Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Why cats invented Christmas

The Victorians are usually credited with the invention of Christmas as we know it: the decorations, the sending of cards, the carol-singing. I believe, however, that if historians dug a little deeper they would discover that the inventor of our Christmas traditions could have been one thing only. Feline.

Let’s start with the Christmas meal. A 15lb bird – large enough to feed a family of 6 for a week – is crammed into an oven barely big enough to accommodate it, left to cook for half a day, then served with so many accompaniments that even the heartiest family can barely make a dent in its flesh. What possible reason would a human have for devising such a wasteful, impractical menu? To a cat, on the other hand, the weeks of leftover turkey scraps would be not just a happy accident, but a crucial factor in the planning. For who else in the house can bear to eat any more turkey after the Christmas meal is over, but the family cat?

Similarly, why would a human want to stick a real six-foot tree in the middle of their living room, usually necessitating the rearrangement of furniture to make room for it? And let’s not forget the irritation of constantly-dropping pine needles all over the carpet from the moment the delicate Scandinavian evergreen comes into contact with your full-blast central heating. For a human, the tree is nothing but hassle. To a cat, however, it is a ready-made climbing frame and scratching post, replete with tantalising decorations and glittering baubles just waiting to be batted off their hooks.

Christmas morning itself, with its frenzy of gift-opening, undoubtedly has its rewards for humans. But have you ever stopped to consider how you package the gifts you give your loved ones? Endless cardboard boxes, perhaps full of shredded tissue or polystyrene pellets, all encased in crinkly paper… I think you can see where I’m going here.

The evidence is undeniable. All your Christmas traditions were devised by someone with a vested interest in leftover turkey, tree-based play, and cardboard boxes.

Thank you, Father Kitty-mas!

Too bad, Pip. I found it first!

Friday, 16 December 2011

What a difference a year makes


This time last year there was a thick covering of snow across Harpenden, and I spent the daylight hours in the park opposite Nancy HQ making merry with all the local sledgers.

A year on, we have only had a mere dusting of snow, and yet it is enough to send me scurrying to the nearest radiator for some winter comfort.


Drifting in and out of sleep I wonder if I could be getting old. Do I exhibit any other signs of middle age? Certainly, I have taken to eating more in recent months, and combined with my lower energy levels this has resulted in a visible pot belly (which my owners delight in pointing out to me every time I pester them for food).

I also find it hard to stay awake, having to fight drooping eyelids even in mid-conversation, or while watching my favourite wildlife programmes on TV (is the fact that I enjoy wildlife programmes itself a sign of middle age?!) 

Most worrying of all, I find myself sympathising with my step-cat Pip's grumpy moods. When he sulks because his favourite napping spot has been used to store Christmas presents, I feel his pain rather than sniggering behind his back. When he complains about the mud and ice in our back garden, I give a resigned nod rather than rolling my eyes.

Could the unthinkable be happening? Could I be... growing up?

I'll have to get back to you on that. Right now, I need a nap.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Pip - you've been prank'd!

The wintry weather has arrived, so Pip and I have been forced to overcome our mutual dislike, and accept that we do in fact share the same living quarters. For the most part we are able to do so with at least a semblance of civility, but there are still occasional flashpoints.

Yesterday, for instance, saw me fall victim to a completely unprovoked physical assault by Pip, resulting in tufts of black fur (mine) being gouged out all over the living room carpet. As Pip is undeniably larger and stronger than me I was forced to concede defeat. However, like David to Pip's Goliath, I used my brain to come up with a payback plan.

As you will see from the photo below, I think justice has been served admirably, with the help of a tube of hair lightening cream, and some deft paw-work while Pip slept off his lunch.

As you can see from his face, Pip is thrilled to be a walking advertisement for my book, at least until he sheds his winter coat.

That'll teach him.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

If cats went on strike...

Today is Britain's first national strike day for decades, and I have been pondering the issue of democratic protest (from my vantage point on the wooden chest next to the radiator). The question no-one has yet asked: how should the country's feline population express dissatisfaction with its own working conditions? We have rights just like everyone else, and surely we are also entitled to express our views?

