As I type there are two kittens ensconced under my bed. At least that’s where I hope they’re ensconced. Being kittens they could be anywhere, but under my bed seems like the logical choice. If I had been completely uprooted, put in a box and for all intents and purposes kidnapped from what I knew and loved, hiding under a bed would appeal to me too. Even more so once I got to where I was being taken only to be confronted by some huge slobbering over-excited beast. No, not my dad. I’m talking about Molly, the dog.
Yes, I have extended my family with the additions of Alfie and Elsie, named after those great British sitcom characters Alf Garnett and his long-suffering wife Else. Why those? Well, the kittens were essentially my dad’s idea and the TV show Alf Garnett appeared in was always one of dad’s favourites. If you decide to research Mr Garnett please bear in mind it was a very different time back then. Please don’t judge me.
We’ve had pets for as long as I can remember. Hell, at one point my dad literally had a veritable farm behind his small business in the ‘burbs of north London. Goats, chickens, ducks and turkeys all happily living in secluded suburban bliss. Until the environmental health people stepped up their game and realised a small farm probably wasn’t the most hygienic thing to have behind a grocery store. And so off they went to wherever unwanted farm animals go. Maybe to another farm? I don’t know. Anyway, undeterred my dad decided that he would only stick to rabbits. No harm in that, right? The thing about rabbits is that they breed like… um… rabbits, and before we knew it they were burrowing into neighbours’ gardens and dining on their prized azaleas and stuff. So eventually they went the way of the unwanted farm animals.
In case you were wondering my dad is a bit of an animal lover (he also likes antiques, but not antique animals – go figure). Even now, in his eighty-seventh year, he still gets excited at the prospect of watching a new David Attenborough show. He adores Molly despite the number of pairs of his slippers she’s devoured, or armchairs she’s remodeled. We used to have a cat called Tony who absolutely adored my dad, and vice versa. They had a very special relationship which was really quite sweet to behold. Unfortunately Tony, clearly not a dog lover, took one look at Molly the puppy and ran out the house never to be seen again. He had a bit of a reputation down our road for being one of those shameless cats that has more than one household to call his own, so I’m fairly confident he has shacked up somewhere else getting all the love and affection he deserves.
Back in the day I had the same combination of pets i.e. two cats and a dog. The difference in that situation was that the dog was smaller than the cats when I first got her. She was a West Highland terrier, a tiny little ball of scraggly white hair and fluff called Bailey. The cats in this instance were Tango and Pepsi, both well into adulthood and neither going to put up with Bailey’s nonsense thank you very much. That poor pup was whipped into shape quicker than you could say “inter-species bullying”, so much so that I am convinced Bailey eventually thought she was a cat. Tango and Pepsi lived up to the ripe old ages of seventeen and eighteen respectively. Bailey’s life was cut short by another dog, but she’d had a happy seven years.
And now here we are. Molly, Alfie and Elsie.
At just over a year old Molly is still very juvenile in her ways. Imagine one of those spinning tops that you have to pump up and down to get spinning, but the pump mechanism is permanently pushed down meaning the spinning never stops – that’s Molly in a nutshell. Add two new little balls of fluff to the equation and we’re talking spinning of such epic proportions Molly’s created her own small tornado. To her credit she did calm down. Eventually. I think the bag of doggie treats helped. I think I’ll be going through lots of bags of doggie treats over the next few weeks. I might have to take out shares.
For their part the kittens were, understandably, quite perplexed. Elsie is definitely a little firecracker – she was hissing and spitting like a good’un. Alfie was a bit less melodramatic and spat occasionally but wasn’t really committed, leaving all the hard work to his sister while he cowered in the corner of their box. I think we know who’s gonna be wearing the trousers in their little relationship.
The plan is to keep the kittens in my bedroom for the time being, and gradually introduce them to Molly and the rest of the house. But mostly to Molly, let’s be honest. She does have a very jealous streak, which is hardly surprising seeing as she’s had me mostly to herself for just over a year. She’s going to have to get used to not sleeping in my bedroom for a while, which I can guarantee she will not be happy about. Definitely lots of extra cuddles and attention for her. Funnily enough I bought her a new toy yesterday, an elephant soft toy thing guaranteed not to come apart easily ‘cos of the double stitching blah blah blah. I woke up this morning and I kid you not, the bedroom floor was covered in white fluffy elephant innards with Molly wagging her tail and looking very pleased with herself. I tried not to take it as an omen.
I’ve been in to check on Alfie and Elsie a couple of times and while they are nowhere to be seen there is definite evidence they have eaten and the litter tray has been used. The one great thing about cats is they need very little help from us humans and they are pretty much self-sufficient once they get past the weaning stage. Dogs on the other hand…
So that’s the current state of affairs here in the Land of Oz – a cranky octogenarian, a mildly stressed forty-something, a mad year-old dog and two eight-week-old kittens. There’s a joke there somewhere about a zoo, I’m sure of it.