The moment the house settles for the night, they start roaming. Night creatures by nature, they are at the zenith of their energy and devilry once the dark creeps in and the silence prevails.
It is a big house and has many nooks and crannies that they can explore at leisure. What they most like though is to jump on top of things and throw things to the ground. The louder the noise they make, the more satisfied they are.
The usual routine of the house is when I get sleepy, no matter what time, ten in the evening or one in the morning, that is the time to prepare for adventure. Instinctively they seem to know that I am going to bed. They start congregating around the door of the living room waiting for me to finish turning off the lights, before preceding me to the bedroom. But the real fun starts after they are sure that I am safely tucked in bed and asleep.
There are mantle shelves galore that are full of picture frames that need to be thrown off. There are little – breakable – knick knacks that go smash when they fly. There are big, heavy candles that go bump into the nigh, when thrown from a height. What a lot of fun.
Downstairs if I forget to shut the kitchen door, then glory be, such rich materials waiting to be moved.
A couple of nights ago I was awakened by a regular bump and clatter that did not sound familiar, like something being dragged then let fall. This time I had to get up to find out what was going on. I am sure the clumsiest burglar could roam at large in the house without me being any the wiser, thinking it was them at their fun and games. But this time the sounds were quite ominous. I sneaked out of bed and without turning on any lights, stealthily tiptoed on bare feet, into the hall. At the end of it near the stairs was the culprit and his victim.
There stood Spicy trying valiantly to drag the very heavy broom that is part of the fire pokers which were in the living room. Had I waited a bit longer I would have been scared silly by the noise of this iron handled broom tumbling down the stairs. I seemed to have caught Spicy just in time.
The regular noises of the night for me are : smashing glass, usually that on a picture frame – a heavy thud : a heavy candle thrown from a height, or the distinctive noises made by several little paws running all over the different plates, cutlery or chaffing dishes down in the kitchen. My nights are filled with the music of five enthusiastic cats roaming at will all over the house after cowering all during the day to avoid the dogs, especially Helen and Troy.
The strange thing about the relationship between the cats and the dogs is the amount of cooperation. If I put something away from the dogs on a high enough surface that they cannot reach, a cat, and it is usually Pixie, goes up there and throws it down to them. The dogs on the other hand indulge the cats by giving them token chases all during the day, when they see them.
I discovered that they seem to have a very good understanding of how far each could go. The dogs never bite the cats, just lick them very insistently, and the cats swipe at the dogs’ noses without claws showing. So there is peaceful coexistence after each had tested the others as to how far they are willing to be pushed.
As the cats eat only dry food, any other type of food to them is something to play with. Now that they have discovered that the dogs eat that kind of food, then every time the cats encounter it high up on a table or shelf, they promptly throw it down and sit and watch while the dogs devour it in a few seconds.
I must get more creative about my hiding places.
Towards dawn the cats become hyper active, probably thinking of the coming house arrest by the dogs during the day. This hyper activity usually takes the form of rushing up and down the stairs. When five grown cats do that they sound like a whole platoon drilling. The stairs are parquet so there is a definite noise made by those running paws. Sometimes one or the other of them loses direction and ends up on top of me in bed. The dog growls quickly put it right, and just as quickly he or she is gone. Once dawn starts to break they all settle down in their different chosen areas.
And once dawn breaks the dogs take over. Now it is their turn. At last I now understand why they say that she’s this mad woman with numerous dogs and cats:
it is the lack of sleep that drives us round the bend.
3 July 2014