Friday, 22 March 2013

Yorick - A Kitten's Progress

It is a dark and stormy night. Lightening flashes across the sky and the gods roll gigantic marbles from one mountain to the next.

One of the dogs is shivering in the shower and the other two wished they had got there first. The two elderly irascible cats are huddled together, precarious on top of a sofa. The two remaining goldfish are chatting amiably under some nameless aquatic weed shielded from the glare of life (and lightening) by a nauseous smudge of green algae on the side of the fish tank. And Yorick is trying  to flick an emery board off the TV room window cill into the waste paper basket below.

We sit, idly glancing at the TV, expectant that at any moment there will be a power cut that will bring a merciful end to some ghastly American repeat series about cadavers, human innards, mysterious organisms. You know the ones, thoroughly unbelievable plots carried off with little panache by plastic, two dimensional characters; but in actual fact we are watching Yorick catapulting an emery board off the window cill into a waste paper basket.

Much seems to have happened in the months between finally accepting this uninvited house guest, giving the world the “Tales of Yorick” and the present. For all of us. Dogs, cats, fish . . 

  . . . . . and of course the ever patient Zodwa.

Not to forget sundry friends, visitors, hangers on, café society, the man-in-the-street; in fact anyone who has been forced to listen to the latest frolic and adventure of the dear little chap.

I did not take him for his operation. Far too busy at work, and besides I was not convinced that his head had out-grown the bars of his travel cage and the thought of bumping into a Daschund with four nostrils was too much. Anyway he was returned from the vet groggy, confused and emasculated. Although this time he was not perfumed with surgical soap. I had actually asked if we could have his little knackers bronzed but I don’t think that this request was passed on to the vet. We did not even get them in a bottle of formaldehyde.

The after effects of the anaesthetic lasted for half a day and I don’t think he really noticed any difference in himself . . . . .
"I don't think he noticed any difference in himself . . . " 
Hang on a moment . . 
Yorick has slipped joyfully from kitten-hood into catalesence.

In homo sapiens “adolescence” is that strange and indefinable part of growing up where the victim becomes indescribably moody, knows everything, hates everybody, suddenly develops very long limbs with hands and feet that are misconnected to the rest of the body and have acne blossoming on every available public area of exposed skin, and develops nauseous sweat glands.

. . . walking around on flexible stilts cunningly connecting a
steadily elongating body to gigantic walking pads . . "

“Catalesence” is much more fun. The only real parallel is the development of absurd limbs. Suddenly, in days it seemed, Yorick was walking around on flexible stilts cunningly connecting a steadily elongating body to gigantic walking pads. While acne is not so far, touch wood, a problem, (some of a more PC bent would say a challenge, but I would say acne in a cat, were it to occur, is definitely a problem) the occasional little fart is an issue. A passing juvenile trait I can only hope.

It is late afternoon and we have been out much of the day. We had left early morning and returned mid afternoon, long after lunch time. The animals are wild with hunger. Barks, meows and bubbles rent the air. (No hang on, surely the fish were fed first thing?)

But wait! Someone is missing!

The others are fed and with a rising sense of panic we search the house, but to no avail. I even - and this I hesitate to admit - check the toilet pans, harking back to earlier paranoia’s when the kitten was truly toilet bowl sized and couldn’t swim.

We start a detailed garden search. Visions of a white lifeless rag-doll being tossed from one canine mouth to another flit across my mind as I peer over the hedge next door into Alfred Sipho’s garden at the distant pack of snarling dogs.

Finally a thought is struck, “I did go out to the cabin before we left, I’ll just check . . .”. I wait with pounding heart and nearly faint with relief as I hear a cooing “ . . . . and what were you doing in there all alone for so long . . . ?”

And there, in an admittedly extreme form, is a telling character trait. At any time of the day, often mornings, I catch myself idly thinking - I wonder where Yorick is? Like the cravings for an illicit drug once this thought crosses the mind, it won’t go away. Without being too obvious, or when I am alone with frantic dedication, I check out likely locations.

This is in itself difficult because like any explorer, or terrorist, he is constantly changing his routes and habits. For days he will sleep happily on the chair in the study – and just when you know with certainty where to find him, he’s moved on. I will walk out on to the stoep – no sign. I go out into the kitchen yard – no sign. I check out the bedrooms - nothing. I make myself a calming cup of coffee and return to the stoep – still no sign. On the point of resolving to ring a friend for reassurance there, at the bottom of the garden, is a singular, silent and very white figure intently stalking god knows what unsuspecting locust, lizard, furry creature or large leaf. Or there he is aloof and comfortable atop a bush framed against the mountains. Who knows where he sprang from?

" . . . .stalking god knows what 
unsuspecting locust , lizard . . "
" . .  comfortable atop a bush framed 
against the mountains

The other day with the same sense of rising panic I was checking out the kitchen yard and some sixth sense made me look down at the foreground and there against the shadow of the roof line was - the shadow of a cat. Yorick had taken to inspecting the gutters. I went out and looked up.

Hot Cat on a Cool Tin Roof 

He meowed.

I said “Well I’m not helping you down.”

He meowed again

He looked at me as if to say “well I wasn’t asking you to, I think I’ll just go and clear the gutters out at the front of the house, they’re in a terrible state.”
Hell Lynds . . . .  you ain’t heard nothing yet!

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