Charlie the Cat at Five

At five years old, Charlie has matured a little bit but mostly remains the same silly, mischievous boy.

I’ve read that, despite their dignified appearance, British Shorthairs can remain playful and kittenish well into adulthood, and while slowly approaching the middle age, Charlie is certainly prone to sudden bursts of energy where he races all over the apartment. My working days have now stabilised to 2-3 days in the office each week, and I do have to put up with Charlie’s demands for attention while working from home. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a little break with a feather toy, and other times it’s a bloody nuisance.

Now that international travel is back on the menu, so are the dreaded 45-minute car trips to my friend’s place in the northern suburbs, where Charlie stayed for a couple of weeks while I was in Cambodia. Words cannot adequately describe just how much he hates the car. According to my friend, it took Charlie about a week to get used to his apartment and all its strange new noises, but he absolutely loved spending days near the window, observing the world and neighbours’ cats from the first floor. The views at home are nowhere near as fun, with one facing the concrete car park and the other offering an exciting up-close view of a wooden fence.

I must confess, I did feel a tiny bit disappointed when Charlie didn’t have any kind of special reaction when I showed up after a fortnight to bring him back home. But one has to remember that cats are cats, and slobbering affection for the master is not really their style.

Charlie’s biggest crime of 2022 was the murder of my beautiful and expensive Turkish fruit bowl. I woke up one night to the sounds of a loud crash in the kitchen and scurrying paws, and found the bowl in a myriad tiny pieces on the floor. For some reason I cannot fathom, Charlie decided to jump on the forbidden kitchen bench, and then onto the microwave where the bowl stood; there wasn’t enough space for both.

The best new toy I got Charlie last year was… a humble cardboard box. Every time I receive a package, I leave the box out for Charlie to play with, chew and explore. Usually he loses all interest in a matter of hours, but for some reason he really took to this particular box, which has now been sitting in the corner of my living room since August. Somehow, this cardboard fortress is ideally sized for Charlie as a hiding spot, or for playing ambush. It may not add much aesthetic value to my apartment, but I guess I’ll have to keep it until it falls apart, or Charlie finally falls out of love with it.

Speaking of hiding, in the last year Charlie decided that his favourite morning hiding spot is under the bed, which makes my “Charlie check” before leaving for work a bit tricky. A couple of times, he nearly got locked inside the wardrobe for the day, sneaking inside while I wasn’t looking. Leaving aside the obvious distress, I shudder to think what might have happened to my shoes and clothes.

Charlie is still very fond of cat grass I buy at Bunnings and can demolish a pot in a couple of days. I sometimes feel guilty that I can’t give him an outdoor space with grass and sunshine, so this is the next closest thing.

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