Nigel and I have come along away together since he came to live with me in London during the summer of 2003. A fluffy ginger Tom with entitlement issues and an almost pathological hatred of girls, he’s been by my side (and in my wardrobe/bed/drawers) ever since. But oh, how the mighty have fallen.
First to take him down a peg was my wife Emily. I’d never really met anybody that was completely ambivalent to animals before, especially towards a purring ball of fluff like Nigel. As soon as she moved into my flat, his cards were marked. First of all he wasn’t allowed on the bed anymore, which put his little pink triangular nose out of joint. Next it was the sofas. Then Emily would make this weird hissing noise at him when I wasn’t watching. Poor little chap. Much to her chagrin, this only seemed to cement the bond between us, and Nigel would start monopolising my personal space by sitting on my chest of an evening, gazing into my eyes, imploring me to kill this witch who had suddenly appeared and ruined his life.
Nigel and I in happier times
Then, almost as soon as the strip went blue on the pregnancy test, Nigel became a pariah. Certainly no litter trays (some largely spurious risk of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted through infected cat sh*t) and certainly no sleeping in the bed any longer. He would be shut out all evening to do his business, and woe betide him should he ever start moulting. Nigel would slope off after being reprimanded by my wife for various misdemeanours, shooting me a jealous glance as he sauntered into the hallway.
Then along came Martha.
For the first couple of months not that much changed for Nigel; Emily was perhaps even more vitriolic in her asides (“don’t you even think about coming into this bedroom!”) but as far as my feline friend was concerned, our new bundle of joy was only really worth a brief sniff in passing. He tolerated this snuffling, crying, sleeping, shitting machine with his usual air of aloofness and superiority. So far so good.
Fast forward seven months and Nigel’s just about hanging in there – but things are only going to get worse. First things first; Martha can grab. And she can grab pretty damn firmly – the red marks on my face and the missing patches of hair on my head are testament to this. She’s also almost crawling now. Sure, it’s a pretty ungainly and long-winded process but she manages to propel herself forward eventually. So much for Nigel’s hideaway, which was a luxury cat basket under the coffee table. Once an escape from the madness of a household with a newborn baby, Nigel is no longer safe here. Just look at the sheer excitement generated by his appearance:
He escaped that time but I’ve seen Martha manage to grab a huge chunk of fur before, and his tail. Luckily he hasn’t retaliated yet (he just seems petrified of this small human) but I’m worried that she’ll push him too far soon. What if it all gets too much and he ends up striking out with his claws? Do cats do this to babies? Maybe I need to buy one of those feline plug-ins that are like vaping for cats. Apparently the Ceva Feliway diffuser “helps reassure your cat while it copes with a challenging new situation.” Sounds like a plan; I just need to find something similar for my wife.