If Cats Could Talk, They Wouldn't - What I Now Know About Owning Cats...
As I wince at paying the invoice for my cats two week vacation to our preferred cattery (our preferred location - not necessarily theirs), I tell myself that it’s a relatively small price to pay for their unconditional love and attention. (Please bear with me as I have a good old laugh at that sentence, as I remember I'm talking about cats, who are infamously all arseholes…)
I didn’t really have substantial pets when I was growing up. You know the kind I mean - something that lived longer than two years and wasn't easily replaced by an identical replica when they inevitably expired. Hamsters and fish were the limit for my family (I didn't know that hamsters are nocturnal, so I’d spend all day staring at an empty cage as it snoozed in its nest, only to be kept awake all night as it zoomed around in its wheel). So I hadn’t really given much thought to bigger pets - there wasn't much point.
But I’m an adult now*. One that owns a house. And I have no children and an OH who spent his life growing up round cats. So it was inevitable that I would crumble and invite some animal to live with us at some point - and the OH made it sound so lovely. Given that neither of us have the type of jobs that would be suitable to looking after a dog - and guinea pigs and rabbits were not really the vibe we were going for - cats became the forgone conclusion.
My only stipulation is that I wanted fluffy cats. Cats that felt soft and looked cute. Cats that would sit on my lap in a ball or curl up in front of the fireplace that we were definitely going to refurbish**. I may have conveniently ignored the implications of owning fluffy, hairy cats...
So that’s how Alf and Ursula came to form part of our family six years ago. Brother and sister, Norwegian Forest cat crosses - they obviously become my fur babies - who take up far more of my life (and my camera roll) than I could ever have imagined.
Of course, everything I had thought about owning a cat was completely wrong. The affectionate cuddles, cosying up to me on the sofa were obviously a pipe dream and instead I experience haughty indifference and a love that only appears when it’s time for me to feed them. I guess I always knew they were independent beasts but the complete lack of interest in me sometimes astounds me. “That water bowl doesn’t get replenished by magic you know”, I want to say to them (whilst they stare at me obviously thinking “I don’t care human. I prefer to drink out of the dirty plant pot in the garden anyway”).
For those of you considering getting your own feline friends, here are some of the things I wish I knew ahead of time (and I appreciate that these don’t apply to all cats - but if this is my list, imagine what other peoples lists look like…)
No one warned me that there will be times I need to wipe their arses.
Or that long haired cats can roll dreadlocks.
The hair gets everywhere.
Ursula hates and avoids me but literally grinds her arse into my husbands beard and face every morning and night as we lie in bed.
Ursula refuses to be picked up and will turn herself into a cat cactus if you try - all teeth, claws and rigid limbs. Whereas Alf is so heavy (7kilos) he can’t be held without throwing your back out.
Alf dribbles… and snores… and sleeps with his tongue out (alright, these might be super cute things).
Alf can’t eat without getting distracted and throwing food all around the kitchen out of his mouth. The mess is worse than a toddler learning to eat solid food.
Ursula will only eat when no one is watching. I literally have to take the long way round a room to avoid spooking her.
Seriously, every surface is littered with hairs.
Neither will want to use the litter tray overnight - and in the case of Ursula, will charge around the house like a mad man at 3am in the morning, demanding to be let out in the most horrendous guttural yowl (we never give in).
Cats making biscuits when they are happy is - and always will be - the sweetest thing ever.
The vet asked us to brush Ursula's teeth. I laughed. A lot. We can’t even pick the spiky bitch up, let along put a child’s toothbrush in her mouth.
It is mandatory to have multiple names for your cats - and you will very rarely call them by their proper name (maybe that’s why they ignore me when I call them). Alf’s alternative names are: Alfie, Superchonk, Sir Chonkington, Sir Chonkington the third, Alfred the Great, Donut.
They will both stare, with massive eyes, as we eat our dinner, willing for a scrap of chicken or salmon to be dropped. Inevitably, a slice will be carved off and presented to Ursula, who will look at us as though we’ve presented her with a pile of shit, before she practically tosses her hair over her shoulders and saunters off in disgust. Alf will eat. A lot.
Ursula is definitely liquid. She hides in the most obscure and tiny places - and we only know she’s been there because, as with everything else, it will be covered in hair.
Ursula enjoys lying in front of the fireplace which is adorable. She also likes to sit in front of it with a look that I’m pretty sure means she is summoning a demon from hell. Which is a little more disconcerting.
Their constant shedding has broken at least 3 vacuum cleaners.
Our house is 98% wooden floor. But they will always vomit - without fail - on the stair carpet or a rug.
Ursula’s alternative names are: Ursi, Tiny Little Slag, Slagula, Princess Pissy Pants, Shitbum, Ursi Pursy, Rastacat, Poppet (some of those do not need an explanation).
Alf was a founding member of the local cat council. Instead of standing his ground and marking his territory, he would routinely meet, quite serenely, with 3 other cats in a neighbours garden. Am pretty sure they were planning world domination (albeit a very relaxed domination).
Alf is mesmerised by dripping taps. Fucking idiot.
The moment any floor has been mopped, will be the moment that either of them will stomp through the house having spent an hour digging in muddy flower beds.
Did I mention the hair?
I'll have to leave you now, as Alf is begging for his 9th meal of the day - but I will leave you with a picture of Ursula - who is of course silently judging all of you.
*appreciate that this is sometimes debatable
**and we did