This column was supposed to be called How I Spent My Summer Vacation since I went to stay at my sister and brother-in-law’s home in Corunna for the middle two weeks of September this year.
It was going to be full of jolly tales of boating on the scenic St. Clair River, of numerous family gatherings on my sister’s beautiful back yard pool deck, with cabana, of delicious dinners at a riverside pub on the Black River just outside Port Huron.
However, when I planned my summer vacation, I forgot to take into account that I would once again be staying in the lair of Puddin’, the Orange Menace.
My sister’s cat and I are not friends.
We are not enemies.
We are mortal foes.
I personally believe that Puddin’ sees the arrival of my red suitcase at her door in much the same way as a bull sees a red flag in the ring.
She was waiting in the bay window when we pulled up to the house on the first night, her orange fluffy tail twitching, her yellow eyes balefully gleaming. I could almost sense her feline mind saying “Game on!” as I edged through the door, making sure that she did not have the chance to get behind me.
“Hi, evil cat,” I said.
Our Entente, over the next two weeks, was not going to be Cordiale.
Now my sister and brother-in-law love this cat. They refer to themselves as her mummy and daddy. Consequently, they did not appreciate the special tea towel I brought them which said “My Cat Is Not Spoiled: We Are Just Well Trained.”
For the first two days, Puddin’ behaved like a feline saint. Gentle purring, no large, revolting “surprizes” in the litter box, no showers of fur if I had a nap.
As this was the same cat who, on my previous visits, had left hair balls directly outside my bedroom door every night, I was instantly suspicious.
But she continued to be a “purfect” kitty. Gradually I relaxed my guard.
Every morning, as I was dutifully eating my healthy breakfast cereal – all kinds of fibre, bran, wheat germ, no sugar, tastes like hamster food – Puddin’ would wander over, twist around my feet and purr enticingly.
“She’d like the little bit of milk left in the bowl when you are done,” my sister said enthusiastically.
I held out for three days. Then I broke down.
“Here you go, evil kitty,” I said genially, and put the bowl on the floor by my bare feet.
Puddin’ polished off the milk in record time, wiped her face, looked up at me meltingly – and lunged. She’d bitten me twice on the toes before I could react.
The armistice was over.
My sister has recently redone her entire upstairs in open concept and Puddin’ is never allowed on the new couch. She’s sees this ban as merely a suggestion.
Consequently, she’d wait until only she and I were in the room then leap for the couch, stirring up the pillows and shedding hair.
“Puddin’s on the chesterfield,” I’d shout from the top of the stairs, and my sister would storm up from the rec room – only to find said Puddin’ quietly licking her paws in a patch of sunlight far, far from the couch.
I was told to stop picking on the cat.
Puddin’ (an indoor cat) regularly attempted to bolt out the sun deck door every single time I opened it to go outside.
I began to feel like a member of CSIS planning a covert operation each time I prepared to go out on the porch.
On one occasion, out of the corner of my eye, I actually detected the Orange Menace streaking for the sliding door: I flung the inner screen shut in time. Puddin’ couldn’t put the gears on fast enough, and thumped into the screen with a satisfying crunch, some feline cursing and (possibly) some human sniggering.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know my sister had come up the stairs just in time to witness me slamming that screen door on her beloved cat. Puddin’ took one look at my sister’s face, lifted her paw in ‘pain’ and mewed piteously.
I was sternly told to stop picking on the cat.
Puddin’ grinned at me over my sister’s shoulder as she was treated to a smoothie.
There was a lot of biting, surreptitious swatting, shedding of hair and evil plotting over the next two weeks, and at least half of it was Puddin’.
I think she may have had the last word however.
On my final vacation day in Corunna, I came down with a runny nose, a cough, watery eyes: Puddin’ was snickering.
I know she gave me Cat Fever.
Well, I’ll be home at Christmas, Orange Menace.