This came to me in a dream, complete, nearly 10 years ago, and I just came across it again.
This is the introduction to the world of Hotfoot the cat, and I haven't written anything about it since. Don't know where it came from as I didn't have a cat at that time, but my question is - should I continue the adventures of Hotfoot?
Hotfoot was hot. It was one of those sticky summer days when sensible cats find a cool spot and just s-p-r-a-w-l. Hotfoot was sprawling in the shade under his favourite tree. He stretched out his legs – first front and then back – and thought how the word s-p-r-a-w-l-i-n-g must have been invented for cats.
S-p-r-a-a-a-w-l-i-n-g with a curly tail at the end, just like his. A good cat-word. Hotfoot was surprisingly well-educated for a cat. He put this down to his human family’s habit of reading aloud to him from their story books, and even sometimes from the newspapers. Strange how humans liked to have an audience or someone to share jokes and stories with. And, after all, Hotfoot was a very patient listener. With one ear tuned to the reading and the other tuned to pick up any odd noises – after all, you never knew when there might be a mouse passing by – he would peer over their shoulders at the pictures and word-shapes as they read, and over time he could recognise words and pictures himself.
Hotfoot took this in his stride. Like all cats, he did not see any point in putting a lot of effort into anything, except, of course, when it came to hunting. And so, picking up the odd human skill here and there just came in the course of his normal routine.
Flicking his tail at a stray fly, Hotfoot licked his left paw and wiped it delicately over his silky black face. Feeling the softness of his paw with its talons sheathed, reminded him of how he got his name – Hotfoot. A strange name for a sophisticated cat like him, but one he now tolerated with good humour as it was a constant reminder of what not to do!
So, how did Hotfoot get his name? Well, it wasn’t so long ago that Hotfoot was a cuddly black kitten with a huge curiosity to explore every aspect of his new home. Everywhere and everything was uncharted territory, waiting to be explored and conquered. The kitchen, in particular, was very enticing; full of good food smells, it made his nose tingle and his mouth water. He could feel that tingle now, his mouth watering just at the thought of food. But he looked up at the sun through the trees and realised from its position, that it wasn’t mealtime for quite a while. Hotfoot could tell the time too – he didn’t need a watch; he just listened to his stomach.
The kitchen was a place full of promise when he was small, especially the high places way up above him – oh, so inviting in their mystery. But he was far too small to jump up so high and could only sit and gaze longingly up, occasionally pulling his shoulders down and wriggling his bottom as if he was about to make that leap into the unknown. But he always thought better of it – he couldn’t even see where he would land, even if he managed to jump that far.
But one day, his luck was in. Someone had moved the waste bin while cleaning the floor and it was right next to the cupboards, providing a half way point to the worktop beyond.
“Aah”, he thought, “Now’s my chance”. And, hunching low, and wriggling his bottom, he launched himself into the air and gripped the top of the bin, his claws slipping on the shiny surface. He almost – almost – slid back down, his hind legs hanging awkwardly over the side, but with an effort driven by his huge curiosity he pulled himself up.
Giving himself a moment to catch his breath and make himself secure, he again positioned himself for another leap – to that elusive worktop. He didn’t have the best place to jump from, but he did his best to put as much power as possible into the push from his hind legs, wriggling his bottom for almost a minute before he made the leap.
It was a bit awkward because he had to jump straight up, but he launched himself at the worktop and managed to cling onto the edge with his front paws and claws, scrabbling with his back legs to get a grip. With a final effort, he clawed his way up and landed untidily and panting on the worktop.
“Wow”, he thought, looking back down over the edge. “This is really, really, high, but I won’t think how I’m going to get down until I have to.” and he twitched his tail and swivelled his ears and set off on his exploration of the upper kitchen.
There were lots of interesting things to investigate as he looked around. Where to start? Eventually, he decided to follow his nose and search out the most inviting food smell. Being a kitten, the chance of food was still first on his list, followed closely by comfort. Comfort had to come after food because he couldn’t be comfortable with an empty stomach.
He raised his head, sniffed the air this way and that and headed west. West was where the meatiest smell came from and he licked his lips at the thought of a new taste experience. His stomach growled in response, telling him to get on with it. So, ever obedient to the demands of his stomach, he set off across the shiny surface to the source of that delicious aroma.
Nose raised and twitching, step by step he pursued that appetising smell……………
Tiptoeing delicately around the obstacles he encountered – the odd spoon, glass or plate that had nothing interesting to offer – he padded towards his goal, spurred on by the grumblings of his stomach that had no patience at all!
Even as a kitten, Hotfoot was never clumsy. He had the ability to skirt around objects and through small spaces without leaving any trace of his passage – a skill that came in very useful in his life when it came to avoiding trouble.
“Hmm, I’ll explore all this later on, let’s get to what’s important first”, he thought, as images of mouth-watering delights flashed through his mind. Of course, being a kitten, Hotfoot didn’t yet have an awful lot of experience of different foods, so those images were very limited. His diet so far depended on what his human family thought was best for him, and while it was all so delicious (apart, that is, from the vegetable flavours which did nothing for him at all), he had yet to experience the delight of a stolen sausage or a morsel of fresh meat, a rasher of crispy bacon or the discarded remains of a lamb chop. If he had known what he had to look forward to, his eyes would have been spinning in his head and his stomach doing somersaults of impatient joy!
But for now, all he knew was that the tantalising smell that was drawing him on definitely represented food – always number one on his wish list, unless, of course, his little stomach had already been satisfied and had settled down into gentle rumbles instead of angry growls.
Eyes half closed to slits as he followed his nose, Hotfoot neglected to look where he was placing his feet..........