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  • Writer's pictureTheatre Of The Mind

Kittens and Addictions



Lindsay McKinnon

“Boy, did I choose the wrong week to give up glue sniffing…”

That, as many film aficionados will recall, was one on the many silly lines

from Airplane.

Of course, there is never a good week to give up glue sniffing, or any other

addiction, come to that. Life does like to throw a few spanners in the works and

nearly always – at the worst time.

In a very bleak January a few years ago, I did give up an addiction; no not glue

sniffing, but smoking.

The side effects of smoking are well documented. No one with any sense would

still be smoking… right? And yet we still do – or did, in my case (she adds,


The decision happened somewhere over the holiday season; which is a bumper

time for entertainers to earn a few extra bucks from the abundance of gigs (my

‘proper’ job being a singer).

It is then, of course, that I got the flu – the second in as many months and in the

gigs I did manage to do, I sang like a coughing frog and looked like a wet rag – a

sequined and sparkly one - but a wet rag none the less.

‘Why on earth do I keep getting the flu?’ I thought, absently reaching for a cig. I

couldn’t light it. I didn’t even want it. It was the ritual habit of smoking that was

causing me to want one.

I never really enjoyed smoking and over the last couple of years I had smoked, I

still thought of myself as a non smoker…. who just happened to smoke,


I already hadn’t smoked for a week due to the flu; so I decided to use this as my

kicking off point.

All was going well in the garden, metaphorically speaking as far as dealing with

going cold turkey; not so well in the literal garden, however.

My kitten, Gorgeous George, was having a wander around the neighbour’s garden

late one night, when Janice, the said neighbour let out her German Shepherd for

his ablutions.

Janice only realised George was there when she heard the snarls, the squeals and

spitting, followed by a little black and white bundle of fur shooting six foot into

the air (thrown or jumped we shall never know).

Horrified, and being the brave soul she is, Janice let out the most blood curdling

scream I have ever heard and put herself in the middle of the melee (known as

the ’Dunkirk spirit’ don’t you know) and managed to separate canine from feline.

I arrived at the back door to investigate who was being bludgeoned to death –

based on the scream I had heard – just in time to see George dart past me and up

the lane at somewhere near the speed of light.

Both Janice and I donned our wellies and trudged up and down the muddy back

lane in search of one scared little kitten, but to no avail.

Poor Janice was mortified and kept apologising for her dog behaving like a dog

around a cat, and not even noticing that she had scratches and a puncture wound

on her arm that was now bleeding profusely. I sent her home and continued my


I kept returning home to see if George had sneaked in. I sat next to the open door

for ten minutes or so before going out again, torch in hand, into the increasingly

cold rain, to go over the same areas I’d already searched numerous times.

A couple of hours and a few grey hairs later, I found a poor quivering little

George, eyes the size of saucers, hunched under a bush and behind the protective

custody of a ruddy-cheeked garden gnome brandishing a fishing rod.

‘It’s alright, darln, I’m coming to get you’ I declared, climbing over a garden

fence, ‘I’m here George, you’re safe now,’ I said, and nearly hurtled head first over

three bags of cement and a pile of bricks (he would have to choose the ‘work

in  progress’ garden to hide in).

‘You’re okay,’ I assured him, while walking the plank that balanced precariously

between an un-cemented brick wall and a wooden bench, to get to him.

Like a cross between Bridget Jones and Indiana Jones, I ignored the perils and

focused on getting to this tiny mite, frozen with cold and shock.

I did briefly wonder how the hell I was going to do the return journey while

carrying a frightened kitten. I also gave a silent prayer that the owners of the

garden, didn’t have a Rottweiler to set on the strange person who was

apparently doing some perilous and un-wise circuit training on their property.

I slid George down the front of my coat and zipped it up so just his little head

peaked out.

We managed the journey back with relative ease, until we got close to the

neighbours house, where, not surprisingly, he darted out from under my coat,

through our back door and up to his Fortress of Solitude (that’s the old garden

chair, tented in a pink sheet that his bed nestles beneath).

I needed the solace of a cig…. But I resisted.

The second test of my determination came when George had to go to the vets to

be ‘de-bobbled’.  I know the op is supposed to be stressful, but I thought that was

just for the cat.

Chasing George around the house like a demented Cruella Deville, and then

stuffing his squirming body into the borrowed cat box and having to hold him in

there before slamming the lid shut was bad enough.

