It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man of a certain age, being in possession of his own blog, will at some point have to revert to the time-honoured tradition of writing about his cat.
It's what you do when you run out of other things to write about, apparently.
The cat (hereinafter referred to as the Cat) is a gentle soul, normally. He has few faults, other than hoicking up huge hairballs on a semi-regular basis. But life with the Cat is pretty stress-free; even the hairballness normally happens in uncarpeted areas. There are some things for which they don't make Stain Devils, after all.
Katie had noticed what appeared to be a small bald patch on the Cat's lower back, about an inch or so from the base of his tail. It didn't seem to be bothering him that much. But it was bothering Katie, so she sought advice.
Katie knows someone who performs aromatherapy on animals. I know, it was new to me, too. This must be the easiest job in the world, I mean, most animals have a much better sense of smell than humans so you wouldn't need much in the way of essential oils, surely? You could just do homeopathic aromatherapy. Although how, exactly, could you tell when your gerbil was having anxiety issues?
Sorry, I digressed a bit there.
The animal aromatherapist recommended aloe vera gel. So Saturday morning found us at Holland & Barretts, getting a tube of the stuff. Under my breath I was muttering: "Don't say it's for the Cat, don't say it's for the Cat, don't say it's for the Cat."
Katie (brightly, in a voice heard over several postal districts): "I'm getting this for the Cat."
Who would have known that the Cat would form a liking for aloe vera gel? Certainly not me. But he spent much of the weekend licking the gel off himself.
And that last sentence is not one you want to stumble upon lightly.
This morning Katie texted me at work. The general thrust of the message was to tell me that a visit to the vets was happening this afternoon, if only to get the Cat fitted with one of those cone-shaped collars that look like an inverted lampshade.
(Digression #2: A friend has several dogs, one of which had such a collar recently. Some dried food got caught in the cone, and as the dog walked around, morsels rattling left and right, the others were all: "Whoa, mobile buffet.")
It would appear the Cat has been reading our texts. Because when Katie got home, he was nowhere to be seen:
He eventually showed up, pining for food. Katie locked the two catflaps - one from the kitchen to the conservatory, the other from the conservatory to the garden - to keep him indoors. She then went upstairs to attend to a matter of State.
And at this point, the Cat developed opposable thumbs. I say this because he managed to unlock two catflaps and escape to the garden.
If you'd been in the area you would have witnessed my darling wife chasing the little sod around our garden. I suspect Language may have been employed. However, he gave her the slip using his, um, cat-like agility.
She cancelled the vet. The Cat showed up.
When she rang back to tell me about her feline adventures, I may have laughed. Quite a bit, actually. By all accounts this is being "less than supportive".