Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Kitten Incorrigible - a Truffle-centred festive feline special featuring the twelve tics of Christmas!

ILLUSTRATION ADVISORY!! By any yardstick, this blog post contains an unequivocally excessive number of kitten photos.

Years ago, back when I used to write a humorous column for a local business magazine, I did a piece on the idiosyncrasies of my satnav:

"Fast forward two years and my SatNav and I are like an old couple: I know its strengths and weaknesses and its quirky little ways.  This is the story of our relationship, from the initial feeling of wonder to the more realistic view I hold of it today..."

Well, I have lived with my kitten for six weeks now, which may well equate to two years with an in-car gadget. And I can say with conviction that I have both a realistic view of her little tics and quirks and an ongoing sense of wonder. She is absolutely enchanting - and as the vet said on her first visit there, also 'a little bit demented'...

So, especially for those readers who are not on Facebook, and have not been subjected to a relentless slew of photos on there - it has got so bad that I actually have to put 20p into the kitten pic-posting equivalent of a 'swear cottage' now - I thought I would do a round up of some of Truffle's little mannerisms, six weeks in. This list is by now means exhaustive, but I don't want to exhaust your patience!

You post pics, you pays!
Automated bed bath programme 

Since my previous post, I can report that at night Truffle is still sleeping (pretty solidly!) in the trough between the two sets of pillows in the bed - either bed in fact, as I swapped rooms the other day, having stripped the bed in the master bedroom and completely forgotten to make it again - and she immediately recce'ed the equivalent spot between the pillows in the spare room and 'assumed the position'.

Then, somewhere between 8am and 8.30am, which isn't shockingly early as that is usually when I spontaneously start to stir, an 'automated wash programme' kicks in, whereby Truffle, with her little pink Brillo pad of a tongue, begins slowly and systematically to wash my eyelids, nose, chin, cheeks - and if I still fail to show any vital signs - will burrow under the covers and start on wrists, elbows or any other exposed body part she can find. This invariably does the trick and I get up immediately and feed her, which was of course the whole point.

Photo appears to feature a freshly washed thumb.

Then I have a bath, and Truffle will perch on the edge, or sit inside the wash basin peering over the rim, or even on my head. Whatever vantage point she chooses, she invariably looks puzzled. You just know she is thinking: 'What's with all this water business? - sure I washed you earlier!'

'Plug 'n' play' fun and getting to grips with the recycling

And when I have got out of the bath, and the water - which two unfortunate dips have taught Truffle she does not like - has all gone, she will jump in after me, rush around for a bit chasing her tail, and also deliver a few left hooks to the plug on a chain, which makes a rewarding clinking noise as it ricochets off the cast iron tub. The other day she discovered how satisfying it is to chase the empty toilet roll inner around inside the bath. I have yet to train her to put it in the appropriate bin.

Monitoring flannel rotation and policing filched toiletries

I am a devotee of the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish hot cloth system, though for reasons of better buffability I have long since substituted a flannel for the muslin cloth supplied. I keep a basket of flannels at the end of the bath, while the one currently on the go is draped over the metal handle on the side. One morning I am sure Truffle was giving me a disapproving look as though to say: 'I think you'll find that this flannel has been in use for some considerable time already.'

Staying with our theme of endless (empty) bathtime fun, I found Truffle playing with a little miniature shampoo bottle the other day. Her accusatory stare in the photo below clearly means: 'So you say you stole this from a hotel? I am confiscating it right now!'

Aspiring toilet attendant

Truffle is a diligent user of her litter tray these days, in fact, she loves it so much that she also enjoys scooting the litter far and wide for the hell of it. Also, when she clocks me removing clumps, she runs over immediately to try to cover up her doings even more, even as I am endeavouring to dig them up.

Completely gratuitous digging

Office assistant

Truffle basically follows me everywhere I go in the house, including the 'office', as I call the back bedroom I use as a study. She helps me with paperwork by sitting on it, batting pens around, walking over the computer keyboard and sitting in front of the screen, effectively blocking it. She also shows a lively interest in the blind cord, which she cuffs with her paw, and enjoys climbing up the bookcase, knocking down ornaments - and also Christmas cards at the moment - in her wake, to reach the button-backed pins on the pin board, which she loves to chew. 

