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Life Chez Dee Episode #70: Cats in lockup and lockdown

It’s been a while since I wrote about my pesky kittens, so much so, I’d hasten to say they’re no longer kittens, having had their 1st birthday in lockdown.

We talk about all our experiences of lockdown but I thought I’d do a little bit of writing not just about my lovely cats, Claude and Pablo, but about their lockdown experience.

How can a cat be in lockdown? You may well ask. Well for those who follow and regularly read my musings, will be more than aware that for one of my cats, lockdown was rather more like lock up. Pablo, had a total hip replacement at 9 months old, after breaking his hip whilst outside literally for 5 minutes in the garden! Liverpool University managed to do this pioneering surgery for him, and give this little fella a new lease of life as a bionic cat.

Pablo’s lockdown began so he was able to rest and recover from his surgery, being caged for 8 weeks, followed by 8 weeks confined to one room of the house. Claude missed his brother terribly; his little playmate was locked up and I could tell that they were both pining for each other’s company.

To manage the situation, and to keep things calm for Pablo, we kept Claude out of the sitting room, unless we were also in there with them both. Their tendency to be silly, and tear around chasing each other was too great, and leaping over the backs of the chairs at top speed, was not part of Pablo’s rehabilitation plan!

We’d only just been letting the cats outside when Pablo’s accident happened, and so whilst Pablo was caged, we kept Claude inside too. He was always quite nervous of going outside anyway, so didn’t seem bothered that he wasn’t popping out. The weather during lockdown was fantastic. We had beautiful sunny days, and as we were all at home, the windows were thrown open and we were pottering in the garden, and so we took the decision to let Claude come outside with us.

We were nervous about letting the cats out in the first instance; it was always on my mind that our previous beautiful cat Nico was knocked down right outside our house. Claude isn’t a wanderer though, he loves being outside in the garden, happy to mooch, happy to sit nearby and watch all that’s going on, really just enjoying being with us. I suspect Claude has some Maine Coon in him, he certainly looks as though he has, but the character traits he has for not wandering far, wanting to be in our company, rather dog like behaviour I suppose, is very typical of Maine Coons. Next door’s garden is his haunt for mooching and catching frogs, otherwise he’s more often found sitting in his fern watching the hedge which seems to be full of mice, birds and frogs … there’s always plenty of rustling going on in there. The farthest he travels is to the garage next door but one, where he meets Rocky, the cat who lives next door but two, and they sit and stare at each other for hours, with plenty of cat noise going on as they glare from a social distance. They remind me of the cats you see in cartoons, making that horrid yowling noise, until they’re silenced by a bucket of water being thrown at them.

Neither of the cats are brilliant hunters, but Claude has caught his first frog, his first mouse, he even managed to jump in the air and catch a pigeon in flight, but then on looking round, and a lapse in concentration, it got away! Pablo has caught nothing except for several flies, a wasp, and a moth. Claude is fast, which surprises me, as he’s not sleek and slender like Pablo. Pablo looks and moves like panther, whereas Claude seems more bear like in his gait … but he’s incredibly fast, and if he didn’t sit in full view in the middle of the lawn, he’d likely add many creatures to his cull list.

After some regular chats with Liverpool, and a check-up X-ray to see that all was healed nicely for Pablo, it was decided that we’d reintroduce him to the garden (supervised of course). Fortunately he hasn’t shown a tendency to wander either, which is really lovely, although he’s still rather scatty and daft, and we’ve taken the decision to not allow him out unsupervised.

Pablo is a happy cat wandering in the house too. He loves being around us, and is very much a lap cat. His favourite pastimes are trying to catch the water which drips from the kitchen tap, and he’ll spend ages watching running water, and have no worries at all putting his head under the tap to see where the water is coming from. If we’re sitting in the lounge in the evening, and he doesn’t happen to be on someone’s lap, he’ll usually be found watching TV … nature programmes of course are his favourite, particularly birds or cats, but he’s equally mesmerised by aeroplanes, and recently enjoyed people watching as they walked across the screen on Travel Man.

Where Pablo will gravitate to the tap if he hears it running, Claude gravitates to scraping of bowls as he likes to clean the plates of pretty much anything dairy related … cereal, ice cream, yoghurt, and even porridge!

What I no longer require in the house is fly spray, both are equally interested in, and particularly good at catching flies.

Grooming is a pain for a cat who doesn’t like to be brushed, and being semi long hair, Claude does need plenty of this attention. I never realised how messy cats could get with long hair, and the number of times he seems to need attention at his rear end is incredible, and dangerous in more ways than one!

Thank goodness Pablo has short hair, which is rather strange I think, considering that they’re brothers, and look nothing alike. Nor are they similar in their character, with Pablo being the most gentle of cats, who never, ever swipes. So lovely is he that I know I could leave him alone with young children, and never would his claws appear. When playing, I can get him to chase my fingers, knowing that if he catches me, he won’t scratch or claw me … even then. The same cannot be said for Claude who would likely take your hand off! I would never stroke Claude without the utmost concentration. Claude by name, clawed by nature! So why is it that we never see Pablo’s claws until he decides to sit on our laps, and he is forever getting them caught in our clothes … it’s a mystery.

Claude is a very independent cat inside the house, and yet outside he couldn’t be more friendly. Go to stroke him inside the house, and his back will dip out of the way of your hand, and yet in the garden, he’s overly friendly, rubbing up, chasing balls, sticks, string, sitting with us, watching all that’s going on, following us round as we do gardening.

For the cats, lockdown has been perfect. They’ve had us at home, so they’ve had company all day, everyday … ideal for sociable cats wanting the company. The weather has been perfect in lockdown too, yes there have been plenty of rainy days of recent days, but earlier on, in full lockdown, the weather was glorious, meaning that we’ve been out in the garden doing gardening jobs and DIY, and the cats have been out with us for company. And with Pablo’s release from lockup during lockdown, that too was something quite wonderful for him, for his brother, and for all of us.

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