I’m having trouble typing. I have a big kitten on my lap who would really prefer me
not to type. He puts his paw up on my chin to get my attention. He likes to be properly cuddled quite firmly and purrs loudest if you take terrible liberties, like squashing your hand over the top of his head and leaving him in darkness for a bit.
What is it about male kittens that they love nothing better than something being thrown over them – a copy of the Observer or a corner of coverlet so they can peer out, black-eyed, from the darkness? He also likes to be pushed so he collapses on to his side and rolls luxuriantly on to his back in the certain expectation of a tummy tickle.
Lily, on the other hand is happy to accept straight affection including being ironed almost flat by strenuous stroking but prefers to keep her underparts concealed, thank you very much although she has times when she purrs orgasmically when scratched under the chin.
But I digress. The cat flap was fitted a few days ago. Kitchen door. Until now the kittens have been stationed in the dining room with use of the open patio door to get out into the garden on days when it hasn’t been below zero.
It’s a Sureflap, the kind of see-through high security kitty corridor where your cat’s microchip is registered and remembered so that no other neighbourhood cat can enter and
filch the kittens’ food.
A friend fitted one after she had trouble with a giant tom cat with a lazy eye called Fluff who would sneak in after her own cat, menace him thoroughly and finish off his dinner, licking the dish as clean as a whistle.
Another friend had a neighbouring cat – white with a little black splodge on his face hence the name Kitler – who wasn’t interested in theft but acted as a sort of “heavy”, refusing to allow her two outside.
My kittens eyed the flap with much suspicion. I thought I ought to teach them how to use it. A few cat treats would surely provide the incentive to push on the flap. Nah. They just looked and walked away.
Mysterious bit of feather being energetically bounced on the other side of the flap in an enticing fashion should have engaged their interest. Nope. Seen that before. Too far away to catch.
Capt Sensible had a novel idea. “Stick Leo in a stocking and post him through the hole. The other one could watch and learn.”
Practical but ultimately inappropriate – and I didn’t like the thought of poor torpedo-shaped Leo rolling around the terrace frantically fighting his stocking off.
I let it go for the day and hey presto, the next morning, Leo bravely tapped the flap a few times and then passed through with an athletic stretch. Lily walked around a bit, pretending to have a circular constitutional then made a dash for the portal and successfully passed through.
The problem then, as it so often is in Star Trek, is re-entry. Leo flapped the flap and walked away, pretending, as cats have a habit of doing, not to be seriously interested. Finally he succeeded in tapping the flap and following through to parade victoriously around the kitchen, tail high.
But Lily just didn’t get it. She would come to the flap, her little face looming, perplexed
yet hopeful at the square window and she’d disappear again.
Once, I heard Leo give a “go away” hiss at Lily, stuck on the wrong side of the door.
“She can’t manage it. I don’t know what you’re going to do,” said Capt Sensible.
“She only went out when I held the door open for her this morning and she hasn’t a clue how to get back in.”
It transpired that while Leo was perfectly self-sufficient in the door department, Capt Sensible was regularly acting as Lily’s doorman. When she miaowed, he lifted the flap for her to both go out or come in again.
So today was crunch time. We had work. The kittens were at home and would have to work on their cat flappery skills unaided.
While I was at work, I wondered several times if poor Lily had got herself stuck out in the garden and was miaowing piteously expecting her doorman to rush to the rescue.
But I got home and they both blearily came downstairs to greet me. Then Capt Sensible arrived.
“Where was Lily?”
“Oh good. She was outside somewhere when I left forwork. She must have come in by herself.”
There was further proof when I called her and put her dinner down. One minute later the flap crashed open as she came speeding through with Exocet velocity. There must be a physics equation there somewhere proving that weight + speed produces more impact than weight alone…er.. possibly…
Anyway, no more worries. The kittens have passed First Year Catflappery with credit and Capt. Sensible is out of a job.