Tired out from all that helping

Button chewing and locket lunging

The button chewing almost deserves a category of its own, as it is a wide-ranging fetish that extends to any button on my clothes, duvet covers etc. I have yet to show her the contents of my button box, as that way could lie sensory overload and emergency gastric surgery. She does seem to have a penchant for putting all sorts of inappropriate items in her mouth and having a go at eating them, including paper clips, pine cones, dead matches, the wrapper of a feminine hygiene product over the precise identity of which we shall draw a veil, and supermarket receipts.

Then whenever she is on my lap Truffle also leaps up at my silver locket, whose tantalising mix of 'swingy' and 'shiny' is proving irresistible.

'A View to a Kill...'

Flex flicking and fascination with fronds

It is frankly a miracle that there are still any working electrical appliances in this house, as Truffle is completely fascinated by flexes of all kinds. The iPhone lead has visible tooth marks on it, and I am constantly on the look-out for places to charge my phone which she might overlook. Ironing is also a particular challenge - both in terms of the iron cord and the extension cable I plug it into...and don't even get me started on the Christmas tree lights!

Truffle's enduring fascination with leafy plants - the foofier and frondier the better - has proved most problematic, and owing to the toxicity of some of her leafier favourites, the cheese plant has been binned and the dracaena and sago palm rehomed with Vera across the road, who is noted in the street for providing a last chance saloon for plants that are unloved, peaky or downright hazardous, as in the present case.

The 8 foot tall ponytail palm is mercifully benign!

 Wool sucking and knitting wars

The first time Truffle started to suck my jumpers and make lapping noises while burrowing deep into my lap, I was a little alarmed. Having looked this phenomenon up on the Internet, I gather that she is simply nostalgic for her mother's and grandmother's milk, and is checking out the lactating potential of my wardrobe of woollies - so far to no avail. Meanwhile, it is proving nigh on impossible to knit while Truffle is around, as she can't resist grabbing (and biting!) the ends of the needles and taking a swipe at the constantly dancing strand of the ball of wool. Which she would also suck if I didn't intercept her sharpish. I have already swapped to shorter, less provocative needles, but my knitting projects continue to beguile.

The knitting equivalent of contributory negligence

Chasing patterns on tableware

Truffle is still primarily eating sachets of wet food, though she can graze on a bowl of small bore kitten kibble through the day. It's a bit of luck really as I can't get her to drink water. Instead, she seems mesmerised by the patterns on the dish and saucer, and shoves them across the kitchen floor like a more embellished version of an ice hockey puck.

Wainscot woodlice vigils

Okay, so I may in fact mean skirting board, but the alliterative urge won out. For Truffle has recently taken to staking out a couple of little holes either side of the panelling by the kitchen door, sitting there rapt for minutes at a time. I take this to be a woodlice vigil, and am encouraged that her hunting interest is already so keenly developed, suggesting that one day she will also be good for spiders of all gauges.

Hiding in waste paper baskets

I am pleased to say that Truffle's under the bath hiding days are over. The vet said it was inadvisable, for as she grows she might get stuck in there and impossible to extract without completely dismantling the bathroom fixtures. Accordingly the hole is now well and truly wedged with bags of tights that mould to fit the oddly shaped gaps, a sponge bag, toilet roll, and a bottle of lavatory cleaner. Meanwhile, Truffle has taken to hiding in the dining room waste paper basket, which I very much hope is not indicative of self-esteem issues. 

'You are so not rubbish!'

Comprehensive obstruction of the laundry process

I was talking to Val of APJ the other day about the difficulty of seamlessly changing bedding with a kitten in tow - or as it turns out, her grown up cat, Meeps, who also likes to lounge sybaritically on the very sheet / mattress protector you are trying to remove / smooth out etc. 

