Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yesterday, a friend of mine asked me about our family pets. Probably a big mistake, as she ended up with a loong email to read and WTMI about our two cats who were recently transplanted from Ouagadougou to the French Alps.
My answer went, more or less, as follows:

We have our two cats and that's trouble enough for any one family. Not that Cleo is a bother (except for her rare genetic illness that requires daily meds for the rest of her life, but I digress) She's the little muticolored cat that we found as a starved mom-cat, sitting out on our terrace in Ouaga one day, scrawny kitten in tow. I think the rest of the litter was eaten by a snake. At least, that is the family consensus, based on how Cleo hates and fears the vacuum cleaner. She hisses and attcks the hose bit of the machine like a lioness. Our other cat, a big tomcat who is usually Mr. Macho but also hates the vacuum, cowers behind Cleo for protection. It looks pretty comical, but it's quite an astonishing role switch for them.

The male is called Mr. Darcy. Gaspar Darcy, actually, but he is pretty dignified, so we mostly don't use his first name. He doesn't like it and it's best not to anger him. Unfortunately, moving to France made him very, very angry. Drugged and stuffed into a cramped Air France cat carrier bag, our normally laid back dude turned into Demon Cat. Srsly. He was scaring people, not least of all us. He growled, shorted, scratched and ripped the interior of the bag to shreds. And then he got REALLY angry. It was a race against time to get home before the bag fell to bits and the Hell Beast emerged to tear us all to bits.

Valentine found Mr. Darcy years ago as an abandoned kitten and bottle-fed him into a healthy, swaggering guy-cat adulthood. He was the King of Zogona back in Ouaga. However, here in the French countryside, he has fallen several rungs down the social ladder. His first night out, the neighborhood farmcats beat him up so badly that he has refused to go outside since. So much for the warm and simple hospitality of the rural folk. ..
So, he contents himself with terrorising me and the children here at home. We rush to do his bidding so that he doesn't pee on all our worldly belongings and/or bite us.
Not that it's easy to do what he wants. He doesn mew or gesture in any way. He just stares at us, sending telepathic messages about what his commands are. Sadly, the kids and I are NOT psychically gifted and he finds it very frustrating. That means I've been bitten on the calf twice and cleaned up mucho cat pee. He seems to have calmed down rece,tly, but just when I thought the worst was over, he managed to pee on top of a large box that I was using as a table. I'd placed some very important documents on it, including the forms and papers for the kids' bus passes for school. I scrambled around like a mad thing, blotting and cursing. Not that either did much good.
Then I got the idea of turning the hairdryer on them full blast. Now it smelled like hot cat pee. Great.
In desperation, I got out the lavender scented Febreeze and had at them. But to be honest, it didn't even make a dent in the stench.
Finally, I jammed them into an envelope and send them off. I had to or I'd never get the kids' bus passes in time for school.
Until quite recently, I was convinvced that the transport office had thrown our papers away, thinking they were a particularly disgusting practical joke.
But the cards arrived in the mail Thursday, so my kids will be able to go to school..

So, that's it, All about our cats- the only pets so far. We have no plans for dogs, rabbits, chickens or the like. Though we plan to "borrow" a small flock of sheep for half of each year. They'll keep down the grass in the back half of our property and provide a little fun for the twins, especially Mal who misses Aslan the Wonder Goat.
He is doing well, btw. Mallory talks often with his new owner (a friend of hers back in Ouaga). He wanders around the mini-farm, where there are horses, turtles, cattle and monkeys. There are also dogs, who scare poor Midnight a bit, but Aslan defends her valiantly, so we are told.

Finally: I guess it's about time to leave this blog and start a new one without the word "Africa" in the title. Any suggestions?

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