The dog training isn’t going very well.
The Terrible Two come running when I arrive home – but only when I call their names. They don’t seen to understand, or show any willingness to understand “off” and “down” and they will not be bribed with commercial treats.
They are siblings – a male and a female from the same litter.
The boy did manage to go fetch a ball of foil when I rolled it across the kitchen floor for him three times in succession the other day, but he hasn’t repeated it since.
But, as people keep reminding me, this is all because they are not dogs. It’s been put to me quite robustly that I might be expecting a bit much of tabby kittens.
Leo, the male, is a big green-eyed purring machine who is very trusting and partial to having his spotty tum tickled.
Lily, the mutant moggy, is a dwarf, half big brother’s size – with extra toes on each paw, which makes her look as though she’s pattering about wearing mittens or those socks with individual toes. She really does look as though she is four weeks younger than big bro and I suppose, it’s possible, as I was told, that the litter was a result of two matings at two different times so she really might be a lot younger but the jury’s out on that one. I think she’s just a bit runty.
She’s a pocket huntress – inquisitive brave and skittish and too busy for a cuddle except when she feels like it. She surprised me as I sat on the sofa last evening by laying a soft paw on my shoulder, purring in my ear and touching my cheek with a teeny cold nose before slinking down for a lap nap.
So what’s the dog training thing? Well, I Googled “dog-like cats” ages ago but it only came up with Maine Coon cats which are both enormous and enormously expensive and the breeders won’t let you have a kitten unless you promise to never let it out. There are other gorgeous breeds that are lush of coat and withering of eye which seem destined to lie regally in cages at cat shows. But deep down, I have always known that if I’m going to own cats at all, they will be tabbies.
Finding images of alluring tabby kittens on the web, I decided to go for “cat-like cats” but attempt to train them in some useful doggy ways. I don’t need to be told that this will all go badly, that cats are not dogs and I should forget it all right now. It’s an experiment and I’m enjoying learning just how different kittens and puppies actually are.
For a start, you generally know where a young puppy is. Always having had English Springer Spaniels, they are either around your feet waiting for a play, cuddle, food or they are snortling gently in their beds, paws and nose twitching as the dream their puppy dreams.
He greets you with utter joy in the morning “Hey!! It’s YOU!!! Whoooppee! Great! Thank goodness. Now what? Go on then. Go on.. Now what? Whooo! Play? Food? BRILLIANT!!”
This is repeated whenever you return from anywhere – the next room, the loo, outside. This is repeated throughout his life, in fact, unless doggo is lying in the garden with a fresh bone, in which case he stays put and his eyes say “Busy right now. Later.”
Leo certainly comes to greet me first thing in the morning and when I arrive home from work. But he tends to say “Oh there you are” in laconic tone.” nuzzle nuzzle “so…what have you got? Thought about breakfast/lunch/dinner?” and parades around on my lap while Lily skitters around crazily and then does flying Spiderman leap at my calf with all paw crampons extended and climbs agonisingly up my leg leaving small bleeding puncture wounds. Even when reclining on my lap, she keeps a watchful eye on things as if to say “Make a fuss by all means but I’m still On Duty.”
They just started fighting again. Leo has headlocked Lily but she’s kicking him in the face with both back feet. I really need Ken Walton to commentate. She claws him in the eye but he seems not to notice and no damage is done. They part and perform flying ninja jumps at each other, clashing in midair and Leo dashes off to hide in the washing basket, which is full of holes just big enough to stick a teasing paw through and wave about – just in case she hasn’t gathered where he’s hiding. He needn’t bothered. She’s stalking him from above on the kitchen worktop. If this was a cartoon, Lily would even now be dropping a black weight marked “TON” on Leo’s head.
And so it goes on. Fighting like cat and cat, rolling, wrestling, playing, until they find me conveniently situated for a warm snooze. If I’m at the desk, Lily has my lap and Leo is sprawled luxuriously between keyboards, his head on the side of my laptop, purring loudly. Lily purrs too but she is muted – like a geiger counter someone’s concealed beneath a pile of pillows in a wardrobe. Ridiculous, really.