Pointy ears temporarily tamed by pillow packaging

Truffle is an absolute past mistress at this, and having raked around and stuck her head into everything that has an opening, she likes nothing more than to adopt an Odalisque pose on the duvet which you have still not managed to change.

So there you have it, Truffle's Twelve Tics of Christmas...Oh, and here is one for luck...like her owner, Truffle enjoys a festive tipple.

Including a nice G & T, I am pleased to say!

Gin & Truffle

It just remains to wish readers everywhere a very happy Christmas from the two of us, and to ask you to share with us your own cat's idiosyncrasies - it might help me feel that my kitten is a little bit less demented!

Looking deceptively tic-less
Oh, and here - and at the top of the post - you can see my deliberately tiny, fake, low down, tinsel and soil-free Christmas tree. Kitten access to it is strictly supervised, but she still manages to have a jolly good pop at the low-hanging baubles.

Star made by a friend and dedicated to Truffle on the back!


Tara said...

Wow, 6 weeks gone just like that. So nice to get the story so far and hear about Truffle's adventures. It wouldn't be right if she wasn't at lest a little bit Bonkers.

The "automated wash programme" is too funny but clearly she only finds feline ears worth washing :)

Love the photo of her on top of your head in the bath! She's a sweetheart and it's lovely to read what a great companion she is. It must be nice to have company while working - except for when she sites right in front of the screen of course!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

She is sitting on my lap as I type! Not sure that is brilliant for posture, but not to worry. I guess being a bit bonkers is all part of the 'brand', hehe.

Gosh, if she had a go at my ears she'd soon think better of it.

Yes, she is impossibly sweet and extremely good company. All the co-sleeping seems to be paying dividends in terms of 'attachment', because I can't even go to the bathroom on my own anymore. ;)

odiferess said...

Aaaw, happy Christmas to you and Truffle and a little loving head butt from Joseph. You know you are at least 20% responsible for my new motherhood!

Unknown said...

Oh my God... I'm so happy that Truffle is not only the cutest little thing, but also the feline companion you had hoped for. It's difficult to say with kittens...they can turn out in very different ways, but she is adorable. I can't wait to meet her.

crikey said...


ahem. excuse me.

good lord, but she's pretty. And she sounds as sweet and funny as she looks. So happy you found each other.

The Scented Hound said...

Cuteness overload. I love it!

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

Thanks, and the same to you. I am glad to have been partly responsible for your new addition - you just need a cat called Mary and a kitten in a manger to complete the nativity set. Very pleased for you.

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

Truffle is incredibly companionable - if this isn't just a phase she will be the most affectionate and clingy cat I have ever owned. And I don't mind that at all. ;)

Vanessa said...

Thanks, Crikey! She is all of those things, and a little bit naughty for good measure, if that is not a contradiction in terms.

Vanessa said...

Hi Steve,

I knew it was an overload, hence the disclaimer at the start. But I am glad you didn't mind! ;)

Thinkingmagpie said...

Wow, 6 weeks have already gone?? She seems to be growing up so fast! She is sooooo cute! I miss having cats!!!

crikey said...

forgive me. I get incoherent in the face of so much cuteness.This is pretty accurate, I think: https://xkcd.com/231/

Herschel is also an enthusiastic digger. She sometimes digs purely for entertainment... trotting off to a clean box for a 2 minute scratch about with no other business in mind.

Vanessa said...

That's a funny infographic!

Interesting to hear that Herschel is another gratuitous litter digger. Definitely a sport here too.

Vanessa said...

Hi Yuki,

Yes, the time has flown by! And she is growing like a weed. Is it completely impractical for you to have cats where you are? That's a shame, if you love them.

Asali said...

I LUV TRUFFLE! She's so cute. I don't read any of the Kitten ticks as anything out of the ordinary in a bad way, most of them I'm pretty sure I've encountered before save the bathtub which I haven't got :-(
My fur-Godchild's morning routine is to first purr enticingly in my face, when that fails, walking from side to side on my face and chest purring and kneading. When/ if that fails she'll start 'pooming' her paw in my face (no longer purring).
Oh, and obviously changing duvet covers, making beds, also guest beds are an invitation to big time PLAY!