The journey there though, listening to his increasingly fraught cries, as he fought

against the confines of the cat box, almost broke my heart.

Living 20 miles due north of Oblivion, means that an affordable vet is an hour’s

journey away. A very long hour in this case.

By the time we got there, he was once again, wide eyed and huddled in his now

familiar ‘I’ve been traumatised’ position. When I bent to pick him up though, the

confirmation that I am the world’s cruellest pet owner, was complete.

He had tried to escape his plastic prison by forcing his little face through the air

vents; one of which had been poorly finished and had a sharp edge, giving him a

scratched and bloody nose.

I gasped in horror and looked at the veterinary nurse who was eyeing me

suspiciously, ‘he wasn’t like that when he went in the box!’ I declared defensively.

Bemused, I felt around the inside for the sharp part to prove I was not a hideous

monster that takes pleasure in giving cute little kittens bloody noses; naturally, I

couldn’t locate it.

‘Hmmm, I’ve never seen that happen before,’ she said as she tried to retrieve

George from the back of my neck where he was clinging for dear life.

There are times in life where it is pointless to defend yourself without dropping

yourself deeper in it. This, I decided, was one of them.

I had to leave George there for eight hours. I could hear the sound of his

anguished meowing as I watched the nurse carry him off down the corridor to

god knows where, and I headed for the exit in the opposite direction. I felt as

though I were in a scene from Sophie’s Choice.

I could not face the ordeal of torture by cat box on the way home, so I lay his

drowsy little body atop the blanket on the back seat, which both of us felt a lot

happier about.

Urge for a cig number two. Yet again, I resisted.

Test number three: The rain turned to snow, and, in my inimitable fashion, I took

a less-than-elegant sideways dive when heading back to my car one evening.

Mostly, it hurt my pride, but a few other bits got pretty hurt in the process,

especially my knee. This meant I couldn’t run and play with an increasingly

bored kitten, so when he started pawing at the back door to get out, it seemed

only fair that he should be allowed to go.

It has taken a long time for George (and me) to be brave enough, after his

altercation with the Alsatian, to sally forth into the wide blue yonder. Tonight,

was the night for that to happen, and so with a little (ok, a bloody big truckload

of) trepidation, the back door was propped open and out he went.

He sat on the doorstep for a long while before venturing to the gate. His bright

green eyes kept looking behind to check I was still there and he could dart back

in any time he wanted. Eventually, he trotted further out in search of adventure

and plants to chew on.

Great, I can do some editing on my book while he’s out, I thought.

Approximately ten minutes later I heard a cat scream and knew it was George.

Heart pounding, I half rushed half hobbled to the door, just in time to see a little

black and white streak dart though, in an attempt to get away from the large

snarling beige thing that was literally on his tail and heading into the kitchen

right after him.

Not sure if it was good fortune, good timing, or a combination of the two, but I

managed to slam the door on whatever was chasing him, just avoiding catching

George’s tail, and stopping the beige monster with a satisfying cartoon-like, doii-

ooii-ooiiing, as his nose hit the door.

I didn’t see if it was a cat or a dog, but it was big and angry and set on his prey.

I never knew having a kitten was so stressful.

Boy did I need a smoke then.

Had I known the two months since ceasing smoking was going to be so stressful,

I may have chosen a different time to give up.

Truth is; there is never a good time to give up any addiction. There will always be

stressful times, both expected and unexpected. There will always be a ‘I can allow

myself this one, considering the circumstances….’ excuse that can be used to delay

giving up or falling back into old habits.

Yes, my consumption of coffee and cream eggs went through the roof, (why do

they have to start selling Easter eggs in January?) but most days I didn’t think of

wanting to smoke.

Life will always throw things in your path that you can choose to use as an

excuse not to do the things you shouldn’t, or to do the things you should

(exercising, eating healthily, meditating, checking the oil levels in your car), but,

stick with it and you’ll find the pay-off is worth it in the end.

PS: George healed nicely, thank you – both ends of him. Me? I’m no longer

hunched in a corner, rocking back and forth and wondering where my last

marble rolled off to.

I’ve also found a vet a lot closer to home, and, invested in a very soft, padded

luxury, fur-lined cat carrier, with absolutely no sharp bits of any kind,


Just wondering… does anyone know if the cream eggs are on sale again, yet?

Asking for a friend.

@Lindsay McKinnon

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