Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Image Source: John Buchanan

Socks is the oldest of our three cat’s and is by far my favourite. We have had him ever since he was a kitten.

Unfortunately when he was a couple of years old I found him lying in a hedge with his elbow shattered and this resulted in him losing his front right leg. His recovery was incredible and I am often amazed when I watch him nimbly hop along the top of a fence. I must admit that I take quite a bit of strength from him, as he never seems to complain or get grumpy about his leg he simply gets on with life.

He is the only one of the cats which will come to me. Indeed he quite often comes into my bedroom at night and curls up on the bed next to me, particularly when I am really suffering with pain. It is almost as if he appreciates what I am going through and comes in to give me support.

This poem is about the way he reminds me that he is a cat and not a life coach ;-)

Let Sleeping Cats Lie

Socks dozes peacefully on the king-size bed.
His small frame dominates the huge bed spread.
With chin tucked to chest and both eyes closed
he gives the impression of deep repose.
Yet, should you approach him,
an alarm bell will chime,
somewhere deep within his mind.

His outward demeanour remains the same
yet inside his sleek fur covered frame
a highly tuned nervous system prepares
and he opens an eye and at you he stares.
In that instant an assessment is made,
which end of the cat will prevail?
the roll of the head or a flick of his tail.

The head roll is not an invitation to run amok,
It’s merely permission to push your luck.
Place a finger behind his ear, or gently rub his chin
enjoy his fur, the soft warm comfort within.
if lucky, you might feel him purr.
But when he tires, or his tummy tempts too much
His tail will flick, perhaps just a touch.

The tail flick is best not ignored
If you don’t take heed your hand might be scoured.
as four razor sharp claws flash through the air
the tail flick was telling you; ‘don’t you dare!’
But he also uses it when he’s having fun,
so take care when Socks flicks his tail
or I’ll have written this poem to no avail.

John Carré Buchanan
03rd April 2013


  1. Hi John,
    I really like the flow of this piece. Does sum up many Cats. One spelling error
    ...'don't take heed (you) 'Your' hand ...

    1. Aindre, Thank you for your kind comment and for pointing out my spelling error. I have corrected the error and replaced the image with one I drew last night.

  2. It's amazing how some animals know how and when to comfort us.

    A lovely poem John. I have a clear mental image of Socks and his interactions. He reminds me of my cat Ebony. She's much the same, only her fangs come out as well!

    1. Karen, OO Err I'm glad socks doesn't use his fangs! I must admit I have sometimes had my hand next to his mouth when we have been ruff and tumbling and the thought has crossed my mind that he could bite, but he has never shown the slightest inclination. Lucky me I guess. :-)

  3. Great poem John, but then I'm a cat lover!

    1. Jenny,
      Thank you for your kind comment. I know you share a love of cats, your poem 'Living with a cat' is still one of the most read on the Guernsey Poets Blog.
      I hope you like the new image too.

  4. The head roll is not an invitation to run amok,
    It’s merely permission to push your luck.

    Have to confess I am not a great animal lover unless they actually work for a living (dogs = guard dogs or gun dogs) and I have to say I think this chap does that earns his keep. Do like the lines above, definatly reminded us of our cat Guffer, now there is a confession we used to have a cat!

    1. Bryan, Funny thing, growing up overseas I was taught that pets result in too much heart ache. In those days cats and dogs could not return to Britain without lengthy stays in Quarantine.
      When I said "No Pets!" to my wife just before we got married she almost abandoned me on the spot, fortunately I relented. Several years later we had two Bernese Mountain dogs and lived in Cyprus! And whilst we did end up putting them in Quarantine, the love they shared with the humans in the family was incredible and the memories I have of them rank among the best of my life.
      We now have 1 dog, 3 cats which added to our son and daughter means we have 5 children!


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