A Cat Called Ming. A Siamese Cat's Antics
Starting From Scratch
In our younger days we had cats. We still love them, but don’t have them ourselves anymore due to the destruction they brought about on various pieces of furniture. The back of the one of the sofas, the bottom right hand corner of our bed, the upholstery on the piano stool, all happily ripped to shreds by uncaring moggies hell bent on ignoring the scratch post we’d placed prominently in the sitting room and rather they’d have used.
Seal Point Siamese
A Seal Point Siamese Round the Shoulders
Most of the cats in our lives from childhood to present have had a vicious streak. Some also have offset it by affection, but not all. My parents had a penchant for Siamese and gave a home to a seal point. He was graceful, cunning and ferocious. Every evening when my father came in from work, Ming sprung from chair arm to his arms and made his way up to his neck to dangle himself around his shoulders. He stayed there practically all night, even my father walked about or not and was only removed at dinner and bedtimes. How can you not love a cat like that? And so protective of his territory, too.
Making a Point
The dark patches on a Siamese's coat are described as points. There are many colours ranging from the very dark brown of the seal point through chocolate to the lighter lilac point, which is actually an icy white.
The milkman’s dog found that out the hard way.
Walking round delivering the milk was a great way of exercising his collie. He’d been very well trained and stayed to heel the whole time, the dog that is, not the milkman. But not so well trained as to ignore an open back door inside which was a bowl full of cold water.
To our immense surprise one morning in came the collie through the door and like the good opportunist he was, cleared out the bowl. Off he went, tail high and a smile on his face and we laughed good-naturedly over it with our milkman. Ming, on the other hand, did not see the funny side.
I happened to be at home the following day, and looking out of my bedroom window I could see Ming sitting in the bushes that lined the drive. He waited there, as I was to discover, very patiently.
Eventually along came the milkman as usual with his faithful collie trotting merrily down our path. Out leapt Ming and clawed open the face of the unsuspecting collie. The poor dog was covered in blood and in great pain. Ming, having done his worst, sauntered off. The milkman's collie never ventured down to our back door again.
The Origins of the Siamese Cat
The Siamese cat as we know it probably originated from the union of the wild cat of Siam (now Thailand) and the Egpytian cat. Pictures of the cat are featured in manuscripts as far back as the middle ages.
Guarding the Goblet
There are countless legends attributed to the Siamese cat and how it became cross-eyed. One relates how a pair of Siamese were charged with guarding a goblet said to have belonged to Buddha. The male cat decided to forego his duty and wandered off,leaving the female to look after the goblet by herself. She was so afraid of losing it, she wouldn't stop looking at it, and became cross-eyed in the process. She also wound her tail around the goblet so it wouldn't be stolen, adding to the myth of how Siamese also may have kinked tails.
The Eyes Have It!
Ming the Merciless
We gave our unhinged cat a handle: Ming the Merciless. As time progressed he became worse.
I’m not saying I didn’t contribute to the cat’s neurosis. I’d mither it to absolute distraction but I paid for it. Going upstairs one day making the mistake of curling my fingers over the bannister, he launched up about five feet and sank both sets of front claws into my hand.
Desperately trying to unhook those murderous talons was not an easy task. Having several kilos of feline determination hooked onto your profusely bleeding flesh is a tad uncomfortable and it took dogged persistence of my own to detach him.
The royal family of Siam held the Siamese cat in such high regard that it became a status symbol. When a member of the royal household died one of the cats was chosen to receive the soul. The cat was then sent to a temple where it led a life of luxury, cared for by priests. Only the royals were allowed to possess these cats, literally on pain of death, until 1884 when the King of Siam presented the British consul-general with one of the precious cats.
Ming and Skippy
Besides Ming we had a budgie we called Skippy who lived in the back room. It wasn't that we didn't consider that budgies and felines were incompatible, but we thought Skippy was perfectly safe in his cage from any unwanted attentions from the demented cat. Ming, however, had other ideas, taking delight by installing himself on the back of the conveniently located wing back chair from which vantage point he stared at him with near psychotic focus.
After a time Ming decided staring wasn’t enough entertainment. Being clever and inventive he discovered he could wrap his front legs around the cage door and pull it open. The terrified budgie would squash up into the corner, while Ming batted his paw around in an effort to reach him.
After witnessing Ming getting too close for the budgie’s comfort the door to the room was kept shut in an effort to keep the two of them apart. The door closed by means of a roller catch and it didn’t take much of a shove to open it. Ming soon learnt the technique of the quick nudge and was back to his old tricks. We had to resort to more secure means.
Each of the downstairs doors could be locked by star bolts, the kind which are closed with a key. This it was thought, would be bound to suffice.
Now Ming was a big cat. From the tip of his elegant tail to his aloof snout he measured exactly a yard. So it wasn’t that difficult to for him to stretch up and reach the protruding key. He was caught balancing on hind legs holding the star bolt in both paws and slowly turning it, until with a push the dining room door was open again and the torture of the now deranged bird could continue. Skippy was reduced to feathery hysteria as Ming hissed and rasped at him, rapidly chattering menacingly through his exposed sharp teeth in the manner of a predatory forerunner of Hannibal Lecter.
The solution was to remove the Chubb key and hang it up in the understairs cupboard and apart from when we used the room it was kept firmly locked.
Too late, Skippy had become completely traumatised. The poor bird now hardly moved such were the state of his tattered nerves. He stayed rooted to the same place on his perch as if he had suffered the equivalent of shell shock. The evidence was the pile of poo at the furthest point from the cage door. The budgie only moved when the cage was cleaned out.
Finally one morning we came down to find Skippy had shrugged off his miserable mortal coil and was lying feet upward. He was buried alongside the compost heap along with all our other deceased pets.
The scientific name for the Siamese cat is felis catus. Many Siamese are in fact very loving, unlike Ming. They also have the ability of be taught simple commands like 'fetch' so you can almost have a dog and cat all in one!
Cat Versus Human
By this time I had discovered that a frenetic blowing sound caused by sucking and blowing air quickly from my mouth from a place of hiding would for some reason send Ming into a complete frenzy. The trick was to lie on the floor of the upstairs landing after having sneaked a peek to see where the moggie of horrors was downstairs. If the sound was then made while I was concealed the cat would instantly go into crouched down stalk mode. As soon as I could see him rushing towards the stairs I would vanish into my bedroom and put my foot against the door. Rarely was I disappointed to hear the thud of the cat’s body against the closed door as he attempted to track down his arch antagonist - me.
The scores were eventually evened up when one afternoon Ming came in, fur all stuck up as if terrified. I bent down to stroke him maybe a little too quickly, to be rewarded with a lightening swipe which left a scalpel-like slash right along the underside of my left eye. For a while we avoided close contact. Eventually some kind of wary truce was reached which lasted until Ming too was found a place by the compost heap.
© 2017 Frances Metcalfe