The company of cats

It’s been a tough year. While catching Covid was the worst thing that happened to us personally in 2022, from a national and international perspective it’s been unrelentingly grim. In a year in which the UK lost its queen after 70 years on the throne, political turmoil and financial crisis have stalked the land, the National Health Service is in meltdown, social care is collapsing and many folk can no longer afford to heat their homes or buy enough food to feed their families. Misery rules, OK! And overseas, events in the Ukraine reinforce the sense of instability and imminent jeopardy.

Malteser (aka Pudrow). Here he’s relaxing on the sofa (“HIS” sofa!) which lives in our Library Room

Are we downhearted? Well, to be honest, from time to time I am! But one of the things that has brought me a degree of comfort and solace in the dark times has been the company of cats. Two cats in particular, Milky Bar and his buddy Malteser.

Regular readers of this blog will know that although Mrs P and I have no cat of our own, Milky Bar and Malteser, who live somewhere on our street, regard our garden as part of their territory. And Malteser also lays claim to our house, although he graciously allows us to continue living here so long as we allow him access whenever he feels the need!

Milky Bar (aka EmBee). On the bridge over the pond, struggling to keep his eyes open.

We see Milky Bar most days in summer, but rather less often at this time of year. He’s a beautiful chap, although getting on a bit in years and growing stouter around the tummy. His hobby is snoozing, and he’s pleased to indulge in it at every opportunity. He regularly beds down in a nest he has built for himself under an azalea bush, but when he craves sun rather than shade he stretches out on the little wooden bridge that crosses the narrowest part of our garden pond. Here he can soak up the rays while keeping one eye open to watch out for dragonflies, which he’ll catch and eat if the fancy takes him.

Milky Bar’s favourite hobby is snoozing. He practises regularly!

Milky Bar is an aloof and somewhat cautious cat, but clearly trusts us to respect his personal space. Occasionally he will approach, softly miaowing and offering himself up to be stroked But mostly he keeps his distance, happily observing what is going on all around him. He watches with interest whenever he sees me doing the gardening (or is he in shock? I don’t do much gardening!), and allows me to approach within inches of him without stirring. We enjoy one another’s company, both understanding that there are boundaries between us that must be respected.

Occasionally Milky Bar approaches us, miaowing softly and offering himself up to be stroked. Here, he’s half way through the kitchen door.

Of course there are times when I wish Milky Bar were more affectionate, more gratuitously friendly. But that’s not his style, and his mere presence in the garden is always enough to raise my spirits.

Milky Bar doing what he does best, asleep on the bridge over the pond.

Malteser, however, is altogether more forward. He visits every day, and is normally to be found waiting outside the door when I go downstairs to make an early morning cup of tea at around 6:30am. I open up, and he dashes in. We greet one another in the time-honoured fashion, but pretty soon he gets on with business, sitting himself down in the kitchen and waiting to be fed.

The cat treats we buy are called Pawsome Pockets, “crunchy pillow treats with a soft centre.” Available in beef, chicken and salmon flavours, Pawsome Pockets are evidently very tasty, and Malteser loves them. But his meal is invariably interrupted by Mrs P, who comes downstairs to join us. Malteser breaks off and strides across the kitchen, greeting her with loud purrs and fond nuzzling. Mrs P takes over feeding duties, and the purring gets even louder. Malteser’s in heaven, and Mrs P looks pretty damned happy with life too!

Personal grooming is an activity that Malteser clearly enjoys.

When his breakfast treat is over, Malteser throws himself on to the kitchen floor, rolling on his back and inviting me to rub his belly and fondle his ears. I’m happy to oblige. As soon as I’ve done my duty he dashes upstairs to the Study. We follow, and spend the next 10 minutes entertaining him, playing “chase the ball” or “pounce on the piece of paper.” By this time his purrs are so loud that the windows almost rattle in sympathy.

Malteser loves to play. I spend more time on my hands and knees indulging him than is good for a man of my advanced years!

And then suddenly, and for no obvious reason, he evidently decides that enough is enough. He trots downstairs and waits beside the door to be let out. We are in no doubt that within a few minutes he will be visiting another of our neighbours, demanding attention and treats from them too. He’s that sort of cat.

One of Malteser’s favourite places to sit is on this blue plastic bag, which we left lying in a corner of the Study one day. He’s a somewhat eccentric cat!

Malteser may return two or three time during the day, for treats, belly rubs, playtime and lots of attention. Sometimes he simply uses us as a convenient short cut, entering by the back door them marching immediately through the house to the front door, where he demands to be let out again. And we, being desperate to please him, do just that.

