David Saks
David Saks

Everyone should have a cat

I might be the only one ever to have had a cat thrown at him to stop him from snoring. My wife did it. In her defence, she was taking heavy medication at the time and was befuddled with sleep. However, that was of not much comfort to Sheretz, our large black tabby, as he went flying across the room to land heavily between my shoulder blades.

Cat-lovers may enjoy this post. Those wanting incisive commentary on the state of our society or the like should look elsewhere.

Maybe it’s a sign of premature old age, but I’ve become obsessed about our three cats, named (in order of acquisition) Sheretz, Nadger and Pearla. “Sheretz” is a Biblical Hebrew term denoting creepy crawlies of one type or another. He was named on an impulse when filling in a form at the vet. The middle cat is Nadger, so called because (against the vet’s advice) we decided to let him keep his kitten-makers. Being quite under-sized, he continually gets a mauling from the other cats – rivals for the ladies’ attentions, most probably – and limps home with torn ears and bare, bleeding patches on his neck and head. Within a day or two, though, he’s off again.

Because of her shape, the third cat was named Pearla (denoting pear rather than pearl-shaped). Actually Bronte, short for brontosaurus, would have been more apt — head dwarfed by an enormous body sort of thing. She’s been struggling to get through the security gates, so we’ve cut back a bit on her food. The way she now capers and prances every time you go near her empty bowl is quite heart-rending.

The reason we insisted on a female when we went to Kitty and Puppy Haven to get another cat earlier this year was because we feared for a male newcomer’s safety in the face of Sheretz’s inevitable objections to his territory being encroached on. To us, he seemed large and fierce, and our wretched ex-lizard population, which he had so thoroughly obliterated soon after his arrival would no doubt have agreed.

Female or not, we still had real fears that this plump, benign addition to the household would be a sitting duck for our baleful, glowering old Mephistopheles and resolved to keep a careful watch on them. Funny how wrong one can be. Within a fortnight, she had all but run him off the property. Now, he skulks around on the fringes with a hang-cat look, never daring to enter the bedrooms and always being the one to back down and retreat whenever he and Pearla run into each other. A real Wuss Puss he turned out to be.

There is something altogether very South African about the way our three cats interact with one another. You’d think that over time occupying the same property under conditions of equality would foster a sense of community, even affection. Instead, the relationship is one of wariness, mutual suspicion and resentment, occasionally erupting into outright hostility.

Despite having been in our home from kittenhood onwards, Nadger has been increasingly absent of late. He can be gone for a week or more, and then, just as we start wondering whether he’s been dispatched to the Great Sandbox in the sky, turns up unexpectedly mewing insistently for food and milk. If we’re lucky, he’ll remain for a day or so before disappearing again. Last time, he just gobbled and left, without letting me give him the usual cuddle. Feral little brute.

Tags: ,

  • Who’s Mummy’s pwetty didums puddy-cat, then?
    • Lennon

      I had the same problem with one of my cats, Proximo.

      Got him fixed, but he would still wonder off – sometimes for as long as two weeks.

      He’s been missing for 6 or 7 months now… Disappeared around the same time as one of our neighbours who owned a cat, but miraculously left with two. x-(

    • The Creator

      Bravissimo, Mr. Saks!

      Indeed, everybody should have a cat. They are good for depression and high blood pressure, and their saliva contains detergent. Much more comforting than husbands.

      I have two kittens, Horatius and Catullus, who have not accommodated themselves to the fact that they are now fully-grown and shouldn’t bounce about as they did two years ago. As a result my household is now a major contributor to the national vase, wineglass and general fragile items replacement industry. Which is good for the economy, in a roundabout way, so another score for cats!

    • http://www.southafricana.blogspot.com Dave Harris

      Using your catty analogy to describe our condition in SA is disingenuous and misleading because you need to speak truthfully about our beneficiaries of apartheid (BOAs). Imagine the dynamics, if you threw a boa into your house of cats. Now, that’s what apartheid feels like to the majority of blacks!

    • Belle

      I loved your article! :-)
      I think cats are misrepresented by society. Although they appear to be indifferent and aloof, they are actually very loving and sensitive creatures. Only people who have benefitted from owning a cat can truly understand the power of their affection and the need to care for them.

    • Momma Cyndi

      I do so miss having cats. Unfortunately, the boerbul simply will not co-exist with a feline. I got dobermans, boxers and various other breeds to get on with cats but not this one boerbul.

      Cats aren’t social creatures, they don’t ‘do’ the herd mentality bit. They prefer having their own space. A good trick when bringing a new one in is to bath them all. If they all smell the same (and are all equally peed off at the owner) they tend to get on better together

      (Dave Harris – hells bells but you really are a one trick pony!)

    • Mr. Direct

      @Dave Harris

      If you were a cat, what would be your cream?

      You want all the wealth re-distributed evenly among the population? You want the BOA’s to beg for their dinner? Work in the baas’ garden?

