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In The Company of Cats

Cat Proofed Balcony

There have been some cat focused improvements at my home, the Notting Hill Cat Company HQ. The cat proofed balcony, our safe outdoor space for our kitty clients has had an upgrade. The unsightly chew proof netting that was painstakingly stretched into a protective shelter has been replaced by a stainless steel structure that is taller, safer and far less visible. We have added some new cat furniture, cat friendly plants and the window that opens onto the balcony has been fitted with reinforced glass and a cat flap. Our furry guests can now hop in and out at their leisure.

The first cat to feel the benefit of the balcony is Mao, a cute, grey male with a crooked tail and a lop sided ear. He is keen to get out onto the balcony, but having never encountered a cat flap before, I have to hold it open for him. Once outside he explores thoroughly, nibbling on cat grass before settling down on a cat tree for a snooze. When he is ready to come in, Mao has trouble working out where the cat flap, which is made of transparent plastic, is. He sits in front of the window and meows until I let him in. Once inside, he happily scoffs his dinner and and we settle in for a night. Still a little unsure of his surroundings Mao naps on a cushion underneath my bed. When I wake up in the morning I find him sitting patiently in front of the window, waiting to be let out again. I try a new tactic, propping the flap open with a pair of chop sticks. He is soon jumping through the cat flap onto the balcony, dislodging the chopsticks on the way out. The cat flap bangs shut behind him. Mao is undeterred and confident. As quickly as I prop the cat flap open with chopsticks, Mao, hops through it. Thankfully, by the evening Mao has worked out how to use the cat flap to get back in from the balcony but still cant work out how to get outside again.

That night, exhausted from all his outdoor activity, Mao climbs into bed beside me, crawls under the covers and falls fast asleep. The next morning I find Mao sitting in front of the cat flap waiting to be let out. It takes another couple of days and the help of some strategically placed treats for Mao to master exiting as well as entering through the cat flap. But once he does my evenings are punctuated by the gentle clatter of the cat flap as he hops, energetically in and out for food, a nap and the occasional cuddle.

Pumpkin is a one year old, recently rescued, cream Persian. His tiny nose makes breathing difficult, his huge eyes need twice a day cleaning and his coat is in constant need of a brush. But Pumpkin is as adorable as he is impractical and his loving nature and gentle disposition make him a joy to be around. Happy to be carried on a personal tour of his new accommodation, Pumpkin greets every new object with wide eyed wonder. He settles in straight away and spends the day sitting as close to me as possible and the night sleeping on my pillow. In the morning, I am awakened early by Pumpkin’s tiny tongue sand papering my face as he mistakenly incorporates me into his personal grooming routine.

Pumpkin loves the balcony, but never gets used to the sound of noisy cars whizzing past and he never learns how to use the cat flap either. But I am more than happy to help, propping the cat flap open with my trusty chopsticks, as Pumpkin bravely ventures back outside to enjoy the fresh air.

Ninja, a striking two and half year old blue Sphinx arrives a few hours after Pumpkins departure. With her slender frame and graceful countenance she has the rare and strange beauty of a supermodel. She climbs onto the sofas and circles the apartment before arriving at the large window and staring, fascinated through it to the outside world. But despite my best efforts and liberal use of the chopsticks to prop open the cat flap, Ninja refuses to step outside onto the purpose built cat balcony. The fact that winter is setting in and ninja is a hairless cat may have something to do with it. She certainly feels the cold more than your average cat and spends most of the day burrowed deeply beneath my quilt. At night she likes to explore, but returns to bed frequently for warmth. Her naked paw extended, Ninja gently taps me on the shoulder. Still half asleep, I hold the quilt up for her and she quietly disappears under the covers .

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