When Malteser gazes up at me like this I’m powerless to resist him!

While he is with us, Malteser brightens up our lives. So thank you, Malteser, and Milky Bar too, for making a difficult year a little less difficult. And come again guys, as often as you like, in 2023: the company of cats will always be welcome here.

Malteser is almost as skilled at snoozing as Milky Bar!

And while we’re on subject of thanks, I’d also like to thank anyone out there who ever reads or comments on this blog. Your continuing interest has certainly helped keep my spirits up throughout this miserable year. How can I ever thank you? I don’t think you’d like Pawsome Pockets, and I guess it would be inappropriate – and maybe a bit creepy – to offer you a belly rub, but it’s my absolute pleasure to wish you a Merry Christmas, and Happy & Healthy New Year. Have a great time, guys!

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28 comments

  1. ThoughtsBecomeWords · December 24

    Thank you, Mr and Mrs P for such entertaining blog posts throughout the year. I am happy to say that cats appear to be universal. Our Covid-19 refugee cat walked through our door during those dark times and instantly knew that we needed her as much as she needed us. However, we have our suspicions that she eats a second evening meal elsewhere πŸ™‚ All the very best for Christmas and the New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Platypus Man · December 24

      It’s been my pleasure, Gretchen, both to share this blog with you and to swap ideas about some of the topics covered. I hope you, your family and your refugee cat have a wonderful Christmas and the New Year…even if the cat does sneak off elsewhere for second helpings!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. pjb317 · December 24

    Thank you for sharing your lovely neighbor cats! Wishing you, Mrs. P., and the cats a lovely, peaceful Christmas and a happy and healthy 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 24

      Thank you, Jo Anne. Best wishes to you and yours for the festive season, and for the New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. thelongview · December 24

    Merry Christmas and a happy, catty new year to all of you! Please wish us some cats too – we only have one very occasional visitor, Gandalf, who does not enter our house!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 24

      Thank you. I hope you, your family and Gandalf (what an excellent name for a mysterious, wandering cat!) have a wonderful Christmas, and that 2023 brings each of you peace and happiness.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Paddy Tobin · December 24

    When I was a child we had a cat which seemed to live with our neighbours as much as with us. He would vanish for days on end and it never bothered us except for the time we found him in the hotpress…after several days missing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 24

      Cats march to the beat of their own drum, I think. I had to look up “hotpress” on Google, and learned it’s what we call an airing cupboard over here. Just the sort of place I’d expect a cat to hole up! I hope yours survived his ordeal. Have a great Christmas, Paddy, and wishing you all the best for the New Year.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paddy Tobin · December 24

        Yes, an airing press but the old word stays with me from childhood and is the common expression here in Ireland. “Tubs” was completely unperturbed by his stay in the hotpress and continued to wander and ambush our dog from the top of the kitchen chair each morning for many years afterwards.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Platypus Man · December 24

        Good to know that Tubs was OK. Funnily enough, “Tubs” is my nickname for Milky Bar, a comment about all the weight he’s been putting on recently. Mrs P does not approve, says I should be more respectful!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah, Another Blogger · December 24

    Happy New Year to you and your wife. And to the cats too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 24

      You too Neil, have a great one! I hope you’re managing OK in the terrible freeze that you’ve got over there right now. It was lead story on the BBC News this morning, and sounds ghastly. Take care, my friend, and stay warm!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. June’s Travels · December 24

    Haha, Thank you for the entertaining post! Queen Elizabeth II was a global icon and remarkable lady!! Oreo & Calie are so proud of Malteser and Milky Bar, and sending their warm holiday greetings! Wishing you and Mrs P, a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year of 2023πŸŽ‰πŸŽˆπŸ˜»πŸŒΊ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 24

      Yes, our Queen was a remarkable lady. I’m 66 years old and, until a couple of months ago, had spent my entire life under her reign. I’d read about kings, of course, but only in history books. It seems so strange, now, to hear on the television news and read in newspapers about “the King”.

      Thank you for your best wishes. Mrs P and I, together with Malteser – who has called twice today for some “Pawsome Pockets”, and Milky Bar, who passed through the garden yesterday! – wish you, your family, Oreo and Calie a wonderfully festive Christmas, and a happy and healthy New Year. πŸ™‚πŸ˜ΊπŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thistles and Kiwis · December 24

    Cats – such wonderful creatures! We love our little ball of black fur, even when he wakes me up at 5am for breakfast.

