I’m not sure whether it is because female cats are different to male cats, or whether it is because Machiato is Chinese. Two lots of friends have the same issues with their young cats, and, they, too, have female cats they acquired here, in Guangzhou.

Having had many male cats (usually neutered) in the past, some of Machiato’s behavioural traits are hard to fathom. Male cats respond to the “alpha male” stuff (see The Life of Pi), but Machi is irrepressible. Cats, obviously, do not have any sense of morality, but my previous cats have all eventually understood that certain actions earn a rebuke, of some sort, from their owners (definitely not masters) and usually modify their behaviour. Not Machi – even after a smack, or a dose with the spray bottle, she repeats the behaviour until she is physically removed. In fact, if smacked, she will usually retaliate by biting the “offending” hand. Any action that she is prevented from doing is simply a problem to be solved, such as dashing up the inside of the kimono hanging on the lounge room wall.

Cats are supposed to abhor water. Our last three felines had been regularly bathed, but this did not stop them staying clear of water when left to their own devices. Machi, if sprayed, doesn’t bother to groom herself, like other cats. In the garden, she chases the water stream from the hose, and happily dips her paw into the water pot outside. She has nearly fallen into the spa when chasing bath foam bubbles and loves “helping” with any hand washing in the sink.

The “naughty” behaviour is predominantly attention seeking, such as burrowing under the runner on the dining room table or tearing up a piece of paper on my desk. She is much more aggressive in demanding attention than any previous cat.

Like any kitten, she loves running and climbing. The trees in the garden are second favourite to the teak four-poster bed. She is like a monkey, and, until this morning, had never fallen. Unfortunately, inside the apartment is treated the same as outside, and getting from A to B usually involves going over or under every possible piece of furniture at maximum speed.

Despite being a cause for concern from time to time, she is far more affectionate that any of her predecessors. She actively seeks out our company (discounting the usual need for food, a scratch or warmth) and, even when being wilfully disobedient (or, is it us who are being wilfully disobedient?) she is still extremely cute and funny.


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