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The Goddess of battle, strife, and destruction explains it all for you

Ivan's Move


(Originally written, Oct 2008.) Posted, December 8, 2008 

 A lot of the mail I get from you guys has to do with Ivan the Terrible.  You all seem to love him.  Now that I’ve become less of a Luddite and Natalie is in the mood to indulge me, I can actually post photos of him to augment the tales of his treachery.

 When I first got Ivan and Annie, they were about eight months old: so they’re almost six now.  I’d never had long-haired cats before and if I’d known the amount of debris they leave in their wake, I might have thought twice.  I’m madly attached to the little bastards now though, so I’ll just have to get over the tumbleweeds of fur everywhere and the horror of spending more to get them shaved (per cat) than I spend to get my own hair cut.

 Cats hate change.  It’s a fact.  They like to know where everything is and they like to have things stay the same.  Disrupting their routine spells trouble. 

Mine are less fazed by being uprooted than most felines – apart from their first few years, I’ve moved them annually nearly all their lives and they’re used to the drill.

 That doesn’t mean they enjoy it.  Once the empty boxes start to accumulate, they twig to the fact that Something’s Up and begin to express their opinion.

 How eloquent cats manage to be despite their inability to speak.  Some felines might express their displeasure by yowling or knocking over fragile things.  Others may claw at expensive furniture or elaborately shun their owners.

 Annie resorts to thuggery. By nature, she’s got a violent streak in her a mile wide.  I know she loves me – I know this.  She stops eating when I’m in hospital and pines if I’m gone for more than a few days.  Once she nearly starved herself to death in grief.  But she has trouble showing affection and prefers to express her love by inflicting bodily harm.  I’m not talking love bites either.  She’ll open me up with the gusto of Jack the Ripper if the mood takes her.  She’s so aggressive that even though she doesn’t hide at the sight of strangers like Ivan does, I can’t allow children to pet her for fear that she will attack them.   At least once a day she’ll saunter up to a sleeping Ivan and for no reason whatsoever and give him a beat down so brutal that I’ll have to intervene.  He’s almost twice her size but she’s got a huge set of balls on her and an even bigger chip on her shoulder. 

If you pay attention, you can actually see her thought process right before the assault – she’ll be sitting there in the sunshine when the idea occurs to her.  She’ll raise her head suddenly and slowly her ears will flatten until they’re flush against her head.  She’ll get up, have a languorous stretch and a yawn and then start looking for Ivan, slinking around stealthily, peering around corners. When she finds him, her eyes narrow and she’ll approach him cautiously in ever-diminishing circles as Ivan sleeps on, oblivious to the threat.  She’ll spend a good 2 or 3 minutes considering her best angle of attack – she’ll assess his possible routes of escape, figuring out if there’s any corner she can back him into and the best way she can achieve that.

 Then she pounces – from overhead if she can manage it, but that rarely happens.  Ivan isn’t stupid.  He’s taken to sleeping either right out in the open where he can sense her coming or in some well-defended corner from which he can easily flee.  He won’t fight unless he’s forced to.  On one occasion, he leapt desperately into my arms to get away from her – she’s like a feline hitman and she loves her work.  There’s definitely at least one screw loose with this cat.

When she wants to express her displeasure, Annie begins by calling me out – she swaggers up to me and hisses or appears an inch from my face in the dead of night and growls at me with great menace in low and lingering tones.  From there, she moves on to random acts of violence.  She’ll be sitting contentedly in my lap while I pet her, all squinty-eyed and purring when suddenly she’ll gaze up at me adoringly, extend a velvety paw and scratch me as hard as she can.  If there’s time before I leap up with a roar of shock, she might bite me too.  Either/or.  She likes to mix it up.

 Ivan is more passive/aggressive.  His weapon of choice is bodily waste. Urine and crap – he’s got an endless supply of both and depending on his mood and his diet, I might be treated to a collage.

 I’ll never win – I’ve resigned myself to that.  He’s got nothing but time on his hands and a very long memory.  That cat can hold a grudge longer than my mother – and I didn’t think that was even possible

 The only thing I’ve got going for me is that he’s predictable.  If I do certain specific things, he’ll respond in certain specific ways.  For example:


If I…

Ivan will…



Get him shaved

Crap in my shoes and piss on the furniture


Piss on the furniture and take a dump in half packed boxes.  Extra points if I don’t find it until I’m unpacking at the new place

Have a male guest over

Crap in HIS shoes.  Do everything in his power to see the interloper off

Confine him, however briefly, to a room with the door closed for being bad

Piss AND crap somewhere hidden in the room, making sure I won’t find it for months.  Extra points if it’s under the radiator so the stench is intensified and its source is an enduring mystery

Put him on a diet

Shatter fragile things by jumping up onto counters/tables and knocking them onto the floor.  Extra points if this involves actually going into cupboards to do it

Go away and leave him alone overnight

Piss on the bathmat.