    I love reading your blog so do please continue in 2023. May you and your family have a lovely festive season!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 25

      Thank you for your kind comments about my blog…there should be plenty more next year! And thank you also for your own blog, which reminds me of a wonderfully happy visit to NZ three years ago. Oh, how I wish we’d visited your beautiful land earlier in our lives!

      It is now shortly after 9:30am on Christmas morning, and Malteser has already visited twice. The first time he had some Pawsome Pockets, and a little later, when he returned, we cooked him a small piece of fish which he wolfed down greedily. Cats are great companions, but they do know how to get their own way, don’t they!

      Best wishes to you and your family for a super Christmas…or maybe I should be wishing you a Happy Boxing Day, as I guess Christmas Day is just about over down your way!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thistles and Kiwis · December 27

        Oh you are so right re cats knowing how to get their own way! Hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and all the best for 2023.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. nationalparkswitht · December 25

    Merry Christmas to you! We are a dog household, so no cats visit us. But we do have a herd of deer that hangs out in the woods behind our house. Our dogs commune with them from our deck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 25

      I like dogs too, though Mrs P had a bad experience with one as a child and so is very cautious around them. Have a lovely Christmas, and carry on your good work in 2023. Your blog reminds me of places we visited and enjoyed during our visits to the US, and reveals many other places that we would also visit if we had our time again!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Elizabeth · December 26

    Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2023 x
    I await my belly rub 🀣🀣🀣

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 26

      Your wish is my command (and indeed, my pleasure!), but maybe we’d better not tell Mrs P or Mr K? πŸ˜‰πŸ™‚ Hope Christmas is going well for you, and wishing you and your family health and happiness in the New Year/.

      Like

  10. Carol Ann Siciliano · December 28

    This story is utterly charming! I’ve never heard of a cat who makes house calls, but that’s exactly the right medicine for this year. The photos are lovely (thank you, Mrs. P!) and the tale of their doings is wonderful. I laughed out loud when I read this: “Sometimes he simply uses us as a convenient short cut, entering by the back door them marching immediately through the house to the front door, where he demands to be let out again. And we, being desperate to please him, do just that.” What a tonic for us all.

    And I appreciate you too, Mr. P. I wish you and Mrs. P all the best in 2023.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · December 29

      I’d never thought of Malteser as a wandering therapist, but I guess that’s just what he is, dispensing joy and collecting his fee in the currency of belly rubs (the dispensing of which also brings me joy!).

      Mrs P and I sincerely thank you for your good wishes, and in return wish you and yours health and happiness throughout 2023. Have a great year!

      Like

  11. kiangablog · January 1

    I saw your blog name on another a post and assumed you were a fellow Aussie. But I did enjoy your post on your lovely cat visitors. Cats have such a way about them. We now only have one cat in our home, Rambo who is 16 years old and living on borrowed time. We took him to the vets Friday before Christmas, and we were expecting to say our last goodbyes. But they kept him on drip overnight and to the vet’s surprise he was as bright as anything the next day, so she let us take him home. We got to share our Christmas and New Year with him. The biggest issue we have is getting him to drink enough water because of his kidney problems so not out of the woods yet. The main thing he is not in any pain, and we will enjoy his presence as long as we can.
    I look forward to reading your other posts. My husband is English, so we often chat with his brother about the state of affairs in the UK. Here’s hoping 2023 will be a kinder year to you and bring much joy. Happy New Year. Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · January 2

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Lynn. So sorry to hear that Rambo is poorly. Cats are wonderful companions, and it hurts so much to see them suffer. I hope he makes a full recovery, and that you and he are able to share many more happy moments.

      I’ve just dropped into your blog, which looks fascinating, offering glimpses of a country we greatly enjoyed visiting in 2016. I shall sign up to follow, and look forward to some finding out more about your corner of Australia. Best wishes to you for a wonderful year in 2023, from Mr P.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kiangablog · January 2

        Thank you Mr P.
        Rambo has a renewed zest for life and has returned to being the most annoying cat in the world by waking us up at 4am! Thank you for your support. Lynn

        Liked by 1 person

  12. tanjabrittonwriter · January 4

    Dear Mrs. and Mr. P,
    if ever two people should go to the nearest animal shelter to adopt a cat or two, I think it’s you. Then your moments of feline felicity wouldn’t be dependent on Milky Bar’s or Malteser’s whim. 😸😸

    Liked by 1 person

    • Platypus Man · January 4

      You’re absolutely right, but Milky Bar and Malteser would see it as an act of betrayal and would never forgive us! One day, maybe …

      Liked by 1 person

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