In the past few weeks, I have had to wash my sheets three times. Our new cat Tom-Tom (we gave him this politically correct name after we were ridiculed for calling him G-string, and also after discovering one day, that he was a boy, contrary to our assumption) invaded my bedroom one day and declared it as his recreational toilet. He is toilet trained (Western people! Sheesh!) and also goes out in the bush like a real man (oops! labels Saee, labels!!). Somehow, for some unfathomable reason, he also likes to pee in my bed, whenever he gets the opportunity. Some of these Western habits of turning pets into humans astound me. Like, cat food. Every time I open a packet of Whiskas for Tom-Tom, I turn into a cynical, mocking Indian auntie. Why would you go fishing for cats, turn their fish into a disgusting paste, add all possible vitamins to it and sell it to people who own cats? Then, because they should have something harder to chew on, they make pellets of bone meal. Isn't all this processing and packaging in two different brands essentially serving the purpose of a whole mouse with its bones and flesh intact? This, the cat would find on its own, if it is treated like a cat and given freedom to roam around.
The fact that my bedroom has two doors, one that opens on the deck, and another that opens into the lounge makes it much harder. So there is a new, "have-I-forgotten-something" feeling in the already long list that I usually go through on the bus stop, sometimes making me return to check if I have both the doors closed. There is nothing like coming home to a smelly present in your bed. The last time I discovered cat urine on my sheets, I had just put a bunch of fragrant lilies in my room. So now, that fragrance has been tagged forever in my memory, with cat pee, like an unwanted, ugly picture on Facebook (yes, it is time that bloggers incorporate new similes in their writing).
So now, there is a cold war going on in the house. Between me and Tom-Tom. Initially, I was really concerned about it. Having lived with a compassionate flatmate, I think I have caught some of her cat-psychology bugs. So I started wondering what it means when a cat pees in your bed. I even went on to discuss this with friends who have cats. The general opinion seemed to indicate that the cat was jealous of me. He was apparently being territorial on me, maybe because he felt that I was getting more attention from my flatmate than him. I was foolish enough to try and analyze it further until I realized that it was just an experiment in anthropomorphizing animals. So I gave up on uncovering his psychological issues and decided to use combat instead.
First experiment was spraying my room with black pepper. Cats have really fleshy, tender paws. So I decided to deter him from entering my room by burning his ever-so-innocent-pink paws with pepper. It worked well. Every time Tom-Tom walked in, he used to start lifting his paws out of tune like a horse with an obsessive compulsive disorder. It worked so well, that I even thought of replacing pepper with chili flakes. Until that night, when I sneezed about a hundred times. In my sneeze induced high, I even remember hallucinating that my lungs were waving at me from outside my body. Second experiment, involved a spray bottle and some eucalyptus oil. Every time Tom-Tom walked in, I used to spray him with a five percent solution of aqueous eucalyptus. That did deter him but it also turned me into a maniac who would never want to leave her room, just so that she could spray the cat.
Over time, I realized that not forgetting to shut the door was the only practical solution. However, I also made two little gaps for Tom-Tom to step in and out of the house without having to depend on us to open the door. This seems to have alleviated his anger at my bed. The cold war is still on. It is more like a game now.
A little bit of retrospection also led me to believe in the power of Karma. As a kid, throwing cats off my grandma's balcony was perhaps my most favorite hobby. I cunningly categorize it as an educational experience now and with due respect to all the compassionate animal lovers, I think it IS an essential growing up experience to watch a cat fall off a balcony. In the first few seconds, you could see sheer panic in the cat's eyes. Half way through the fall, the cat somehow fluidized its body and always landed on all fours. It is a source of great inspiration in my unnecessarily romanticized metaphorical falls. I think this cat is taking revenge on behalf of his Indian brethren from a long time ago. Shame I cannot remember how many times I threw them off the balcony. I was also cruel enough to put about four kittens under a cardboard box and watch them go rudderless in panic. Can't remember how many times I did that either.
These episodes of Tom-Tom leaking in my bed have not in the least aroused any kind of kind forgiveness inside me, if that is what the Universal plan is. They have given me many more ways to get back at the feline species. Like clapping loudly around his ears when he sleeps too much, picking him up upside down with two paws in each hand, pretending to roast him on a spit, dangling a rag puppet around him until he gets exhausted trying to chase it, closing the cupboard when he gets in with his Sherlock Holmes whiskers, not stopping him if he dips into a wine glass that is still half full and hoping ,that he somehow drinks it. If all these descriptions have started getting him reader sympathy, let me also describe what he does in retaliation.
Climbing the big mango tree in the yard when I go out to get him in, leaving dirty paw marks on a freshly cleaned table, lying belly up at seven in the morning in my way to work to remind me of the luxuries he gets, emerging suspiciously from my room (without peeing) and making me abandon everything at hand in panic, using me to cuddle with when no one else is available and then ignoring me when his favorite girl is around.
I never really actively observe them in order to write about them. But if there is a creature that makes me philosophical, it is a cat. They will always awe me. I think, I will always have a love-hate relationship with the feline species. The only psycho-analysis I can do with this feeling is that both of us like to be the center of attention, in a craftily manipulated underplay. :)