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The Ploys of Mr Pussy

September 9, 2013
by the gentle author

Mr Pussy may appear self-possessed, yet he is circumspect. He keeps a keen eye upon the life of the household and no detail escapes his attention. In spite of his sufficiency, domestic harmony is essential to his peace of mind. Like those lonely watchmen who once patrolled the city at night, Mr Pussy monitors the premises and the residents. He loves routine. He seeks regular confirmation that the rhythm of life is stable and ensures that his place in the household remains constant. He desires equilibrium and he wants the world to be unchanging. He is the self-appointed guardian of the peace. He is assiduous and he sets an example. He is the model of poise and master of the subtle persuasion necessary to maintain the harmony he craves. He has his ways and means. He has ploys.

He wants me to be at home and stay at home. In his ideal world, I would not stray beyond the house and the garden. He does not. Everything he needs is here. This is the world. He cannot imagine what could be of interest beyond his personal utopia. Possessing a medieval mind-set, he thinks only the void lies beyond his known universe. Yet he is patient with my frequent absence. His ploy is to wait.

Assuming the role of a sentinel, he settles down in a vantage point to pass the hours until my return. Innumerable times, I have turned the corner and seen him there – a dark shape – waiting expectantly at the end of alley. He will lift his head at the moment of recognition and, as I walk towards him, he will leap up and run to meet me, rubbing against my legs in greeting. Then he will step aside to clear the path and let me go past, following along behind like an escort or a shepherd. He will not accompany me into the house at once. He likes to see me go inside and shut the front door, so that he may savour the long-awaited homecoming and be satisfied that all is well outside, before entering through his flap and following me upstairs.

A favoured vantage point of his is the first floor sill, where he presides from above, and, if he is not immediately visible upon my approach up the alley, then I know that, if I raise my gaze, it will be met by two golden eyes peering down at me inquisitively from the window. Upon entering the house, he will appear at the top of the stairs, stretching his stiff limbs from crouching upon the ledge and peering at me curiously to assess my mood.

If I should change into my slippers and settle in a chair at once to open letters or read, without paying him attention, he will coax me from my preoccupation. His ploy is to remove my slippers by curling up around them, gripping them in his claws, and pulling them off. He can achieve such an act with expert precision and, if I still do not acknowledge him, he can use his sharp claws to inflict jabbing pain as an eloquent indication of his frustration at my absence and my callous disregard of his existence. Yet events only rarely reach such a dramatic conclusion, since I have learnt to take the hint and lay aside the object of my attention, as soon as he curls up round my slippers.

Delighting in frequent catnaps at regular intervals, Mr Pussy will not tolerate me sleeping beyond dawn. He wants me to conform to his timetable. When his old ploy of scratching at my bed sheets grows too tiresome, I shut him out of the bedroom and ignore his cries. Then he will claw at the upholstered chair outside the door, knowing this will raise my ire. Yet I have found that if I lay a few sheets of paper upon the chair, he will accept this novelty as a concession, settling down upon the paper and granting me my wish to sleep uninterrupted for a few more hours.

Mr Pussy never sought for scraps at dinner until recently. He is not hungry – it is a ploy. If I indulge him, he rarely eats what I offer, he is satisfied merely to taste. He hopes that I can be taught to grant him this privilege as an automatic recognition of his status within the household, as one who has the right to participate in meals. Afterwards, he always licks his lips in delight at the curious flavours of human food and leaves the house directly to patrol the vicinity, reassured once more that his position is secure.

Thus Mr Pussy has his ploys and, thanks to his expert stewardship, peace is maintained and the world runs smoothly in our corner of Spitalfields.

Slumbering

Dreaming

Dozing

Awakening

20 Responses leave one →
  1. September 9, 2013

    Mr Pussy looks very like our Jazz – but seems to have a much nicer nature. Jazz is a despot, and wants everything his own way. All of the time.

  2. Beach-Combing Magpie permalink
    September 9, 2013

    How do the sheets of paper on the armchair work? I have a wake-up ‘call’ -silent, but persistent in the scratching of, and jumping on and off the bed until action is taken – feeding the feline. Five thirty is the appointed time…. If I’m slow to respond the wallpaper ‘gets it’.

