Monday, October 30, 2006

Terror Cat

black cat and kittens
When I opened up the back door this morning there was a pile of cats stuffed in the corner. All the black girls were there, plus three generations of kittens. Usually the backdoor cats run around in the lane, and come in for breakfast. But for the last week they've been heaped in the shelter of our porch every morning. I think they're hiding from fireworks.

We've had bang, crackle, whizz here every night starting from Deepavali and running through Raya. Everyone seems to have the urge to create a lot of smoke and noise. Scoop doesn't bother but Au hides under the table when the ruckus starts. And it looks like the black girls are terrified too.

I'm wondering if it will end now or if this is merely a run-up to an almighty spectacular for Halloween. Either way, nobody would guess this stuff is banned!

PS Sorry that Katz Tales wasn't published on Saturday. I suspect it was a Hari Raya thing as other regular columns from the paper were missing too. Will check with the ed to see when the next issue is printed.

PPS Here is the latest batch of kittens courtesy of one of the back lane black girls.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Monsoon Cats

This is the first year since 1997? 1998? that we've had a proper monsoon season in October. It's been lashing down at lunchtime, at teatime and at night for days now. Scoop and Au are not impressed. They sit at the window, staring out at the rain, and sulking because it's too wet for cats to go out and play.

What's worse, Scoop has no weather sense at all. He keeps getting caught by showers when he's at the end of the road. I'm putting his towel by the door for convenience but old fuzzy is not amused.

Hey, at least it gets rid of this foul air polution!

BTW, Katz Tales is out tomorrow in the Weekend section of the Malaysian national daily The Star. Buy a copy please, so I can keep Scoop and Au in the luxury they wish to become accustomed to!

And in today's Mind Your English section is Heavy Metal: Popular and versatile, iron’s tough image has become part of the English language. Feedback much appreciated.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Baby Tribute

A Cat Called Baby
This is Daphne's Baby who passed away last month at the age of 13 from cancer. Doesn't she look sweet - and deliciously spoilt?

And before I forget Happy DeepaRaya everyone...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Embarrassing Moments

It's not often you catch a cat not looking his absolute best, and this one of Au is a doozy. I just couldn't resist it.

Au scratching himself while licking his nose

Got a good cat picture? Send me a SMALL pic not more than 120K to tales AT and I'll post it here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Boycotting Tuna

Trying to do three things at once yesterday, I mistakenly bought the cats tuna flavoured biscuits. It's a funny thing but Scoop and Au like chicken, beef, ocean fish, pilchard, and all sorts of other flavoured biscuits, but they won't touch tuna. And if I try to con them into trying tuna cat food from a tin or pouch, they visibly shudder.

It's not that they don't like real tuna; Scoop and Au will eat tuna intended for human people.

Oddly enough the outdoor cats aren't keen on tuna biscuits either. And as they eat everything put in front of them I'm beginning to wonder if there is something odd about the flavour designed by cat food makers.

Alternatively, they might, as Tom suggested after a few beers, be concerned about dolphin safe tuna.

Either way, it's an odd thing to see cats turn down anything fishy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cat's Night Out

Scoop snoozing
Scoop is fast asleep on the box in front of the bedroom window. He's in that phase where he's out all night, and asleep all day.

Scoop's evenings out all follow the same pattern. Old fuzzy goes out at about 11PM. He sits on the wall and watches our neighbours come home from various eateries. And Scoop being a friendly cat, he makes a point of greeting his favourite people. We can hear him shout MEOW! and his friends shouting Hello Scoop! Hello Sayang!

The rest of the night is spent patrolling neighbouring gardens and sitting on top of the Beetle so he can see all the way down to the end of our road.

From what I can tell, if there is any rat hunting to be done, this starts just before dawn. At least, I hear a strangled PEEP and Scoop comes trotting in ten minutes later, happily showing us his gift for services rendered.

There is nothing like wakening up to a freshly killed rat...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Battle Cat

Au with a black eye
The Cat With The Dirty Face staged another reappearance a few days ago, creating spats, fights and general MROUWL-ing fights all over the place. Poor Au had a black eye for a day (see picture).

A peaceful silence has descended, and the dirty-faced kitty has taken up position in the back lane, the free zone in our area where all cats meet on equal ground. He’s eating cat biscuits and taking it easy. I’m hoping he'll settle down and end his ambitions of street conquest. We really don't need more wars.

PS Au's black eye lasted hours only. He is back to his usual handsome self, complete with wide open, clear and deliciously green eyes.

PPS It's Friday the 13th today, a day considered so unlucky in the UK that some people suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, an irrational fear of this date. Find out more about this weird superstition by reading Friday the 13th.

PPPS Katz Tales is out in the Weekend section of The Star tomorrow. Don't forget to buy your copy!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Inspiring Cats

We’ve had a very relaxed morning. The cats had breakfast before dawn with Tom while I lazed about in bed. Then the cats bounced upstairs, and threw themselves into bed to enjoy a quick wash and a long cuddle. Scoop curled up against me and purred, while Au rolled about on his back and licked my fingers in a friendly way.

When the clock insisted the workday start, I got up and settled down to business. As I work from home, and my PC is about 6 meters from the bed, this is not exactly awe inspiringly difficult but with such a friendly start to the day I feel as though I’m capable of anything.

