Well, I say 'my' cat but it was actually my wife and daughter who decided that what the household most badly needed was a sadistic, wildlife-murdering parasite that would damage the furniture, soil the neighbours' gardens and slowly but inexorably fill the forgotten corners of every room with the partially chewed remains of small rodents. After a brief but frank exchange in which I made clear my strong opposition to the whole proposition of cat ownership, the two of them out-voted me, drove off to a cat rescue centre and brought home with them the most prodigiously stupid and incontinent animal they could find. That was about nine years ago now and he hasn't improved with age.
We don't have the most cordial of relationships. You know how you sometimes see one or two of those sucky remora fish attached to the underside of a tiger shark? Well, it's a bit like that, although the cat and I clearly have different views as to which one of us in this analogy is represented by the shark. The closest we get to having an understanding is when the clock nudges towards 5pm each day, at which juncture the cat slouches into the kitchen, fixes me with a wearily expectant look and then nods his head in the direction of the food cupboard. I think it's the feline equivalent of tutting and tapping one's wristwatch.
I have never pretended to understanding the workings of the pair of cells that we so generously choose to call his brain. I don't understand, for example, why he has decided that springing onto my lap, only to sink his claws into my leg, will earn him any greater respect or affection than he already commands. I don't understand why he perceives any briefly abandoned cardboard box, breakfast tray or laundry basket as an open invitation to wee in it. But what I understand least of all is why a neutered male cat would attempt to seduce me.
Now, I may be interpreting this all wrong, but see what you make of it...
I was sitting alone in the house the other day - the family having gone off to enjoy the boundless joys of one of those padded play-barn places (the sort characterised by ball pools, brightly coloured plastic slides and the verruca virus) - and I was sitting eating an early evening meal. The cat, perhaps bored by my televisual choices or lack of communication, jumped from his cushion, padded over to my feet and miaowed more or less continuously for the next seven or eight minutes.
Now, at this point, I should say that I was doing nothing at the time that could have been construed as sexually enticing or encouraging of his attentions. I was merely sitting on the sofa eating a Thai-style vegetable stir fry. As far as some fairly rigorous internet research has subsequently been able to uncover, this particular combination of activities has never been found to induce any untoward hormonal imbalances in cats. Moreover, I was entirely sober and I was not dressed provocatively.
I lay out this defence because when I finally finished my meal and rose to take the tray into the kitchen, I fully expected the cat to come with me so that he could be let out of the back door. (You see, in addition to being his waiter I would also appear to be his doorman.) Curiously, however, he stayed exactly where he was until I returned to the sofa, looked at him in a state of some bewilderment and, using rather more vernacular than is here represented, enquired what he wanted.
Now comes the bit that I really don't understand. He looked at me (with an expression that I think many would have regarded as coy) before padding away to the door that leads to the hall and stairway. Here he paused, turned to look at me again, and then trotted upstairs to the bedroom.
Again, in my own defence, I wish to make it absolutely clear that I stayed resolutely where I was. However, given that the house was built some time around the early nineties, apparently from nothing more substantial than paper mache and Fimo modelling clay, it is always perfectly possible to hear the movements of every occupant in the house, from fellow humans all the way to fatally injured field mice. It is for this reason alone that I was able to hear the cat jump onto my bed and begin to rearrange the bedding.
Obviously, I didn't really fancy going up to see precisely what he was doing but, mercifully, when my family returned (a rather uncomfortable ninety minutes later) he hurried down the stairs to begin his usual routine of pretending not to have been fed. As a result, I never discovered what strange and unnatural shenanigans he had planned for me, and that's probably for the best.
Since then, there has been no recurrence of this unwelcome behaviour but the whole experience has left me feeling somewhat uneasy. In particular, I'm beginning to wonder what the real reasons were for his previous owner's decision to send him off to the re-homing centre...
If there are any feline psychologists out there (which is to say humans who understand cats; not the other way around), please do get in touch.