Target the cat has become something of a celebrity, thanks to his natural curiosity with office equipment.
Cats are executives by nature. They have to be in charge and they need to know everything, always. In addition to being world-class snoops, they are the ultimate micromanagers, always supervising and auditing every step you make. Marry snoop and supervisor and you get snoopervisor.
Target is one of the greatest feline snoopervisors I have ever met. I think it is because he has all the habits of extremely effective feline managers.
Target has been top-class management material from day one because he’s fanatical about being ahead of the curve. If there’s something new going on, he has to be involved.
The installation of a new printer a few weeks ago was an orgy of work that began with the delight of inspecting the box, the plastic wrapping and the most heavenly bits of Styrofoam.
When the machine came out, Target was all over it, sniffing every inch and testing with his paws. Pronouncing it a good thing, he then jumped in and out of the box, which was accepted as small but worthy.
Then there was the excitement of running power cables, installing the software and printing the test page.
Printing is something cats see as magic specially designed to amuse them. As soon as the machine whirls, they know it’s game on. The box whirs, makes some teasing spinning sounds, and when you are at a tail-rending state of tension, it spits out a sheet of paper. A good cat pounces as it hits the tray; a great cat is there to fang it as it whooshes past.
Target is a great cat, so almost all of my paperwork has a tasteful decorative nibble or a single claw perforation on an edge. I’ve always maintained a discreet silence about it, and most people don’t notice but cat lovers can always tell.
I was doing some banking work a few months ago, when the clerk exclaimed, “Oh! You have a cat!” as she joyfully pointed at a fang mark. Then it was smiles all round and everything done quickly as you please.
When it comes to regular tasks, Target is at home to a peg, too. Cats are traditional creatures, so routine is a comfort and a joy to them.
Target bounds into the office every morning, sails onto the desk, and takes up his position by the keyboard. He snoopervises the e-mail coming in, monitors the swift replies sent, and watches as we pile up the ones that need to be dealt with later. Then it’s planning, a swift break of catching up on the news, and into the slog of the day.
My feline snoopervisor watches with bated breath as we do our reading, make notes, figure out angles, select people to interview and do all the prep that goes into a story.
He knows when I’m stuck, because he hits the F1 button and pulls up the Help screen. Occasionally, if he’s feeling bolshie, he sneaks a paw onto the Caps Lock button – just to keep me on my toes. Most of all, though, he listens to me witter on, without passing judgment and always with an encouraging purr.
Some people don’t understand how this can add to productivity, but let me tell you, when your boss is always supportive, purring even when you have wasted time or messed up, you keep up your motivation and you’re always ready for a new challenge.
So Target is a star of a snoopervisor, but recently he has taken up an extra habit that has given him a global voice. Target began using Skype about a year ago, recognising his name when a friend asked after him and meowing.
Of course, the response was overwhelming. “Hey, Target! Hello, sayang! How are you darling? Oh, you’re so handsome!”
As the compliments came flooding in, the little furry face sat up straight, ears twitching, whiskers bristling with pleasure. As Terry Pratchett wrote, “Cats were once worshipped. They have never forgotten it.” My Target was having a blast.
Today he answers every single phone call. As soon as I pick up, my snoopervisor is up and purring. He turns circles on the desk, head-butts me, purrs like an engine, and tries to fang the phone.
I can usually tug his ears, and let him know it’s something I can handle by myself, but sometimes he would meow down the phone. In every case, people are startled and, most surprisingly, some insist on speaking directly to the snoopervisor.
These people are from different walks of life, they run from senior executives to clerks, and they work in all kinds of industries. What they have in common, is that while I hold the phone for Target, they chat in English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, Spanish and other tongues, all saying exactly the same thing! “Oh darling, how clever you are! Say meow? Oh! Meow!”
Target sits up, eyes shining, tail flicking slowly, wallowing in praise and adoration.
My snoopervisor has found his audience, and now he’s going global. Thank goodness he is too senior to have mastered the little jobs, like dialling out.
NEXT: Trainee snooper-visors –>>
If you work from home, your pet will want to be with you. That means making desk space or offering an alternative like a proper chair or cat condo that allows your cat to see everything you do. Forget keeping your cat on the floor; it won’t happen. Cats are curious and they live at person level, not floor level.
Do watch for chewing. Some pets chew cables, others will chew rubbers or sharp things like steel pens that can damage teeth. Think baby-proof and then work for a “baby” who can jump up to a metre-and-a-half and who has an agile paw.
Cats adore scanners and printers, so make sure they can see what’s going on – and let them play with test prints and discards. A paper that’s been caught, is a treasure. Also, football will keep them happily busy for ages, if you need more desk space.
Finally, be careful of having a messy desk. Cats tend to believe in a clean sweep, meaning you’ll find everything on the floor. Yes, snoopervisors can play rough!
Next: Adopt Mibby the cat! –>>