Every day is an adventure, when you’re a black cat, living in tis little corner of the globe. Springtime is magical, although in the bottom part of the country where I live, Spring doesn’t fully ‘spring’ until mid to late October. That’s when the flowers bloom, yellow and purple deep red, and the sound of new life rings music to a cat’s short, pointy, alert ears, of baby birds crying in anticipation of Mumma-bird’s next catch.
I watch from my vantage point, in my now fully bloomed, green leafy climbing tree. I am concealed but for the shaking branch under my weight and falling leaves as I find my footing to climb higher to further envelopment in the foliage. There I will stay, paused, swishing my tail to keep my balance as I watch them flutter around the neighborhood, from tree to tree. “I see you, birdies!” They chirp as they flutter about to mock me.
Oh the shame of being a ferocious panther, trapped in the body of a domesticated house pet. My ringing bell on my collar sounds at the most inconvenient times, when I am stalking prey., feeling like a winner in this game of cat and well… bird, in this case. Ting-ting! My bel betrays me yet again, giving away my presence, as the birds in a nearby bottle brush fly off, while I skulk in a cloak of embarrassment.
Today is like any other spring day, but what are these things, hanging from the branches of my favourite branches? With my paws, I bat at the soft white tissues with purple bows. Their little faces remain in a horrified expression as they swing from the force of my smacks. “Take that!” MY efforts to chase these strange things out of my tree are futile as they hang there mocking me.
“Raven! Leave those ghosts alone!” That’s Mummy calling to me. I’m in trouble again, damn! Though it’s nothing unusual for me.
“Humph!” I jump from the branch granting the little ghosts mercy, and I land with a THUD on the soft grass.
This is no ordinary day, however. Mum is playing spooky music and running around putting all sorts of scary things in the yard – MY yard. There is a pointed purple hat and gloves sticking up from a piece of black clothing, looking like whoever wore it has since melted and is long gone, and there are grey Styrofoam headstones, with even an arm sticking out of the ground, holding a spade. All, of these god-awful contraptions, lay blocking the way to my favourite cave, which is really a shady spot under a large bush with purple flowers. I guess I can’t get in there today to hide and pounce on the unsuspecting dog, there are just too many things in the way
Speaking of the dog, what on earth is he wearing? His usually fluffy, though not so recently shorn white coat is covered in a red costume, which looks like a cute devil of some sort, and he seems so pleased with himself in this outfit. “Dobby, you look hideous!” I laugh, feeling lucky that this is one thing Mummy and I have ever reached an agreement on.
I am a cat, a stealth stalker, a fierce hunter and a ‘man’ about town in my shiny black coat. In my urban jungle, I am King. I don’t play ‘dress-ups’!
I must confess, I once wore a ‘Santa Paws’ suit under duress. I remember feeling restricted and downright ridiculous. Mum, however took pictures, cooing about how cute I was and giggling as she looked in my direction, snapping picture after picture with her camera. Crouching low, I slithered on the floor like a snake until I was out of that retched thing, and onto freedom. It was the most humiliating two minutes of my life, until today.
“Raven!” Mummy is calling me, in a tone that tells me I’m not going to enjoy what lies in store for me today. In her hand, she is holding a small black plastic cauldron and looking determined. I am equally determined that thing is coming nowhere near me. I freeze, knowing Mummy will catch me eventually if I try to run. I crouch low, considering a bolt into my house cave, a place I barely fit into anymore. That’s when I spot the wizard that is standing right near the entrance, wearing a top hat, sunglasses and robes. His wand is poised as he glares through dark lenses in my direction. Dare I brave this being and dive into my cave? Mummy is making her way across the yard and in a split decision I succumb to her, letting her scoop me into her arms. She kisses the top of my head and gives my chin a tickle with her fingers.
Now this, I decide isn’t so bad, is it? She carries me to my chair and as she sits, I allow her to nurse me on her lap. I’ve not forgotten what she is holding, but there’s no harm in milking this, is there? I thump the chair with my tail to remind her how unimpressed I am with what’s to come.
Alas! I am back on the ground again, free and wearing… Oh my god, she didn’t. That awful cauldron is attached to my collar and as I skulk away, and though it is lite, I’m tripping over the thing. “Mummy! I thought we had an agreement!” I meow! “No- absolutely NO COSTUMES!”
“Oh you look so cute!” Mummy is giggling as I try and fail to climb the tree. This thing is too much to endure.
As Mummy continues decorating the yard, I curl up, back in my chair feeling defeated. As I close my eyes, hoping slumber will end my nightmare, I can hear the birds all chirping in their laughter, mocking me in my current vulnerability. “You’ll keep, birdies,” I mutter and slip away into the land of nod.
