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In The Company of Cats

Barney Plays the Long game


Saturday morning and Barney and Tilly were still not happy with each other. Barney wasn’t talking to Tilly and they sat on opposite sides of the room with their backs to each other. If they happened to pass each other, in the narrow hallway for example, they would both grumble so low and long that it felt like the beginnings of an earthquake, the rumble growing slowly beneath the floorboards. I had a busy day ahead and as well as checking on Rameses upstairs and giving him a bit of a clean, I also had to cycle to Gloucester Rd to feed Cyril and Theodora.

I busied myself with my chores and although Barney and Tilly weren’t best pleased with each other, generally they were much happier and seemed to be enjoying the space. Tilly took over the bed while Barney patrolled the flat. Still, when Barney passed Tilly, she would slink down and freeze, waiting for him to go, and if Barney got to close Tilly would omit a chilling warning that came from deep within and kept both Barney and I at bay for most of the day.

Dean my neighbour who is temporarily looking after Rameses for me as I am double booked, was going to a wedding out of town, so Rameses would be home alone in the flat upstairs. He was really pleased to see me and seemed to enjoy the little sponge bath I gave him. I wrapped him in a towel and held him close before a bird distracted him and he hopped on to the window shelf for a better look. Poor Rameses gave me a look of incomprehension when it was time for me to go back home and I had to stop him from coming with me. Downstairs at my flat i could still hear his meows and made a note to check back in on him later.


Back at my place the two cats continued their avoidance policy, and at 6pm it was time for me to visit Teo and Cyril, the remarkable british short hairs, (18 and 19 respectably) in their home. Later that evening I went up to spend an hour or two with Rameses and was surprised by how quiet he was. i found him curled up in his blanket on the spare bed and although he got up to greet me he soon returned to his blanket and fell into a deep sleep.

Happily I went back downstairs, Rameses seemed settled upstairs and hadn’t even realised I was leaving.

Peace reigned in my flat too and Tilly sat beautifully among the flowers in the kitchen while Barney curled up comfortably on the leather armchair. I decided they both deserved a treat and put some chicken pieces on the table for them. Barney lapped them up immediately and I had to scoop down and rescue Tilly’s portion before he guzzled them too. I put Tilly’s treats a bit closer to her but I could see Barney eyeing them so I moved them again.

By now Tilly was seated in the leather armchair and I finally moved the chicken treats to the arm of her chair and away from Barney, then turned my attention to the television.

About half an hour passed when I noticed Barney hovering suspiciously close to where Tilly was relaxing, and for once they were not growling or hissing at each other. In fact, I thought, Barney seems in quite a conciliatory mood - and then I remembered the treats on the arm of Tilly’s chair. It was too late and Barney had managed to scoot over and pick one of the treats off the chair without disturbing a completely disinterested Tilly. However in eating one of the treats he managed to knock the second treat down the chair and onto Tilly’s back. Barney looked aghast before gently trying to paw it off without disturbing a snoozing Tilly. His paw batted lightly over Tillys back trying to dislodge the treat, but Barney only succeeded in knocking it further down the side of the chair and disturbing Tilly. She moved slightly and the treat slipped again disappearing underneath her fur.


'Oh no' I thought, as Barney tried to follow his treat down the side of the chair. Tilly started to get annoyed and gave Barney a warning rumble. Barney, quiet while he tried to figure out his next move, sauntered casually around the front of the chair, looking like he hadn't a care in the world. Tilly grumbled slightly as Barney 'I haven't a care in the world' Brogan hammed it up, sidling up to the edge of Tilly's chair and leaning nonchalantly against it (at one point I even thought I heard him whistle), while pretending not to notice the chicken treat lodged between Tilly and the armchair. To distract Barney and avoid a fight I got one more chicken treat out the tube and gave it to him. I contemplated trying to get the treat from underneath Tilly but I could tell she wasn't in the mood to be messed with.


Barney had hoovered up the extra treat and was again hanging around Tilly again, she hissed at him and he backed off a little choosing to sit atop the blue armchair and look down on Tilly and the tantalising treat. He nudged himself closer and Tilly looked at him suspiciously before blinking and closing her eyes, her growl rumbled on.


Barney stepped silently down onto Tilly’s armrest and tried to squeeze his paw between Tilly and the chair. Tilly hissed a little and Barney backed off, half circling the chair before jumping on the seat and squeezing in next to her. If Barney felt compromised by the fact that he’d been ignoring and hissing at Tilly for the last couple of days, he didn’t let it show and sunk low into the chair. Tilly looked over and the low rumbling started again. Barney turned his back to her but didn’t move and they sat like this with their backs to each other, while Barney contemplated his next move.


As Barney settled down into the armchair he spread his front paws and let out a wide mouthed yawn, throwing his head back and getting fur in Tilly’s mouth. Tilly blinked uncomfortably and sat up straighter as Barney sunk further down manoeuvring his body into the remaining chair space.

When Barney pretended to be asleep, draping his body artfully over The armchair, Tilly had had enough and gracefully extracted herself from the situation. Stepping over Barney she hopped onto the rug and headed for the other side of the room.


No sooner had her paws touched the ground when barney revived form his sudden lethargy sprung into action and ate the treat.


Sitting a few feet away maintained a dignified silence as Barney finished off the treat and relaxed back into the space that had been so comfortably occupied by Tilly.


Side Note

As Chris was flying out the door on Friday after dropping off Barney and Tilly, she shouted over her shoulder ’ don’t forget to use the words fish and brush, it makes them happy’

I tried it on Barney the other day while opening a can of Tuna. ’ Fish’ I said hopefully, ’ Fish, Barney’. Barney turned and looked at me, the crazy lady waving the can of Tuna, before returning his gaze to a fly that was disappearing up the wall.

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