The phone rang on Saturday morning, and The Mother was on the end. “I’ve got some bad news,” she said.
As a conversation opener, it’s not exactly ideal; but it is, at least, straight to the point. “What is it?”
“The cat’s died.”
The cat has been in The Parents’ care for the past 18 months or so, ever since we moved down to Bristol. Nevertheless, he was still always My Cat, and there was always the thought that one day he might move back in with us, once we had a house in a cat-friendly area (check) and cat-flap-friendly doors (uncheck).
My dad found him, on Saturday morning, stretched out dead just inside the cat flap. No signs of injury. The night before, he’d been happy, relaxed and purring; the parents did not try to find out why he had died. He was about a month or so short of his tenth birthday.
Sad to think that I’ll never again be woken by him climbing on top of me and miaowing. He was, I always thought, an unusually intelligent cat: it’s hard to be sure, but I’m confident he understood at least five or six words of English, and when he was a bit younger he regularly wanted to play fetch. He also managed to survive three months living wild, a few years back, after The Mother lost him en route to the vet. Maybe there will be other cats one day, but they’re all distinct.
In a few months time, I might suggest to The Parents that they take on a rescue cat, because I’m sure The Mother is going to miss having him around the house. For now, though, I’ll content myself with getting annoyed at the random neighbourhood cats that dig up our back garden; and remember lying back in bed stroking one cat in particular.
A while back, I mentioned that the house was going to be hell: we were rebuilding the kitchen. And I was going to post photos.
Well, it still isn’t done, properly, so the photos haven’t appeared yet. But as it’s been so long, and isn’t going to be completely finished for a while yet, here’s two. Our kitchen: before and after.
If you’re wondering about the lighting: those photos were both taken with roughly similar exposure settings on the camera,* which just shows how much better the lighting is now. The Cat, as you can see, was keen to make his dominance of the area felt.
* Not quite the same, but comparable. The exact details should be still in the EXIF tags, if you care.
Given that lots of random people come across this site, usually looking for the wrong thing entirely, I thought it might be an idea to post more Useful Information on here occasionally. So: here you are. Today’s Useful Information post is:
What do you do if you find a dead bat?
If, for example, you should get up one morning and find a dull brown blob on the doorstep. Looking closer: definitely a bat. I could see its arms. Now, I can’t imagine The Cat managing to catch a bat. He’s heavier than he used to be, and I don’t see him being able to jump up high enough. I’ve seen him watch them flying round the garden, but catch one? No way.
So, it may well have been a dead bat, dragged home. Which isn’t really good, considering bats can carry nasty diseases. So I looked into what we should do. And, if you’re in Britain, this is what you do:
1: Phone up the Bat Conservation Trust, who will send you an envelope in the post.
2: Post the envelope off – ignoring the “where are you going with my bat?” looks The Cat will give you – and your dead bat will be tested for rabies. I’m not sure, at the moment though, if you ever hear back to find out if your dead bat was indeed suffering from rabies, or if it was just a bit peaky and didn’t fancy a drink. We’re keeping an eye on the cat, just in case. The Bat Conservation people advised: don’t let the cat out during dawn or dusk, but I don’t see that happening without serious upset and possible life-threatening clawings. And there you have it: this site has useful information on it for once. Hurrah!
Update, August 29th 2020: Since this post was written, there’s no need any more to phone the Bat Conservation Trust up. Just go to this page and fill the form in and your dead bat postage tube will be sent out. Incidentally, the dead bat The Cat left on the doormat was not rabid, which is definitely a good thing. If the bat you found did have rabies, the Animal and Plant Health Agency will get back to you to let you know; but if they don’t, you can assume it was fine. Well, apart from being dead, but you know what I mean.
I felt quite ill last night, and wrote a blog post in a delirious haze which absolutely no sense at all, which is why it’s since been deleted. As to why I felt quite so ill, I’m not entirely sure. But I’m blaming the stench.
I came home last night, and the first thing to do was feed the cat. So, of course, I go to the cupboard, and find a rather inflated packet of cat food. Not a good sign.
The only thing to do, though, was to move it. And as soon as I took it out of the cupboard, the stench hit me.
Now, some people have smelled horrible smells. Some people work in stenching plants,* or fish factories. I’ve smelled our reception after people from the local fish plants have popped by, and they don’t leave a very good smell behind them. Some people have smelled sewage works, week-old battlefields, rotting seaweed, and many other horrible things. But all these people, when they smell the smell of a rotting pouch of cat food, so rotted it has inflated, would say: “bloody hell, that smells bad.”
It smells awful. It smells disgusting. It turned my stomach. I still felt nauseous several hours later, and there’s still a tinge of it about the kitchen.
The cat, sensibly, fled, and didn’t come back until morning.
* the places where they add the “gas smell” to gas, so that you can smell it when there’s a gas leak. Gas fresh out of the ground doesn’t smell of anything at all, and the concentrated liquid that gets added to produce the smell smells, I imagine, vile.
This week, I have managed to:
- be completely baffled about the nature of relationships (and other people in general)
- Make someone happy, just by putting a website online for them
- (I didn’t even design the website myself)
- Explain the meaning of the term “shaggy dog story”
- Annoy The Mother, as per usual
- Annoy The Cat, by ignoring him when he tries to wake me up at 5am
- Let other people get me down (see point 1)
- (yes, I know they’re not numbered)
- Let me get myself down
- And thus piss off most of the other people I know, by moping constantly.
