Cats will be cats

I’ve been watching a video clip of the keyboard cat, who has impressed a lot of people with his musical ability. I don’t deny the boy has talent, but pawing out tunes wearing sky-blue pyjamas does nothing for the dignity of his species.

In my circus days I was friendly with a feline camp follower called Catkins. I never mollycoddled him in human fashion and he respected me for it. “Catkins,” I said to him, “you scratch my back and I’ll stroke yours.” He was quick to agree to my offer, the claws of a cat being the perfect length and sharpness for grooming a gorilla’s fur. I returned the favour by stroking him with my toes while reading a magazine.

The ringmaster, being a visceral cat-hater, had no appreciation of Catkins and his grooming skills. He bought a goldfish and put it in a bowl next to the window of his trailer, supposedly so the fish could enjoy the view. I immediately suspected that his real motive was to taunt and frustrate any cats in the vicinity. He named the goldfish ‘Lockhart’ after a maestro of the circus ring he revered. I gave Catkins a few cautionary words after seeing him staring at it from a nearby gatepost.

“Catkins,” I said, “I know you want to eat the ringmaster’s goldfish. It is in your nature and cannot be helped. But please be aware that if you leave your paw-prints at the crime scene my efforts to protect you will be futile. As sure as night follows day, the ringmaster will hunt you down and kick your arse repeatedly. You have been warned.”

Catkins licked his paws and cleaned his whiskers as I spoke, which I interpreted as a display of insouciance. The opportunity for a snatch-and-grab raid occurred when the ringmaster stupidly left the skylight ajar during a day out with his wife. I happened to be passing nearby when Catkins jumped off the roof with the fish in his mouth. Peering through the window, I saw the goldfish bowl tipped over on its side and water dripping from the table it was situated on.

I decided to help Catkins cover his tracks. He may have been guilty in deed, but any lawyer will tell you that a cat is incapable of mens rea in matters of predation. After discreetly picking the lock of the trailer door, I mopped up the spillage and refilled the bowl. I then placed it in its original position, dropping in a plastic goldfish which I had bought from a pet shop. It sank to the bottom.

The ringmaster returned in the evening to find that his pet had been plasticated. “Some dirty thief has stolen Lockhart and replaced him with a plastic fish!” he bellowed. “This is an act of war! I bet that bastard Catkins is responsible!”

“Come off it, ringmaster!” I exclaimed. “Why would Catkins have put a plastic fish in the bowl? This was obviously a calculated insult delivered by someone who despises you, rather than the work of a feline felon. I suggest you interrogate the clowns forthwith.”

The ringmaster made walrus noises in his throat. “You’re right!” he growled. “My enemies are everywhere and snipe at me when my back is turned. If I kick the cat’s arse they’ll think they’re in the clear. I must behave with stealth and cunning.”

I left him to pursue his schemes, satisfied in the knowledge that I had saved a cat from a senseless act of retribution.

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