Take him at the vet

Don’t even ask – the last time he got his temperature taken, the look of stunned violation on his face was replaced a second later by a slit-eyed stare that assured me that we would be revisiting this indignity sometime in the near future

Squirt him with the watergun for clawing the furniture

Shred my pantyhose; crap in my shoes


This list is virtually endless:  he’s EVIL.  Just evil would be bad enough but he’s smart too so keeping one step ahead of him is a losing proposition.

 This move was bad.  I was very sick throughout, inadvertently overdosing on topamax and not in my right mind so instead of organizing things properly, I put everything that began with the same letter of the alphabet into a box marked carefully with that letter.  Ergo, my tampons, teapot, tools, toaster, television cables and toe nail clipper should all be together.  I recall going out of my way to do this and being quite proud of myself for my quick thinking.  It all made perfect sense at the time. 

I told Natalie that I was going to need a psychic to ever find anything again, but that’s not strictly true – I’m going to need a dictionary and a thesaurus.

 The place was a pit when I began. Housework had not been a priority for some months – I was concentrating on not dying so by the time I got down to it, I had my work cut out for me.

 Ivan was right in the thick of things, being his usual helpful self by doing stuff like shoving my keys under the fridge (another favourite pastime of his, but one I caught on to years ago).  Here he is amidst the squalor.  I think this was Day One:

By Day Three, I’d moved on to the bedroom and it was time to take the cats across the street to the groomer.  The only way I could get them to agree to take Annie was to swear on a stack of bibles that I was actually moving out of town and I’d never be bringing her back.  She’s so ferocious and uncontrollable that she has been barred from every single place I’ve had her groomed and she doesn’t react well to being sedated.  (An aside:  I haven’t lived in the town I’m in now for several years.  When I phoned the groomer I used to use in order to see if their prices had gone up, I gave my name as a former customer. As soon as I did, the person on the other end of the phone interrupted me and said “Oh yeah – your cat’s a black one called Annie, right?”)

 Once the cage comes out, the cats scatter to the four winds.  I’ve learned to take it out days prior to the appointment and leave it by the front door.  In time, they let their guard down so when the fateful day arrives I just grab them and shove them into it. I’ve got a stellar cat carrier.  It collapses to fold flat (how cool is that?) and has hard plastic sides with fencing on the top and at either end.  You can open it at one end but it also opens on top so you don’t have to try to wrestle them through horizontally. It is strong enough to securely contain the most savage beast bent on escape and is the best design I’ve ever come across.  Because the top is fenced, you can see at a glance what’s going on inside, though this is often a mixed blessing.  Sadly, they outgrew it several years ago, having become hideously overweight once Ivan figured out how to open the fridge.  They’ll both fit but it’s a tight squeeze – there’s room for them to move around, but only a bit.   And because they’re both such porkers, I can’t lift the damn thing with the pair of them in it – once they’re both in there, their combined weight is nearly half of mine and it’s too heavy.

 Prior to picking them up after their haircuts, I covered the bed and the rest of the furniture in plastic sheets and covered the plastic with old blankets.  I know Ivan.  There was no way he was not going to make his point:  all I could do was try to minimize the damage.

 This is a picture of Ivan (and part of Annie) immediately after returning from the groomer that day.  Check out that paunch.  See him slinking around like that?  He’s looking for something to piss on. (It wound up being a pillow, the little bastard.)


 The move itself was a nightmare.  Once the cats go into the carrier, the Armageddon clock starts counting down.  Normally, they’re only in there together for a few minutes at the most – generally the time it takes to get them to the groomer and back.  Even then, I try to find a groomer in the area so I can take them one at a time.  They don’t get along when they’re in such close proximity, you see.  Annie goes nuts and Ivan’s got nowhere to run and is forced to fight for his life.

 It begins with what I like to call “the exorcist noise”. This is an otherworldly sound – a combination of a growl, a moan and a snarl.  The exorcist noise part lasts for about 5 minutes.  Then it all goes quiet.  Too quiet.  Then – suddenly – there’s a scream.  The carrier erupts in a symphony of yowls, yips and an odd keening noise and then all hell breaks loose.  Ivan invariably gets the short end of the bargain and if I’m able to (without injury to myself) this is the point where I extract him.  He spends the remainder of the trip on my lap, shivering and hyperventilating, while Annie remains locked securely in the carrier, simmering with rage and muttering the feline version of  “Redrum” to herself over and over.

 If, on the other hand, it would be suicidal to attempt to intervene (for example because Annie’s eyes have rolled back in her head and/or I can see nothing but a writhing ball of teeth, claws and blood and I cannot tell by looking where one cat ends and the other begins) I dump approximately 2-3 cups of cold water directly on top of the pair of them, which tends to settle the argument pretty quickly.

