The slow-trotting tom a.k.a. One cat to rule them all

Okay, so maybe I’ve been guilty of not taking people too seriously when I heard them talking about how their cat was the coolest one ever. We might as well set this straight once and for all: your cat may be cute, adorably silly, feisty or whatever but, with all due respect, it is NOT the coolest cat ever. This distinction is reserved for Bon, a majestic tom that had once reigned over our neighbourhood. He was the rudest, toughest, meanest and the most inconsiderate cat imaginable with a commanding presence and some serious swag to boot. He didn’t take crap from anyone, didn’t care what anybody thought and never ran from an adversary. Well actually he never ran at all but merely accelerated to a leisurely trot if he deemed it appropriate, and if that’s not a super cool cat then show me one that is.

We came under Bon’s rule when my father, oblivious to what he was getting us all into, accepted a weighty pet carrier from a frail old recluse who claimed she was getting too old to continue taking care of her cat for much longer. In retrospect, she most likely feared for her dear life and thought it would be best to unload her rowdy beast on a family of able-bodied individuals. My mother and I had no knowledge of dad’s noble dealings and we arrived home to find a puzzling note on the boiler room door, a blood-stained piece of paper with the words “DON’T OPEN SIAMESE INSIDE!’ scribbled on it. Intrigued, we pried the door open and were promptly greeted by, well, not so much a growl than a proper roar. Clueless as to what but a royally-indignant lion could produce a sound like that, we deemed a hasty retreat a fitting response. An emergency congregation later we embarked upon investigating the source of the petrifying noise and cautiously peeked under the central heating unit to be met by an icy glare from a pair of piercingly-blue eyes. Incensed at our failure to keep a respectful distance, the owner of the frosty peepers hissed and spat at us, which prompted my mum and me to decide that her sillier half should be committed to a special institution for whatever it was that he had brought to our house this time.

Soon after when my poor dad, with his hands still raw and bleeding, was being accosted by the sensible subset of his family and struggling to provide a rational explanation for the presence of the menace that had been holding the boiler room hostage, he thought the sight of the savage creature would somehow help sway our opinion. He turned out to be right. When he guardedly entered the boiler room with mum and me in tow, its bellicose inhabitant was standing in full view as he obviously knew he had shown us who was the boss and was now ready to be served upon. Amazed by the sight of a large, muscular Siamese cat staring back at us and snarling ever so slightly, we at once recognised this stunning feline for the magnificent beast that he was. They don’t make them like this anymore; the modern Siamese with its svelte physique and a wedge for a head doesn’t bear much of a resemblance to the strapping tom with the built of a caracal that was treating us to a lesson on how to properly execute a stare-down. I guess the sort of a cat that he was would today be best described as a steroid-enhanced Thai with an attitude problem. We had no idea how we were going to handle him but we knew there was something so innately grand about him that we would just have to learn how to cope.

We reckoned it would be a good idea to contain the creature in the boiler room for a couple of days so that when he was released he wouldn’t wander off leaving a trail of butchered corpses in his wake. When we absolutely needed the boiler room back and saw no other option but to let him out he strode straight into the kitchen, passing Fia the Doberman along the way without so much as acknowledging her presence and assumed possession of the chair that was henceforward to be known as his throne. Aghast at the cat’s demonstration of utter disdain for her, poor Fia followed him into the kitchen and cautiously sniffed in his direction. Ever seen a dog leap backwards and ram the dishwasher with its hindquarters? That’s what Fia did when her nose was greeted by a superbly-aimed blob of cat spit accompanied by a demonic screech. She looked up at us with the obvious query, ‘what is THIS?’ and mum said, ‘Fia meet Bon, we’re scared of him too’, and with the question of pecking order having been settled Fia did her best to steer clear of Bon for most of her days.

