Thursday, 9 May 2013

The day my cat climbed into the washing machine.

Right now, I'm standing, frustrated, in a kitchen that looks like a bomb has hit it. Mainly because I left the dirty washing (in a neat pile) by the machine while I went outside to hang up the wet washing. I come back, and tights are strewn haphazardly across the floor. Socks are lying limply in corners. A woollen jumper which I'm sure is quite expensive has been enthusiastically snuggled and discarded. 

And my cat is in the washing machine.

Which leads me to this point.

"Molly, get out of the washing machine."

Nope, not gonna. This is comfortable. Despite the fact that it looks small and claustrophobic, and is, in fact, not a cat basket, patch of sun or any other acceptable place for a respectable cat to take a nap (as you've vetoed the clean laundry pile, you brute), I am really quite content staying where I am, thank you very much.

I need to do my washing. And, based on the evidence, my cat emphatically does not want to get out.

To continue. I'm nursing a hand that was chewed as soon as I put it inside the drum and tried to coax my parents' wayward pet out of the machine. The limp ragcat which usually dribbles her affection on anyone who has a spare lap has suddenly transformed into a raging hormonal ball of fury, who has decided that any and all things coming past the mouth of the machine drum is in fact an enemy.

I try a soft voice.

I try a firm voice.

I try a ruddy you love me don't you now please I'm begging you voice. 

I use the infallible roll-the-paper-towel-into-a-cheap-plaything trick.

It fails.

I take a tiny piece of ham from the fridge which the cats usually go mad over. It becomes a larger piece.

The ungrateful wretch snatches it from my fingers and swallows her prize. And stays where she is.

I give in. 

I become a sobbing wreck.

None of this moves the monster inside the machine. She watches lazily, and with stubborn resentment, from its shadowy interior.

The other Cat has by now come to see what all the commotion is about. She climbs onto a chair and watches, sphinx-like, my pathetic attempts to draw her sister-cat from the depths of the drum. She yawns. Apparently the soap drama unfolding before her is getting a little repetitive. 

I make a decision.

It is a bad one.

I close the washing machine door. 

I would like to state emphatically that I was not planning to switch the machine on. At any point. To continue.

As predicted, the Cat goes ballistic. She gives an upset shriek. She stands up from her smug nose-to-feet-I'm-a-circle pose and presses her face against the glass.

I try to open the door.

It won't open.

In the next ten seconds, I imagine her drowning. I imagine trying to open the door until my fingers bleed.

I am convinced that I have killed the cat. 

I scrabble desperately at the door to a cacophony of cat sounds, most of which I hadn't realised were possible. I am sitting cross-legged in front of a machine that I have never had cause to worry over, be angry at, or be terrified of.

I have changed my mind. I am going to wash everything I own by hand from now on.

In the midst of my frantic and unavailing attempts to open the door, it occurs to me to turn the dial back to zero.

The door, when I next try it, opens with a quiet, unassuming little click. 

The entire thing, from the moment of closing the door, has taken twenty seconds. It feels like a week has passed.

And the cat?

The cat steps calmly out, looks up at me, and promptly curls up in my lap and pretends to fall asleep.

She can't speak, but she doesn't have to. The meaning is clear. 

I own you.

Witless ape.

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