Conversations with my cat – 36


This is Chester.  He’s still the same grumpy cat I left 12 days ago.

He hasn’t even had the courtesy to ask how the holiday was.

But, despite his surliness, I’m happy to tell him all about it.

And, I know he’s listening, even when he’s pretending not to.  After 16 years, he’s losing his edge.


China for the uninitiated.

The cats are different.  Met one, just like you, except it had a different face.  No, it didn’t speak Chinese, but then neither do I so it could have been saying anything and I wouldn’t know.

But the angry face, yep, just like yours.

We climbed up a wall, much the same as you drive me up the wall, but these steps are steeper and not all the same height.

We visited statues, and no, they didn’t speak, they were made of terracotta.  No, you have no idea what terracotta is, and neither do I though I suspect it’s some form of clay to begin with.

And for some odd reason the emperor wanted to kill all the workers to keep his statues a secret and look how that turned out, and few acres that make up a huge jigsaw puzzle.  Perhaps he would have more luck rounding up the cats and making statues out of them.

Ah, now I have his attention.

No, I don’t want to talk about it anymore.  Boring stuff, you know, a few high-speed train rides, boring museums that had stuff thousands of years old, restaurants that didn’t serve cat food, hotels that would barely fit a cat (no I didn’t try swinging one as a measurement guide), and it was hot.  And cars, you would not survive longer than two minutes on one of their roads.

You try dodging 4.8 million cars.

And those silent assassins, the electric scooters driven by madmen who stop for nothing.

OK, you can stop looking for the tyre marks; I was quick enough to get out of the way.

Conversations with my cat – 35


Chester and the great escape.

It’s like watching that movie, you know the one, with Steve McQueen and the motorcycle?

I accidentally didn’t close the back screen door properly and Chester, a cat with many talents, managed to prise the door open wide enough for him to squeeze through.

And, then there’s that momentary elation of having escaped.

Out into the wide open space, where the air is fresher, the sky is blue, the sun is warmer.

And he is no longer restricted.


Why is he standing just three feet away from the door, on the concrete path?  Has he seen a creature he can chase, or worse, torment?  Is he savouring that first few moments of freedom, and soaking up the sun’s warm rays on his back?

Or is he waiting to see if I’ll follow, and try to either catch him or bring him back?

He turns, and looks at me, as if to say, well, what are you going to do?

There’s a certain sense of smugness in that look.

I shrug.  “Just remember there’s no one out there who will wait on you hand and foot like we do.”

I’m sure that was not what he was expecting.

I open the door wider, and add, “Make up your mind now, because once the door closes, that’s it.  You’re out.”

He turned to look back at the great outdoors.  I can see the wheels turning.  A life of luxury or a life on the run?

I almost caught his tail in the door as it closed.  Who said cats weren’t smart?

Conversations with my cat – 34


This is Chester.  We are having a robust discussion about ethnicity.

I think it may have been a good idea not to bring up the subject of our forthcoming trip to China.

I’m not sure if it is because we’re going away, or because we’re going to China that has set him off.

Chester is Tonkinese.  As far as I’m aware, a Tonkinese is a cross between a Siamese and a Burmese.  They do not come from China.

That doesn’t deter him and he maintains that if I take him with me, he might be able to meet up with some distant relatives.

Maybe, if we were going via Thailand where it’s possible, but I suspect the Siamese relatives wouldn’t want anything to do with him.

Besides, I add, there are quarantine regulations to deal with, and whilst leaving the country might not present a problem, getting into another might.

You might have to stay in a cage for about a year to make sure you’re clear of any diseases or health problems.

Which sounds like a good idea now that you mention it.  You can torment a whole new group of people, and I can truly have a holiday.

You don’t mean that.

I don’t answer.

He sighs.  Maybe I might stay home then. It’ll be a holiday for me too.

Conversations with my cat – 33


This is Chester.  Our discussion about me going away is not finished.

Not by any stretch of the imagination.

I’ve been trying to make the bed, fully away of the icy stares I’m being given.  THew old age issue is still very raw, and I found him back in his bed, frumping.

You do realize, comes the plaintiff cry, that no one ever remembers to come and refresh the water and food.

News to me.  Every time we go away, he had a constant stream of people coming to see him.

Old age, I say, is making you forgetful.

And when you sent me away to your brothers, I could barely tolerate that cat of his.  Common alley cat if there ever was one.

Class distinction, I didn’t see that coming.

We’re not all just cats, you know.

Perhaps not, but over the years we’ve had a variety of different cats, but not a purebred like Chester.  I’m not sure how that came to pass, but I think I preferred the non-fussy, undisdainful, and easily pleased ‘alley cats’.

Would you like me to send you to my brother’s then?

No, I didn’t think so.  Bed made, the discussion is over.

Conversations with my cat – 32


This is Chester.  I’ve just told him we will be going away for a few days.

What, again?  You do nothing but go away these days!  That look of disdain is meant to move me, but, sorry, it doesn’t.

It is retirement, you know, I say.  I’ve waited for 65 years so that I can do what I want.

Poor you!  Any idea how old you think I am?

15, mate, and lucky to have lived that long, despite the fact you’ve tried to escape.

That’s a matter of opinion, but not cat years, fool, human years.

I’d never quite worked that out.  We had a dog once, and I know that for every dog year it’s seven human years, so it was, in human terms, rather old.

But cats?

I’ll look it up on the internet.

Interesting.  The first two years are worth 24 human years and 4 years for each successive year.  That makes you, wow, 76.

A smug expression takes over.  Old, he says, you don’t know what it is to be old.

Except at your age, you’re too old to be travelling.

He wanders off, the tail indicating his annoyance.  I don’t think it was what he wanted to hear.


Conversations with my cat – 31


This is Chester. He doesn’t like being on the end of a berating.

In a moment of extreme pique, as can happen when dealing with an obstinate and sometimes utterly obdurate cat, you can sometimes forget who is the master and who is living on borrowed time.

It’s like dealing with a spoilt child, but unlike a child, you cannot get down to their level and instead of speaking down to them, you can reach them on their level.

With a cat it’s different.

You are enraged, you see red, you are prone to becoming something other than who you really are, going from calm and urbane, to this red-faced infuriated gibbering idiot.

Over something so simple that you can only describe the circumstances as inexplicable.

And yet above it all, this wretched animal remains quite calm and looks at you with those innocent eyes and a fave that tells you that whatever the problem is, he didn’t do it.

Those claw marks on the curtains didn’t get there by themselves, did they?

And it’s not as if the humans are likely to climb up the curtains, is it?

What’s the point?

It’s off to the vet to have the claws cut. Then we’ll see what happens.

I’m also wondering if we really need curtains. I hear shutters are in vogue.

Damn cat!

Conversations with my cat – 30


This is Chester.  Waiting impatiently.

I’ve asked him to stay by the front door and let me know when the delivery man comes.

What is it we’re waiting for?

It’s a surprise.

For who?

If I told you that, then it wouldn’t be a surprise.

That, of course, sets his mind racing, because now he thinks I’ve got a surprise for him.  And the memories of that doesn’t sit well, because the half dozen practice mice I got him didn’t get used.

Why do I need to practice chasing mice that don’t move?

It was an interesting question, a led to another surprise, a half dozen clockwork mice.

He wanted to know why I was winding them up, and then, when I put them down, he simply watched then crash into the wall.

I shake my head as I walk away.  Why did I say anything?  All I had to do was open the door and he would have come, sat and waited for no reason at all.