Observing the behaviour of our two cats earlier today, I had one of those moments when I remembered when they were nothing but kittens and we were naive new cat owners. I had always struggled with allergies towards cats and remember suffering as a child and teenager. Consequently we only ever had dogs when I was growing up. Luis had grown up with barn cats and had never really had much to do with them as they were, in the main, semi-feral. Our two cats Wentworth and Gawber come from that stock and their mother is still producing lots of kittens seven years on.
The cats are named after place names from where we used to live.
The incident I remember fondly is Wentworth, the dog and the tree drama. One warm balmy summer evening Wentworth was out exploring the meadow over the dry-stone wall at the bottom of the garden. We knew the farmer who rented the meadow was soon to put his cattle on there to graze and that he was visiting almost daily to ensure the wire fencing was secure and to deliver water troughs. This one day he had turned up with his sandy coloured shaggy looking cross-breed hound that we knew to be nervously aggressive at times.
Relaxing on the terrace post dinner, we heard a commotion and set off down the garden to see what was happening. Wentworth’s snarling cat call and the dog’s rapid and running bark was enough to get our adrenaline pumping.
Sure enough by the time we reached him, Wentworth was 30 foot aloft in the very top and frail branches of the cherry tree. The dog was barking and frantically scratching at the base.
Instinct kicked in…protect and rescue Wentworth at all costs, take no prisoners.
The dog ran as soon as he could smell my anger and we were left staring at a wide-eyed Wentworth perched precariously in the highest reaches of the canopy. Gentle coaxing and reassurance had little effect and with the wind gathering pace our anxieties gained momentum.
Logic and common sense had been left back on the terrace with the half empty bottle of Rioja.
“Quick, bring the ladder” I said, “he’s going to fall”. Luis ran to get the ladder only to realise that there was no way it would reach the cat. “I’ll get part way up and maybe he’ll come towards me?” Luis suggested knowing only too well that it was unlikely we could secure the ladder to be safe enough to try. Try we did but Wentworth remained on his wavering bow and watched with great intensity our insane efforts.
“What about a sheet?” I ran to get an old king size quilt cover from the garage that was destined for the next decorating job.
Now you have to remember at this point that when adrenaline pumps and your young, wide-eyed ball of kitten fluff is in imminent danger, you do not have time to think about likely scenarios. It is only the unlikely scenarios that taint and twist your judgement.
Luis and I stood at the base of the tree with the bright blue duvet cover stretched out ready for Wentworth to trust us whole-heartedly and jump to safety and into the loving arms of his two companions. “Jump Wentworth, come on boy Jump”…
By now physiology had worked its magic and the rush of adrenaline and associated madness was beginning to subside. We looked at each other and both suddenly realised what we were doing and wondered if any of our village neighbours or the visiting farmer had witnessed our unfolding drama. We smiled, chuckled, folded up the quilt cover and returned to the terrace to finish our half-full bottle of wine.
Sure enough, ten minute later Wentworth appeared, tail held high, his big golden eyes sparkling and a grin on his face which said “well that was fun wasn’t it?”