KoolKat said...

What a furry little bundle of joy - makes me wish my 2 Maine-coons were kittens again, but they are now 6 year olds who behave in a kitten -ish way until they remember and looks a bit shame faced!!

Anonymous said...

What a darling! You should Enter Truffle in Kittenwar! which is much less martial than it sounds. All the best for the holidays...AnnieA

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

I suppose you are right that they are more normal than I remember - it is 20 years since I have had kittens, and cats don't do most of this kind of behaviour. I don't think even my kittens were anywhere near as boisterous and into anything but it could be that they were letting off steam with each other.

Yes, the walking on one's face is another tactic, haha, and the chest sitting. I had neck sitting all night last night which was actually quite uncomfortable. I like the word 'pooming' - is that a sort of patting / batting?

Vanessa said...

Hi Liz,

She is a bundle of joy 90% of the time, though she has been a bit naughty this morning jumping up on my antique rosewood bureau with her claws out. I guess to her it is just another piece of furniture that is fun to climb on.

I love the sound of your Maine coons - I know just what you mean about cats looking shamefaced, they definitely have the ability to look embarrassed when they think they have done something silly. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

I will have to google Kittenwar. It does sound rather martial - is it more of a beauty contest? Oh, I found it and uploaded a picture of her, haha. Not one I have used on here even.

All the best to you for Christmas and the New Year!

Undina said...

I know it's Christmas, New Year and all those hopes for better future that should come with the season, but as your friend who has just celebrated her cat's seventh birthday (literally: just hours ago), I have to tell you that none of the described "tics" will probably ever go away (ok, I've never tried knitting in Rusty's presence, so I wouldn't know about that) ;)

But I'll see all Truffle's tics and raise you Rusty's eating plastic. Well, he eats (or would eat if allowed) almost any food but with it he risks loosing his "boyish" figure and maybe some indigestion. But with plastic - and we're talking zip locks, grocery and garbage bags, clothes covers and even windows in postal envelopes - we're constantly afraid he'll seriously harm himself. So all areas in the house to where Rusty has access are religiously plastic-free.

Merry Christmas to both of you!

crikey said...

Herschel is another plastic eater. It's awful. And she has this unbelievable ability to find *any* plastic bags or bubble wrap in the place. Last night she consumed about a metre of curly parcel ribbon--which I had foolishly forgotten to tuck into a drawer after present unwrapping--which I found in a chucked-up mess *before* coffee. I'm convinced she's going to drop dead of her plastic eating. (it was bad enough that my ancient kitty was a plastic licker. A terrible sound with a little raspy tongue on a crinkly bag.) The windows of window envelopes though, damn, but that's a serious dedication to plastic...

p.s. happy birthday to your mog!

Undina said...

The first time I saw that envelope's window half-eaten, I couldn't believe my eyes. Now we have to hide our mail as well. And on Christmas Eve Rusty managed to chew off an edge of the crochet plastic table cover. And I don't think he was trying to make a point about using real linen tablecloth... Or was he?

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Belated Christmas greetings to you too! Just catching up with things after the holiday hiatus.

And belated Happy 7th Birthday to Rusty! I am a little concerned that some of these tics are not merely a sign of kittenish exuberance...I am going to be completely exhausted and run ragged when Truffle is seven!

I was interested and concerned to read of Rusty's plastics fetish - in our modern world that's a lot of vigilance to keep him away from all possible plastic eating opportunities, especially if they also run to window envelopes, hehe.

Vanessa said...

Hi Crikey,

Oh crikey! What a salutary tale about Herschel's parcel ribbon eating - put wrapping materials away immediately, or be faced with a disturbing sight in the blink of a digestive tract...Am now also imagining the discordant sound of a raspy tongue on a plastic bag - the sound of Truffle's tongue on my eyelid isn't too pleasant, and I am not sure it counts as exfoliating, even.

Vanessa said...

