Posts Tagged ‘Cat’

Anyone who’s walked past the wonderful sculpture of the fishwife in Puerto de la Cruz is already familiar with the work of Julio Nieto. But pretty though she is, she’s only the conventional tip of the iceberg when it comes to his creations.

Some of his other sculptures are products of a vivid and fantastical imagination that clearly knows no bounds. So it was with childlike delight that we discovered a street exhibition of his work in La Orotava’s plaza when we visited between Christmas and New Year.

I can’t do them justice with mere words, so I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

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Things happen for a reason – sometimes it’s good, sometimes not.

Don't anyone go 'aaaw'. He's a cat, he belongs outside.

Take yesterday. We’d just had the most wonderful weekend with my sister and her boyfriend who were staying in Playa de la Arena. They’d come across to Puerto de la Cruz on Saturday and the weather had been glorious. Sunday was the same. In fact the weather only deteriorated when we headed through the crater towards the south coast where it was quite moody and overcast. Ironic to think we were leaving the sun and the heat in the north.

Andy and I returned to Puerto on Monday morning where it was still clear blues skies… and then the world ended.

The first signs were that the sky darkened.

“Hmmm, I think we’re in for a bit of rain,” Andy made what must be the understatement of the year so far.

An hour later and it was full blown monsoon and the thunderous skies were booming. The deluge was spectacular.

At that point Whiskas decided that our house was his favourite after all and appeared at the window like a drowned rat. It might seem harsh, but setting a precedent with that cat is a dangerous business, so he was refused entry to the ‘ark’. There are plenty of places where he can stay dry.

All afternoon we watched the rain come down in sheets unaware of the devastation it was causing outside.

At around seven Andy decided to make some soup and tabouleh for lunch for the next couple of days, but a couple of phone calls from the UK delayed her. Funnily enough, both started with ‘It’s horrible here, windy and raining…’ – Guess what?

So it was later than planned when we started preparing Mediterranean chickpea stew for dinner. It’s a one pot wonder and I’d barely added all the ingredients to the pan when the gas jet went off.

Now we operate a two canister system for this very reason. However, it ain’t much use when both bottles are empty. Andy had been telling me that we needed to replace the gas for days, so she was a bit tight lipped as we threw on our coats and headed out into the rainy night.

As we passed the golf course gate, Glen, who works at the course, was huddled in the darkness. He’d been waiting for his wife for two hours and had been having trouble getting through on the phone.

We offered to give him a lift, but he assured us that his wife was due any moment.

Apart from a few rivers of boulders on the main road to Puerto, there didn’t seem to be much of a problem. We collected the gas and headed back home. As we were returning through the banana road we noticed a sodden looking figure wrapped in refuse bags; it was Glen.

This was as close to the rain as I wanted to get - through the front window!

It turned out his wife couldn’t leave their house in Los Realejos, boulders were blocking the road and he was resigned to having to walk home in the shocking weather. Los Realejos is quite a few kilometres away on the opposite side of town. We could hardly let the poor man walk, so we told him to jump in and headed back into town, this time towards the motorway… and it was at that point we realised that the rains had cause much more havoc than we realised.

There were flashing lights everywhere as police and firemen tried to make some sense out of the chaos. The motorway was gridlocked and the approach roads the same. Luckily we had opted for a back road to Los Realejos and although the roads were a mess we managed to avoid the queues. In the dreadful conditions it still took us an hour to get Glen within a couple of hundred yards of his house and then get back home via the centre of Puerto where traffic was quieter.

Amazingly we crossed the barranco (ravine) where later we saw on TV a rushing torrent of water washing away cars. Funnily a couple of years ago one of us commented ‘I wonder if there’s ever any water in there’ – now we know the answer. At the time we crossed it, about 20.45, we didn’t even notice that there was any water in it. I think all of the action had taken place by then.

We ended up finally sitting down to dinner at about 22.00 having done our good deed for the day.

Had Andy not decided to make soup and tabouleh before we cooked dinner (she doesn’t usually prepare lunches at that time), or our friends phone from the UK and had I not left replacing the gas until it was too late, we wouldn’t have ever left the house last night and Glen would probably have had to walk home in the awful weather. It was one of those little series of events which worked out well for him.

We were especially glad that they did – it was his birthday and having to brave monsoon conditions is no sort of birthday present for anyone.

The whole eating inside situation created a few issues. Until his bowl was moved into the kitchen, Whiskas was banned from being allowed into the kitchen on the basis that he is completely untrustworthy.

He was allowed to sit on the top step and watch proceedings, but that was it except for when it was his feeding time. Then he was allowed to watch, and comment, on how much was being put in his bowl. God bless the cat, but he seemed to grasp the ‘rules’ relating to when he could and when he couldn’t enter the kitchen and stuck to them.

The eating inside situation has complicated matters and our subsequent amendments to these ‘rules’ must have made them quite complex for an animal with a small brain:

These are the amendments he’s been verbally issued with.

