Willow’s pet is a little more than meets the eye – which for most people in Stinkforth-upon-Avon means a mangy old cat that has seen better days and should perhaps better stay at home instead of going on vampire hunt.
While Bartholomeoaw has the appearance of a domestic cat, there is more to the species of cat that meets the eye from anyone’s perspective. Cats are often referred to as the ultimate hunters. As strict carnivores – notwithstanding my own cat’s hankering after digestive biscuits – cats in the wild eat mainly meat.
In nature we will find cats in practically all the regions our planet has to offer – from deserts in Africa to the icy cold horizon in the Arctic. Only Australia and Antarctica are cat-free zones. Famous for their grace and strength as well as astonishing agility, cats come in a huge range of sizes, colours and “danger factor”. From the massive lions of Africa to the kitty in your shoe-box, they all have in common that they bewitch us with their beauty, their elegance and mysterious stare!
The species CAT is actually split into three sub-families. There are big cats of the Pantherinae family, which includes lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards for example. Then there are the much smaller cats, the Felinae, which range from pumas, bobcats, lynx to ocelot. The graceful cheetah is in a category all on its own, namely the Acinonychinae.
The main difference that separates these families are the flexibility of their larynx. Who hasn’t shuddered at a lion’s roar in the zoo, when their yawn suddenly erupted into that ear-shattering noise? Only big cats can roar – probably just as well, or my own cat would have driven me to distraction long ago!
Cheetahs don’t have retractable claws like other cats and they are also much, much faster runners than other cats, or indeed other animals for that matter.
Domestic cats like Willow’s cat Bartholomeoaw often lie on their side so we can stroke their tummies. They learn how to do this when they are still kittens, namely when their mums grooms them every day by licking their fur. It also serves as a warning pose to enemies in nature, since cats with their tummies exposed, their four legs outstretched, their teeth bared and their claws flexed can turn around in seconds to bite and scratch anyone who comes to close.
When you get to know Willow’s pet a little better, you will realise that stroking Bartholomeoaw’s tummy is not an activity to be undertaken without taking special precautions…like wearing oven-mitts for example!
Domestic cats might eat anything from mice and frogs in the garden or fields surrounding your home to raiding bins in cities or eating dainty portions of cat food in our kitchens. In the wild feral and domestic cats might even hunt rabbits, a prey nearly their own size.
Domestic cats are not adverse to a morsel of nice fish, while cats living in Stinkforth-upon-Avon might occasionally feast on vampires-turned-bat and wash it all down with a slurp of blood-wine.