 Because of Ivan’s size and strength (and my lack of size and strength at the time), my ex undertook the thankless task of depositing him in the carrier.  Uncharacteristically for Ivan – who is the Gandhi of the feline world and normally eschews bloodshed in favour of the judicious use of feces as a form of non-violent protest – he bit and scratched my ex REALLY badly.  Annie-style badly.  “Maybe that ought to be looked at” badly.

 The ex and Ivan never got along and the blame for this falls squarely upon Ivan who is criminally possessive.  He is a student of the “If I can’t have her, nobody can” school of devotion and is pathologically jealous of any male humanoid that enters my orbit.  (On the other hand, this could also easily be revenge for having him neutered, more of a “If I can’t have IT, nobody can.”)  On one memorable evening, he was being such a disruptive pain in the ass that I had to lock him in the bathroom.  It took an hour of glass shattering, garbage shredding effort for him to free himself, and upon his liberation, he bolted into the living room (where I was entertaining my guest) with his ears twitching wildly, his tail fully inflated and a panty liner stuck to his back.  Yeah.  I never saw THAT guy again.

But traveling with them is a whole different ballgame.  We had a four-hour trip ahead of us and I had no reason to believe I could expect anything less than a half day of world-class cage fighting, especially since Ivan seemed to have grown a pair when nobody was looking.

 I gave Annie a stern talking to as the carrier was placed in the car and in response, she met my eyes sullenly and flexed her claws.  She was still pissed because of her recent trip to the kitty salon, where by the looks of it, she had misbehaved to a rather extreme degree. Look at the tip of her tail in the above picture.  See what I mean? You can tell how difficult she was by what musical era or band she reminds you of when she returns.  This time she looked like she’d been auditioning for A Flock of Seagulls so things had clearly gotten pretty ugly.

 We’d only been on the road for about 10 minutes or so before the squealing and grunting began to drown out the radio.  I was sitting in the back seat beside the carrier in a vain effort to Keep the Peace.  On the theory that keeping it dark might calm them down (or at least to keep the blood spatter contained), there was a blanket draped over the carrier. 

 This was not going to be pretty.  Ivan had already tasted blood and Annie was loaded for bear.  The exorcist noise intensified and the carrier began to tremble.  I snatched the blanket off the top in an effort to defuse things before it got past the point of no return.  They both stopped growling and circling each other just long enough for them to glare up at me in baleful irritation -- two enraged sumo wrestlers in a shoebox.  I brandished a watergun at them and gave them each a pre-emptive squirt in the face. 

 Against all odds, they settled down and slept for the whole trip. The WHOLE TRIP.  Somebody crapped but it was right at the end, so it almost doesn’t count.

 I hate these long car trips. I really wish I could devise some sort of Hannibal Lecter outfit for Annie.  With mittens.

 This time they were Good Kitties.

 I’m not fooled though.  I know there will always be A Reckoning, first for the shave, then for the trip.  Although Ivan invariably makes his point right after he’s home from the groomers, he certainly doesn’t leave it at that.

For days after, he’ll shoot me dirty looks whenever he passes and I just know he’s been dwelling on the humiliation.  They do the jewels and everything you know and this is an affront to his dignity that nothing can assuage.  If he could challenge me to a duel he wouldn’t hesitate but since he lacks both the power of speech and opposable thumbs, he settles for crapping in my shoes and grossing me out.  How?  He plops himself down in front of me (the closer the better; extra points if he’s actually touching me) and spreads his back legs as wide as they’ll go.  Using one front paw to balance, he uses the other to hold the rolls of belly fat out of the way.  At this point he pauses to make sure I’m watching.  He then glares at me emphatically before he lovingly attends to his shorn testicles. He’ll spend a good 25 minutes elaborately licking his balls and if I leave the room in disgust, he’ll follow me and repeat the process, making sure he’s directly in my line of sight. It’s the single most disturbing thing he does.

 This is a misleading picture and a very flattering one. In real life, he’s barrel-bellied – go back and check out his gut in the first picture.  It’s enormous.  He weighs 18 pounds.  He’s either wearing Spanx under his fur or he’s figured out how photoshop works  -- he looks so slender here.  And look at the schnoz on him, eh?  In person, he looks like an elephant seal – one of those hugely obese things with the obscene noses you see lumbering around gracelessly on nature programs.  At least he’s not naked here but while his fur was growing back in he had a ratty, mildewy look about him, almost as if somebody had cobbled him together out of discarded bathmats.  And that expression!  He looks like he’s been sitting on the stained and smelly second hand couch of his double wide ever since that last shave, pounding back beers and eating cheetos while watching Maury and plotting his revenge.

 Just wait till he realizes we’re moving again.  OMFG.

 Till next time,


Till next time,


Copyright© the Morrigan & Heartless Bitches International ( 2008
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