Sunday 12 November 2017

More cat capers, feline felonies, and fur-raising high jinks: a two year Truffle anniversary special

Last Friday marked the two year anniversary of Truffle coming to live with me: I vividly recall the long, foggy car journey from Leicester, during which the little ball of fluff on the passenger seat beside me cheeped all the way to her new home. Two years on, she is fully grown, with battle scars, a loving but feisty nature, and a healthy disregard for the concept of being anyone's pet - the cat equivalent of  'chattel', if you will. Would that be 'cattel' by any chance? One of the 'takeaways' from my recent post on why readers comment on blogs was that more pictures of Truffle would be welcomed. So I thought that as it is nearly a year since I last featured a slew(!) of photos in a post dedicated to my cat's antics, it might be time for another, and the aforementioned anniversary presented an ideal opportunity.

Coincidentally, Truffle (and cats more generally) have been on my mind this week, as I decided to apply to several national pet sitting websites as a carer in the Stafford area - specifically for cats, though I gather the big money is to be made on simultaneously walking the dogs of different owners, rather than visiting a single cat in its home. Be that as it may, cat sitting is my chosen calling, and accordingly I set about creating 'compelling profiles' about myself and my cat caring history, to persuade owners why they should award their cat sitting gig to me. You also had to compile a gallery of photos: these might be of your own cat, or other people's cats you had looked after, or both! One site required me to take a sort of online exam, and answer questions about how I would act in particular scenarios, such as 'the dog you are looking after has been involved in an accident'. The answer to which was either 'not applicable' or prefaced by the statement that I would be recasting this question to refer to cats. (Some of these sites started out by offering dog care only, and have only recently 'grafted on' cats, as it were.)

Here, for example, is my profile on Pawshake:

"I am bonkers about cats, a 'cat person' to the core. I have owned them all my life (insofar as anyone can be said to 'own' a cat - which isn't very far, obviously). My parents got a kitten the week I was born - possibly in case I was a disappointment. ;) The present incumbent is a two year old tabby and white called Truffle, who is extremely adventurous, with a special flair for tree climbing, shed roof leaping, and sabotaging knitting. She is also very loving, and a surprisingly compliant user of her radiator bed, despite its being specifically for that purpose. Some early photos of Truffle are in fact the first hit in Google if you search for 'bonkers kitten'(!). 
As well as my own, I have cared regularly for other people's cats for the past five years, and see cat sitting as an excellent way to get to meet more of these quirky and lovable creatures. I am in my late 50s now, and realistically won't have lived with more than eight cats in a whole lifetime, and even that has required a few 'double ups' along the way. If I pass a cat in the street I always say hello, and am also compiling a portfolio of photos of local cats randomly sitting on walls. If I get up to 12, I might have the makings of a calendar!
I specialise purely in cat sitting, in the form of up to two home visits a day. Job-wise I am a self-employed industrial market researcher, and when I have work it is very flexible and largely home-based, nicely fitting around pet care commitments."

Me with a friend's cat, Hector (early 80s)

If you click on this link, it will take you to my profile on the site, including a gallery of photos. (As if there weren't going to be enough in this post, haha.) The websites take about 20% commission, but look after all the public liability and vetting of clients side of things, giving me as their agent an added layer of security.

But on to what Truffle has been up to, 'up' being the operative word, for she is proving to be the jumpiest cat of any I have ever known, and the most given to perching on high surfaces.

High jinks of the jumping kind

Here she is caught in mid-jump between my garden wall and next door's shed. It has taken me many months of patiently waiting - and experimenting with shutter speeds - to capture the jump itself.

And here is Truffle climbing on top of the kitchen cupboards. She had taken to sitting there last thing at night, prompting me to put her old fleecy bed up there, which hasn't been in use since she was a kitten, when it acted as a (quite unnecessary!) booster seat on the sofa.

And there she is two years on, in her bed but considerably higher up! Please excuse the peeling wallpaper on the kitchen ceiling. That will all be tackled as part of a bigger project to combat damp in several areas at the rear of the house, pending the acquisition of work(!) and funds.