Scoop is an old boy so he’s still in bed, curled up like a donut between two pillows. But Au has trotted into the office and is lying at my feet, keeping a careful eye on me. There will be no shirking while he’s in charge.

Cats: can’t live without them, and certainly don't want to work without them!

PS You can tell Au wasn’t looking over my shoulder last week when I wrote Seen A Callipygian Girl? for The Star, using "Phyrric" instead of "Pyrrhic". I should have spotted it, especially when the reference "King Pyrrhus" was in the previous sentence! Luckily someone spotted the error, and wrote in to mention it. Will triple check next batch of Logomania!

BTW, Logomania, or crazy about words, is derived from the Greek roots "log" meaning "word" and “mainesthai” meaning “mad”. It’s a made-up word so it’s not in the dictionary – yet!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Public Holiday

Au in bed
It's a public holiday. I'm not sure what exactly we're celebrating, but we're making the most of it by enjoying a day or peace and quiet. Scoop and Au have had two breakfasts, a wrestle on the big rug upstairs and are now fast asleep in bed. Scoop is curled up in the spare bedroom that he has taken for his own, and Au has thrown himself in the middle of our bed.

Normally at this time of day the kitties would be visiting their friends in the street. But the air pollution is just too much for little cat lungs to handle. And the smell offends Their Fastidious Majesties as their friend SM has nicknamed them.

Our dirty air is so thick today that it's even obscuring the condo just 100 meters down the road. But as the guys in Kusar Cabana, our local pub in SS15, pointed out last night, this foul fog might just help us stamp out the dengue fever that's been plaguing us! And it is true that the mozzies seem to be less strident these days…

Every cloud has a silver lining. Even a smoggy one.

PS Here's Au taking it easy. A cat in bed is not just a joy to behold, it's also the perfect excuse for not making the bed.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Smogged Out Cats

Air pollution from slash and burn farming in Indonesia (and parts of Malaysia too) has created a foul smelling cloud that hangs over the region. My eyes are burning, and my throat hurts. Worse, this muck in the air is affecting the cats.

Poor old Scoop is lying flat out, coughing occasionally and wiping his eyes. Au has retired to his box, pulling the flaps shut. Neither is in the mood to play outside.

The adult outside cats are OK but the younger kittens have sore eyes. I've captured two and cleaned their faces for them but by 4PM they'll be all gummy again.

I wonder how many animals are dying in jungles because of eye, nose, throat and other problems caused by this dirty air. This annual slash and burn has got to stop. Any ideas?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rat Catchers

All hell broke loose last night. Scoop caught a mouse (or possibly a baby rat) in the garden. After he caught it, old fuzzy very generously allowed Au to play with it. Au took it upstairs and dropped the dratted thing. Now we have a mouse guy hiding behind the wardrobe.

I always try to rescue prey on the basis that even rats need to live. Most of the time they escape from Scoop's jaws unharmed, and scuttle off to the end of the road where they can live a happy, carefree life in the banana patch someone maintains there.

But last night Scoop moved out of reach when I tried to rescue said mouse in the garden. Moments later I thought the mouse had croaked. Apparently I was wrong; it was simply playing dead.

I've left the windows open, and closed the door. Hopefully it will escape, shake the dust off its feet and move on....

PS here is Au with a mouse. Not last nights mouse, but one he caught a few months ago.

PPS Have kids who want to improve their English? Check out Seen a callipygian girl? published in The Star today!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wild Cat

Au scratching his ear
Something's up with Au today. He bounced into bed this morning, and challenged me to a game of handwrestling (rules: one human hand versus four cat paws, no claws allowed).

Since then he's been running in and out of the office, wrestling with his rug, ripping up an old newspaper, and generally creating havoc. When I go to the kitchen for coffee, he demands ham, and then invites me to chase him round the room.

I haven't seen him in such a good mood in weeks. Must be the rain last night.

PS Here he is, having a good scratch. Wish I were as flexible!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tail Lashing!

Scoop and Au have many friends. Au visits his friend Halim across the road for a quiet bit of fish washing, while Scoop enjoys spending time with Lillian who adores him in a style Scoop considers proper.

They also enjoy visits from Sasi. She's soft spoken, doesn't try to pick them up, and responded well to requests from Scoop to hand over that bit of chicken that's resting in the oven, and from Au to hand over the ham from the fridge.

What's nice about these relationships is that they build bridges. As with every meeting between strangers, body language is a real mystery. Cat people like Scoop and Au are quite likely to misinterpret a hasty movement as a threat, while human people like Sasi seem to at a loss to understanding basic cat body language.

One of the most perplexing signs is tail lashing. For people accustomed to dogs, a waging tail is a good thing. But with cats a lashing tail is most often a warning to say, "I'm not happy and if you don't stop that, I will bite you!"

BUT if you're playing a game, or being invited to play a game, by a happy cat, tail lashing is simply a bit of fun. AND if your cat is very expressive tail lashing can simply mean excitement. For example, Au never catches birds because he's got that involuntary tail lash thing when he's getting really close that gives the game away. (the fact that he's orange and white on a grey pavement may have something to do with it too.)

Cats are complicated creatures. And I guess that's why I love them so.