Opinion

Boss-cat in the driver’s seat

By John Lewis

Now the world is slowing down, it's a good chance to sit and think.

I've been thinking about Clive who lived with us for 15 years before he munched his final dead bird.

Clive was the last of a basket of unwanted siblings left at a Shepparton vets.

He was left to last probably because he was the most arrogant and disdainful cat in the world.

But I didn't know that then, so I took him home because I wanted my kids to love me even more.

Of all the annoyingly arrogant things Clive did, there is a particular incident that summed him up.

One morning I rushed out to the car parked in the driveway - I was always in a rush when the kids were at home because I was full of commitments and coffee - when I noticed a smoke-grey head in the driver's seat, placid ears pointing like little pyramids, lemon-drop eyes focused on the steering wheel, and time quietly being killed.

For a split-second I thought maybe the universe had tilted and I was in a parallel Thunderbirds reality where people employ fat grey cats as chauffeurs and speak into their wrist watches.

I said a few words into mine but it just ticked like a dropping pin, so I assumed this must be the only happening world.

I had opened the car about three hours ago, on my daily wallet-in-the-glovebox search.

Clive must have snuck in behind me, and been left to the Japanese plastic and kids’ flotsam when I slammed the door shut.

Now he looked bored, with just a pinch of impatience and the usual tablespoonful of disdain smeared across his whiskery chops.

That's the thing about cats. They always look cool. Sort of Egyptian-serene and all-knowing.

When your hair is being torn out in clumps because you can't find your wallet, or the cooker catches fire when you're on the dunny, they just smile with their tiger-lizard eyes, knowingly.

Yes darling, I KNOW, they say with their eyes. I KNOW. You are such a complete and utter bozo. I KNOW.

The thing is, they don't know what it's like to be trapped inside this oafish body with only one life and no hope of a sure-footed landing.

I hate cats. They're just too damn confident and clean. They never look graceless or flustered.

Even when the kids picked up Clive and sat him on a lap with his back legs splayed and his paunch hanging out like a floored barfly, he just looked serene and Egyptian, and his eyes said, I KNOW.

Personally, I prefer dogs.

They make me feel like a king because they rush around and fall over their drink bowls and dribble a lot and shout things like I KNOW ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL AND IT'S JUST BLOODY FANTASTIC.

In their eyes I am an Olympian hero, a Sun God, elite athlete, law-giver and super-stud. That's the kind of pet I like.

Cats are creepy. They slink around like little silent ballerinas and smile at you with a dead bird in their mouth.

And if you are ever mean to them, even unknowingly, they exact their revenge.

When I opened the car door, Clive dropped off the driver's seat and slid up the steps into the house like a ball of mercury.

I took his place and turned the ignition key. The wipers burst across the windscreen so fast I thought they'd scalp me, the radio screamed satellite hiss and Hindustani, the hazard lights blinked and the left indicator went ‘Tic Toc Tic Toc Tic Toc'.

I reached for the plastic radio volume control button, but of course it wasn't there. It was rolling around on the floor somewhere under a hair-balled seat.

Fair feline payment for a morning locked in the car, I suppose.