I was thinking the other day how if our cat Nook was to put an ad in the personals for a fellow feline, it would say "Must hate humans."
It all stems from Easter this year when we went away for the long weekend, leaving a friend to pop around and top up the food and water bowls of Nook, Dudley and Dudleyetta (the bunnies), and Mama and Bubba (the guinea pigs). All good, we thought. Our critters are being looked after. They are happy and have full bellies, and we're only going to be away for about five sleeps. All is good.
We arrived home from the weekend - a family 80th birthday party down the line - and didn't think anything was amiss about the critters at first. At least, the bunnies and the guineas. But it didn't take long to discover that something was indeed amiss. It was Nook. We found her in the rafters of the garage. She was miaowing at us. Quite loudly. She sounded like she was in pain.
Or stuck. Stuck, we thought. We have to get her down, the poor baby, because she's forgotten how she got up there in the first place. Alternatively, we reasoned, she had just become one of those cats who gets in a snit when you come back home, because she realises she has been deserted, and resents you for it.
There were several mistakes right there in that thinking. First, is that she couldn't get down. Of course she could get down! There are plenty of ways for her to get down from the rafters. This is an ancient garage that has stuff in it. Like old furniture. That she can jump down on to. She was quite clearly up there on her own accord. The second error in the thinking was that she was miaowing because she'd missed us. Ha!. She was miaowing because we'd darn well come home. Disturbed her newly discovered freedom. Had realised just how much she hated us and she wanted us out of there. Forget the fact we had "rescued" her from the SPCA and given her a half decent life. Nook hated us. Or at least hated the name we'd given her. (See end of story.)
Our misguided thinking did not stop there. She suddenly began to vanish. She would take off for great periods of time and we had no idea where she could possibly be taking off too. Or was she hiding from us, we wondered? No. Surely not. (At that point we were still under the delusion she liked us). Once I followed her by stealth to find her. I stalked her from a distance as she leapt on the fence, walked delicately across it, jumped on the garage roof and when she crossed over the top down the other side and out of sight, I ran around the garage to see where she was. I looked everywhere. In the garage, out of the garage, peered over neighbour's fences. She had vanished.
Or so we thought. In fact, she had cleverly disguised her presence by settling on the rusty garage roof under the branches of the peach tree that bears no fruit and needs a prune. Nook is a torty coloured cat so she was perfectly camouflaged. However, she was intent on staying there, even when it drizzled. No amount of coaxing would get her down. In fact, even when it began to pour and I'd be out there with the umbrella telling her to get her cat arse indoors, she just miaowed. We couldn't fathom it. Now we know that her hatred went so deep she was prepared to brave the elements.
But I was on to her and knew where she was. On the way to work, walking down the drive, I'd stop by the garage and greet her with a cheery Good Morning, and she would give me dirty looks.
Then it happened. A week or so later, she was no longer on the garage roof. It was getting on for May, it was getting cold, it was wet and we were worried about our darling Nook.
Where could she be? We searched everywhere. Everywhere. Trespassed on neighbours' property. Got up in the rafters. Looked and called and prayed. Where the blazes was she?
Then one day, she was found.
"I've found her," one of the boys said, shaking his head in disbelief.
We went outside and he pointed it out and I could not believe my eyes.
She was living in the tree right outside the kitchen.
She was lying on a branch and we just stood there, gazing in horror that our cat was living up a tree.
We began to brainstorm Nook's thinking. She had beds to choose from, couches, carpet, wallpaper to scratch the crap out of if she so desired. Chairs. Barstools. Good grief, what was wrong with her? Was she terminally ill, about to die, sparing us the misery of the pain we were about to endure?
Horrified that dear Nook had chosen to expire in the tree, we got her down, with difficulty, and brought her inside. She ran back out again. We locked her up at nights with a litter tray but as soon as the morning arrived, when she thought we weren't looking, she ran back outside and got back up the tree.
And then it hit us.
Nook wasn't dying. She wasn't even sick. There was nothing wrong with her.
She just hated us.
She hated us and we were too dumb to realise the truth.
We brought her inside again and she decided to humour us and chose to live on the sink in the bathroom for a week. This seemed cold and very odd, and rather wet for her when you're trying to bush your teeth. Plus we kept finding cat hair in the soap. Then she decided to live on a barstool, which was a lot better than than the sink. Drier, anyway.
As we speak she is alternating between the couch and another bar stool. There is no logic to it. On some days she goes outside, pauses, then runs down the drive to the houses at the back, runs around the corner, pauses to scratch herself, then jumps the fence. We have no idea what is over there. I suspect catnip.
We just know she hates us. Even though today I just spent half an hour on the couch tickling her belly and she looked positively in luxury, or dead, lying spreadeagled with her paws in the air, purring, I know she hates us.
She just chooses to forget it some times.
Nook's name: A few years back we had two beloved cats, a brother and sister, Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty. We couldn't agree on names so that's what they were all their lives. When we got Nook, we couldn't decide what to call her so we called her New Kitty until we found a better name. Naturally, a better name was never going to happen, not in this household, hence "Nook".