Bizarre behaviour in Fortress H

Mrs H has a rotten cold. Nothing startling there, just about everybody I know either has one or is getting over it. Brat Minor introduced it to Fortress H, Brat Major caught it, I succumbed to it, so I guess it was inevitable that Mrs H would get it.

Mrs H has a rotten cold. Nothing startling there, just about everybody I know either has one or is getting over it. Brat Minor introduced it to Fortress H, Brat Major caught it, I succumbed to it, so I guess it was inevitable that Mrs H would get it.

I mention Mrs H's suffering in case it explains her strange behaviour. Every so often she will go through a period where her brain plays tricks. The other day two incidents occurred in rapid succession.

She went to the kitchen to get something to soothe her cold symptoms. I had been stood down for the evening and was minding my own business in the north wing. Suddenly Mrs H steamed in.

“Do you know,” she exclaimed. “I went to take some cough medicine and found myself holding an empty egg box!”

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OK, so let's pass this one off by saying her mind was on other things. But she told me this after she had just delved into her handbag to retrieve her mobile phone and stood there clutching a plastic container of artificial sweeteners.

“What is wrong with me?” she exploded. “You know, I do get worried sometimes about some of the things I do.”

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Hmm… I rather thought this column had been raising that issue for some years.

“You're not very well; and you're tired,” I replied sympathetically and Mrs H wandered off. Probably to put the egg box in the washing machine.

All this makes me ask the question, do cats get colds? You see, the Mog, who has always been a spoonful short of a full bowl, is behaving equally bizarrely. Some months ago, I made mention of his 10th birthday and how he was becoming even fussier over his food. How, after years of pursuing a relatively docile life, he has taken to wailing with practically every breath he draws. Well, with those he draws while he's actually awake.

When we celebrated a decade of the Mog at Fortress H I recall wondering whether he would become increasingly cantankerous. I can now report that indeed he has.

In some ways he has regressed to a kitten. He's started carpet-digging when he wants a door opened. He hasn't done this for years.

But it's his food where he continues to be even more eccentric. You may recall I complained that he would craze to be fed but when a bowlful was placed in front of him he would sniff disdainfully at it and head for the door to be let out.

He has now taken it a stage further. He has eliminated the disdainful sniff. He watches from afar as his grub is served then goes to the back door.

Mrs H has a theory.

“He just likes to know it's there,” she maintains. “He probably wants to go to the loo, so he waits until his food is down then he knows it will be there when he comes back.”

But we have decided to fight back. Even Mrs H has got fed up with throwing away good food so if he doesn't eat it we leave it there until the next mealtime. Sometimes this will be overnight which means more hassle. We have to cover the bowl with cling film. It's like preparing him a packed lunch.

He seems to be prepared to go hungry to make his point. I hasten to add that we do make sure he has something to eat before he goes to bed; usually the special dried food his adoring owner has got “the poor little chap”. This is expensive so, of course, he will eat.

The following morning, he will go through his ritual of campaigning for food to be put down, ignore it and go out.

“Off you go Treasure Puss,” Mrs H coos as she lets him out.

Yes, I know. Honestly, Treasure Puss! And I get called NEYUL!

Anyway, Treasure Puss - er… I mean the Mog - does his business, probably has a fight with the cat up the road then mounts a wailing vigil at the back door until one of us lets him in. He marches arrogantly into the kitchen, marches straight past the fresh food and gobbles down the old grub as if it's something succulent that's been hand-cooked by Jamie Oliver!

This has become a bit of a pattern, with him eating day-old food much of the time.

I wonder what Mrs H would say if I did the same. Imagine if I was to wait until a piping hot Aubergine Bake was plonked on the table before disappearing for anything up to a couple of hours. And then, when I returned, I dived into the fridge and began eating yesterday's leftovers.

Mind you, that could mean I'd end up eating day-old Aubergine Bakes. It's bad enough when they're straight out of the oven.

Maybe that's it; perhaps some of the cat food we buy is, to the Mog, the feline equivalent of an Aubergine Bake. Perhaps I should have more sympathy with him.

But maybe then Mrs H might treat me like him. What a thought! There I am in the garden when a voice echoes around the neighnourhood.


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