Supervising works

Speaking of my damp problem, another noticeable facet of Truffle's character is her interest in supervising 'works' of any kind undertaken around the house, whether by me or designated tradespeople. Well, I say round the house, but she was also extensively involved in overseeing (quite literally!) the decluttering of the garage, a much-deferred task of Augean stables proportions to which I dedicated a whole post back in the summer. Which reminds me, I have yet to write that post about the perfume memorabilia I found in there!

But firstly, here we are, changing the toilet seat. "You read the instructions, while I sit on the packaging." Cat owners amongst you will recognise this as a variant of 'sitting on important things', in this case an important piece of toilet seat-shaped cardboard I appear to have thoughtlessly discarded on the floor.

And here she is, keeping a watchful eye on the joiner's toolbox. "You won't forget to tidy this lot away afterwards, will you?"

And as billed, below are a couple more shots from the big garage clear out / clean up, which afforded perfect crossover opportunities for 'supervision of works' and 'perching on high surfaces'. Yes, Truffle was quite happy to get 'up and dirty' herself - you can just about make out a cobweb slung between her ears in the first picture.

"Is this really the best spot for the Christmas tree?"

Lying in wait at a major traffic intersection

Another common form taken by Truffle's 'sitting about watching me' is what I can best describe as a kind of 'lying in wait', to see what my next move will be. It is not exactly that Truffle wants to be with me, for it wouldn't take much to find out where I was in the house. No, it's more that she wants to keep me in several lines of sight at once - and where I cannot fail to trip over her.

Sometimes Truffle's curiosity gets the better of her, and she edges that little bit closer to where I am, though still without technically joining me. In the photo below she is heading off my access from the bathroom, a pose which doubles up as 'sitting on important pyjamas'.

And in this one Truffle is ever so slightly in the office, but not quite tipping over into a category I featured last time of 'Keeping my owner in line'.

Her expression is more one of mild interest I would say, rather than disapproval. Though she does still give me some of those looks too!

'Signature folded paw' gesture

The above photo leads me nicely into Truffle's signature paw gesture, in which her right front paw (always this one), is tucked under itself, something I wouldn't have thought was actually all that comfortable.

In this shot, another 'lying in wait outside the bathroom' pose, minus my pyjamas, Truffle is clearly saying: "Hey, I'll be the judge of whether this is comfortable or not!"

Impeding domestic activities

The signature paw pose segues neatly into the category 'impeding domestic activities', chief amongst them being 'impeding bed changing'.

Getting in the way of the weekly duvet change - on either bed - is great sport to Truffle, as it is to Val the Cookie Queen's cat Meeps, and possibly all cats! Truffle likes nothing better than to hide in the snowy folds of the outgoing duvet cover, or sprawl on the freshly laid clean sheet, much like protestors sitting down on a road. Only whereas protestors usually have a cause to which they are trying to draw attention by their blockade, Truffle's determination to sit on bedding seems to be an end in itself.

"Gosh, these are quite deep as fitted sheets go."

This category is of course merely another manifestation of 'Disobedience', which I had in the previous post, but it is such an ongoing issue that I felt it warranted another comprehensive airing. And airing is the perfect introduction to this series of photos of Truffle 'hunting' the old washing line, right as I was in the middle of trying to take it down and replace it.

Here she is, pausing in her savaging of the line for a moment to channel Tommy Cooper.

And now it is back to the serious business of chewing the line, while managing to do a passable impression of a flautist.

And finally, even Truffle has had enough. "Go on, Mum, put the new one up if you want...this one's definitely dead."

No post on impeding domestic activities would be complete without a photo of wool worrying. Check out that glazed look of ecstasy!

This time round I also have a picture for you of Truffle 'chowing on down' on knitting needles. Brand new ones to boot, that had only just arrived in the post as you can see. Perhaps she thought they were chopsticks that needed a bit of 'running in'.

Then, as you won't be surprised to learn, office-related disruption continues unabated. Stationery items, ornaments and perfume vials go missing on a daily basis, only to turn up months later in a terrified huddle under the bookcase or other sturdy and immovable object.

