Posted by: peterhact | January 30, 2011

There is a member of my house who is old. and smelly. and it isn’t me.

I have made mention to the exploits of the search and destroy cat module in my house on twitter for a while. As he has aged, he has seemed to become far nastier, smelly and downright grumpy. (if that is at all possible)

I won’t use his real name, as he is watching me closely, and I am sure he understands what I am typing – revenge campaigns go on for months dammit!

We got him, when I say we, I mean my wife, who discovered this sleepy kitten in a pet shop. I am certain that he was sleepy from beating up his siblings, but he came home to live with us. Straight away, there seemed to be something wrong with him.

Affection was on his terms, and he had a habit of lying on the bed, across my feet. This subsequently rendered me incapacitated, legless, and an easy target for kitten games. waking up with a cat face in your line of vision is a bit disturbing, but, as I launched up and out of bed, the hobbling tactic came apparent, as I fell over.

He would carve his initials in my chest with the kneading claw technique, and, for a fair while, I was going to work in the middle of summer in long sleeved shirts to hide my clawed and track mark like scratches on my arms.

Speaking of scratching, he clawed every stick of furniture we had – even metal chairs, and the marks were visible even after repeated spray paint applications.

There was a period of peace, he tried really hard to become a lap-cat, life of leisure, etc, etc. The attacks dwindled and we sighed with relief. false security. The nickname I gave him became apparent when he engaged in covert attacks – toes were fair game, and the bit of his brain that contains the mad spot – there is one, I am certain, would find him launching out of no-where, at groin height, a ball of fluff, yowling and claws.

when it came to the vet, well, that was a different story.

The local vet would look apprehensive, hunting out a set of falconry gloves and chain mail suit. Search and destroy cat module had two hatreds – the vet, and anything the vet did to him. We were lumped into Bad Things Vets Do if you giggled or sniggered when search and destroy cat module’s eyes bugged out during the temperature check, and the look you got told you that the moment of mirth you just had was going to be the last one for a very long time.

Wrangling him back into the cat carrier earned you a few scratches, just to let you know that he was not happy, and just you wait till we get home. the drive home was a nightmare in itself. the yowling that started when the car did grated on your nerves, I remember being pulled over once for driving erratically, for a breath test, but the copper couldn’t stop laughing – search and destroy cat module had managed to inch the carrier over and hook my arm through the bars. I was in an area where I couldn’t stop without blocking traffic. so I was stuck, bleeding, and I did hold up traffic whilst tested to see if I was alcohol impaired. I wasn’t, and the copper asked if I needed a drink. Yes, yes, I did.

when we got home, I put his carrier in the laundry, got the gloves, the whip and chair, and, using a robotic arm like the ones on bomb disposal robots, released him. I closed the door, but the pure hatred that had pumped him up meant that he wrested it from my hands, slammed it open and went for my jugular. The chair came in handy, as I backed him into the laundry, screaming for my wife to come and help me close the door.

As I think about it, they were his kitten years, full of torment, snarling and attempting to kill his “family”. As he grew up, we thought search and destroy cat module might be lonely, so we drove off to the RSPCA to find a brother or sister for him, preferably one that wasn’t a psycho. We were, yet again, tricked into thinking the little tabby we brought home was normal. She too was filled with a deep seated hatred – not against humanity, but other cats. Her first action after the obligatory introduction period of a couple of weeks was to beat seven shades of hell out of search and destroy cat module. This was most surprising to him, he was certain that she was the reinforcement he had been calling every night for.

They managed to find a bit of common ground, as long as their beds weren’t facing each other, they had igloos, they could exist for periods of time in the same proximity.

The common ground was they both hated tablet time. Tablet time consisted in wrapping them up separately in towels, loading the tablet deployment mechanism the vet had given us and trying to prise open jaws that we avoided every other time. Sometimes, the towel opening was at the wrong end, and we did consider deploying the tablet that way, briefly.  The plan was to stick the tablet deployment mechanism down their throat, and plunge the tablet into their throat, close their mouths and rub their throat till they swallowed. The Vet explained all of this to us, but I notice he never tried to deploy the tablets himself. I knew he was a smart man.

The reality was that, after forcing open extremely strong jaws, while yowling, howling and hissing told you that the particular cat in question was NOT happy, and lining up the tablet in their throat, deploying it and trying madly to rub, close their mouth and avoid the scything blades of claws which had already shredded the towel, tablet success was very low.

we finally worked out that, if you sneak up on a sleeping cat, deployment can be achieved with a minimum of fuss, but if they woke up, dive for cover as the cat sought out revenge. once the tablet period was over, you could start the strategising for next year’s campaign.

When he was younger, search and destroy cat module wasn’t smelly. As he grew into a massive tiger of a cat, there seemed to be a strange odor that would permeate any area he was in. It wasn’t his fur, it was organic, and any number of food combinations we tried didn’t seem to do much at all. He was becoming a new cat module, the “clearer of rooms” or the evil “skunk cat”.

This was most apparent when, at a dinner party, the most foul odor emanated from beneath the table. Our guests didn’t believe that search and destroy cat module was responsible, and started a witch hunt to prove it was really me. No chance. That was an odor I would be proud of, and I knew I would never, ever achieve, for all the tuna, picked eggs, onions, pickled onions that I ate, never would I gain the title of “clearer of rooms”.

Some people blame the dog for foul odors, but there was no fakery here, this was a flatulent cat, who, after damaging reputations, would go and lie in front of the heater / aircon, dependent of the season, and knock out a few just to keep the foul level consistent. His “sister” would stay away. camping out on our bed, nose buried under paws.

Then came the time of great change, we bought a cat enclosure to control his eating habits, and to give him access to the sun without access to the local wildlife. In the midst of this period, we also introduced him to child 1, then quickly children 2 & 3.

His sister turned on him – she became protective, thumping him if he went near the children, so he stayed away.

He had a further shock, the house, his domain, was far too small for 3 kids, and we moved into a new house. His mum, my wife, and I separated. He didn’t pine after her, but his sister did. I have written about her before, she was older than we knew, and she went to cat heaven quietly.

Search and destroy cat module, instead of forming a bond with the only person left in the house, changed his tactics. He started sleeping on his back, four paws in the air. Still filling the house with a foul stench, but this only prompted me to check he was still breathing, after all, when something dies, it lets go of its bowels, right?

There is a condition that the search and destroy cat module has that I have labelled fluffyitis. This condition, when activated, makes him fluff up like a hairy toilet brush. Fluffyitis strikes without warning. a sound, touching him whilst sleeping, thunderstorms, children, any number of other events, means that he is a claymore mine, leaping up before going off.

“Going off” is an accuracy. he does. in true skunk fashion, he lets rip and makes the whole house need evacuation. The windows get thrown open, and you run outside to get some fresh air. Every time, the search and destroy cat module has detected the best time to perform this skunk behavior. It is winter, there is a violent thunderstorm, it is hailing, it is summer and baking hot. these are all perfect times to go skunk.

He is proofing my work, right now. I might have to write some more about him, when he is asleep.



  1. My eyes are watering. This is so funny. Yet is is so sad – as I recognise each and every one of these personality traits in our four cats. Bad odours is an understatement. … Now that my eyes have dried, I will attempt to tell four short stories of our stink-bombs.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Holland, Stephen Mitchell. Stephen Mitchell said: Laughed till it almost hurt after reading about @peterhau's cat experience: […]

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