We were robbed of our sleep for several nights following Bon’s release because, you see, felines are fiercely territorial creatures and when you bring a new cat home, you basically relocate it to an area already claimed by other cats that will either usher the intruder out or be forced into submission, and whichever transpires you can count on it being a super noisy affair. You may want to consider not letting your cat roam around freely; cats sleep through most of the day largely because they spend the nights fighting each other and it really sucks for your cat if it happens to be of timid persuasion or small stature. Anyway, I have yet to succeed in convincing my family to keep any cat indoors the whole time – we’re having a bit of a feline retrovirus crisis at the moment and I believe keeping a cat inside to be the best way of avoiding infection while the rest of my family considers it a breach of basic feline rights – so I probably don’t have to tell you that Bon wasn’t prevented from venturing into the battlefield. He swiftly took command of the area and while he was at it he also sent a resident pair of beech martens packing, a gesture we appreciated greatly as the lissom vermin’s feeding habits were badly at odds with my dad’s rabbit keeping, to say the least. Before Bon’s arrival, there was also a weasel intent on taunting us by snooping around the aviary and we never heard from it again either… Bon may had been a bit of a handful but he definitely earned his keep.

The ultimate demonstration of this cat’s coolness came the next spring. The event that lay the foundation for the spectacle I am much grateful to have witnessed was a nasty car accident which left a particularly hot-blooded relative of mine with a shattered femur. He was lucky it was all he got but he was nevertheless mightily frustrated by having to walk on crutches for months after and it sure didn’t improve his temper any. At his best, he was a guy with a steady reputation for reinstating common sense in other men; you know, the instinct that tells human males who they shouldn’t be messing with. He was also the driving force behind my ability to accelerate from 0 to 40 in a split second that I possess to this day and I honestly appreciate him for the great teacher that he was – those were fun times! It’s not difficult to guess that he was deeply fond of the tom that shared many of his defining traits. But every relationship, especially one between two alpha males, has its glitches and quite expectedly the balance of power between the insolent cat and the volatile human was to be tested from time to time.

So there came the day when our limping tough guy decided to treat himself to some trout which he undoubtedly intended to share with Bon, it was just that his idea of sharing food proved to be a bit different from what the cat had in mind. And so the gastronomically-inspired convalescent carefully cleaned the fish and lovingly brushed it with lemon juice and ground pepper. Then, I guess his self-assurance must have mislead him into skipping the necessary precautions commanded by the presence of an audacious cat. He put the plate with the fish on the kitchen table and turned to pour oil into the pan when the unmistakable sound of chomping suddenly drew his attention back to the table. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the source of the sound was a large Siamese cat eating the fish. A bit less ordinary aspect of the scene was that the cat was sitting neatly at the table with its paws placed by each side of the plate; it wasn’t stealing the fish and trying to make off with it like any normal cat would have been but was dining in style instead. The least expected part came when the feasting cat made a grimace, spat a half-chewed chunk of the trout back on the plate, looked at the gasping cook (who was now pouring the oil on the floor rather than into the pan) and meowed at him in an unmistakably disapproving way. Apparently the taste of lemon juice didn’t agree with the cat’s sensibilities and it needed to be said.

Up to that point I had been unaware of the going-ons in the house. I was up in the cherry tree gobbling away when a great rumpus alerted me to a spectacular procession of family members and household objects that was beginning to unfold on the porch. The unlikely parade was headed by Bon who emerged from the front door executing a superb passage, a type of high-stepping slow trot that only a top-level dressage rider can persuade a horse to perform. With unparalleled grace, he turned a corner that a flying broom, which emerged from the door right after him, didn’t and thus missed him completely. The broom was followed by an angry white male, hopping on one leg and howling inanely at the sight of the cat unhurriedly trotting away. When the human regained enough of his senses to realise that continuing to chase the impertinent cat would constitute a very literal definition of lame pursuit, he began to retreat into the house. The sheer magnitude of his defeat (which I was quick to accompany by laughing like crazy as I didn’t particularly approve of broom-harpooning attempts directed at animals) only started to dawn on me when I saw that his behind looked exactly like the rear end of a guy who slipped and planted his butt into a pool of cooking oil. The cat, however, managed to deliver an immaculate impression that it wasn’t running from the enraged human at all but was, as the late stand-up philosopher George Carlin would have put it, merely moving on to its next activity. And this, my dears, takes a truly cool cat and unless you can provide a detailed account of how your kitty is even cooler than that, signed by three reputable witnesses, I guess I’ll just continue to assert that any other feline has yet to live up to the standards of coolness set by our Bon.

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