As touched on in the previous post, Truffle has always liked to play with sources of heat - and light - from an early age.

I don't light an open fire in the front room very often, but on the rare occasions I do, pyrotechnician Truffle obviously has to be involved.

The final category of misdemeanour involves unprotected upholstered furniture - Truffle openly flaunts the 'no sitting on pale fabrics' rule in every room in the house where she spies a qualifying chair.

"Any chair you were foolish enough to cover in cream damask deserves everything it gets."

And in case I have given the impression that Truffle is more wilful and disobedient than otherwise, let me redress the balance by adding a picture that shows her still compliantly using her radiator bed, whilst also being suffused in light in a somewhat spectral Close Encounters kind of a way.

Staying with our 'suffused in light' theme, here is fellow blogger Sabine playing with Truffle during her visit on a sunny day last June.

So yes, Truffle is very much a cat who walks by herself, yet who likes to know where I am much of the time. "I've got my eye on you....."


Anonymous said...

Oh so mucn to say. And I did have something to say on your lipstick post so I'll go back and do that.
But first about Truffle. Thanks so much for all the pictures. Gave me lots of smile. Don't know if I've met a cat so enthralled with rooftops. Or maybe they didn't have the same
opportunity. Truffle will always bless you for accepting her cupboard-top perch and making it cosy. Every cat needs to feel safe, a kind of I can see you but you can't see/reach me. And of course cats must supervise rather than leaving it some mere mortal. Imagine a disdainful dowager cat rather than the eager, let me in to help make a mess. You may have heard that dog's have owners and cats have staff. ;-)
I have done a lot of cat sitting, but not in a professional manner. I started with a friend and then the word spread. Sat regularly for about 8 people, about 15 cats over time Only occasionally did I sit for a friend of a friend though requests were frequent. I am very particular on location. I was popular for being someone who would actually move in rather than come over twice a day. I am too lazy for that regimen. It's all or nothing. Really, what I wanted was to immerse myself in cat because living circumstances prevent me from having one. The whole profile thing is interesting and I guess it's necessary in the whole airbnb way. If that amusing profile doesn't get you a gig then those are the meanest cat "owners" ever to prevent their cats from meeting you.
As for bedmaking, almost every cat I've sat does that. I thinks it's a combination of being a bother, marking these fresh linens with her body odor and hair so you won't forget your bed is theirs, and the simple pleasure of the warmth of items from the dryer.
Aren't cats wonderful!


The easiest way to get cat hair off upholstery is to put on a rubber glove of the kind that is used for dishwashing and stroke it across the fabric. The rubber material and the ridges make them ideal.

Anonymous said...

Aaaaaah! A lovely way to start the day, drooling over pictures of the lovely Truffle.

I think that helping with/impeding changing the bed must be in cats' job descriptions, at least in those of all my past and present kitties, and of course there is nothing like being the first person to luxuriate in the fresh linen.

Happy anniversary to you and Truffle, and good luck with getting LOTS of cat-sitting jobs!


Anonymous said...

It may be obvious, but I meant to say "dog" in my description of the "eager to help make a mess" creature.

Tara said...

I knew I wasn't the only one who wanted more Truffle on the blog! Fab pics of her in various modes of blockade, lying in wait, up high and wool worrying etc. Her signature folded paw pose is also very cute.

A very happy anniversary to you both. What a brilliant forever home you've provided for her. It must have been lovely to discover her personality and quirks over those two years. "Feisty and loving" is a great combination and presumably, not a common one.

Odiferess said...

Oh that post was satisfying!
I welcome more frequent Truffle antics in pictorial form. I can identify with most of her cat quirks. In particular 'sitting on things', 'resting atop a kitchen unit' and 'supervision' are all favourite daily activities of Joseph.
Happy two year anniversary to you both x

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

Thanks so much for your lovely long comment! It is fascinating how cats love that 'king of the castle feeling', peering down from the battlements. That is very much the look Truffle gives me from her kitchen cupboard eyrie. Good job it isn't an actual eyrie or I would fear for the birds, even ones of prey.

Love 'disdainful dowager'. That is Truffle's supervising MO to a 'T'.

