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I write every day about living with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. I've written and published more than 1.3 million words

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Cone of Shame

5 min read

This is a story about being mute...

Kitten

I suppose my beautiful baby girl is not mute, per se, because she's actually a very vocal cat; she makes a much bigger variety of cat noises than I've ever heard - everything from growling deeply, like a big wild cat, to sweetly mewing like a tiny kitten.

I often play a game when I'm making myself a sandwich at lunchtime, where I will say to her "meow if you would like some ham", to which she always replies with a meow, indicating that, yes, she would very much like a little ham.

My bengal - heartbreakingly still missing after 3+ months - didn't really have manners, shall we say. If she wanted something she would grab it, and if I didn't let go, she would have a tug-of-war competition with me. Of course, that kind of behaviour is intrinsic to the bengal breed, and part of the appeal: they are incredibly intelligent and determined animals, who will always do what they want; get what they want.

My ragdoll - pictured - had to wear the cone of shame for a couple of weeks. It's a common misconception that bengals are smart and ragdolls aren't. In fact, my ragdoll will play fetch, open doors and copy other stuff she sees me doing, or just figure things out for herself because she's smart. She is, however, a lot less prone to getting bored and becoming destructive. My house is in need of a number of bengal-related repairs, and that's even after cat-proofing my entire home.

I used to have to wash my duvet and bed linen at least 3 times a week, because my bengal would get into my bedroom and urinate on my bed. If she couldn't get in my bedroom, she'd urinate on anything of mine she could find: clothes, bags, blankets, tea towels, bath mats... whatever. She had no fewer than *FIVE* litter trays to choose from, and I used the special pheromone spray to try to help calm her down, but she basically was on a one-cat mission to urinate on everything I own.

I would not get another bengal, although of course I am desperate to be re-united with my poor lost baby.

My ragdoll is the perfect cat: she's very entertaining, just like a bengal, because she's smart and wants to play fetch and other games; she can be trained to do stuff. But, the main thing is, she doesn't urinate on any of my stuff. Well, actually, there was one time, which is the point of this essay.

Every time I go in the bathroom, my cats have always wanted to be in there with me, playing. I got into the habit of shutting the door with my bengal, otherwise she would shred all the toilet rolls, pull all the towels and bath mats onto the floor and urinate on everything. So, I kept the door shut. However, the cats love being in there with me, for some reason.

With my ragdoll, whenever I'm in the bathroom, she wants to be in the bath for some reason. I suppose it's like a hidey-hole or something for her. We even play a game where she thinks I can't see her, as she's poking her head over the edge of the bath. When she notices I'm looking at her, she ducks her head down, but her ears are still poking up. If I peer over the edge, she ducks even lower.

My ragdoll's love of the bath is immense, it would seem. So much so, that when I picked her up, because - instinctively - I didn't want to leave her in the bathroom, given the habit I'd gotten into with my bengal - when I carried her through to the bedroom and put her down on the bed, she urinated on it... first time and last time she's ever done that.

I guess it must be hard, not being able to communicate effectively. I try my best to figure out what's going on in my cats' head, but - as all cat owners will tell you - the mind of a cat is quite impenetrable. However, I let my ragdoll play in the bath whenever she wants now. In fact, I pretty much let her do whatever she wants, because she's such a gorgeous affectionate loving creature, who just wants to eat, sleep and snuggle, with the occasional mad moment where she wants to play rough, or just run around like a lunatic.

So, I'm sure you didn't come here for cat breed advice, or indeed an essay on the subject of my hit-and-miss experiences of cats who like to urinate on everything - bengals - versus the "perfect" domestic cat - my gorgeous ragdoll girl.

No matter how much I might moan and complain about how miserable and pointless life is, cats are the best.

 

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Betrayal

4 min read

This is a story about the saddest girl in the world...

Cone of shame

My beautiful, gentle, little baby girl, has suffered a dreadful betrayal. I can't tell you exactly what the first 12 weeks of her life were like. I know that she had to contend with a house full of small children, dogs and other cats, which can't have been easy. When I got her home, she explored the whole house very cautiously, as if expecting that the place would be stuffed full of creatures which would manhandle her; a tiny placid little kitten, picked up like a toy, or jostled by the over-excited play of bigger animals. I don't think she was abused but she certainly wasn't used to being her own self, unmolested.

