Regular readers will know that my life is dominated by two black cats called Jasper and Poppy.
Jasper is a huge bucket of fat covered in black fur.
Poppy is a terrified moggy that I only occasionally see as a flash of black as she bursts out of the cat flap when something has frightened her (something like a fleck of dust drifting to the floor).
Mrs PM dotes on them.
I am bottom of the pecking order.
Recent episodes, mainly involving Jasper, have led me to question what is good about owning a cat. I don’t want to get rid of them (Mrs PM would surely throw me out before the cats) but for a bit of fun I thought I would list the pros and cons of cat ownership based on my experience with Jasper, Poppy and our dearly departed Spike, as well as my experience as a child with three other moggies, one in particular, Midge, who was without doubt the most vicious and violent cat I have ever experienced.
(1) Cats bring dead creatures into the house as gifts. Our house has in the past been a graveyard for dead mice, birds, frogs and paintbrushes. Yes – you read that correctly. As a kitten, Jasper went into next door’s shed and stole around ten paintbrushes, leaving them in our house. Mrs PM thought I was playing a joke on her until she saw him dragging a massive brush that was bigger than he was through the cat flap.
(2) Cats bring live creatures into the house. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to catch a frightened bird as it craps all over your furniture and carpet.
(3) Cats throw up in the house. In the summer, especially, when the cats moult, they deposit fur balls around the house. Why they think this is okay is beyond me.
(4) Cats scratch furniture. Our cats have their own little scratch posts and they choose to ignore them in favour of carpet, the wooden floor, the doors, the newspaper etc.
(5) Cats want to be fed in the middle of the night. Jasper in particular howls outside our bedroom door for food at dawn every day. If we let him in the bedroom he walks all over us and even scratches us in order to wake us up for food. I have considered testing to see how well a cat flies but I daren’t - Mrs PM would destroy me.
(6) Cats and vets and pills are a lethal and expensive combination. I have almost lost my hand trying to give cats any prescriptions from the vet. And I’ve had to pay an exorbitant amount of cash for the privilege. The last visit cost £70 and all I got was a quick prod from the vet (well the cat did – not me) , some pills and laxatives for the cat. I didn’t know that cat laxatives even existed.
(7) Cats fight each other. Jasper and Poppy fight with each other and with any cats who dare to invade their territory. Usually this involves scratching, screeching and a visit to the vet.
(8) Cats get killed. Sadly when I was a child, we lost three cats all of whom were run over by cars on the road outside our house. This doesn’t tend to happen with dogs.
(9) Cats embarrass me. Mrs PM told me that Poppy is scared of me because I have big hair, stomp around the house like an elephant and shout like a howling banshee. I made an effort to build bridges with her by speaking in a high pitched voice – “Hello little girl. How’s my little Poppy? Are you OK? Do you want some dinner?” I hear the neighbours think that I am a total fruitcake because of this.
(10) Cats are violent. Midge almost ripped my arm off several times just for fun. He would scratch and bite all the time; I’m sure he considered me to be a monster mouse and therefore a challenge. I lost every single encounter and my teachers thought I was an abused child. I was – by a mad moggy.
(1) Cats are loving creatures – this is not strictly speaking true. Cats are only affectionate when they want something. In the case of Jasper, it is when he wants food or warmth. Same for Poppy actually (as long as she is more hungry than scared).
(2) Cats are clean. Generally, cats go outside to go to the toilet. Ours certainly do. The only problem is that our garden is now full of cat shit.
(3) Cats can look after themselves. Generally, when we go on holiday, we invite a friend or neighbour to pop in and feed the cats once or twice a day.
(4) Cats are comforting. After a stressful day, it is nice to sit down watching TV with Jasper half on my lap purring as he sleeps. The fact I have had to bribe him with treats is irrelevant. Apparently it has been proven scientifically that a cat’s purr is relaxing and causes stress to evaporate.
(5) Cats are cute. I can have endless hours of fun with Jasper with either a pen or a piece of string. For some reason he goes completely wild when I gently slide a pen towards his paw. Great fun.
(6) Cats rid the house of vermin. If you ignore the fact that they probably brought the vermin in the house in the first place, they are remarkably good at removing any adventurous mice from the premises, sadly with fatal consequences usually. Even better, they eat insects and spiders too. The most impressive thing I have seen is Poppy leaping in the air and catching a fly between her front paws, before eating it.
(7) Cats generally don’t stink. If you ignore the crap buried in the garden, cats are generally clean creatures and do not stink the house out, like some dogs can do.
(8) Cats make me laugh. Every single cat I have ever owned has had enough behavioural weirdness to make me laugh. For example, when I was a child, Midge used to rampage through the house like a Tasmanian Devil high on a cocktail of Red Bull and speed for a period of about 30 minutes for no reason at all. Woe betides the idiot who got in his way (like I did once). My mum used to call it “a mad half hour”. The best cat related moment was when Poppy dropped a live mouse on Mrs PM while she was asleep. I still laugh about that every time I think about it.
(9) Cats can come and go as they please. If you have a cat flap then your cat can come and go as it pleases, so you don’t have to take it for several walks a day. Though having said that, Jasper is so fat that perhaps I ought to consider putting a collar on him and taking him out for a walk to give him some exercise. Mind you, that might result in my losing a hand.
(10) Cats make people happy. This is probably the most important reason of all. I don’t know any person who has owned a cat who isn’t delighted by their presence. Mrs PM certainly is and that is all that matters.
There you have it – an equal number of pros and cons. I am sure there are more (cat lovers will no doubt have more pros and cat haters more cons).
Overall I’m delighted with my two moggies.
The only problem is that they are black so they frequently cross my path (usually in the middle of the night at the top of the stairs).
Perhaps this explains why I have never won the lottery.