Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Habit – Here, and Back Again

The Ginger Yo-yo is in full rebound – Thug (The Purring Death) is visiting us with the sort of determined persistence that defies belief. Just at present, he drops by at least every two or three days and we now have a morning routine where I open the back door, look out and then report to my partner whether or not it's a ‘Thug Day’.
I'll just have two fingers

As I have mentioned before, Thug is adoring and adorable, and if that were the whole story he would be welcome to stay as long as he wants. However, what really happens is that he turns up, tells us what a poor, deprived moggy he is, tries to cadge breakfast, demands extensive attention and then terrorises the other cats.
We have recently had Ginge refuse to come near the house for several weeks after a bad encounter by the back door, and just yesterday Oatmeal got rolled in the mud. Piper knows better - first hint of Thug and he takes cover. Even if he mistakes Ginge for Thug – it’s better to be embarrassed (again) rather than bitten on the arse (again).
Fast Food - some meal options are slow enough to catch
(Piper, after a recent encounter and trip to the vet)

So, Thug turns up and menaces the other cats; in return, I drive him home. You would think that sort of rejection (with small meal option, because a tiny amount of bait is needed) would put him off, but a day or two later he’s back again. Sometimes sooner. Much sooner. The highlight of the sequence has to be a night-time visit, around ten, when I drove him back down the hill. The following morning, he was hanging around by the back door, looking for breakfast – very wisely, all possible meal options were keeping their ears down elsewhere. So, I drove him home... and then, that evening, I drove him home again.
That is the big and consistent theme with Thug visits – again. So much again that it ought to be in capitals and tattooed on his whiskers.
Thug has got into a habit of visiting, a persistent habit that refuses to die. From chatting with his owners we have even identified one occasion when he dropped by in the evening, dodged being picked up and driven home, then walked home anyway for a meal, and then walked back to be with us the following morning. If Thug took up smoking, there would be a towering snow-drift of cigarette butts with a contented ginger cat snoozing on top.
His visits are such frequent events now that he has grown accustomed to the taxi-ride and will follow me all the way round the house and down to our van. We no longer have the frantic struggle, or the sudden mad dash, none of the usual panic of the pet-cage response. Being bundled up and driven home is just a part of the routine – he still doesn’t approve of the ‘taken home’ aspect, but is prepared to tolerate something that includes those essential elements in his life, food and cuddles.
His owners have tried variations on what time they let him out, or let him in – Thug is a great one for wailing outside the window at five in the morning because he’s hungry, or it’s time for his next cuddle treatment. They have tried multiple variations on when to keep him in, when to let him out, looking for that sweet-spot combination where he stays down with them. It doesn’t matter what they do, he still comes to see us. Today (so that’s two days in a row) he arrived mid-morning. My partner met him as she was feeding the sheep and he strolled back to the house with her, in search of the usual light snack and personal attention. I drove him home, because it gives our cats peace and quiet, and makes rolling in the mud their choice, rather than Thug’s.
For Thug it is not a matter of whether the journey or the destination is more important, just that there is food and love when he arrives. Or at least other cats to snack on.
Now, Christmas is coming. The season of good will to all ginger moggies, the time when Thug tried to move in with us last year, because it was too wild and noisy at home with friends, family and their dogs visiting. In this season of giving, I currently make a routine check under the trees (Christmas or not) for the presence of the ginger gift of love and feline violence that just keeps giving.
Remember, a cat is not just for Christmas, except perhaps for Thug, who is more prepared to go home in January.



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