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We’ve all used the expression — herding cats — usually as a metaphor for trying to gather or organise things that defy gathering or organising.  Well, this time it isn’t a metaphor.

No, I haven’t gone back into the murky (mucky?) world of cat ownership, but I am currently cat-sitting for friends. I suppose I should say I’m house-sitting in a house with three cats. Three neurotic cats. I know–that’s redundant, but as I’m still trying to work out each cat’s neuroses, the issue looms large.

Let me introduce you:

First, there’s Prince. I suspect that may be short for Prince-of-Darkness. He has a very dark look about him, besides being black. His face reminds me of a fox. He also reminds me at times of my son, Adam, when he gives me a very deliberate Look of Scorn. Prince is a handsome fellow, with long black hair. The thing that looks odd about him is that he carries his very fluffy tail draped on his back, a bit to one side… rather like some dogs do. I don’t know if this is because of a deformity, injury, or simply cat ego. Anything is possible. I’m not prepared to go feeling around to find out.



Another thing about Prince is that he will not drink water out of a bowl…only from a tap. Perhaps he’s just smart enough to know where the other cats’ tongues have been and doesn’t wanna share. So I have to go turn on the tap in the bathroom for him periodically, then wait until his thirst is quenched so I can turn it off. You know how cats dislike being hurried…

Next on the roster of nutty felines is Charley. Charley is a beautiful long-haired white cat with unusual fawn-coloured markings and tail, and startling blue eyes. She really is gorgeous. (Yes, I said “she.”). Her biggest handicap is that she has no street-smarts. She can’t be trusted outdoors, so there is a cat enclosure where she can enjoy the fresh air. When my bedroom door is closed she sits outside it and cries. She doesn’t meow–she cries, and sobs. It’s heart-rending. She knows I can’t ignore it for long.

At the moment Charley is having the time of her life playing with (okay, torturing) a wee lizard Prince brought in.  He tired of the game and left it to Charley.  He is now chasing a fly.  She is beginning to tire of it too, as the now-dead lizard won’t play along anymore.image

Last, but not least, is Tiger. He is a nineteen-year old cat that can’t really be bothered being nutty anymore. He spends most of his time in bed with his stuffed toys, presumably dreaming of former glory.


They are all supposed to spend the night in the garage, but the only way in there is by roller door. This is where my efforts at herding fail so miserably. If I manage to get one cat inside the garage, then s/he inevitably bolts as soon as the roller door is opened enough to admit the second one. And so on…and on…and on…

The process reminds me of some friends back in Idaho, many years ago, who were both keen gardeners. They decided to split a box of lady bugs (or ‘lady birds’ for those of you of an Australian or British persuasion who don’t know the difference between bugs and birds)… Anyway, they ordered these lady bugs (for their roses, I suppose) from a gardening catalogue. When the package arrived, the two women eagerly opened the box and then proceeded to try to divide the now-becoming-airborne lady bugs into two bags. Jeeze, I would love to have seen that.

I digress. But I think you get the picture–the one of me trying to herd three cats into one garage, through a roller door.

Chooks are so much easier. MM