No unaccompanied entry is allowed into the kitchen…except:

  1. At feeding time when you can remain unsupervised until such time that you have finished stuffing your face. At which point you must leave the kitchen area immediately.
  2. If there’s any food left in your bowl, you can re-enter the kitchen at any time until it’s all gone (then see A above).
  3. When you’ve been out of the house for any length of time, on return you’re allowed one check of your bowl to see if you’ve left any food in it from the previous feeding time, or to see if it’s miraculously been refilled (he added that one).

At all other times, access is denied beyond the top step.

And here’s the freaky thing; in the space of a week or so, Whiskas grasped these rules and, generally speaking, has abided by them ever since.

He is one frighteningly smart cat.

The white wizard’s name is once again well and truly in the bad books. At this moment in time the jury is still out as to whether he will be fed dinner or not.

It only took a second’s lapse of concentration, but a second might as well be an eternity when you’re dealing with a master criminal who has a pouch load of devious plans at hand (paw).

We’d just prepare lunch when Jesús with the healing hands (no joke), our new neighbour, appeared at our gate. As we had the usual conversation where we understood maybe 70% of what Jesús was telling us (a: we may all be going to see a film about Che Guevara at the weekend. b: Jesús may be visiting mainland Spain at the weekend. c: Maybe neither, or both of these things are happening.) and we went abstract with verb tenses in reply, we left the kitchen unattended.
At that point, Whiskas was upside down in the garden pushing out the Zs, so no apparent threat….HA!

The slightest tinkle of cutlery against crockery set off the alarm bells and I legged it back inside the house pronto to find you-know-who with his face in the tuna salad, munching for all he was worth. He managed to gulp down another mouthful before I reached him and he made a hasty retreat, outpacing my badly aimed sandal. Lunch ruined.

Its always the same...depression follows bad behaviour

It's always the same...depression follows bad behaviour

Now he’s lying on the terrace looking dejected. Maybe this is because Andy and I aren’t speaking to him, or he’s regretting his ‘eat for the moment’ assault on the kitchen. Personally I reckon the penny’s dropped that a couple of mouthfuls of tuna salad aren’t going to compensate for no bowl of cat food tonight.

Back to rehab for him!

UP

UP

Whiskas has a nice little entrance at the side of our gate where I’ve cut the wooden fence into different sizes, so that some are shorter than the rest, which means he can use them as stepping stones to get on to the wall and into the garden. It’s the preferred means of access by any number of cats and also (and this is the really annoying thing) the route he uses to leave the premises. But does he use it to come in? Oh No! He used to, but ever since I made ‘improvements’ (necessary ones as having his not insubstantial weight pressing on it a zillion times a day had loosened the slat), he obviously believes that it’s not to be trusted.

Instead he prefers to employ a commando style operation which involves climbing up the gate’s metal grill and hauling himself onto its top. It’s a pretty impressive technique, but one that’s quite unnecessary.

Ultimately, whatever method Whiskas uses to come into the garden is up to him, but unfortunately he suffers from ‘trailing claw’

AND OVER

AND OVER

syndrome. Every so often one gets caught in the grill which he tells us about by screaming the neighbourhood down (completely ruining the macho commando image) and we have to rescue him without laughing. I know it shouldn’t be funny, but when we open the gate to rescue him and he swings inwards with it, it’s difficult not to crease up. Anyway, as with most bad things that happen to Whiskas, he brings it on himself. If he’d only use the purpose built ‘step’ he wouldn’t risk ripping his claws out.

Have you ever seen a cat fight? I mean a real cat fight, not one of those handbags at dawn affairs where there’s a lot of caterwauling and swinging of paws, but little if any contact. Well if you haven’t, you don’t want to.

Whiskas, or should that be Rocky Balboa, had a Robert Vaughn ‘Magnificent Seven’ moment on Saturday and it’s all my fault…or more accurately, cause I’m not taking all the blame here, mine and Andy’s fault.

There have been a few stray cats looking for new territory of late; appearing just as we’ve put Whiskas bowl down etc. You know the thing; moggies mooching for food. The annoying thing has been that when they slinked closer to his bowl, Whiskas has backed off and we had to step in and chase the intruder cats off, otherwise Whiskas would have gone without dinner.

Clearly we gave him a lot of stick about this, especially as he’s about twice the size of these intruders. So for days it was “You’re nothing but a big coward” “I bet if these cats were the size of a mouse you wouldn’t back off” “So what exactly is your role here if we’ve even got to defend your territory for you? What do we get out of this relationship?”

All the taunting must have gone deep, because when a particularly persistent tabby sauntered nonchalantly across the terrace, as if Whiskas didn’t exist, something must have snapped in Whiskas’ head. Before we knew it he was on the tabby and the two of them were locked together, biting and screaming and spinning around the garden like a pair of Tasmanian Devils. It was horrendous; fur was flying everywhere and even though we tried desperately to break them up they were oblivious to us; it looked like a fight to the death.

