Enter Kai. Kai has the look of a portly cat. He's not overweight - despite heroic efforts on his part - it's the long fur ... and the fact that he's not striped. Everyone knows that stripes takes inches off a cat's waistline. And Kai's hooped - which does the opposite.
But... let's just say that Kai is not a natural athlete. He runs around, he leaps, he jumps but ... there's something missing. Maybe he's going through that awkward teenager phase where his limbs are growing ahead of his ability to control them. Maybe he's just not that sort of a cat.
Whereas Xena is. Xena cannot pass a tree without swinging through it. She races up it without stopping, scaling the smallest branches, leaping dextrously from twig to twig. She climbs ladders, she scales roofs, she even climbs down ladders. Nothing fazes her and her balance is superb.
But Kai... Kai is the kind of cat that had he been around in the 1600s then Isaac Newton wouldn't have needed an apple to fall on his head to discover gravity. Kai would have landed on him far sooner. Or, failing that, filled the air with such plaintive mewling that all thoughts of new theories would have been driven from Sir Isaac's brain and replaced by thirty minutes of desperate dancing under the tree trying to persuade a dangling Kai to relinquish one precarious hold after another and drop into his arms.
That's Kai. A cat who climbs first and dangles for seconds. It's frightening to watch sometimes. He oozes a lazy confidence as he starts his spring then panics as he lands short, throws out a paw or two, dangles, swings, then scrambles his way up to a perch. Whereupon all panic is denied. I intended to do that, he purrs and swishes his giant tail.
Last night he decided to play the 'I am not the cat stuck in the loft, I am the brave explorer cat climbing the roof' game. Always fun in the gathering dark of a cold November night. We tried to lift him down from the beam above our heads but he kept moving out of reach, insisting that he could find his own way down. Except that he wasn't quite sure where it was. It might be a jump from here, or possibly a jump down to there. Or maybe he had to climb higher...
I've seen disaster movies. I know how they all start. Someone - usually Shelley Winters - suggests that instead of taking the sensible route to safety (e.g. down or away from the fire) they should all go the other way. A route which takes them out of reach of their rescuers and towards the fire, flood or killer mutant death hornets. After all, without the Shelley Winters character all Disaster Movies would be only five minutes long. Tower catches fire, people form orderly queue, Shelley Winters is overpowered and nuns lead group to safety.
Kai and Shelley Winters have a lot in common.
Instead of accepting help or climbing down, he decided to climb higher. And swing, outside the open loft above our garage, and onto the roof. Whereupon he kept going until he sat astride the ridge.
Naturally I did what any caring pet owner would do. I ran to find a camera.
But kitten supermodels don't like to be kept waiting. As the picture shows, Kai had already begun his descent. And what a descent. First he leans over the side of the roof then he decides a jump with a forward roll and twist is exactly the kind of manoeuvre to take him from sitting on top of the roof to sitting on a beam inside the roof. Not quite. There was dangling, there was hanging by the paws and there was much scrabbling. Even I couldn't take a photograph. Instead one of us had to rush to a spot where we might catch him while the other went for the long ladder. By the time the ladder arrived, he'd made his own way down. Cats are like that.
*the hornet story is here
**the death's door story is here