On the face of it, cats are much less invasive than dogs.
They sashay around the place like they own it and sleep in a way that makes you jealous of their ability to relax utterly in unlikely positions, only pausing occasionally to raise a head and check you’re still around.
They don’t come up to you all the time like dogs do, grinning and panting and drooling with appealing eyes melting your very soul until you find them a pig’s ear, reach for the lead or give them a tummy tickle.
Cats don’t make a lot of noise. The motor-purr of pleasure and the occasional meaningful miaow doesn’t compared to the full range of articulate whinings, groanings, sighs, yaps and full on barking of a dog.
They have teeny neat little paws compared to the dogs I have known – hairy beast springer spaniels.
They step lightly compared to a dog, imparting minimal traces upon floors furniture, windowsills, bedding. You wouldn’t know where they’ve been apart from a few stray hairs – except when it rains. Leo and Fat Lily have a cat flap which, unlike dogs, gives them unhampered access to the outdoors at all times of day and in all weathers.
A dog is either out or it’s in. In rain and tumult, if a dog is out in the garden, it’s out for the shortest possible time – just moments in which to have an extended pee and a hyper-drive dump – then back at the door signalling its urgent intention to return indoors. Dogs might love a five mile hike in lashing rain and wind. They might splash through all available puddles, go fetch sticks from a freezing lake but left in the rain in the garden, they turn into insistently complaining pathetic creatures patently terrified that the gentle shower is going to melt them just like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.
Transforming wet dog into Dog Fit for House is easy. Allow dog inside door to stand on doormat, lift paws in turn for wiping.. Quick swish over the back with the towel and damp dog could proceed to favourite place, which was usuallya nest of soon-to-be-damp towels in dog basket. Granted, smell of damp dog will creep unseen to every room in the house and anyone coming to the door will have a job to resist saying “Phwoar, what’s that smell?!” We are talking spaniels here.
But cats. They are different. They mostly want to be indoors in the rain but actually, they can stand to be outside in pouring rain under bushes waiting for some rain-sodden bird to drop out of a tree into their paws for considerable lengths of time.
Then they just come indoors without so much as a ‘by your leave.’ Studies have shown that there is a distinct Weather v Speed ratio involved.
On lovely dry days, the cats climb laboriously through the cat flap, linger and take in the kitchen scene while standing on the lovely super-absorbent doormat and stroll languously through the kitchen to take a passing sniff their food bowls before proceeding to the living room.
On wet days however, they explode through the cat flap and fly like lightning through the kitchen, hardly making contact with the lovely super-absorbent doormat. They miraculously avoid skidding on the wood flooring of the hall and choose somewhere light of colour to settle down and get their wet fur in some sort of order. This does not produce a Cat Fit For House.
It’s easy to track their progress by following the teeny muddy paw prints through the kitchen, over the wood floor of the hall, on to the sofa, across to the coffee table and the white windowsill, before deciding on making a cat nest in the top of one of the chair cushions. Actually, Fat Lily’s paw prints,being polydactyl, aren’t so teeny. They are like dinosaur prints.
Muddy pawprints have also been detected on kitchen worktops, on top of the mircrowave and even – taking a bit of a risk with the hot granary – on top of the toaster.
To a wet cat, nowhere is sacred. And I haven’t even mentioned the way a wet cat will always want to curry favour with you and rub its freezing rain-bedecked fur coat against your bare leg.
The answer to all this would be to lock the catflap in wet weather. But honestly, I haven’t the heart.
No, I’m thinking more in terms of creating a low-tech slingshot device with fishing netting and elastic bands which would catapult speeding incoming Fat Lily back to the doormat where she would stand – slightly dazed, granted – for a minute, thus allowing the super-absorbent doormat to do its work.