Updated: Jul 23, 2020
You couldn't describe my ginger cat Frankie as having the most powerful of intellects. Let's be straight, she wouldn't be employed to design rockets. We suspected as much and this was confirmed when I made a simple food puzzle that my tabby Madge did in less than a minute and Frankie has yet to complete. This doesn't matter over much as the most taxing thing she has to do is decide where to sleep. It also doesn't affect her two great abilities- climbing and giving a pointed look.
I'm a crazy cat lady and I wear that badge with pride (I have one somewhere). Is there a comparable one for dog lovers; daft dog person might fit the bill, who knows. Anyway, I've had cats from an early age: Tiptoes was a vulgar hooligan; Tiger was part princess and part bruiser; Kitten was the spit of Villanelle minus the charm; and Mrs Kitty was so smart she taught herself to use the loo (didn't flush though) so she didn't have to go out in the rain. Frankie arrived in 2017 and was the first cat that wasn't black and white, she was a glorious ginger.
She arrived as a stray kitten alongside three brothers and their mum. I was beside myself with glee in the exact quantity as 'himself' was with resignation. It took days to get their confidence and thanks to Cat's Protection, Falmouth they all found homes, well, ones that didn't stay with me anyway. From the first Frankie was a bit of an oddball. Shy, gentle, but also a bit clueless really. She'll slowly walk into a room and you can see her thinking, 'why am I here' and 'who am I'. Not in a philosophical way you understand, more genuine confusion. She also has the temperament of a geriatric cat even though she is just three. She slowly wanders around and inches through the cat flap. But although her pace is glacial she has two main skills.
Firstly, she's a climber. She literally bursts into life like a crafter long-deprived of supplies suddenly let loose in a craft store where stuff is 'free'. From a kitten she climbed; she began with the curtains and my hammock. They soon became passé. Once allowed outside trees became her new adventure, but these soon palled. When we put in mosaic-topped posts she soon conquered them too, and she loved to balance on the mosaic ball. More recently, she has added to her repertoire and discovered tightrope walking.
We put up a rope in the garden for a wisteria to grow across and now she has discovered it, it is her nirvana. After I've finished my breakfast I go out into the garden and she runs out with me and using her claws and powerful back legs she frantically climbs the post and onto the rope.
Her pupils are wide like she's taken a dose of opiates and she runs up and down, and then plonks herself down like an Ishasha lion to survey her territory. You can see the smugness coming off her in waves as she looks down at Madge who can't climb that well. 'You might have a brain', she seems to say, 'but, kid, I can climb!'
Her second skill, and arguably more nuanced, is her ability to look over her shoulder and aim a pointed look your direction. She emotes plenty of scorn, but often disbelief too. It is clear I often don't make much sense to Frankie - 'what is she doing now', and 'why won't she let me sleep in peace', are the ones she throws my way most often.
Just occasionally she'll look back at me with a cat smile on her face and as I am fond of this rarity I have celebrated this through mosaic. So I've been awaiting some marmalade coloured tiles and now they've arrived I'm well on the way. So watch this space and my 'On The Way Page' for my marvellous tightrope walking cat.