Undina, I am not sure Rusty wasn't making a style statement by chewing the plastic crocheted tablecloth, hehe. On high days and holidays he may expect a bit of effort - and damask. ;)

Asali said...

It's sort of patting but with an aggressive undertone ;-) 'poom' aka get out of bed now 'poom' get up! 'Poom' 'POOM' and me surrendering.

AustralianPerfumeJunkies said...

I love how happy Truffle has so obviously helped you become. What a cutie she is.
Portia xxx

Vanessa said...

Portia, that is so true. She really does give affection in a way not all cats do - or certainly the ones I have owned in the past have not been half as soppy, say. xx

Pith Fragrances said...

What an adorable kitten! I love the photo of her hiding in the plant, and of her precious little ears folded by the pillow casings. It makes me miss the times when my cats were still wee ones...although they still do many laughable and super-cute things now, even as adults. Take care and happy wishes for the new year for you and little Truffle!

hayley said...

Hope you and Truffle had a lovely Xmas and new year, love the pics she is very cute, my elder cat (17) still likes to knead and do the weird lapping thing whenever I have my fluffy dressing gown on! Bless x

Vanessa said...

Hi Pith Fragrances,

The one of her flattened ears is particularly comical, I agree. ;)

I am glad your grown up cats still do cute things - I hope Truffle will retain a kittenish streak - in a good way.

Happy New Year to you too!

Vanessa said...

Hi Hayley,

Yes we did, thank you, and I hope you also enjoyed the holidays. What fun about your elderly cat still doing the 'weird lapping thing'. I may have many years of that to look forward to with Truffle, haha.

Poodle said...

She's adorable. I hope you had a fun Christmas and New Year's. It looks like she's keeping you on your toes. I sympathize with you having to watch her to make sure she doesn't swallow something she's not supposed to. My pup is that same way. We're always on high alert now. Hopefully she'll settle down and let you knit again someday. Lol.

Ingeborg said...

Happy new year! I hope your Cristmas ornaments survived and that both you and Truffle have had happy holidays.

What's with cats and clean duvet covers anyway? My stepmother's adult cat Cleo managed to hide inside one during the holidays and at such times she does not answer to her name in any way, so we were really looking everywhere, knowing she was not outside in the cold. She seems to be more or less 100 % a Norwegian Forest cat, so most of the time she will find a high window or the open staircase to sit on to be able to get a good idea about what's going on. She's not much for cuddling, but that also means she won't try too hard to get into guests' beds, knowing we are several people who cannot cope with that. On the other hand she follows us around the house a lot of the time, so she's a great companion for my elderly father whenever he's not working.

Vanessa said...

I completely get it now - and what an onomatopoeic (sp?) word for it!

Vanessa said...

Hi Poodle,

We did have a lovely time, thanks, and I hope you did too. Though I must say that I am a mite sleep-deprived today after a night of head pummelling, which in hindsight was the very hygiene-conscious Truffle asking me to sort out her litter tray as a matter of urgency!

I do have to watch the swallowing thing, yes, especially small objects that catch her eye. Today I had sprayed foam cleanser in the bath and she went to jump in it. ;) Quickly intercepted and followed by a round of forcible paw wiping on a dish cloth!

Amazingly I am getting a bit of knitting done, but only while she sleeps...

Vanessa said...

PS My understanding is that pups need even more watching generally than kittens - you have to house train them too, right? Though they are great for getting you out of the house to walk them!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ingeborg,

Same to you - we are all more or less intact, thank you! I hope you had a good Christmas break.

That's a funny story about your stepmother's cat. I can imagine that being the last place to think of looking, though you would know to check the bedding if she ever went missing again, hehe. I have seen pictures of those Norwegian Forest cats and wondered if there might be a bit of that breed in fact in Undina's Rusty? The companionable aspect for your father is great, and I am very much enjoying that aspect - Truffle is on my lap at the moment in fact, looking up at me as I (try to!) type.

Anonymous said...

Dear Vanessa!

First of all, hope you and Truffles will have a very happy and fun 2016!