I’d heard how vicious cats could be, but I’d never witnessed it. I remember reading tales of Scottish crofters encountering wild cats in the highlands where life or death fights ensued which, more often than not, ended with the crofter running for his life back to his cottage with a demented cat on his tail.

Seeing it in reality was a shock. They flung each other into trees, oblivious to self inflicted injuries, and tumbled around the garden, neither willing to relinquish their hold on the other until finally they slammed into a wall. Whiskas must have loosened his grip at the impact as the other cat broke free and took off like a bat out of hell.

It was only after the fight was over that we saw the extent of the damage to Whiskas. He was bleeding from a small puncture wound in his head and another in his cheek; he had scratches down one ear and was limping badly – he was a mess.

We’ve been treating his wounds daily with tea tree oil (a fraught business as he has made it clear he’s not keen), but his limp has gone and he seems okay. It was frightening to see such a vicious battle and we really don’t want to see a rematch. Thankfully the other cat seems to be have learnt a bit of humility and is paying Whiskas due respect now, so I’m sure he sees that as a result.

For our part we’ve learnt our lesson. No more taunts about him being a coward; the price is just too much – remember what happened to Robert Vaughn.

Over the last couple of weeks, Whiskas has developed a strange, but amusing wee habit.

It started when our nephew, Liam, was staying with us. We’d eat our dinner, feed Whiskas and then head out on to the back porch to get down to some seriously competitive games like the Really Nasty Horse Racing Game’ (which is great fun, but be warned, I’ve known one couple split up because of it).

On Liam’s second night, Whiskas wolfed down his Felix and Brekkies, ambled passed us and disappeared into the bougainvillea at the bottom of the garden.
“Typical,” Andy muttered. “He’s had his food, now he’s buggering off. We’re just a free meal ticket.”

It certainly seemed like typical mercenary behaviour, but about twenty minutes later we heard a loud rustling in the hedge, followed by a white flash as Whiskas leapt from the bougainvillea and, making loud but muffled mewing noises, sprinted at full pelt across the garden, up the porch steps and ran past us as though we weren’t there; strange.

He headed straight for our front door, where the muffled mewing continued.
“What the hell’s up with him?” I asked an equally perplexed Andy.
The three of us jumped up from our chairs and ran around the front of the house where we found Whiskas stood with his front paws on the doorstep and his nose pressed up against the door; still making strange noises.

“What’s up, Whiskas…what is it boy” I asked; concerned.
“For God’s sake,” Andy laughed. “You sound like you’re in a Lassie movie.”
At least I didn’t ask if anyone had fallen down a well.
Whiskas completely ignored us and pressed his nose more tightly against the door.
“I think he wants us to open the door from the inside,” Liam offered.
“That’s just ridiculous,” Andy scoffed, but the three of us headed back to the rear of the house, through the back door, into the living room and opened the front door where we found out what all the fuss was about.

What we couldn’t see from behind the cat was that he had a gecko clenched firmly in his gob. However, the opening of the front door was the trigger he was waiting for. He made sure we saw the gecko and then let it drop to the ground where it landed with a splat before taking off into the darkness like a reptilian version of the ‘Roadrunner’. Oddly enough, Whiskas didn’t make any attempt to go after it. Instead he stood looking up at us expectantly.

“Err, I think it was a present,” Andy suggested. “Good boy, that’s very clever.”
She reached down to give Whiskas a pat, but he backed off and turned to stare at his bowl.
“Aha,” Andy announced. “It’s all becoming clear now.”

A couple of nights previously, Whiskas had been playing (i.e. torturing) a gecko on the front porch for ages. Taking pity on the poor creature, Andy had thrown a few brekkies into Whiskas’ bowl, distracting him so that the gecko could make its escape. As it was something which benefited him, Whiskas clearly considered that this one-off incident had established a pattern.

Thereafter for every night of Liam’s holiday, the same thing happened. Whiskas got fed; Whiskas disappeared, reappearing 20-30 minutes later with another gecko in his mouth. Ran to front door; waited till we opened it; let gecko go; turned to bowl for reward which never came (well we didn’t want to encourage harassment of the gecko community).

Despite the lack of reward he’s still continuing with this strange little habit, the only difference is that the 20-30 minute ‘hunting’ period has been reduced significantly.
Whiskas gets fed; Whiskas disappears for about thirty seconds; Whiskas returns with gecko in his mouth.
There’s no disputing that Whiskas is a frighteningly efficient hunter (when he can be arsed), but 30 seconds? Come on, he’s not that good. I have a couple of theories:

  1. Whiskas has a bucket full of pre-captured geckos hidden away somewhere that he can dip into anytime he wants.
  2. It’s the same gecko every night and the two of them have concocted some sort of a deal. Maybe he’s offered it a share of the non-forthcoming brekkies.

I reckon it’s 1) because, since he started this business, the gecko population around the house has reached near plague proportions as a result of the numbers that he’s brought back and let go.