Guido is grumpy. He’s not fond of Swooner, the new kitten we’ve adopted. To make matters worse, it’s the rainy season.
Our Guido is usually a cheerful fellow. He’s a very big boy who’s easy to get along with whereas Target is always getting into scraps with Charlie, the cat across the street.
So when Swooner joined us two months ago, we thought Target would be difficult and Guido a sweetie. As it turned out, Target is patient with the little one and it’s Guido who’s having meltdowns.
It’s not the kitten’s fault. Swooner is a lovely little cat. He’s unfailingly cheerful, purring all day long. But he’s also chock full of energy, careering around the house at high speed, climbing the curtains, and running splat over everything and everyone in his way.
Target and Swooner aren’t bosom pals yet but they share food bowls, and Target lets Swooner sleep next to him. Also, Target played with Swooner for the first time two days ago.
But Guido is skittish when Swooner is around, suspecting that play is a covert operation heralding attack.
Mind you, the little cat didn’t help himself. Last week Guido was lying flat on his back, all four paws up in the air, when Swooner came racing down the stairs. Taking one look, the kitten launched himself into the air with a squeak of delight, landing right on the big furry belly. Then in a kitty coup de grace, he playfully bit his big brother in the chins.
I must say, I was frozen with horror. Thankfully Guido whapped Swooner just once but it was a big enough thump to send the kitten into Tuesday. After he cleared his head, Swooner was ready to play again – but Guido was fuming.
Guido jumped up onto the bench where we’d parked some clean tees and towels ready for folding and looked down on the kitten with a steely brown-eyed glare. Then he hissed at him, scolding him loudly in Cat, before curling up on the towels.
Cats like laundry because of the texture, the scent and usually the location too. Laundry that’s out of the machine smells nice, and fluffy. Cats are connoisseurs of comfort, so they’re drawn to warm, soft, scented cotton like kids are drawn to ice-cream vans.
Also, laundry tends to be stacked in tall places like tables and on ironing boards. Cats are climbers by nature. They feel safe when they’re up in the air, which is why they always climb bookshelves, sofas, trees and walls. A cat is king when he oversees his domain.
We don’t usually put our laundry on that bench, but it is prime space. It’s up in the air, and if you lie on the soft, clean laundry, you can see out of the front door, up the stairs and into the kitchen. In a word, we had casually created the best kitty hangout – ever!
As it is, Guido has always had a laundry fetish. Every morning he sits in Tom’s sock drawer, purring happily and pawing and clawing among the cotton. Our cat also has a dining room table sock stack. This came about in a weird and very subtle way.
Tom has a big bundle of black socks that look the same but one set has a thinner stripe than the other. So on washday, he lays out all the socks, and then matches them. Guido adores this.
Sock-sorting is a game designed for cats. First, there’s the pawing over of the clean socks, smelling of laundry detergent, and then there’s dangling socks being rearranged that have to be clawed at. Guido plays this every week, and when it’s all done, he claims his crown by lying on the sorted sock stack, and napping.
Guido loves his socks so much that we leave a sample selection on the table on a permanent basis. I tidy it away if we have visitors because I don’t want to appear a total slob but the fact is that it’s Guido’s table and Guido’s sock stack.
It also has some predictable consequences. When the drawer upstairs runs out, I hear conversations in the early morning that revolve around, “Hey man, I need two of these to go to work” and then there’s loud purring and wrestling over whose socks they really are.
Ever since Guido jumped up on that bench last week, I’ve been thinking that we really need to move him off it. But he’s so tense about Swooner that I didn’t have the heart.
Then this morning I found myself in the shower and realising that all the towels were downstairs, being held hostage by Guido.
You know, it didn’t bother me so much that I didn’t have a towel. We’re in the tropics so it’s not like you freeze to death. No, what bothered me is that my first thought was that I should buy some more towels. You know, so that Guido isn’t upset.
So there you go. I think it’s official: 2017 is the year of the crazy cat lady.