“Well, what do you expect if you stay out all night. There’s nothing to be surprised about. You’re grounded, and that’s that!”
Now although this conversation hasn’t actually taken place between my sister H and her cat Magic, nevertheless the outcome is pretty much the same.
Following Magic’s eventful few days and nights away from the family home his movements have been severely curtailed. He has, in fact, been confined to barracks and is clearly unhappy about this.
Of course on his return everything was sweetness and light. Magic arrived home whilst Helen was out, but she had already been alerted to his return by a text message from some builders nearby who had been on the lookout for him.
“Your cat is heading home” was the text she got just as she was leaving the Hospice where she did voluntary work. As she explained on the phone the rest of the journey home was a bit of a blur and she rushed in only to discover a rather messy bowl of cat snacks but no sign of Magic himself.
That was until she turned round and there he was, coming down the stairs, still somewhat muzzy from sleep and looking as though he had had a hectic few nights out on the town.
He was clearly delighted to see her and the next few hours were spent with him covering her with licks and affection. He was making absolutely certain that she knew that she was right at the top of his list of people he wanted to be around and it was only after displaying far too much happiness and general emotion that he dragged himself back up to his bed and fell asleep for the next three or four hours. He was clearly exhausted.
The phone was almost permanently engaged whilst H let her ever growing circle of Magic’s admirers know the good news and it wasn’t until that evening that we spoke.
“I couldn’t go through that again,” muttered H. “I’ve imagined every conceivable disaster befalling that damned cat. Everything from him lying by the side of the road after being in an accident, to being catnapped or even locked in a cellar. He’s not going out that’s for sure!”
“He’ll drive you mad. He’s had a taste of freedom and so staying in will just irritate him to death. And you know what he’ll do then don’t you?
Oh yes, said H sadly. He’ll create such a fuss that eventually I’ll have to give in. But surely there must be a way of keeping tracks on him, isn’t there?“
Which was when I produced my masterstroke. A few minutes of Googling revealed that there is indeed a cat tracking device known as a Loc&tor. Within minutes Helen was on the case and one had been ordered.
“Well he’s definitely not going out until that arrives!” stated H firmly.
And that is really where the best part of the story begins.
The Loc8tor arrived at the weekend and was immediately activated and put onto Magic’s collar.
“OK,” announced the younger members of the family, who had taken responsibility for fitting it. “It’s activated but we really ought to check and see that it is working. We’ll try it out with him in the house first, just to see that everything is OK and we can find him.”
So it was that they divided into two teams, a hider and a seeker. But with Magic as the active third member of the game! Now don’t get alarmed although this might seem a little extreme, but the game consisted of hiding Magic all round the house in the most obscure of locations imaginable.
These included cupboards, cubbyholes, anywhere in fact that a cat could be stowed. And the rules were clear that the seeker was not allowed to have any clues before setting out to find Magic. The seeker was only allowed to rely on the signal showing on the tracking device and could not just go to the obvious hideyholes.
You may be forgiven for thinking that this was cruel and unnatural behaviour and that the RSPCA should have been called immediately. Amazingly though not just the hider and seeker thought this was a brilliant game, but so too did Magic. He could think of nothing better than being stowed away in new and interesting places from which he was normally banned and then being the centre of attention when the seeker triumphantly unearthed him.
I am sure that the manufacturers of the Loc&tor are missing a trick by not including this as part of the marketing literature. It certainly kept a group of young people and a Magic cat happy all one Saturday afternoon. The only reason that it came to an end was that they then had other things to do.
So, if you hear of a new craze called ‘Hide the Cat’ sweeping suburbia then you know where it all started. In fact I might even see about copyrighting the name.
In the meantime Magic is still grounded. My sister maintains that it is for his own good but we really know that he is just being grounded like any other naughty child. After all one of the perks of being a parent or guardian is that you can punish your charge in order to make up for the grief they put you through. It’s the law, isn’t it?