      If you want to be the cat that got the cream, stop being so damn nasty, sheath those claws. You are too busy chasing the wind up mouse to see the real prize…

      @ the rest: I has a cat once – was fat as a pig – but one hell of a hunter – not a day went by without a dead mouse or dead bird gift…

    • Lennon

      @ Mr Direct: That’s pretty cool.

      Proximo wasn’t the best of hunters (unless you count my dad as prey since he clawed my dad every other day), but when he did bring something in he would almost always drop it in my room.

      I really wish I’d had spare cash to get him chipped before he disappeared. :(

    • Lennon

      @ Belle: I think you can lay the blame for that at the feet of cartoons like ‘Tom and Jerry’ or ‘Tweetybird and Sylvester’.

      I’ve always preferred cats. The only kitty we’ve ever had who didn’t like anyone was a female tabby named Slade. Our other cats Kitty (she didn’t really have a name), Frankie, Ginger, Claws, Lacey, Siegfried, Proximo and Tiger were all quite friendly.

    • Animal Lover

      The ‘Harris’ comment, full of bile and malice, kind of proves the authors point – that compared to some people, animals truly are innocent, kind and devoid of malice. Some people, by comparison, are truly ugly and twisted.

    • Belle

      @Lennon: I totally agree with you. There’s always a price one has to pay when it comes to stereotypes. Not even animals are excluded from this. However what’s worse is that people always tend to act on their prejudiced beliefs which is what makes living in harmony so difficult.

    • ConCision

      @ David Saks. What a most welcome, heart-warming and entertaining piece!
      My cat, Purrdy, would drape herself against the computer and dictate her very definite opinions and thoughts. She was the only cat published in a book of dog verses called ‘Dog Poet’s Society’
      She ended “Prejudice & Pride” with:
      It’s cat-astrophic in this non-discriminatory day and age
      That those damned stupid ‘doggie-bags’ are still all the rage
      It’s time to hail the waiter and with the deference due to us say:
      “I’d like to take all the left-over’s home in a ‘kitty-bag’ today.”

      … To a friend suffering from backache, she wrote:
      “I sleep for about 20 hours a day.
      I eat for just over one
      For 2 or 3 hours, I watch T.V. or birds.
      As for exercise – I could say almost none.

      Yet I can arch my back whenever I yawn.
      I can scale to the top of a tree
      So I was shocked to hear that to arch your back
      You require physiotherapy

      They say comparisons are odious
      But it’s only logical to compare:
      When the doctor told you to exercise,
      Was he reclining in a soft, padded chair?

      Just lie around and pamper yourself:
      Doing nothing is the thing
      I know: Because except for when I eat or sleep,
      I spend the rest of the time resting

      So spoil yourself! Don’t even shop!
      And after a fortnight you will see
      That if you really set your mind to it
      You can learn to be as lazy as me.”

      from Purrdy


    • Beverley Cameron

      I’m of the opinion that ‘kitten-makers’ should be removed, both for the sake of the owner as well as for the sake of the feral females he may meet in his nightly travels. There are too many homeless kitties around as it is. My 8 cats, 7 females and 1 male, get on pretty well together with more respect of each other than hissing and they’re very accepting of the visiting Tom who went from being a wary, feral face at the kitchen door to a homebody who comes in every night for his dinner and then curls up behind my back on my typing chair where I sit and work. Where he goes in the daytime is a mystery, but Facey Cat is here every night and has been for over 5 years so, to Lennon, if he has a home with a neighbour (which I doubt), he too will go missing from that home should I sell up and move. I just couldn’t deprive the boy of his night-time home.

    • WSM

      @Saks – A welcome relief from the earnest political tedium of SA existence. Bravo!

    • hippiegoth

      Ah yes, the furry felines whom we (often mistakenly) think to be domesticated… Love ’em.

      As for the topic of bringing in dead gifts of rhodents, birds and lizards: I still try to convince myself that these are signs of affection, combined with pity (“when will the damn woman learnt to catch her own mice?!”) It can be difficult to remember this when one wakes up with a dead mouse on the pillow beside your head. Still, I’m (usually) as proud as a mother hen when ours brings in trophies.

      In response to Mr Harris’ comment, the best manner of expression I can find is an emoticon: -.-

    • Charlotte

      From ‘Pot-Shots’ by Ashleigh Brilliant comes …
      “No time spent with a cat on your lap can ever be considered wasted.”

    • greatgodpan

      catz rule……..well at least in our home……..even the bull terriers know who is really in charge………………we share the bed with cassy not the other way round…….tatters scares the shyte out of me every other morning whilst im still half asleep and i open the sock cupboard where she chooses to sleeps……….the dogs are very carefull and respectful of tatters……mean and very fast and viscious little bitch when she wants to be………and savvy just runs around in his own little universe attacking and destroying everything ……….put the christmas tree up over the weekend and waiting to see if its still standing tonight…….