Puddy da Tat is a silly name for a cat. Puddy da Tat doesn’t roll off the tongue like Duke or Oscar or Spot or Tigg
er. It’s the kind of name that owners of purebreds snigger at. It’s the kind of name that vet assistants find difficult to hear and pronounce over the phone.
“What’s the name of your pet?”
“Puddy da Tat,” I said. I’ve stockpiled enough patience to last the duration of this phone call, or so I think.
“Oh, Pahhhdy the Tat.”
“No, it’s Puddy da, with a D and A, Tat, T-A-T.”
“Right. Hang on,” the vet assistant says, forgetting to put on the wait music. “What’s the name of the chocolate British shorthair?” she calls out to a colleague.
“Paddy as in Paddle. P-A-D-D-Y,” is the response.
“Thanks for holding.”
“Would you like me to spell it for you?” I sigh. “It’s P-U-D-D-Y, space, D-A, space T-A-T.”
“Not it’s P-U-D-D-Y. It’s Puddy da Tat! Puddy da Tattt! Puddy da Taaaaatt!”
This is a cat that responds to my calling his name. The white critter with its wet chocolate nose and black tail bolts into the living room and joins me on the sofa. He makes a sound that is something between a chirp and a meow, rolls onto his back and starts licking his bollocks. A tiny pointed pink thimble starts to extend from a black furry nub on top of them. Puddy licks it too.
I watch the creature in fascination, stifling the urge to finger the thimble. I have read somewhere that a cat’s penis is very much like its tongue, rough and bristled.
Just then, John shuffles out of the washroom belly first, fingering the garter of his old shorts. “That’s right Puddy da Tat, lick ‘em while you still have ‘em, pervy cat.” He turns to me, “When’s he chopping off his bollockses?”
“Next Friday morning, at the crack of dawn,” I reply. “Well nine in the morning really, no food or drink for 12 hours the night before. “ Puddy da Tat is now glaring at my face with his transparent blue eyes; his pupils are tiny black dots in the sun, his little tongue sticking out mid-lick.
“Poor Puddy da Tat. Next week this time, no more bollockses.” John gives him a consoling stroke at the back of his neck. Puddy flops onto John’s open hand and makes more of those chirp-meow sounds. Then he yawns and stretches and puts a tentative front paw on my left breast and then the other paw, hoisting his entire furry bundle onto my chest. He starts to nuzzle my hair, licking and chewing the strands while making deep purring sounds.
“Look at that pervy Puddy,” John says, tutting as he goes into the kitchen. “Sitting on mummy’s rack like that.”
“Nothing pervy about that. Adopted kittens often look for surrogate mothers – other house pets or humans – to nuzzle. It’s more for comfort than anything else. He’s not getting much else from this does he?” Puddy has stopped purring. He is now on the sofa and on his back again, his paws and hind legs akimbo, his little pink tongue showing by just a fraction. I rub his belly one big firm stroke at a time.
“Not, him, you!” John says. “He will still have his penis after he’s being neutered if you’re thinking of fingering him. But I’d advise against that.”
I make a face. “Why would I do that?”
John waves a well-thumbed Paul Theroux paperback at me, opens a page and says, “Read that.”
“Great opening line, isn’t it?”
I follow his finger down the page until it stops. “Never give a dog a hand job or you’ll never get rid of him.” I make another face. “He’s a cat. That doesn’t apply.”
“I think he thinks he’s a dog.”
Under the pool table, Puddy da Tat is chasing his own tail.