Polychromatic Cat

Until recently I had believed that our cat was monochrome. Black, jet, ebony, deep beetle; call it what you will. Not a hint of tabby, nor even one shade of grey. However, viewing him recently, basking on the window sill, sun streaming through his fur, I saw that although he is black at the roots of his body hair, he is dark gingery red to the tip of his tail.

My immediate reaction was obvious; he must have dyed his fur. The only other option was that I had been wrong about his hair colour for eight years; clearly that would have been ridiculous. Yet if he had dyed his fur, it would seem more logical for him to have gone for something a little more dramatic, perhaps becoming entirely blonde, or possibly shaving the fur from his face and given himself a green Mohican. Row of tiny bright blue ponytails down his back might have been quite attractive, or, considering the time of year, he might have gone for tinsel hair extensions.

At the very least, I would have expected him to dye his (very aging) few white whiskers out of pride. Pride, however, would have suggested leonine and although he is upsettingly good at hunting small rodents, I don’t quite see him being able to bring down an elk. Or reindeer, worst thought. There was a large life-expired rat on the patio on Christmas Day but considering the balance of probability, it’s more likely that one of the runners of the sleigh got the rodent than our arthritic cat.

Having to de-rat the patio did make an interesting start to Christmas day. Or, more specifically, to my husband’s. Knowing that the ghost of an infestation (hopefully someone else’s and preferably working solo) lay outside my kitchen window, I instantly dropped all vestiges of feminism and decided that rodents with rigor mortis were definitely a male preserve; rat jam didn’t appeal to me.

I began to wonder if I had been foolish in thinking that Charliecat might have taken a fur-changing decision, as having his fur dyed blonde would have prevented him from efficiently undertaking his favourite current pastime, which is lying under the Christmas tree, disguised as a dark shapeless mass.

Until Christmas Day we had brightly coloured packages on a red background with an adjacent small furry pool of darkness. Present placement was elevated to an art, requiring leaving enough space for his favourite area, just under the low-lying fairy lights, also for them not to be stacked on top of each other or they could fall, possibly breaking him or the presents. This might have meant spending the entire of Christmas Day with a cat who smelled of Chanel No 5.

Far from dissuading him from taking up his present position, we encouraged him, as his previous favourite spot was the bottom step of the staircase. Terrified that somebody will come bundling down and not see him, I have explained to him repeatedly that this is an extremely Bad Thing and that he should pick his resting place more carefully lest this should become his final resting place.

Clearly he isn’t listening, which is odd, because he understands other words such as ‘food’, ‘breakfast’, ‘come’ and ‘Charliecat.’ I’m sure that he has specifically selected out certain words such as ‘no’; also entire sentences such as ‘stop yowling; I’m trying to get the lid off as fast as I can but the ruddy thing is stuck.’

So I must cast my vote. I’ve either been wrong for eight years and he genuinely is a polychromatic cat or he’s taken to dying his hair. I asked him bluntly just now and he answered me with a toss of the head. So it’s dyed. Because he’s worth it.

Alison Gardiner 2013


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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