Anyone who has a pet will tell you their fur ball is a member of the family. Indeed, I have some friends who insist they love their pets as much as their children. And for those who have teenagers prone to hormonal meltdowns, a pet is wonderful at listening and giving an understanding woof or meow.
Parents fight many battles for their children throughout life. The crèche bully. The nursery bully. The school bully. The secondary school bullies (note the plural). How many mums can say they’ve taken on the bully’s parents? I know I have. There has been more than one occasion where I’ve stormed into a school playground, skidded to a halt before the offending child’s mother, pawed the ground and, with nostrils flaring, wanted to head-butt both offending child and obnoxious parent over the school fence.
Yesterday morning I found myself back in the school playground. Well, figuratively speaking. In fact it was our rear garden. And instead of protecting my son or daughter, I was defending the cat. Oh yes, bizarre but true.
Dolly, our black-and-white queen, was surveying her kingdom from the top of our six foot high fence. She never leaves the garden due to being something of a nervous wreck. This anxious disposition is a result of a cat fight two years ago which landed her at the vet’s and me with an overdraft. Afterwards, I vowed she would never go out again. Bit by bit I’ve relented, and Dolly now goes in the garden under watchful supervision. She loves to hide behind the shed, charge out at unsuspecting birds, chase butterflies and wreck spider webs. Afterwards she’ll settle down in a sun puddle and roll ecstatically from side to side. All very nice. Until yesterday.
‘Hellooo!’ said a huge tabby tom as it sprang onto the garden gate.
Dolly’s eyes became round saucers. Cats are very territorial and this visitor was most definitely trespassing. ‘You’re cute!’ said Tabby Tom.
‘Get lost,’ Dolly growled.
‘Fancy making out?’ asked Tabby Tom.
‘Can’t,’ Dolly stuck her nose in the air. ‘My mum had me sorted.’
‘Mine didn’t,’ Tabby Tom replied slyly.
There is something about unwanted boyfriends that will have any mother rushing to their daughter’s defence. And this was no different. I charged into the garden emitting a war cry and flapping a tea towel. Tabby Tom regarded me with cool disdain, but Dolly went to pieces and fell off the fence.
‘Now look what you’ve done!’ I rounded on Tabby Tom.
‘It’s not my fault you’re a human lunatic.’
‘CLEAR OFF!’ I yelled.
Tabby Tom regarded me coolly before casually dropping over the gate, cheekily flicking up two back paws as he went. I turned, wild eyed, to see if Dolly had returned. She hadn’t. Oh no.
I wrenched open the back gate just in time to see Tabby Tom turning a corner. ‘Dolly?’ I called. Where was she? There, hiding in a hedgerow not fifty yards ahead was a black-and-white cat. ‘Dolly!’ The black-and-white looked startled and instantly made after Tabby Tom. In my head I was back in that school playground, children dancing about chanting, ‘Fight! Fight!’ I legged it after the black-and-white cat. Rounding the corner, I skidded to a halt. There was the black-and-white. I stared at it stupidly.
‘You’re not Dolly!’
‘I never said I was!’
Tabby Tom strolled over and gave me a look of dislike. ‘We meet again. This,’ he said to the black-and-white, ‘is a human lunatic.’
A tiny grey strolled out of some undergrowth and immediately fluffed up like a porcupine. ‘This is my zone, aliens. Retreat now before I make weird noises and go totally doolally.’ The grey looked up at me. ‘You too.’
I turned around. Some cats you just don’t argue with. Returning to my garden I found Dolly back on the fence. She looked absolutely livid.
‘I’m so annoyed with you,’ she hissed. ‘Fancy embarrassing me like that!’
‘Fighting my battles. Cramping my style.’
‘Such gratitude. Get in the house. Now!’
‘I totally agree with Rob and Eleanor. You always have been, and always will be, a very embarrassing parent.’
Indeed. And possibly slightly unhinged taking part in Doctor Dolittle-like conversations. But then again, that’s what parenting does to you – whether it’s kids, dogs or cats. Which reminds me.
It was Sunday morning. A sad old lady was sitting alone, except for her cat. Suddenly there was a flash of light and the sad old lady’s fairy godmother appeared. ‘Don’t be afraid! You are sad and all alone, so I’ve come to cheer you up and grant you three wishes!’
The sad old lady was delighted. ‘Okay! First, I’d like to be very wealthy.’
Pfff! Suddenly the room was full of bank notes.
‘Secondly, I’d like to be young and beautiful again.’
Pfff! The sad old lady turned into a gorgeous twenty-something.
‘Thirdly, change my cat into a handsome prince who will love me forever.’
Pfff! The fairy godmother disappeared and the cat leapt up as a handsome prince. He strode over to the woman, pulled her to her feet and kissed her passionately. Then he gazed deeply into her eyes and said, ‘Ha! Now you’re going to be sorry you took me to the vet…’