Friday, March 13, 2009

Ghost of a Kat

One of my favourite films is Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. I love the opening scenes of him trying to feed his cat. He has run out of cat food and makes some horrible mess with tuna and yogourt which the cat quite understandably dismisses. He then goes to the supermarket in the middle of the night, but they have run out of the only brand the cat will eat, so he buys another brand. He then goes home to the waiting cat and transfers the cat food he has bought (having locked the cat out of the kitchen so he can't see what he's doing) into the empty tin of the cat's favoured brand of cat food, he then lets the cat in the kitchen and puts the ersatz food in the cat's bowl. The cat isn't fooled and goes off, never to be seen again and Elliot Gould, who plays Marlowe, is left devastated and lonely, searching for his cat (and various other missing persons) for the rest of the film. Anyone who has a cat, knows how accurate this portrayal of a man (or woman) and his feline friend is. Cats cannot be trained to do what you want, (I've never seen a cat riding a bicycle at the circus) they only do what they want and you become a slave to their whims. Our cat is called Kat, formerly named Ghost. Ghost came to us with his brother, Rocket, both ginger tom kittens, Rocket, the darker of the two, was far more gregarious and loved to be picked up and stroked, Ghost was shy, ran away from people and with his pale colouring seemed to disappear against the stonewall of our courtyard. The kittens lived in our new house which was being done up whilst we lived in our much smaller old house which had no outside space. We came over and fed them everyday and the builders looked after them when we weren't there. This worked very well until the kittens became older and bolder and decided they wanted to go out and see a bit more of the World. The last time we saw the kittens together, was one evening when we were walking passed the house on our way back from the restaurant Le theatre. They were both hanging out the second storey window screeching at us like tortured prisoners, as we went by. I made a joke about kamikaze kittens and the next day they were gone. We stuck a photo of them with our phone number onto the shutters of our house, asking people to call if they had seen them. A few people called, one lady to say that she had seen the kittens at our window a few days before and another to say she liked the photo; in fact we had to reprint the photo as it kept getting nicked and another person in our street had rather suspiciously put cat food outside her door. After a few days we got a call from the Print/Fax shop down the road. A little Moroccan girl had found one of our kittens and when we went to pick it up, it turned out to be Ghost. We have never seen Rocket again, though there have been reported sightings in the next street of a very handsome ginger tom wearing a red collar..... And then somewhere along the line Ghost became Kat and has been Kat ever since. He is still weary of people and you can only stroke him if he wants you to, otherwise he will get up and leave. He likes to go out at night. He rushes across the road and runs up the gates of Souleiado, (how do they do that?) which is the fabric museum and shop opposite us and disappears into their courtyard. He usually comes back the next morning, howling to be let in before the morning traffic starts (around 7am) but sometimes he is gone for a few days and in the past has stayed away for as long as a week. I often wonder what he does and where he goes and wish I could put a little camera on his head to see what he gets up to. Maybe he doesn't get up to much, maybe he just finds a dark spot, curls up and goes to sleep. What I do know is he comes back ravenous and like Elliot Gould's cat in the Long Goodbye, he is very fussy about his food. He won't eat from a tin that has already been opened and kept in the fridge and he won't eat any food that he has left in his bowl. Hence we give him sachets of food which are about twice the price of the tinned food. As we are in the middle of a 'Crise' as its called here, I am always trying to think of ways to fool him. I add a bit of hot water to his food and stir it around pretending I have only just put it down, or I add a bit of new food and stir it in with the old. Anyway, hours are wasted and usually to no avail. Recently there was a deal at my local supermarket for 8 tins of Whiskas for the price of 6. I snapped it up, thinking that if Kat liked it, I could get back into buying tins. Huge success, Kat loves it; so much so that he is eating a whole tin of it a day and doesn't care how long its been lying around. I went back to the shop to buy the rest of the stock on offer, but they had sold out and I am now left buying vast quantities of the most expensive cat food on the market to keep Kat satiated and my bid to economise hasn't worked at all. My friend Celia who lives near Uzes, says she thinks they put something in Whiskas that makes the cats frantic and into Whiskas addicts; she feeds her cat frogslegs, you can find them frozen and cheap as chips in most supermarkets, I might try them next.

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