Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Desperately Seeking Cats

Oh why not, another challenge!

Desperately Seeking Cats

When I was much younger than I am now, I had a cat called Cankles the Cat. I called him Cankles the Cat because my mum, in a bid to avoid telling me about the birds and the bees, had said once "you know, when I was giving birth to you, I really had bad cankles" and off she went, to make scones or something, leaving me in a strange state of fascination as to what cankles actually were, and I wanted our cat to have a name that wasn't Tiddles or Milo or whatever. We got Cankles the Cat from an animal shelter, because whenever we walked past him, he would let out a slightly demented purr, and he had white furr with splodgy grey spots, and was cute as a button. I hadn't quite embraced my inner benny yet, but in every way, Cankles was a benny cat. Other cats would hiss and purr and threaten Cankles, and Cankles would inevitably either trip and fall, or run headlong into a wall or trip over a sprinkler. The other cats would be so taken aback by this display of bennyness, that they would back off, and leave Cankles alone.

Cankles finest hour was probably the day of my 8th birthday party, when I got a trampoline and a monster bouncy ball. I was outside playing with the bouncy ball, and waiting for my assortment of relatives to turn up, when my Dad came barrelling out of the house with a worried look on his face.

"Nothings wrong" he said, before dashing off again. He was always running my Dad, I think that's where Megs B got it from that time. He was a typical Aussie Dad my dad, to the point where he was called Kev, he loved to put on a pair of blue stubby shorts, he always "got my nose" and he always tried to fix things with amusing consequences. Best of all, he always seemed to be able to get me an ice-cream, even when we were on a boat miles from a shop, and I always thought that to be quite magical, and not at all because he just was good at planning. Once, a jumping jack firework actually chased him into the garage on firework night. He thought it was hilarious, because he was an Aussie Dad, and Aussie dads don't normally worry. However, the fact that my Dad was worried, not only worried, but actually rushing around, made me worry because if my Aussie Dad Kev was worried, either I was getting a massive surprise, or something had gone wrong.

It transpired that since the morning, no one had seen Cankles the Cat. This was unusual for Cankles, who had his own routine that usually involved a quite public cat display of idiocy in the morning, just to announce he was awake, then it was food, stretch, demented burst of energy, sleep, another demented burst of energy, and finally, more food and sleep. The fact that no one has seen Cankles the Cat and his food was untouched was clearly going to impact on the birthday party, and while I've never been known for my displays of temper or sadness, it would have still have depressed me for a moment between the fairy bread and pass the parcel. So, we formed a very serious kitty search party, that got as far as the lounge room, before the novelty had wore off, and we sat down for some ice cream (you see my point about Dad now I hope).

It hadn't occured to me until I typed this that this was my first brush with mortality, and the finite nature of life. If Cankles the Cat was gone, this would be my first experience of grief, of loss - oh sure, I lost a netball once when I was 5, because Amanda Vanderminsion sucked at catching, and I had to admit that chewing my Barbie meant it had lost it's normal Barbie shape, but this was a real life organic creature, and it was out of my life. Oh, the magnitude of the situation wasn't lost on me, and it was my birthday, and I really, selfishly hoped, that the death of Cankles the Cat wasn't going to overshadow it. I mean, I had no idea of how important each death really was. What about a cat? Would that be requiring a minutes silence, and speeches, while I sat in the corner yelling "OI, I'M OVER HERE! WHERE'S MY PRESENTS!" - that darn cat indeed.

As we pondered the list of kitty consequences that may have befallen Cankles the Cat and his sense of adventure, I sat down on our very 1980s sofa (brown vinyl, yes please) and heard a very faint "purrrr". It was then that my Mum, dressed in her hooped nautically themed sweater, saw a trail of green silly string that lead directly to a newly clawed tiny hole in the back of our brown vinyl sofa, and there, legs sticking out of the tiny hole, was Cankles the Cat, stuck fast. It turns out Cankles the Cat had made a new enemy, a can of green silly string, and spent most of my birthday attacking it with all it's might. Of course, the more he jumped on the nozzle, the more silly string came out, and the more determined Cankles the Cat was to demolish his elusive foe. And somehow, for whatever reason, it seemed he had decided that this foe was far too dangerous to take on, and so had tried hiding from it, by digging and clawing a hole in the couch and cowering and hoping it would go away. When we dug the poor thing out, he was shaking, and had a face covered in silly string. I'm not one for over zealous animal rights (even though I'm vegeterian) but Cankles the Cats poor little face was a picture of absolute benny misery, and I held him out for my Dad to see, hoping he would say something to make it all better, and save the birthday. Kev looked at the cat, looked at me, and looked at the cat again.

"Hey, who wants an ice cream!" he said, proudly.


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