  3. Chris Mills permalink
    September 9, 2013

    Michel de Montaigne would agree.

  4. Claudia Fisk permalink
    September 9, 2013

    I love this blog – and your book, but much as the cat is so beautiful ,I really would like a closer look at that amazing patchwork tapestry rug he is reclining on! There must be a story to it?

    regards, Claudia

  5. the gentle author permalink*
    September 9, 2013

    Here is the story of my quilt : http://spitalfieldslife.com/2011/03/21/my-quilt/

  6. September 9, 2013

    Wonderful! I love your writing but I am afraid anything at all about Mr Pussy – I love best of all. And the writing here is affectionate but not overly sentimental – a real pleasure to read. Why reading about the innocent comforts of someone else’s life should feel comforting to me – I don’t know – but you always pull it off with the stories about Mr Pussy. Very many thanks
    Paddy

  7. Marina B permalink
    September 9, 2013

    Mr Pussy is a sheer joy!

  8. September 9, 2013

    I am the property and slave of a beautiful black cat. He guards his home and his property, including me, as if we were a great treasure. I delight in my servitude and am pleased to have a master who gently cuffs me with velvet paws when I don’t perform my duties in a timely manner. Therefore, I have great respect and affection for charming creatures like Mr. Pussy.

  9. Elizabeth cornwell permalink
    September 9, 2013

    I get bounced upon at a quarter to seven every morning then its the chair gets it or I am pestered until I feed the cat & let her out,Always by the back door!They are the most manipulative creatures wher their comfort & well being are concerned!

  10. September 9, 2013

    Endorse Paddy’s comment! Love, love this perspicacious write-up… guaranteed to gladden the hearts of cat owners everywhere. Have passed it on to every feline household I know.

  11. September 9, 2013

    I always marvel at Mr Pussy’s thick and shiny coat. I was only thinking the other day whether you would write about him again soon and here he is, what a civilised relationship you both have, would that many humans I know be so respectful towards each other!!

  12. Spokane USA permalink
    September 9, 2013

    Thank you for a wonderful little essay.

    I’m going to log off, go downstairs and give my cats an extra snack and some pets.

  13. September 9, 2013

    Every time I see pictures of that quilt on your blog I am so jealous………………………..

  14. Joan Blocher permalink
    September 9, 2013

    My husband forwarded this to me! He doesn’t like cats! After a half century of marriage, I announced I am getting a cat! and I am! There will be more to this story too! Enjoyed mr pussy

  15. Jill permalink
    September 11, 2013

    I always love reading about Mr Pussy, but it was especially poignant today because we had to put our beloved black cat to sleep. God bless black cats everywhere, they are magic.

  16. Jenny permalink
    September 11, 2013

    I love your sensitive observations and the beautiful way you describe the habits of Mr.Pussy.
    My cat also greets me, on return from work, but unlike Mr.Pussy, Smudge has to lead the way to my door and will not let me overtake. For my own safety, no doubt!

  17. jeannette permalink
    September 12, 2013

    yes, he has you trained. so interesting, his methods of making the world go round correctly.

  18. September 13, 2013

    I love Mr Pussy and I think that he has such character!

    Sadly, I had to have my 19 year old cat Crumpet, put down in July and she used to shout at me if I had not prepared her food quickly enough, and she would only sit on my lap if I placed an old box on there first. I remember her sitting on the arm of the sofa looking at me in my chair then at my lap, then back at me, until I positioned the box and only then would she jump across the divide and sit in there for a few moments, or she would curl up and go to sleep for a while. The place is empty without her, that’s for certain!

  19. Sarah permalink
    September 14, 2013

    May I suggest that Mr. Pussy deserves his own book? You write of him with such tenderness, yet without mawkishness, and your photographs are entrancing.

    Please do! He is a glorious creature, and his public crave more.

  20. Beverley permalink
    September 20, 2013

    I love hearing about Mr Pussy !

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