In the House-of-Oddbloke, the coming of winter and the cold weather is heralded by two important changes.
The first is my wife: she enters the mode known as “cold and grumpy and wants everyone to know it”. Her figure will be lost in a succession of shapeless fleeces and scarves – even indoors. All I am likely to see of her for the next few months is a bad-tempered nose poking out from a walking pile of wool. In bed every night I will await the visitation of her cold feet. And any time the weather report appears on TV showing a map of the UK with temperatures dotted around it, she will take great delight in pointing out that her home town is a good 10 degrees warmer than here.
This indicator is more accurate than a barometer, and I will be tortured with it until March.
The second indicator is embodied by our cats. We have two, and they are fairly typical examples. They are arrogant, sarcastic (even without saying anything), patronising, psychotic, self-centred fleabags. They make me feel like I’m this close to getting my face ripped off, but crack open that tin of food and maybe they’ll let me off until tomorrow. Maybe.
But when the weather turns cold, they undergo a strange transformation. A metamorphosis that is so unnerving and disturbing that I find myself putting all the sharp objects out of reach, and checking my slippers for mantraps before I put them on.
They turn … nice.
Affectionate. Loving. They begin to act how they do in Cat Food commercials. How people who don’t own cats think cats behave. When I get into bed at night (assuming the Embodiment-Of-Grump will allow me any of the duvet) I shall be sat on by one or both of them. They’ll sit on my chest, breathe cat-food breath in my face and tell me how much they love me now that the weather is colder.
I wouldn’t normally have a problem with this, save for one small practical problem. It seems my cats go deaf to any call of nature from the cold outdoors, even though I have recently installed the very best facilities just for them. Instead, they “make do” indoors.
Which is just a polite way of saying that THEY KEEP CRAPPING IN THE BATH.
In one way, I’m impressed that they do it in the bath. After all, they could just do it on the carpet by the front-door. But not my cats. They seem to have sussed out what we use the bathroom for; but instead of trying to use the toilet they aim for the big white pot which (they feel) is closer to the shape of a litter tray.
When I get up in the mornings and wobble barely-conscious towards the shower, the last thing I want to see is one of my cats leave the bathroom with the morning paper under his arm, and say to me conversationally as he passes: “I’d leave it five minutes if I were you”.
I have tried showing them the multitude of cats-crouching-over-the-pan videos on Youtube, and yet they don’t seem to get it. But then, why should they need to learn how to tear their own paper when they’re living with some nutjob who seems happy to scoop it up every morning (the worst part is when I can still feel the heat through the paper) and dispose of it for them?
The other morning my wife decides to expend all her pent up aggression (normally something I’ve done) on some housework. She smells a vague whiff of cat pee, but cannot locate where it is. They sometimes piddle in the sink when they’re desperate (again, not pleasant, but could be worse), so she makes a mental note to pour detergent down the plughole later, and continues.
After mopping the kitchen floor for about five minutes she realises the smell is now much stronger.
It seems that for at least the last fortnight our cats have been piddling in the mop bucket. So for two-weeks the mop has been marinading in cat-pee. And my wife – head-to-toe in the latest attire made fashionable by snowboarders all over Switzerland and easily mistaken for Rupert The Bear – is now spreading it around the kitchen floor, mixed with warm water and floor detergent for that unique cat-piss-and-fresh-lemon smell.
Our cats are sat in the doorway, staring at my wife like she is stark, raving mad. And pretty soon, she is.