I say, what a lot of cat sitting you have done! You certainly have the experience of a pro, even if it wasn't done on a paid basis. I would consider the living in option - in her latter years my mum used to do that all over the country for a variety of animals - but obviously it is not practical with having Truffle at home who would need to be looked after while I was away seeing to other people's pets. ;)

Thanks for saying the profile is 'engaging'. I am hoping there will be clients who like the slightly bonkers cut of my jib.

I think you are spot on about cats' reasons for sitting on clean bedding. Val the Cookie Queen regularly posts pics on Facebook of her cat Meeps caught in flagrante on duvet changing day.

I must try that rubber glove trick now!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

I do so agree that impeding bed changing is in cats' DNA! White bedding holds a particular attraction, especially right after they have come in from playing in the flower beds on a damp autumn morning.

Thanks for your good wishes in my new pet sitting venture!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Thanks for your anniversary wishes, and for saying I have given Truffle a good home. She has certainly had a fair selection of jumping opportunities, and numerous locations to sleep in. Your radiator bed is still the gift that keeps on giving. ;)

I have never had a cat with the sheer amount of personality that Truffle has, and I do agree that 'feisty and loving' is an odd combo of traits. I think I have discovered all her quirks now, but time will tell!

Vanessa said...

Hi Odiferess,

I was very much inspired by Joseph's new kitchen cupboard top perch to think of putting her old basket up there, and am not surprised you can relate to those other things too. ;) The 'sitting on things' is an ever-present compulsion, the more important the item the better.

Tatiana said...

Love all the photos of Truffle! Particularly the one where she is in mid-jump. She seems a very adventurous cat indeed. If you lived in Northern California I would hire you as a cat sitter for my elderly cat Nora in a heartbeat. I hope you get many gigs watching cats for others in your area.

Anonymous said...

Truffle makes my day! Can't comment more than a few lines because frozen shoulder in its painful phase )-:. One of my favourite posts ever on Bonkers. Thank you!

Vanessa said...

Aw, thank you, Tatiana! I would love to live in Northern California: having visited friends in Occidental, it is a favourite spot of mind. And if I did, I would of course be delighted to care for Nora. Meanwhile, cats closer to home are probably a more realistic bet. ;)

Vanessa said...

Oh, Hamamelis, so sorry to hear your frozen shoulder is giving you trouble at the moment - sounds nasty. I am glad this post was a bit of a distraction from that!

Undina said...

Great post, I enjoyed all the pictures - both here and on your profile. I would second Tatiana in her desire to hire you as a cat sitter :) I hope it works for you, and there are enough smart people with cats who would appreciate your profile and use your services.

Truffle is adorable! Her face is so beautiful and she looks very smart. I recognize most of the traits but I must say that Rusty is much less adventurous than Truffle, especially when it comes to heights.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Haha, glad you approve. I hope something comes of the various websites, and it is certainly worth a go.

Thank you for your kind comments about Truffle's pulchritude and intelligence! She will be well pleased with that. Obviously Rusty is used to being an indoor cat, with fewer jumping opportunities overall vs the great outdoors. I do find Truffle's adventurous side very amusing at times, even though it caused me great alarm when she went through the roof that time. ;)

teardrop said...

De-lurking once again to thank you Vanessa for this wonderful post, & to congratulate you & Truffle on your anniversary! She is totally adorable & so photogenic, & I admire your well-rewarded patience in capturing that wall-to-shed leap. Any cat owner would be bonkers not to hire you!

Vanessa said...

Hi teardrop!

Thank you so much for de-lurking again. It was lovely to see you pop up again. Truffle is now basking in your compliment about her looks, while I am basking in your kind words about my photography skills. Or my dogged persistence certainly, if you will pardon the pun / mixed metaphor. ;)

Asali said...

Aawwwwwwww! Love the post and happy anniversary to you both.
And best of luck with the cat sitting. I hope for your nearby cats that they will get sitted by you.
That last pic ❤️❤️❤️

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

Glad the post had the awwww factor for you! Thanks for your good wishes for my new sitting venture. Speaking of which, Truffle is sitting on my lap as I type...