Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Cat among the chickens. I am up much earlier than usual today. I have allowed Graham to get into a bad habit in which, at any time between 5:45 and 6:30am, he decides he wants to go outside, so he wakes me up by jumping on my desk, pulling the pins out of my pinboard with his teeth and knocking things onto the floor. The latter is not especially his fault, as my desk is currently so loaded with crap that I'm writing this from my kitchen table.

He knows that because I hate this behaviour, I'll leap out of bed to chastise him, at which time he can express his desire to go out by running frantically to the back door. Sometimes I get mad and simply shut him out of my room, but his trump card is to bang and scratch on my door, miaowing lustily, which is so annoying that I will usually let him out just so I can get another hour or two's sleep.

The upshot of this is that I have developed the ability to wake up instantly at the sound of rustling noises. So this morning at around 5am when I heard the sound of rustling, I figured it was Graham making his way through the drifts of plastic shopping bags that I "keep so I can use them later". I duly leapt out of bed and stood by my desk in the dark with hand outstretched, which is usually enough to entice Graham out. But no.

So I turned on the light, and I couldn't see that damned cat anywhere in my room. And as I stood there, puzzled, the rustling started up again, directly outside my window.

I knew it wasn't Graham because I always keep him inside after dark. I realised the sound was coming from the garbage bins that are kept on the verandah outside my room, and began to picture some hobo going through our rubbish.

Or – and I blame my mother for instilling this paranoia in me – an internet identity thief trying to find some old bills or other documents with which to assume my identity. Actually, I don't only blame my mother. My former co-worker Cassie actually had this happen to her. The garbage-rifler then went on to use Cassie's name to establish a bogus backpacker hostel that accepted overseas travellers' cash only to leave them homeless when they got to town. Cassie discovered this scam because she has an unusual surname, and one of the poor backpackers had looked her up on Facebook to find out what was wrong. This is the reason why I rip bills, bank statements and other documents into tiny pieces before putting them in the garbage.

Anyway. So I decided to sneak into the hallway and, in one swift movement, open the front door and turn on the verandah light, thus catching whoever this was red-handed. Click! and I was staring at an empty garbage bin with a plastic bag sitting limply on top. Could it just have been blowing in the wind?

Then I saw the cat. Crouched warily on the footpath, staring at me. It was fluffy, tabby-and-white, wore no collar, and had what I can only anthropomorphically describe as "a tough face". As the cat and I continued our Mexican standoff, I smelled chicken. I realised the cat had been foraging through a chicken carcass Paul had put in the bin earlier that night.

My housemate Paul eats a lot of roast chicken. He buys entire cooked chickens, strips the carcasses, and eats the meat. I think he just eats it by itself – it's a protein thing. He had put the latest chicken carcass straight into our outside bin, which has no lid. It must have seemed like such a jackpot to this cat.

Problem solved, back to bed, eh? Sadly, it was not to be, for as I turned off the verandah light I heard an inquisitive jingling that could only be Graham coming to check out what was going on. Thus I triggered his usual "I-wanna-go-out" behaviour an hour early, and I couldn't get back to sleep. Hopefully this is the start of a productive day.

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