Here is this week’s Past Deadline (May 8/14), published in The Perth Courier.

“Cat School” and aloofness

I floundered a bit for a topic this week. When I say floundered, I’m thinking about fish because that would be an appropriate creature for this weather.

Really, though, I don’t want to talk about the stinkin’ weather (which, I hope, has become more spring-like since writing this on the weekend).

So, I contemplated writing about something more cheerful…like my cat! Everyone loves to hear about cats, I reasoned.

(Actually, I completely understand if you aren’t one of those people who likes to hear about cats. I am sometimes one of those people myself. Therefore I shall endeavour to make this as silly as possible.)

Regular readers may recall we recently adopted Ramsey, a one-and-a-half-year-old male short-haired cat, after our ancient tabby MacGregor passed away.

At first, it seemed too soon to “replace” our old faithful fellow but, let me tell you, it was a relief to have someone to talk to around the home office other than myself.

See, at first, Ramsey kind of lived under our bed. It seemed strange because when we met him at the vet’s he was super friendly and purred and was very charming.

Then, when we got home, he was…well…fairly freaked out. (I might be too if I lived here. Er, never mind.)

Anyway, it took several days, but he began to spend more and more time socializing with us and less time under the bed. This was a very good thing for the obvious reason, but also because every time he ventured out from under the bed we realized just how many dust bunnies were living there with him. Gross.

For the kids, though, it was difficult to get used to a skittish cat after living their whole lives with felines who weren’t shy about ruling the place. “Give him time,” I said.

They conceded, at least, that it was amusing skittishness.

For example, when Ramsey did venture out from under the bed, he would nonchalantly sidle close and flop down on the floor. Invariably, someone would move (as we are wont to do), and sometimes it would be a dramatic move, such as Girlchild practising cartwheels in the living room.

He’d bolt – but only a few feet – and then flop down again. “I’m cool, man. It’s cool. I’m a cat. I meant to do that.”

During the week when the house was quiet except for me sitting in the office muttering to myself, Ramsey started to warm up. He’d hang out in the office window and follow me around. He started to chatter, and not in the non-stop yowling sort of way Buster used to, but cute little chirps and meows. So, yes, I talk to the cat because he, apparently, talks to me.

“But he won’t snuggle,” Groom-boy complained after experiencing a few puncture wounds.

I explained, because I know a lot about these things now, that Ramsey went to Cat School, where young cats learn they must be standoffish with their people because they really don’t need them for such things as snuggling.

I made this pronouncement as we watched Ramsey flop closer and closer to the couch, looking up at us somewhat expectantly. “See, he knows from Cat School he’s not supposed to want to sit with us, even though he’d really like to.”

Sure enough, we’d pick him up and he’d roll on his back and purr his head off – at least for a little bit – before remembering he was supposed to be distant and aloof. Each snuggle session gets a little bit longer.

He’s a funny little guy. Fortunately, he seems to be adapting well to the fact we’re slightly crazy.

Ramsey...starting to chill.

Ramsey…starting to chill.


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