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Friday 15 August 2014

The Fiend With Eight Lives

Who goes there?
Charlie the Typewriter Guard Cat earns his keep by working a daily eight-hour shift. Yep, folks, that's a solid 56-hour week of soft toil. He generally clocks on at about 8.30 in the morning, finds a comfortable but concealed spot at a vantage point in a mountain of typewriters, and goes to sleep. At 4.30 he wakes up, knocks off work and wanders downstairs, looking for some fresh air and fresh food.
I've seen the mother-and-son typewriter guard cat combo in the Polt household in Cincinnati, and it's pretty much the same deal. I don't want to give too much away here, but the downstairs typewriters really only get checked out of an evening. You might think that, inside an upstairs room full of typewriters, Charlie is only doing half a job, a floor away from where all the really prized gear is stashed. But, then, to watch Charlie, fired up with a bellyful of 'roo meat, bolt up and down the stairs here, you'd know he's got the whole house covered. He's quick, real quick. A furry Ben Johnson on 'roo 'roids.
Don't you dare move off the typewriter channel!
The sight of Charlie flying up and down the stairs can be reassuring, in more ways than one. When he was new to this neighbourhood, he naturally wanted to explore it, most especially the bushland out the back. One day he limped home, obviously badly injured. The vet assumed he'd been in a cat fight, and prescribed the appropriate drugs. But by favouring his right front paw, Charlie was disguising the real issue, higher on his leg. We never did find out what it was that bit him, but it wasn't a cat. Nor was it a venomous snake, a poison spider, a possum, a large bird, a wombat or a lizard. Whatever it was, it cost him one of his nine lives. And left him with a permanent limp. It's most noticeable at the end of a day's sleep - umm, shift.
The problem we have right now is the weather. The days dawn at about minus four, then the temperature climbs to around 14 degrees at midday, and by four it's freezing again. Charlie doesn't like this pattern at all. So committed is he to his daytime typewriter guarding duties, he won't change his routine to suit the winter season. Just as he's off-duty, and up and about, the ducted heater is on and the doors and windows are closed, the curtains drawn. Locked inside, this once gentle, sleeping Jekyll becomes a fiendish Mr Hyde.
Charlie's beastly behaviour is perhaps understandable. When we found him at an animal shelter, he'd been locked inside a small cage for a year. He'd arrived there as a kitten. By the time he was old enough to be fostered out, he'd developed cat flu. By the time he'd got over that, he was no longer the cute little kitten that people came looking for. When we brought him here, at first he bounded over all the place, joyous in his new-found freedom. But pretty soon he was suffering from agoraphobia, daunted and overwhelmed by ceilings twice as high as anything he'd ever seen before, and walls, 10 times as far apart as those in his old cage. He folded his arms, and his shoulders seemed to shrink in on him, as if he was hugging himself for protection. He took himself to bed and hid himself under a duvet for three days.
What typewriter robbery?
Now that he runs the place, Charlie has no patience for closed doors or windows. He stands outside them, crying. When you open them up, he walks away, satisfied he's made his point. And if he doesn't get the attention he demands, he threatens to jump on shelves and knock off some typewriter ephemera.
Oh, Charlie's a fiend, all right. But, then, I must let the cat out of the bag on one thing - not one typewriter has been stolen in the three years he's been here.


Piotr Trumpiel said...

Hats off to Charlie!

Richard P said...

He's a handsome tabby indeed!