Thursday, May 25, 2006

Scoop Fakes An Illness

I make my living as a freelance writer, and am lucky enough to work with some great people in the Far East and in Europe. If you're interested, my CV is online.

My new column Katz Tales appears in the Malaysian national daily 's Weekend pullout every second Saturday. Normally these columns don't appear online - but this one column slipped through and was published online on The Star website as Manipulated By A Moggie - and now that it's out and indexed by Google, I'm posting it here! Hope you enjoy it...

More Katz Tales will be published in The Star Weekend pullout on:28th May, 11th June, 25th June, 9th July, 23rd July, 6th August, and 20th August

P.S. If you happen to be a newspaper or magazine editor and you would like to see Katz Tales columns with a view to buying printing rights, please contact me.

Scoop Fakes An Illness And Receives His Due Reward
By Ellen Whyte

You can't outsmart a cat. It's not just that cats are smarter; they also have the advantage of never feeling sorry for the patsy. Most of us ordinary humans just lack that sort of toughness.

Forgive me if I sound a little jaded. I have been the victim of an extended cat con.

Last month, Scoop picked up a minor infection. The vet gave him an injection and some tablets, but it took old fuzzy a few days to get his appetite back.

Scoop is at that middle-aged stage of life where it isn't so easy to run off those extra bowls of biscuits. Before his illness, he was well on his way to being a rather podgy kitty. But this infection cured that. Poor Scoop lost weight rapidly.

The vet's jab started to work, but as the infection cleared up I started to feed Scoop up, adding baked chicken and other goodies to his normal ration of tinned cat food and biscuits.

After 10 days of pampering, he was putting on weight and his coat was glossy again. However, I was worried because he didn't seem to have an appetite for the cat biscuits he loved so much before his illness. He was also off his favourite tinned food.

I worried he had sore teeth, weak gums or lost his sense of smell. I tried him on cat biscuits dipped in water. No luck. Chopped up his tinned cat food carefully before presenting it. He wouldn't touch it. All he liked was baked chicken, boiled fish and imported French ham.

You will probably have grasped the point by now, but it took a while for my poor noddle to twig.

I live quite far from town, so when I go for an extended shopping trip, I take a taxi to avoid traffic jams, parking hassles etc.

Both Scoop and Au recognise the sound of my car and rush to greet me, but they don't associate the sound of a taxi with my coming home. So when I returned from town by taxi, I took Scoop completely by surprise.

He was sitting in the kitchen, cheeks bulging with cat biscuits. It was obvious he had been having a major munching session. When he saw me, his eyes opened wide with surprise. Turning his back to me, Scoop tried to swallow them surreptitiously, but the game was up.

In a flash, I realised Scoop had been playing me up for weeks: eating cat biscuits on the sly and pretending to be an invalid in order to get his paws on unlimited amounts of food usually reserved for special treats.

When I accused him of malingering, he managed a muffled mreowf but didn't look in the slightest bit guilty.

Now the little fuzz is comfortably asleep on the sofa, paws in the air, a picture of complete relaxation. Au is lying next to him, no doubt planning on running a similar rig soon. Scoop and Au in bed

What really bothers me is the certainty that Scoop will commandeer the piece of roast chicken I brought home with me to tempt his failing appetite for his dinner. Machiavelli must have been a cat in spirit.

Introducing Scoop and Au and Target and Guido

Scoop lying on the Volkswagen BeetleThis is Scoop. Originally a street kitty from Kuching, the most beautiful town in Sarawak, Borneo, Scoop decided he wanted to live in a home with a comfortable sofa and hard working servants.

Scoop lived with us for 11 years and developed some very fine tastes.

He loved baked chicken, boiled chicken liver, and imported ham but he would settle for boiled chicken liver, Snappy Tom Pilchards, Friskies Gourmet biscuits and Whiskas Pockets.

His favourite post-prandial occupation was having his tummy rubbed.

Scoop passed away 20th September 2007 at about 6PM. He lived a good life, he was a great friend, and we miss him.

This is Au. Born in Malacca in West Malaysia, this handsome fluff was wrapped in several plastic bags, an oily rag and thrown out of a car. He was rescued and came to live with us.

Today Au is a big, brave, beautiful cat with extremely pedestrian tastes in food. Au is a biscuit eating cat. He tucks into bowl after bowl of Friskies and Whiskas biscuits and will kill for a bit of local boiled ham, but he's not into tinned catfood - except for his breakfast of gourmet Snappy Tom pilchards.

Au's interests are more active than Scoop's: Au has a genius for inventing complicated games.

When Scoop passed away, Au went into mourning. He was very lonely so we got him a friend to play with. Target moved in on Monday October 22nd 2007 and has captured our hearts. He's affectionate and enjoys rough games so the house is a constant whirlwind of activity.

Target is shy and jumps at even the lightest sneeze.  He never speaks to strangers but to us he is sweet, furry purry little cat.  And he adores Au!

When Au turned 13 and became a little too frail to play rough games with Target, we invited Guido to come and live with us.  Guido arrived on Friday 22nd July 2011.  He was just 5 and a half months old: too big to bother Au and small enough not to frighten Target.   Guido is a little darling, and quite brave, so we're hoping he will be a good companion for our shy Target.