I know it's wrong to be jealous of a cat but having spent the majority of the last few weeks in the company of Major Richard Parker, I must confess it has been very difficult not to feel that way. Constantly exhausted and suffering from a “splitting headache”, I've often had to smear my head with Tiger Balm in a vein attempt to perk myself up. As I move from one room to the next to give myself a change of scenery, I've constantly been tailed by a large ginger familiar, a being who loosely legitimises talking to yourself in order to avoid impending insanity.
Having recently visited a doctor, The Major has been diagnosed as bordering on the obese. When we adopted him, he'd come from a schizophrenic owner who'd clearly over-compensated for her neglect of him and his siblings with copious amounts of food. Normally I'd revel in his tubby good-humour but as he's predominantly a house cat, he potentially gets less exercise than the average moggy. Weighing in at around a stone, despite having stumpy legs and an impossibly short tail, The Major has had to go on a diet. Naturally this isn't a self-imposed diet.
Each day, we are woken by his hungry yowls and each morning I hear The Boy trying to appease him with small snacks. We've decided to apply the dieting rule that frequent small portions are better for the metabolism and easier to digest.
Later, as I settle down to my daily batch of 130 product rewrites, I hear strange noises from the kitchen and a jangling bell that are both getting closer to the bedroom. He enters the room with a ribbon and two small white pompoms draped from his mouth, looks at me and drops it, yowling to ensure he has my undivided attention. He then picks up his comfort pompoms and noisily returns to the kitchen where he begins the whole process again and does so repeatedly until his next meal.
Watching him, I'm jealous that someone can enforce a diet without him “cheating” but that's not the main source of my jealousy. Between meals, sporadic checks on my status, and the occasional trip outside to sniff around the patio or bask in the sun, The Major sleeps for the majority of the day. He sleeps on the third tier of his “cat tree”, on the storage box by the window, on the sofa, on the carpet in the bedroom, by the door of the bathroom, on various favourites spots across the laminate and on the terrace... Watching his peaceful slumber gives me enormous contentment but then I yawn and I'm jealous that he can just curl up whenever he wants to without any guilt or product rewrites.
The most dangerous time of the day is before bed when he starts to get a hunger on again. We've taken to giving him strategically timed snacks throughout the day to try to avoid visits in the early hours. Having a Major in the confined spaces of a flat is like Groundhog Christmas Day – every day we are woken by the patter of tiny feet and excited jumps on the bed, telling us that it is “time”.
Now my 31-days-in-25-days stint is over, I'm gearing up for my holiday and rather disturbingly, I'm most looking forward to sleep. I suspect when I come back the tables will have turned and The Major will be the one harbouring resentment towards us for abandoning him. Although if our regular across-the-hallway companion for The Major is less strict with his diet regime this possibly won't be the case. Time and the scales will tell.