The day the sky falls in

By Whisky, the Black & White Cat

Once again I’m being made to feel ashamed of my species, Felis domesticus:

Ipswich cat burglar Theo returns to thieving ways.

Yet on reflection I wonder if it isn’t the baffling, self-defeating ways of human beings which aren’t to blame?

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It’s the most natural thing in the world for a cat to want to contribute to its living expenses. But I’ve long ago given up on Ian, who’s made it crystal clear that he does not appreciate random gifts of dead birds and small furry creatures. So nowadays I simply shrug my shoulders and let him bring home all the food.

Theo, from Ipswich, has similar problems with his human commensals. Like all good cats he is determined to be a commensal and not a parasite. But he too has observed that human beings do not like the same sort of food that cats do – at least when it comes to highly esteemed tidbits like hunting trophies, rather than the day-to-day stuff that comes out of cans.

But now Theo makes a truly stunning leap of imagination. Surely a perfectly reliable way of discovering the sort of tribute that human beings appreciate is to go to other people’s houses and observe what it is they prize, then to help yourself to one or two of the said items and bring them home? The need to do this is particularly acute at Christmas. It is not just cats that feel the urge to give their loved ones Christmas presents, yet find it extremely difficult to know what to get. I’m told that human beings do as well.

As a result of his investigations, Theo concludes that the perfect gift is a Christmas tree bauble. They are only to be had at midwinter: you don’t see them at other times of the year. They are not edible – which appears to be a bonus. But human beings undeniably prize them, because they make a special effort to hunt them down and display them conspicuously in their living rooms.

But alas Theo has not made due allowance for human illogicality. No sooner does he present his gifts than his human companion goes to great lengths to return them all to their original owners. Clearly there is something distinctly personal about Christmas tree baubles which makes it a waste of time to hunt for them on another’s behalf.

But now Theo makes a stunning discovery. In a neighbouring house he comes across items of artificial food. This is the key to the whole riddle. Human beings consistently reject gifts of natural food – but here are items of artificial food which have clearly been given as gifts – by human beings to their own children. What could be clearer than that?

Wrong again. The items are no more acceptable than Christmas decorations were, and once again his human pet goes round to the neighbours returning all the carefully collected tribute.

What’s a cat to do?

We cats are commonly held to be all take and no give. The care and attention we lavish on our human pets is dismissed as cupboard love. Yet the tireless dedication shown by cats like Theo in the face of relentless discouragement gives the lie to this canard.

But if you ask me, the day a cat reliably assesses the likes and dislikes of a human being is the day the sky falls in.

updated: 15:16 25/12/2015