Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Dirty Little Secret

I'm checking why some of you don't get my update. Hope to have it fixed SOON!

I was invited to talk about my book Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw on BFM radio yesterday. I wrote a special Tale for it, so for those of you who didn't catch the show, here it is...

Dirty Little Secret

A few weeks ago I went out to a party across town. Usually I'm out early and back early but this was an exception: my taxi pulled up outside our gate just after midnight.

As I paid the driver, I saw Au sitting bolt upright on the garden wall. His ramrod back and half flat ears were clear signs of our senior fuzz's disapproval. When I opened the door, Au gave me a hard look and shouted, "MEE-OW!" The taxi driver turned to me and said, "You're late! Oh man, are you in trouble! When's your curfew?" Then, this man who had been morose and silent during the entire journey, talked enthusiastically and charmingly about his two cats.

We could have chatted for hours but as Au's censure was patently clear, we shook hands, exchanged cards and agreed that the next time I needed a taxi, I'd give my new pal a ring.

The thing is, we love to talk about our pets. Cat lovers can talk for hours about how little Smokey can't stand tuna anymore and has developed a passion for turkey, or how Snow fell into a storm drain and had submit to a bath afterwards.

For the cat lover every detail of every catty story is fascinating, wonderful, inspiring, appealing. This pathology is so well-known it has an official name: we are the ailurophiles.

However, as other people become rapidly bored with cat chat, we have to be careful not to introduce our furry friends into the conversation. And that's a tough proposition because for people like us, cats are part of our family.

When cats move in with you, they take over your life. For one thing, cats are very social creatures. They take a very close interest in everything you do, which makes them wonderful companions.

Better still, they are very intelligent companions. Cats have strong likes and dislikes, and they are not shy about making their opinions public. It's great if they approve, but if they don't you've got a problem. When you live with a cat, you are living with an equal. If there's conflict, you and your cat have to negotiate mutually agreeable terms.

And that's the cat lovers dirty little secret. Dog lovers, rabbit connoisseurs, guinea pig fans, and other pet people who are used to animal companions that obey rather than pets who command think that cat lovers are a little bit nuts. As a consequence, we cat people tend to keep quiet about certain compromises we make. In fact, some of us go to extraordinary lengths to spare ourselves public embarrassment.

One very senior executive (let's agree to call him Hairul, it's not his real name but it will spare his blushes) pretended to have out-of-office meetings, doctor's appointments, and even car trouble, rather than confess to his secretary that he wanted to be home by 6 at night because his wife was away and he was worried the two cats were lonely.

Another pal, (we'll call her Grace) told her family she had subscribed to Animal Planet because she wanted to improve her general knowledge, rather than tell them that she had signed up because her cat likes watching wildlife documentaries.

Then there's John who learned to cook so that his cat Chloe could have boiled fish and roast chicken with her biscuits; Lesley who moved apartments because her cat Bottles needed more floor space; and Wati, Evelyn, Lim and Faisal who call home every day when they are outstation so they can talk to their cats.

Recent American and European studies show that cats are becoming more popular than Man's Best Friend, the dog, so hopefully in a few years time we cat crazy folk can come out of the closet and talk openly about our obsession. But until then, we have to draw a discreet veil over our foibles - or make assignations with likeminded folk when we want to blow off steam.

Me, I'm lucky because I get to indulge my passion by writing the Katz Tales column for The Star. Because of that, I've met lots of fellow feline fans who blog, Facebook or Tweet.

But my favourite time is the Cat Girls Breakfast, where half a dozen of us meet up for thosai, roti canni, and catty talk.

We can really let ourselves go at these gatherings because the café owner is also a cat fan. He doesn't mind when Cathy meows to show us how Cosmo's voice is different from his sister Ling's; when Sharlene imitates the way Ginger's whiskers twitch when he's having a spot of his favourite type of yoghurt; or when Faridah hisses to show us how her very senior fluff Chichi chastises Puddles the kitten.

He didn't even turn a hair when I described how our brave senior cat Au had chased off Yow Yow, the big street cat bully of the neighbourhood who was threatening our little Target, and enacted the story complete with hisses, yowls, growls, yargles and paw waving.

Mind you, I have noticed other customers giving us wary sidelong glances. And some of the waiters seem to be avoiding us. Clearly they think we're crazy, but I know we are the lucky ones: we live with cats!

Katz Tales is published every first Saturday in the print version of The Star, Weekender section. The book, Katz Tales: Living Under The Velvet Paw is available in bookshops and online. Check out free previews by clicking on the picture.


Neri said...

described (me) to a T. i love this so much, ellen!

The Chair Speaks said...

Congratulations on the invitation to a talk on your book.
It certainly is wonderful to be able to have gathering talks about cats.
I, too, have my own to which we would guffaw at cat stories.

Cherh Yun said...

I love this post very much...you know, although our condo had not allowed to have pets in our units, but we the cat lovers in the condo had a common pet living at the ground floor of the condo... We called her Mimi, the female cat that welcomes all the cuddles and pats by us.
I love the way she shows her tummy to me. This signifies she recognised me as her friend. (I've feed her once with chicken and she's lovin it!)

Cheyenne -Millie said...

That is great!! A chance to talk about your book!

We have often wondered why we don't get your updates showing up on our blog... and you are there!

mummymeow said...

Hi Ellen,
I bought your book!! I went out and got one last week! And i love it, tears and laughter and all.

Congratulations on publishing it and rubs for Au and Target!

I am still pretty much reading ur blog and Sharlene's, just being busy...

Pam said...

This is so funny! I think some of my daughter's friends think our whole family is weird because of how we defer to Sassie and Peeve.

The Kitty Krew said...

Haha - our Mommy says that was very funny. We don't understand, because of course you humans should always be talking about us. ;)

Thanks so much for coming by our Gotcha Day party, it was a lot of fun!

Purrs and hugs,
Bugsy, Sassy and Callie
(and the rest of the Krew)

Boo-Bah said...

Oh yes I am one of those cat people! I even have someone in my family who refers to people who like cats as crazy! He is just real stupid I think!!

I love to talk about my cats. I would rather go to Pet Co., Pet Smart, or Kahoots rather than the mall any old day.

It is wonderful that you have written books about cats. Congratulations on the invitation to talk about your book.

Purrs and hugs from
Peanut, Marshmellow
and their Mama

mizzyN said...

i think people see these cat lovers much like how i see people who talk all the time about their children in their blogs.

Gattina said...

I agree with all you say ! some people pretend a dog is more intelligent, but that is not true, you can train a dog, but never a cat ! and a cat rules the house, that's a fact, lol !
Most of my friends are cat lovers too, so we chat like mothers about new born babies !

Just Sharlene said...

Kitty Breakfast rules! See you gals next Sunday!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

That's us, that's us! Ailurophiles! I can talk about my Rowdies all day! They are smarter and more amazing than the producers of Animal Planet will ever know! When my catty friends and I meet up, we talk about our feline babies to the point that you can hear the purr in our voices!

As for the difference between canine and feline children, my bartender Colin sums it up best:
"Dogs treat you like family. Cats treat you like staff."

But I am happy to be staff to my Royal Highnesses!

Dizzyjules said...

LOL exactly how the patrons of Devi's in Tmn Tun react when me n my dance mates talk about atrocious dancers in the clubs!!

They'll get used to us.

Më| §zë said...

aw... i don't think cat lovers are weird in any way, cos i think we dog lovers are the same too...
we cook for them, we make excuses for them, we do whatever whenever for them...
yea, it is difficult refraining from talking about our cat/dog to other non-cat/dog people...