The Chronicles of Smurf – Principle 1
Observe and Interact
They have taken the Nan away.
She did not want to leave me, but she had become slow and unsteady on her feet of late, and her breath laboured. When I snuggled up beside her on the sofa, I could hear her ancient heart fluttering like a trapped bird in her chest.
I no longer sat on her lap, as her thighs had become scrawny and her knees sharp. Sometimes I would lie across her ankles on the low footstool. They too were cold and bony, but there was less danger of sliding off.
Now she is gone, and life has become disordered. Instead of the Nan’s steady pottering and shuffling, there is stillness, punctuated by alarming bursts of activity and loud voices.
Things are moved from their correct, time-honoured position. Sometimes my food bowl is empty. Other times, I am served that appalling fishy glop that the Nan brought home by mistake one time.
It is all very unsatisfactory.
This morning, the one that the Nan called Hannah is here. She regards me with an odd look. It makes me uneasy. ‘What will we do with you, Smurf?’
The Hannah consults her phone, frequently and at length: asking it what to do with me, no doubt. I interrogate it once myself, when she leaves it on the kitchen bench. It refuses to respond, remaining insolently silent, so I slide it over the edge. It makes a satisfying ‘thunk’ as it hits the tiled floor.
‘NO! Bad cat!’
The Hannah says that a lot. Yet I am not the one who walks into someone else’s house, kidnaps their carer and rearranges the furniture.
Day 2, morning
Unaccountably, I am imprisoned in the ‘cat box’ and subjected to prolonged psychological torture in a ‘car’ — one of those vile-smelling, roaring, rattling contraptions. Perhaps this is punishment for my altercation with the phone? Or just an arbitrary cruel whim of these capricious humans.
When the roaring and shuddering ceases, after an eternity, I find myself in an alien world.
Thankfully, it appears to be neither the Vet’s, where in the past I have been poked and prodded by stern humans in white coats — not to mention that one time my gonads were stolen — nor that hellhole they call the Cattery.
Through the bars of my cramped prison, I perceive smells, sounds and sights unlike anything I have experienced hitherto. Intriguingly organic and earthy!
My box is extricated from the car — none too gently — and carried into a human dwelling. I am set down upon a wooden floor.
‘I’m sure you’ll adore him, Suzy,’ the Hannah says to the stranger, a woman somewhat younger and less fat and wheezy than herself. ‘He’s a sweet little cat, but we just can’t keep him. We’re away so much, it wouldn’t be fair.’
Oh yes, it is a different story now.
‘He’s a cutey,’ agrees the Suzy. ‘The Kidz will love him.’
What is this ‘Kidz’? I envisage a ravening monster which toys cruelly with helpless cats before devouring them. Rather as I did with that sparrow the other day …
Clumsy human fingers fumbling with the latch on my box and the door swings open. ‘Out you come, Smurf!’
I survey my surroundings and bolt for cover under the nearest furniture. It is reassuringly dark and dusty under here, although the cobwebs that adhere to my whiskers are annoying.
I will stay here until I can effect my escape and return home.
Day 2, afternoon
Eventually, the hunger pangs of near-starvation drive me from the safety of my dusky hideout.
‘Hello, Smurf! Decided to come out, eh?’
‘I’ve put your food bowl here, in the laundry …’
Fish-Glop. I’d sooner eat my own excrement.
The Suzy interprets the set of my ears correctly.
‘Yes, it’s horrid, isn’t it? Smells like whale vomit. Uggh. I’ll get you something nicer when I go to the shops. Promise!’
Maybe this Suzy is not wholly evil after all. But the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. Whatever the hell a ‘pudding’ is.
After a few minutes’ searching, the Suzy produces a box of dry food which, although a little stale, will suffice to stave off the hunger pangs in the short term.
I deign to be scratched briefly behind the ears. Better to appear compliant.
The Suzy leaves the house mid-afternoon. I seize this opportunity to check all the doors and windows, but alas, there is no apparent means of escape.
There is, however, a large, comfortable, hairy bed. It smells strongly of Dog. I have encountered animals of this species: stupid, excitable creatures that need to be put firmly in their place.
But where is the Dog? Hopefully at the Vet’s …
I peruse the titles of the books in the towering bookcase. This requires a certain amount of clambering, and one or two books, framed photographs and other unimportant objects fall to the floor. One can learn much from a human’s reading habits and it is vital to know what sort of adversary I’m up against.
Humans like to delude themselves that cats cannot read their language. How they came to form this bizarre belief, I simply have no idea. What do they imagine we are doing when we lie on their laptops?
It appears that the Suzy is a devotee of some kind of cult called Permaculture, as the spines of several books attest. A large wall poster depicts something called ‘The 12 Permaculture Principles’, with arcane symbols. Hopefully no sacrifices of black cats are required in their Satanic rituals. One hears of such things.
The first of these principles is ‘Observe and interact.’ Hmm. Perhaps I can turn the Suzy’s dark arts against her?
I will keep the Suzy under observation for now; interaction may be premature.
Next week in the Chronicles of Smurf:
Principle 2: Catch and Store Energy
Smurf meets the rest of the family and learns about the important work of an Awstrayan Pie-Eatin’ Dawg.