When I open my eyes, the dog is perched on the arm of my chair, staring intently at my face through brown, button eyes. He is still proudly wearing that awful costume. Behind him a giant mouse is standing, almost motionless and for a moment I’m wondering if dinner has arrived or if I am still dreaming.
“Hey Raven!” It says in a familiar voice, as my eyes slowly adjust.
“Damn it, it’s Mummy, and she’s holding the camera, as my torture continues in the form of the black cauldron, still strapped to my collar and preventing me from my post slumber grooming ritual, and my refusal to take part in Mum’s plans. Yet again my chin bumps on the cauldron as my attempt to clean my paws is thwarted. “Mummy please end the misery and take this off me,” I plead with my eyes boring into hers. Seizing the opportunity, she clicks the camera giggles. I’m she finds my struggles amusing, NOT.
After a yawn and a stretch to the end of my claws, I stand, arching my back to the sky, determined. Now expecting no help from Mummy, I must get this thing off my neck, any means possible. I try crouching low and slinking off my chair onto the ground, before slithering, snake-like, across the grass, to no avail.
I claw in frustration at the excited dog, jumping in my face, licking my ears and playfully nipping at my face. “This is no time to play, my brother,” I growl, “I mean business!” He just half leaps backwards and starts bouncing from side to side, his tongue hanging out of his useless mouth and floppy unruly ears bouncing on either side of his scruffy head. “You’re no use to me!”
“Well you’re no fun!” he whimpers after me and cocks his leg in a pitiful display of spite on the trunk of my tree. I have bigger fish to hunt. Ignoring him, I brave the wizard and dive between its feet into the hole, to my subsequent predicament.
Sure that the next few minutes would be my untimely demise, I don’t see that my luck is about to change. The retched cauldron and my collar is suddenly snagged on a piece of rotting wood at the threshold of my cave, yanking me backwards. “This cannot be my end! I still have so much to explore!” I am pleading mercy to the wizard, who’s boots shield me from the view of the yard, the dog and the street, and Mummy. The wizard just stands motionless and I am now astute in my knowledge that he will not help me either. I am on my own in this struggle. This, I am determined will not defeat me. I tug, and tug, and tug some more with all my might until I am just as suddenly released from the clutches of the rotting wood, and my collar, with it’s pretty bow that everyone admires, the annoying bell and cauldron, all laying dormant on the wood, mere casualties of my victory. I relish in my newfound freedom, speculating. Oh, the adventures I can now go on, the places I can explore and the prey I can stalk and catch unaware… “Who’s mocking at who now, tweeting birds?”
I must think what to do first but I am overwhelmed by possibility. I make a dash, through the space between the wizard’s boots to my chair where I continue plotting my revenge on that wizard, those birds, the dog and Mummy, ALL of them.
The broken collar and my escape to freedom does not go un-noticed. Mummy is only too aware of what has just taken place. After a failed attempt to fix my collar, she disappears into the house. “Have I won this battle?” Moments later she re-emerges holding a new black polka dotted collar in hand, with my name tag attached already with that horrid bell. I must run in a desperate attempt to preserve what’s left of my freedom and dignity, and save myself from further torment. I slip between the arm of the chair and a small table beside it and behind the other chair where the dog is now resting, between the wizards boots back to where this latest horror began. Safe under the house in my cave, I watch as my confused human glances frantically around the yard, this way and that as she begins pacing the grassy strip, jingling the bell as she calls my name. She stops only to hand out treats to passing children in hideous costumes, as the sun sets.
Though I am nowhere near ready to surrender my freedom just yet, I realize it is inevitable. I slink out of my house-cave, and crouch on the nearby step, letting Mummy scoop me up. “Aw, Raven,” she coos, kissing my head, the bell jingling as she scratches my chin. There’s no denying she has the magic touch. My purr defies me, as she sits with me on her lap again, on my chair. All my visions of freedom and bird catching are ripped away as Mummy clips the collar on my neck.
All in all, I must be thankful for one thing on this peculiar spring day, I no longer have a cauldron hanging from my neck, but to my horror I discover a second bell on my collar. As the last of the sun disappears, from view and the howling wind sets in, the night birds mockingly squawk. As I am carried inside for the night, I chalk it all up to a battle lost but not the war. The night birds and the morning ones, may all live to chirp another day. Tomorrow, Spring will continue its display of magic and beauty and I will climb my tree and enjoy my chair, plotting my revenge on everyone for what took place on this horrific day.