Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feline update

As I privately predicted, I failed relatively early on in my bid to blog every day in February, but I’d had a slightly fraught day and didn’t get home until 9.30pm. And I had a bottle of Scotch to open (a classy one, too, with a cork stopper instead of a metal screw top).

Allow me, therefore, to update everyone on Bonnie and Clyde, our fine furry feline friends. As some of you who have been with me for some time know, Bonnie and Clyde are brother and sister and used to be pretty much inseparable.

That changed last autumn, though, when they had a bit of a falling out. The Middle East was playing out right there in our living room, and eventually we had to separate them. This actually didn’t prove all that difficult: Bonnie, who values her freedom, could go upstairs in my office with 24/7 access to the stairs and the cellar and from there to the cats’ secret exit to the outside world; Clyde, who is philosophical enough to stand being incarcerated for several hours at a time, could go downstairs and resign himself to sleeping indoors at night. It worked surprisingly well, although at first some sleight-of-door was required, and my wife and I had to communicate via Skype as we had to make sure only one cat at a time went out into the garden. (We relaxed that rule a bit later.)

It seems that this sort of thing is a common problem with cats of their age, and what you need in these situations is a nervous system of steel and a whole lot of patience. It takes, in our experience, months, but eventually you may, if you’re lucky, discover that things start to improve.

Now we’ve reached the point where Bonnie seems to have got Clyde where she wants him, which is cowering at the other end of the room. Basically, Clyde is a well-meaning gentle sort of cat, but much bigger than Bonnie and would get carried away playing with her, sometimes hurting her unintentionally. Bonnie had to first overcome her fear of him, then assert her authority over him, which is what she appears almost to have accomplished. She needs to know he won’t pin her to the ground. He needs to know he mustn’t run after her all the time.

Bonnie has been working to her own timetable. She’s now started coming in downstairs, and this afternoon even dozed off in the living room, just to prove how relaxed she’s become.

We still can’t have the cats in the same room. But things are moving in the right direction.

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