Scotty the Cat, episode 2

Currently Scotty is crouched on my bed, frightened out of his tiny mind.

It is of course Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night, and everyone who’s anyone (else) in the neighbourhood is currently setting off fireworks to celebrate the arrest of a man who 406 years ago today didn’t blow up the Houses of Parliament.

I never really understood this premise. The today equivalent would probably be something along the lines of the failed terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport a few years ago, when a burning truck was driven into a wall, igniting the explosives planted within it and the driver, who ran screaming from the wrecked vehicle, burning to death, before being punched in the face by an irate Scottish baggage handler. It’s a story in equal parts hilarious and epic. Now, clearly, it would’ve ended in disaster if it weren’t for heroic John Smeaton, a man who was not disinclined to punch a man in the face even while he’s on fire. Even so, it happened, John is hailed as a kind of national hero, and it’s not really spoken of anymore. It’s over with. The day is definitely not celebrated on a yearly basis by purchasing high-explosive rockets and firing them into the sky, producing bright flashes and loud bangs that frighten children (and cats).

Oh wait, yeah. That’s what I was talking about.

Scotty is in one of his “weird phases” at the moment. That is, any phase in which he behaves a bit strangely. I’m not sure why we feel the need to attach a label to the periods in which he acts a bit peculiar because, come on, he’s Scotty. He pretty much has no concept of normal. Let’s just say he’s acting weird compared to how he usually is.

It can be hard to pinpoint just what sets these spells of weirdness off, but of course this time around, we’re pretty certain he’s thoroughly terrified of the bombs going off outside. But all the classic signs are there: his pupils have gotten massive, he’s on maximum sound alert and he’s avoiding as much human contact as he can.

My parents had just gone out and he was not in a good mood – he came in and crouched under a table. I moved the table and he went into the darkest possible corner under the stairs and there he stayed. He didn’t seem eager to play with any of the bric-a-brac we had lying about the place (and he usually plays with anything – including a telephone cord connected to a receiver positioned high above his head – you can imagine how that went down), and he didn’t seem to be comforted by me stroking his head.

He was, however, hungry. Which I could easily infer, just because he’s always hungry.

I decided to exploit his aural alertness – I went to the kitchen and tapped his food bowl on the floor a couple of times.

Out he came.

I gave him about a quarter of a sachet’s worth of pukeworthy cat gourmet (not much) – he tries to get as much of it as possible by finding each family member in turn and then leading them to the food bowl (do you know, it works). After he finished eating, I took him upstairs. He struggled a bit as I was carrying him up to my room so he could rest a little easy on my bed (though that may be due in part to my inability to hold him in a way that doesn’t suggest I’m about to garrotte him). I set him down on my bed, and closed the curtains in case the visuals of the numerous firework displays, on top of the sounds, traumatised him further.

With only a few weeks left until we leave the country, we’re having to come to terms with leaving him behind. He’s not our cat, and even if he was, getting him into Australia would require having him kept in quarantine for a matter of months (more than it would take to put all of our earthly possessions into a container and have it brought to Aus). That’s how seriously they take the transit of animals from overseas. Sorry, Australia, but I think if someone wanted to exterminate the entire population of your continent, they’d use a means more potent than the diseases of a household cat.

Something that could actually kill a person. Like a big bunch of fireworks, say.

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