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I am and have always been a cat person.
I have known and liked plenty of dogs, but ultimately the balance of my favour tips decisively towards cats. I love cats. I love their soft fur. Their fuzzy head-bumps of greeting. Their little bean-toes. The way their eyes go big when they hunt something.
Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly aware cats are, at heart, horrible little furry psychopaths. I know the only reason I haven't long since been mauled to death by my own cats is that domestic cats are simply too small to finish the job they start whenever one tries to touch their fluffy bellies.
I love them so much.
Over the years I have habitually positioned my sitting or sleeping self for my cats' comfort, spent vast sums of money on cat medication, borne numerous scratch-marks and cleaned up countless hair balls for my love of my feline companions.
Would I let my cat live in a kitchen cupboard and keep a litter box on the bench if it were the only place she felt safe to be? Reader, I cannot say for certain that I would not do that.
This is the situation Californian single mother of three Carter finds herself reduced to, since her dominant cat Caramel keeps smaller, timid Scout confined in terror to the kitchen at all times. Sometimes there is poo on the bench. Carter is tired of living this way.
Enter cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy, host of My Cat from Hell (currently airing at 6.30pm on Saturdays, on Sky TV's Animal Planet channel), a show in which he travels the United States with a guitar case full of cat toys, fixing behavioural problems in out-of-control moggies and saying excellent things like, ``There are no bad cats, just cats that need my help'' and, ``Ask not what your cat can do for you, ask what you can do for your cat''.
In Carter's case, the prescribed solution is more play time, both for Scout (to boost her ``mojo'') and for Caramel (to provide an alternative hobby to clobbering Scout).
Successful cat-engagement requires more of a person than idly waving a piece of string, Galaxy tells us. Instead one must ``be the bird, be the snake. Act as if your life depends on it''.
An indeterminate amount of time later Galaxy returns to Carter's house to find her situation much improved. With a lot of coaxing and suspenseful music, Scout is now able to walk past Caramel's staircase observation post, a prisoner of the kitchen no more. There is no poo on the bench.
Galaxy pronounces his efforts a success: ``That, my friends'', he declares, ``is the power of cat mojo''.
- C. Tilley H. Turner