For the sake of argument, let's say a (hypothetical) cat was unhappy with the living conditions offered by her owner. What would her choices be?

Stirke days are all well and good for humans, but the 'down tools' approach presupposes that twelve hours of lying semi-comatose on a sofa does not, in fact, constitute a perfectly normal working day. If our dissatisfied hypothetical feline decided to spend, say, an extra hour of the day asleep, would her owners even notice?

More extreme methods may be called for, such as the tried and tested Hunger Strike. Our disaffected moggy could turn her nose up at all food offered by her owners for a 24 hour period (any longer would be craziness). I'm sure all my feline readers will recognise the feeling of power that comes from delivering the withering 'you call that food?' look as your owner squeezes some reconstituted gristle out of an own-brand pouch. To really ram the point home, it's best to sniff disconsolately at the mushy chunks before exiting swiftly through the cat flap. This technique works best in the summer months, when the piles of uneaten food will soon be swarming with bluebottles. This tactic's disadvantage, however, is that it does involve going hungry, or at the very least dragging yourself out of the house and going next door to eat their cat's food instead.

Protest marches, demonstrations, rallies - all make me shudder with the sheer amount of activity involved. And there's the rub, I suppose. Cats are simply not activists by nature. We are inactivists. We need a method of protest which doesn't involve going hungry, doesn't require planning and organisation, and definitely doesn't entail being outside for long periods in inclement weather.

So that's settled then. Unless anyone can come up with a better idea, we'll pee in your shoes.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

What Tulisa's tattoo really says...

Apparently X Factor judge Tulisa is in trouble with Ofcom regulators, who think the tattoo she displays on her forearm at the beginning of every show might be illegally promoting her new perfume.

However I can exclusively reveal, with the help of some very sophisticated imaging technology, that she is innocent of all charges. Tulisa is indeed sharing something dear to her heart with the British public, but it's got nothing to do with perfume...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

We Need to Talk about Nancy...

Now that I'm a bona-fide celebrity, I'd hate for my fans to think I no longer care about what you think of me. To that end I have compiled my very own survey about, well, me.

With a few clicks of the mouse you can make your voice heard, and let me know what it is you love most about me.

I promise to take on board all comments and suggestions (as long as I agree with them, of course).

Happy surveying!


Monday, 7 November 2011

Another day, another photo-shoot...

I feel I should apologise for neglecting my mog blog of late. The truth is, what with Facebook and Twitter, there are so many 'petworking' platforms out there it's sometimes hard to keep on top of them all. And let's not forget, I am a cat, and therefore like to spend at least 60% of any given day asleep, leaving a mere 40% for other activities such as eating, hunting, and self-publicising.

Speaking of self-publicising, today Nancy HQ was visited by a journalist and photographer from the nation's premier feline publication Your Cat magazine.* They are writing a feature about me, my book, and my forthcoming appearance on Must Love Cats.

Their timing was not great as I had just settled down for my mid-morning nap, but I turned on the Nancy charm for them regardless. After the usual 'Nancy at home' photo shoot we headed off to one of my local pubs, the Gibraltar Castle, for some additional shots of me relaxing at the bar.

This PR business is getting to be second-nature for me and my owner now, and we have become quite a slick unit of feline/human co-operation: I do my bit in front of the camera while she leaps around like a lunatic behind the camera, sporadically flicking cat treats in my direction if I lose focus or look as if I might fall asleep.

Seeing the desperation in my owner's eyes as she tried to get me to follow the photographer's instructions today,  I couldn't help wondering what's in it for her? Anyone would think it was her memoir we were promoting, rather than mine.

I suspect she might be a little delusional, kidding herself that my fame is, somehow, something to do with her. As we bade farewell to the journalist and photographer, I nearly reminded her that the magazine is called Your Cat, not Your Owner, but seeing the excited look on the face, I just didn't have the heart to spoil her fun.

*Nancy will appear in the January issue of Your Cat, out on Decemeber 15th.