On the other hand, I can always cheer myself up by reading what people have been searching for on the net, that has led them on a misguided goose-chase to this place:
drunken squirrel – sorry, no clue
carpenter furniture joke – start here and be prepared to groan
birthday presents for goths – black things? Possibly?
things you do automatically – I’m not sure. They’re automatic. I don’t really notice them.
how to snog a colleague – use your tongue
gerbils show around west midlands – I really have no clue now
“i hate grimsby” – don’t we all, dear
extreme kidnapping fantasies – Oh-kay…
sex in forest – …that’s enough of that, I think.
…is a bit of a cheat. Because there isn’t one thing I want to add which would round the year off. There are too many moments which would leave it incomplete. The Cat returning. Someone taking me for a quiet walk in the park, so she could split up with me. Going for a first date with someone else, and watching her last train home pull out of the station because we didn’t realise it was about to leave. Someone trying to kick my car windows in, whilst I was sat inside the car. So many people who have made this year very special – in particular, V-
The Plain People Of The Internet: Hang on, what’s this? You’re writing your Oscar acceptance speech now or something?
There’s no point looking back too much. The best we can hope to do is manage not to repeat too many mistakes over again. I’m going to go out tonight, and enjoy myself, and look to the future…
Back in July, my mother lost The Cat, accidentally releasing him on the way to the vet’s. She spent hours putting up posters in that part of town, searching round the neighbourhood, answering calls from people who thought they had seen him, but to nothing. After a month or so, the calls dried up, and we assumed he wasn’t coming back.
Yesterday, I got home from work. I went upstairs, changed out of my work clothes, and went to the bathroom. In there, I heard something squeak. A door, or something, squeaking once then twice, just like the cat used to miaow. Strange, I thought, opening the bathroom door to find him wandering on the landing, rubbing against the corners of the walls.
The mother had a phone call yesterday, from an elderly woman living maybe a quarter of a mile from where he had gone missing. She’d been feeding him for about a fortnight, and happened to go in a shop which still had his poster on the wall. She phoned us, dragged him out from underneath her sofa, and the cat came back. He’s lurking in the garden now, trying to re-establish his position in cat society.
Talking about pets: the cat has vanished. Not near home, either.
The mother was taking him to the vet, on Monday, in his cat box. She was a few paces away from the surgery – a mile or so from home – and the cat box, in her words, “fell apart”. It’s a plastic affair, with a removable lid, and it’s picked up by the lid too; so if you haven’t done up the catches right, it will fall apart. And The Mother has never shown any ability to be able to do up the catches right. I have shown her how to do it many, many times, but she still refuses to learn.
The cat immediately scarpered, and hasn’t been seen since. Since then we’ve had thunderstorms and constant rain, and The Mother – when she isn’t out looking for him – keeps saying things like “oh the poor dear, I hope he’s found shelter somewhere.” Which makes me think: no, you’re not allowed to say that. You would be allowed to say that if the whole thing wasn’t completely your own fault.
More than anything, I’m angry. I’m always angry with my parents at some level, because they are intensely annoying people. This, though, has left me angrier than normal. My mother has always been annoyingly semi-competant, being able to grasp 90% of an idea, but missing out the 10% that actually gives it its shape and flavour.* Most of the time it isn’t a big problem, but occasionally, it matters.
* Like the time she saw “Thai curry sauce” in the supermarket, the sort that you add to stir-fried vegetables, and thought “Ooh, I’ll make a Thai curry.” So she cooked some mince, heated it up in a pan with some tinned kidney beans, and added the stir-fry sauce to it. Ta-daa, “Thai curry”. It wasn’t inedible, but she didn’t seem to understand that she’d actually made something entirely different.
I’m getting that Friday afternoon sleepy feeling yet again. I wonder if I can get away with hiding in my office for the rest of the day.
I didn’t sleep well last night, which didn’t help. The cat, too, didn’t sleep well. He was trying to snooze at the foot of my bed; but every so often the sound of cats fighting outside would come through the window; and immediately he would jump up, run to the window-ledge, and prowl back and forth trying to see what was going on.
This morning I awoke like any other morning: with The Cat sitting on top of me and doing cupboard-love purring as loud as he possibly could. “Aren’t you a nice cat!” I said, sleepily, tickling him under the chin. “Ooh, you are furry!”* Eventually, I dragged myself out of bed to go downstairs and give him some breakfast. It was only then that I realised that today is September 1st, and my month is therefore doomed.
You see, I keep believing that it’s vital that the first thing you say every month is “White rabbits!” and if you don’t, you’ll have a month of bad luck. Or maybe you’ll just miss out on a month of good luck; I’m not entirely sure. It’s hardly something you can do meaningful experiments on, given that most months – like today – I forget about it anyway.
Last month, I did remember about it. I cheated slightly: I pegged a reminder note to my dressing gown, and managed not to mumble anything to the cat. Last month, I guess, I did have a rather nice month, so maybe it does work after all. Luck is where you find it, though. I have no idea what will happen to me a month from now; maybe, though, when October 1st comes around I’ll remember to look back and see if this month was lucky or not.
* Yes, I regress to twee baby-talk when I’m near cats. Shoot me now, please.