First day at kitten school

He jumped like a spring, claws akimbo, to hang from the tree like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. His fur the colour of skimmed cream and his amber eyes as wide as saucers, he moved in jerky, playful  crawls infused with the panting headlessness of youth.

The creak of a door, a human step and off he shot, up the bark and into the branches like the devil himself was in pursuit, hoping to spear a feline delicacy for lunch. Higher and higher he clawed, first in blind panic and then stopping at intervals in the arms of the tree to paw a branch. 

Going wherever the bows would take him, he spent some time picking his way up and down the higher level of the cherry tree and learning kitten lessons:

A supple branch may be pushed with one paw but when accessed with two, it becomes an unstable and unsuitable escape route.

Attempting to lean over a gap and misjudging the distance will result in a slip and a subsequent comedy routine involving a cat swinging gingerly from the branch tucked under its armpits. No amounts of practised looks of boredom will get a kitten out of humiliation and rising panic.

Nose towards ground and inch by inch he crept downwards, trying to foil the unseemly urges of gravity to connect the tail of an upside-down kitten to its head. Three frantic rear-paw reverse-thrusts later, the lesson was learned: a kitten must descend the way it ascends, tail towards ground, dangling from the bark like a gawky white bauble.

Having hit the moss he fled blindly, tracing a ruler-straight line from the tree to the cat-flap across the road, where he disappeared without trace for the rest of the day.

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About monicaheck
Monica Heck is a bilingual freelance writer and journalist based in Dublin, Ireland.

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