I can tell you exactly what every single day of her life has been like since July 3rd, 2020, because we have been inseparable. I've hardly left the house. Wherever I've been - in bed, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in my office, in my lounge - she's been right there, next to me. We've been two peas in a pod. We've been constant companions for each other.

Ragdoll cats are very placid. They are famous for going limp when you pick them up. Obviously, I've wanted to fuss and cuddle my gorgeous fur baby all the time, but I try to respect her independence too. I tried, from the very moment I got her home, to give her space to do whatever she wants to do, whenever she wants to do it: she's the queen of the castle, and she's got the run of the place; she can go wherever she wants, whenever she wants, and I try not to interfere.

Over the course of us bonding, her trust has grown. To begin with, she always quietly tolerated my desire to pick her up and stroke her. She always wanted to be nearby, but never obviously sought affection. Slowly, more and more, she will decide that she wants attention and affection, and she will stand on my chest and headbutt my head, or rub herself on me. She drapes herself across me and 'makes biscuits' - kneading me and suckling on me, in a very relaxed and kittenish way. She's clearly been very fond of her human.

Now I have betrayed her.

She's so trusting that this third visit to the vet, she didn't make much effort to hide when I got her cat carrier out. She didn't put up much of a protest about me putting her into her cat carrier. She didn't make a sound when I drove her to the vet. Apparently, she was very friendly, playful and relaxed before her operation.

Her trust has been broken.

She woke up from her operation, and she was upset with the vet's assistant, because of the betrayal. My poor little baby was trembling when I picked her up.

I had to put her 'cone of shame' on when I got her home, to stop her from licking her stitches, so that the wound heals well and doesn't get infected. She's really had a very bad day, because of me and other humans, who've betrayed her trust.

I really hope she gets over it, in time, and will trust me again. It's really sad, because I think she'd been having a really nice life up until this point, and she really thought that her human was a super nice person who she could trust.

Now she's trying to figure out how to eat with her cone on. She's got the frustration of having to wear it for weeks, and I have to be the cruel human who forces her to keep it on. I'm the cruel human who put it on her.

 

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Slob

3 min read

This is a story about mess...

Kitten

I realised I haven't written about my adorable furry companion in a while. My phone contains nothing but pictures of cats; mainly my cat(s). My bengal seems to be lost forever, heartbreakingly - I suspect she was stolen, because there has been a spate of cat and dog thefts recently. My ragdoll, pictured above, is an amazing cat; she's healed my broken heart.

If you look carefully at the photo, and I really wish you wouldn't, then you'll see various bits of detritus - mostly crumbs and other bits of food; dirt. I've been a real slob for quite a long time.

I've got a demanding job, plus lockdown has meant being under the same roof 24 x 7, for many months. Of course, we're all in the same boat, but I've been struggling with my physical and mental health all year. I tried to kick the couch potato habit, but August has been incredibly punishing at work, and I've all but ceased doing anything besides working, sleeping and eating.

The one happy constant in my life - the stable part - is my cat. Of course, I had the heartbreak of losing my last cat quite recently, but my new cat is delightful. It's fantastic to have my fluffy friend to keep me company. Life would be intolerably miserable without a cat.

A plumber came to fix something in my bathroom, which prompted me to quickly clean. I don't really have many visitors, so why bother to keep my house clean and tidy? I hardly make any mess, except for a few dirty dishes, but I suppose the general dirt and grime builds up, which depresses me but not enough to do anything about it. The messiest thing is my cat, who regularly kicks her litter onto the floor. It sounds like she's trying to dig to the centre of the earth sometimes.

I guess I'll probably hire a cleaner, once this pandemic is over. Seems lazy and wasteful, but it's good for me, and it's good for them - I get a clean house and they get paid, which seems like a win:win situation.

My cat eats individually packaged pouches of cat food, which seems like a big waste of packaging, but she's super fussy about her food going 'stale' in her bowl, so I can't imagine she'd love food from a tin which has been open for days and days - she's only got a tiny appetite. I eat gourmet soups, which also seems crazy when it seems relatively easy to make a big batch of soup and freeze it, but I want and need simplicity in my life. I can feed my cat and I in the blink of an eye, which is what's needed when I'm working so hard.

Living in a clean house, or eating a freshly cooked homemade meal are things I enjoy, but I'm not prepared to do the work, when I'm already working super hard. Seems profligate and lazy, but I don't care - it's allowing me to be functional and stable.

Apologies for boring you with the rather domestic and uninteresting minutiae of my existence, but I wanted to try and write about something other than the agony of existence.

 

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