It's all 8-year-old Deanna's fault. Since she left, Ollie is a changed cat and has new and definite views about humans. Humans have always been a long distance away - speaking down at him from a god-like height. Deanna changed all that. She believed in nose to nose confrontation, with her crawling around the house on all fours. The cat loved it. Suddenly there was this new Honorary Cat crawling around after him, ready to do his slightest bidding. It was all roly-poly, tickle and bounce, giggle and shriek - Deanna even meowed at him nicely. Meal-times were conducted with Deanna watching him adoringly from just beside his plate.
Of course, it all had to end. When Deanna had gone the cat spent quite a time looking for his Honorary Cat. He even slept with the piece of string and paper that they had played with. It took him a full day to realise his playmate had gone and he didn't like it.
The performance started at breakfast. Normally he sits on the floor while I arrange his smorgasbord Not this morning. Suddenly the cat was sitting on the bench next to the food, his yowling was deafening. "You're not allowed to sit on the bench," I growled, "it's not hygienic."
I put him on the floor. In seconds he was back. We repeated the performance - six times. Slowly it was dawning on me. I put his food down by the frig and gave him a piece of my mind. "I know what you want, and I'm not doing it," I spluttered. "I am not, I repeat not, going to become an Honorary Cat, for you or anyone else."
But the cat was in yowling mode and there was no stopping him. He didn't even bother with his breakfast. He managed to trip me up twice on my way to the bathroom. When I went to get the morning paper he was on the top of the letter-box, bellowing right in my face. "No," I shouted at him, no, I'm too old and creaky to be an Honorary Cat. "I'm terrible at crawling around on all fours."
When John came in the patio later he looked at me in surprise. "Lost something?" he asked.
I looked up. It's a strange feeling crawling along on your hands and knees and being that close to the floor - you realise what a poor job you made of vacuuming. Ollie was hiding under a table ready to pounce. He had just had his breakfast and all was right with the world. "I just lost an ear-ring," I mumbled weakly, hiding Deanna's piece of paper and string.
When John had gone I stretched myself out on the floor beside the smirking cat. I wondered how long it would take Ollie to forget Deanna. Then I had a thought. Perhaps I should give Ted a ring and find out when he was coming to paper the hall-way! Ted was just the person to become an Honorary Cat.