge has always had his own small rug in front of the lounge room heater. Currently, it is treated the same as the bedroom ones.
By scratching, I know the big mog is marking his territory, but there is a scratching post inside and a huge gum tree outside for sharpening his claws.
The evil fluff-ball is testing me and I caught him yesterday, heard him first, ripping fibres… His pupils were dilated and he was manically working those claws. Yes, it was one of my new rugs. I chased him off—this was unacceptable behaviour—but as usual, it didn’t make any impression and later he was trying again.
Smudge stretching up on the fridge. Check out those claws.
Being ignored is catastrophic for Smudge because I am studying again. He would love to have my attention 24/7. While I sit at the desk working, he stretches up and taps my thigh with a splayed paw. A claw gets caught in the bottom of my jumper and Smudge tries to pull away. The more he tugs his claw is further stuck in the knit. I am not happy as it’s a new jumper. His eyes are now dilated and I anticipate ‘Ninja’ antics.
Literally I am connected to my cat. To disengage the connection I lean over, but it doesn’t help. Think, think. Next I proceed to roll off the chair and am left crouching on the rug. Not wanting to be slashed by his free ‘Ninja’ paw or bitten, I stretch out part of my jumper so he can release his claw.
Evil moggie. Look at his eyes.
Yay, it works and I breathe deeply. From previous experience, I had forgotten how hazardous studying has become. Owh! Just been nipped on the ankle. Smudge scoots out of the room, but returns within minutes. He’s sitting close, looking up with those eyes and extends his paw again.
P.S. Would love to hear any demanding cat stories.
Last year when I returned from my trip I received an unenthusiastic reaction from Smudge. At short notice, I had found another house-sitter and was relieved. This sitter ticked all the boxes, except she wasn’t a ‘cat person’. Smudge tolerated the stranger and became rotund, because he hung out all day in the hall cupboard snoozing.
After 30 hours of travelling with little sleep, I had arrived home late minus my backpack. It was on a flight to another country. Tentatively, Smudge sniffed my hand, accepted a pat and then stomped outside without looking back. This wasn’t the welcome I had anticipated. He didn’t return until breakfast the next day.
Plaza in Cartagena, Columbia. Piccy from phone.
This time after extensive selections and meetings, I found a sitter who loved cats. Upon returning, instead of Smudge’s disdain and refusal to play hide and seek chasey with me for three weeks, (last year’s punishment), I arrived home to a moggie who purred like a re-charged mower, circled my ankles and offered a sleek body for big hugs. Later, Smudge snuggled up on the bed.
Smudge shimmies his tail after dashing out the front door and scampering up the driveway. He has a crush on Tofu, the kitty across the road, but she isn’t in her usual spot lounging on the roof of her owners’ car.
Morning or night when he can, Smudge waits in the bushes and driveway hoping that Tofu will appear. He has already had two short-term liaisons. This potential moggie tryst has been going for awhile. (See previous post, ‘Love Hurts And A New Bed’). Smudge seems to skip when I mention Tofu’s name, but she usually snubs his attention by continually grooming herself or sleeping. Something has to change. Am I the catalyst who gets them together now that I’m feeding Tofu with her owners away?
Outside, Smudge circles my legs and rolls over. He enjoys a pat, but his eyes are focused ahead. Leaving him, I saunter across the road and Tofu appears offering her belly for a rub, keen to show Smudge that his human is patting her. I can’t see his reaction, then Smudge disappears.
Still waiting for his crush.
With a key I open the garage door. Tofu scoots in and crunches her dry snacks while I open a wet, food sachet. In a few seconds it’s gone. Will Smudge soon feel fuzzy inside and be purrfectly happy? Of course not!
My neighbours are back. When Tofu makes an appearance she continues to ignore her admirer from across the road. Bad luck Smudge, time to find another kitty.