The eternal battle between cats and dogs is played out daily in my house.
|There’s a mantra in the acting world all performers observe with great reverence. And no, it’s not the blessing bestowed upon any actor at the beginning of his/her performance – you know, the one that tells you to “break a leg” before you’ve even set foot on stage! That strange but incredibly true statement caused much mirth during our annual school plays. We loved to whisper it loudly to each other just before making a grande entrance onto the stage in front of the eclectic selection of excited/encouraging/embarrassed/bored/sleeping parents in the audience.
I’m referring to the advice about never working with children or animals – two of the planet’s greatest sources of comedy.
I love animals. And not just my pets; I love watching animal rescue programmes on Animal Planet and wildlife documentaries on the National Geographic channel. I’m so pathetic about animals I found the dinosaur skeleton chasing his rib bone in the film “Night at the Museum” extremely “cute”… Sad but true…
My own dogs have always contributed vastly to my own sense of humour. They have unique characters and personalities, and have been pretty tolerant of most other species.
Until our move to our house in Bornova, a suburb in Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey.
We live in a complex of 53 houses. There are other dogs living in the complex, cared for and loved by their owners. Then there are the cats. Feral cats. And they rule this complex.
The Turkish word for “cat’ is kedi, and there are over 50 of them living here. My dogs have had limited encounters with kedisin their lives, having inhabited gardens protected by solid iron gates and six foot walls in Zimbabwe. The house we moved into had been empty for nine months, so the kedis used it as their headquarters prior to our arrival. They couldn’t get into the house, but utilised the garden and verandah to escape from angry kopeks (Turkish word for “dog”) and plot their strategies. Imagine their horror when four large and very protective Zimbabwean kopeks evicted them from their headquarters!
Their relegation to the outside perimeter of the property did not deter the kedis. It simply meant a change in usage of the property – their former HQ became an assault course for brave kedis willing to pit their wits against the kopeks now residing in comfort at the house. The schedule was set, and kedi training began at dusk and continued until sunrise. kedis would try to sneak across the garden without drawing the attention of the supposedly vigilant kopeks – after all, the traditional rivalry between kopeks and kedis is legendary! To the kedis’ surprise and (it must be said) disappointment not all four kopeks were ever outside at any one time – in fact, the elderly female kopek was usually the only one one visible, and she spent most her time sleeping. She didn’t move very fast either, which meant a young kedi really didn’t get much practice rushing across the garden in the hopes of avoiding a kopek. Sometimes her brother stayed downstairs with her, and although he was a bit more mobile he was very laid back… so relaxed the kedis used him to devise a new method of training.
They would wait until he was fast asleep, before sneaking up to see how close they could get before waking him. One kedi managed to reach the sleeping kopek’s head AND sit down next to him AND clean its face before the young grey Schnauzer came rushing through the door to chase him away! This caused much mirth amongst the kedis, who found the sight of the old German Shepherd waking up and stumbling about in a confused state while the grey dog ran around searching frantically for the guilty kedi absolutely hilarious. Sometimes the older black Schnauzer would join the chase, but his size and weight meant he wasn’t really a threat…
… until the day the kedis changed tactics.
It was decided the assault course wasn’t challenging enough, so a cunning plan was devised. The people living in the house were very fond of their kopeks, and gave them access to the house, leaving the kitchen open for most of the day and night. It was unanimously agreed that any kedi who managed to access the building AND leave proof of his/her daring excursion would receive instant promotion. Being at the bottom of the food chain was not the most satisfying position for any self-respecting kedi, particularly a feral kedi!
The first two attempts were successful. The spoilt, over-indulged kopeks were caught unawares – none of the four expected a kedi to courageously and boldly go where no kedi had ever gone before. On both occasions a brave kedi gained access to the kitchen and spent enough time in there to be able to give a full report on the layout and contents of the kitchen before one of the kopeks raised the alarm. Once this happened the kedi had to retreat with extreme haste in order to avoid any confrontation with an angry kopek. Again the kopek reaction to the kedi intrusion was a source of great hilarity, because all four kopeks would try to charge through a door wide enough for a person or one kopek. The result was a melee of growling, stumbling and angry kopeks furiously rushing after a swiftly retreating kedi. The success of these missions and the increasing anger of the frustrated kopeks delighted the kedis…
… until the third mission.
The raid was planned for later than usual, and the selected kedi entered the kitchen undetected. The kedi quickly crossed the floor and reached the stove, carefully placing his paw print on the front of the oven door to prove the kopeks’ base had been infiltrated. Smirking the kedi turned to retrace his steps back to the outside door – and froze.
The big black Schnauzer was standing in the doorway. Silent. Menacing. Looking directly at his prey.
Realising there would be no dignified exit the kedi’s courage deserted him, and he rushed to escape. The Schnauzer, showing great agility for his size and advanced years, stepped forward and seized the kedi by the scruff of his neck. The kedi closed his eyes, waiting for the tunnel and the light to guide him on the road to kedi Heaven.
They never came.
The Schnauzer carried the kedi outside, without exerting any unnecessary pressure upon its neck. He took his prisoner to the rosemary bush in front of the perimeter fence, before dropping/spitting his victim onto the ground. The shocked kedi, relieved to find himself free, dashed around the bush before turning to look into his captor’s eyes. The message was relayed clearly and concisely in tones resonant of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Terminator”:
”Don’t come back.”
To this day that particular kedi has never attempted to enter the house. But the incident hasn’t deterred other kedis – every few days we have an attempted entry, thwarted by the ever vigilant kopeks. I guess this is one time when the kopeks really do have the last laugh.
Or do they?
I personally feel the last laugh belongs to my six year old niece Caitlin. She was staying with us the night the kedi invader was dispatched by my valiant Schnauzer. The following evening the shamed kedi appeared outside my front door, doubtless forced to make a walk of shame by his furious team. Caitlin was colouring in pictures while the dogs watched the kedi through the glass door, quivering with excitement and disbelief – surely once was enough? After my brother had alerted us to the reappearance of the kedi Caitlin, a very perceptive girl, made the following observation:
”I hope it’s not that one-eyed cat, because he really freaks me out.”
The initial silence following this remark was deafening. The subsequent roar of laughter after her very astute observation chased the poor kedi from the property and possibly into even more humiliation from his own team members. We were also a bit embarrassed, because not one of us adults noticed that kedi was a Cyclops!
To this day that kedi is known as The Freak Me Out Cat.
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