I wish I was better at taking pictures of my own kitten (now 8 months old but still looking like 4; poor thing was constantly batted away from the feeding trays and as a result has a growth deficiency) but I am just too lazy…

You asked about the idiosyncrasies of our cats; the one about gratuitous cat litter digging definitely rings a bell, for I have never met a cat who digs around with such grim determination as my own little Siberian. I am very happy I have a covered litter box, because it seems she digs like a dog… litter spraying the sides and top (!) as if she buried something she’s desperate to retrieve. Also, whenever I go clean the box she comes running, sits down and deposits a nr 1, as if so say “hold on, if you’re cleaning might as well take this one out as well”. Strange beast. Other than that she just does your basic kitten things; go after strings, wadded up paper balls, follow me everywhere and just being cute as can be. Oh, and getting set on fire…. (short story: was heating up a pan of water for pasta, cat jumped on the stove, her fluffy fur got a tad too close and whoosh… I surprised myself by being lightning quick and grabbing her off the stove, while simultaneously grabbing a tea towel for smothering the flames. Luckily she did not get hurt at all, only the fur scorched a bit – which stank mightily I should add. For sure it looked far more dramatic than it ended up being, thank heaven!).
One final thing I would like to mention (sorry for hogging your post by the way), and it’s about cat food. When I was finally ready for a new kitty two months back, I decided to do some proper research on things such as, amongst others, how to feed one’s cat. And I found a very interesting site; it was set up by a vet, and to be honest it makes a lot of sense. Basically it urges all cat owners to stay away from dry food, and to feed wet only . She also talks about other things by the way, such as cat litter. I have to say it was eye opening in a lot of ways. I hope it is ok to provide the link here; if not, just google Dr Lisa Pierson! [ link is http://www.catinfo.org/ ]
Anyway, sorry for the wall of text! And I do indeed think Rusty has a touch of the Norwegian forest cat, or perhaps a bit of Maine Coon? (Or Siberian! They’re also verrrry fluffy!)

All the best from Wendy and Shima the Siberian kitty.

Vanessa said...

Hey Wendy,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a funny and informative comment - you are not hogging my post at all!

The story of Shima's litter tray behaviour had me smiling - and Shima is also very close to the name Shimna that I considered for Truffle - especially her nipping back to do a No 1 to save you duplicating your cleaning activities later. If only babies could be so considerate, though I believe the 'soil a clean nappy' reflex is deeply ingrained. ;)

What a scary story about your cat getting her fur singed, but I am glad it had a happy ending. The fact that it was a bit longer and fluffier may have been a blessing, in that it prevented her skin for getting burnt. That was quick reacting all right. ;)

I have wondered long and hard about the dry /wet food conundrum and will take a good look at that link. At the moment, Truffle has a bit of a tummy upset, so the vet told me to feed her human chicken and fish, and everything has settled down I am pleased to say. She wouldn't touch the strange new food unless I made it a little wet, mind, which is interesting. Am so glad I figured that out or she would be starving now!

Must also look up pics of Siberian cats, as I am not sure I have seen them before.

Anonymous said...

Well, Siberians are very similar to Norwegian forest cats and Maine Coons.. some small differences in terms of head shape, eye shape and whatnot, but they're all big breeds and verrrrrry fluffy!

Sorry to hear about Truffle's tummy problems. My first cat used to have a lot of intestinal problems, so I know how worrying that might get (hope you will never have to learn what "explosive diarrhea" in cats looks like.. nuff said). If you are feeding her chicken, you might as well also try giving her a raw chicken drumstick... that way she'll be able to gnaw on the bone, which is good for the teeth (don't cook it though, as the bone might splinter!)...

have a lovely weekend all!

Vanessa said...

Hi Wendy,

Big fluffy breeds, I get the general idea. Must take a fair bit of grooming, I imagine?

Truffle is on the mend now, thanks, and I am gradually weaning her back onto kitten food after what seems like days and days of microwaving frozen haddock. I did also give her chicken but didn't do the drumstick trick. I gnawed on it myself, though, hehe!

Next time...;)