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Lessons in liking and loving, from a cat called Catdog

Lessons in liking and loving, from a cat called Catdog

Cats and little humans don’t always get along, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn to secretly fall in love with each other.

"I am not sure if Catdog likes people, or just their laps. All he ever wants to do is curl up on someone’s lap – anyone!"

Thing One recently asked me the difference between ‘I like you’ and ‘I love you’, I found my explanation wanting. Then Thing Two and the cat delivered some clarity.

My grandmother’s house never has a shortage of cats and children. The cats there are very used to being manhandled by the children. Mostly, they tolerate it with grace. The ones that don’t like it have learned to stay out of reach.

Thing One believed that all cats were child-friendly. Alas, JZ the stray that came calling at our house, was not. He scratched her face when she got too grabby. It didn’t matter how often I told her not to play with JZ, and instead to call me when he showed up, she would play with him behind my back. It always ended badly for her.

I deduced that the only way to get her to quit playing with JZ is if I got her another cat. I researched feline breeds, seeking a companionable one. Some cats are so utterly independent, you are never quite sure if they even live with you, while others enjoy the company of people.

We settled on Calmer. He is extremely not calm, loves to take walks, and he bites – a lot. Soon, we renamed him Catdog. I am not sure if Catdog likes people, or just their laps. All he ever wants to do is curl up on someone’s lap – anyone!

This way of life worked out well for him, until Thing Two came along and we prioritised her lap time over his. He spent months attempting, and sometimes succeeding, to sleep on the baby. We had to spray him with water whenever he approached Thing Two.

He learned to stay away from her, sort of, but soon she wouldn’t stay away from him. She started to grab and pull at his ears and whiskers. He would respond by biting her cheeks. They became sworn enemies. Thing Two knows to give Catdog a very wide berth as she crawls around the house, and she gets visibly distressed if he comes too close to whoever is carrying her.

Last week, Catdog got into a fight. I didn’t see the other cat, but I think Catdog lost. The vet I’d just made R900 richer gave me eye drops and antibiotics to administer twice daily for five days. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to shove a pill down a cat’s throat.

The first attempt looked liked a lot like an exorcism. Thing Two witnessed this battle. She was horrified. I could tell from her expression that she’d decided that I was Goliath and Catdog was David. She was for the undercat, and was a bit cold towards me for a while. I think she might not like Catdog, but she loves him.

Kagiso Msimango

Change expert, Kagiso Msimango, believes that the big change equals big opportunity.

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