Phi-phi the cat is no longer speaking to me since I fitted a full-length mirror to the bedroom wall. She is normally content to share the house with me and Lucy, the other cat.
The other day, however, she sauntered into the bedroom and was confronted by a strange cat. Her shock was intense and she levitated at least 50cm into the air, hissing and shrieking.
She landed with all her fur on end and her tail bristling like a bottle brush.
Alarmingly, the other cat seemed just as shocked and angry and the two faced each other quivering with rage and using the most obscene language.
After a minute of aggressive face-off, Phi-phi slowly backed off and was probably relieved to see the strange cat doing the same. She crept under the bed where the other cat couldn’t see her and lay there quietly growling to herself.
Now she occasionally ventures into the bedroom and cautiously peeps in to see whether her enemy is still around, and she always is.
Both cats flee when they see each other. I have tried to explain the matter to her and even held her in front of the mirror to show her it’s just me and her in reflection.
She will have none of it.
Not only have I allowed a strange and very aggressive new cat into her space, but it seems there’s another old codger who looks very like me, actually protecting the invader.
Phi-phi comes into the kitchen for her meals but doesn’t stay to chat. As soon as her bowl is empty she hurries back to lurk outside the bedroom door and lie in wait.
If that strange cat ever dares come out of the bedroom she’s in for the hiding of her life.
Phi-phi’s on the warpath. I may have to build a small door to cover the lower part of the mirror, just to protect that new cat. There’s far too much violence in our country already and I wouldn’t like to add to it by being responsible for a felixcide.
In the meantime, Phi-phi and I see each other only briefly at meal times. We don’t speak to each other or even make eye contact. She just gulps down her food and hurries back to her guarding position next to the bedroom door.
At the moment the situation is “calm but tense”, as they say in news broadcasts.
An antique dealer was strolling down the street when he came to a junk shop. In front of the door was a mangy old cat drinking milk from a priceless antique porcelain bowl.
Hardly able to contain his excitement, the dealer went into the shop and said, “I’d like to buy that old cat outside.
“My cat looked just like that and he died last week. I’ll give you R50 for the cat.”
“Done,” said the shopkeeper and took the dealer’s money.
Then the dealer said: “Would you mind if I took the cat’s bowl as well? Maybe it would help him settle down if he had something familiar.”
“No way!” said the shopkeeper. “That’s my lucky bowl. Since I’ve had it I’ve sold 43 cats.”
* "Tavern of the Seas" is a daily column written in the Cape Argus by David Biggs. Biggs can be contacted at [email protected]
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.