Australian Genre Publishing

Dougal's Diary - Interview with Shadow (or what it's like to be HIS little sister)

So what’s it like being the younger sister of the famous Dougal?

Shadow and DavidAbout what you would expect, really. Most of the time I’m incredibly proud of my big brother.

And the rest of the time?

What?

Are we looking at Sibling Rivalry?

What????

I don’t think it’s any secret that you Have Self-Esteem Issues.

Sorry, no idea what you’re talking about. I’m a cat. We don’t have Issues. We have needs. I think that’s different.

Tell us about Belladonna.

She’s my Mum. She’s in denial most of the time, but she knows it and so do I.

I gather that you copy a lot of her mannerisms, such as lying on your side with one paw out and so forth.

Of course! Cats learn how to be cats from other cats. And since she’s a black cat just like me then obviously I copied her when I was a kitten.

I gather it drove Belladonna nuts.

Yeah, but so what? She put up with it. It’s what older cats are for, isn’t it?

I gather your kittenhood was traumatic.

Yeah, but we don’t talk about it. Life on the streets is too sad to think about. I lucked in and now life is wonderful.

Tell us about meeting Dougal for the first time.

After I rubbed myself up against the humans and they took me to my cage, there he was, looking so sad. They’d put me in a box up above his one, and I heard him moving about and I put my head over the edge of the box and called him. And he called me Black Kitten and then started to cry. I think Black Kitten was someone he used to know when he’d been happy, so I told him I could be Black Kitten if he wanted me to be.

You were OK with that?

Yeah, why not? An hour before I was an orphan kitten with nowhere to go and no-one to look after me or feed me. If he’d wanted to dress me up in baby clothes and push me about in a wheelie thing I’d have been fine with that too. So then we played in our cage, and they took us outside and we played a bit there. Then they did horrible things to me and I got all my stitches put in. I was terrified until the other cats showed me their scars and I realized it was something they did to us and we would heal up. So he said all right I’ve decided to be a Good Cat and look after you. And that sounded all right to me.

Tell me more about being a Good Cat.

As far as I can see it means not doing all sorts of things you’d like to do. But it also means you have a big brother who will look after you and that’s really wonderful. I do love him, even if -

Even if he makes you jealous because he gets more attention that you?

Yes. And he played too rough when we were kittens. I was so grateful to Man because he’d go to sleep with his paw stretched out between us so when Dougal was biting and wrestling me he had to go round Man’s paw which was in the way. So it didn’t hurt as much. And when I cried in pain Man blew on his nose and that made him stop. For a while.

But he hasn’t always been as supportive as you would like?

What??!!!

What about the tom-cat who hit you?

Well yeah! He whacked me and I just looked at Dougal and he didn’t do anything!

What did you say to the tom-cat?

Nothing.

Really nothing?

What??!!!

Mmm?

I may have said something about his tail.

Which was?

Call that a tail? I’ve seen better fur on a toilet brush.

And why was his tail waving?

I may have made some remark about somebody dumping a load of rotting fish-heads in our yard. Either that or it’s a smelly old cat.

But of course you do believe in politeness, don’t you?

Yes. I like to steer clear of personal remarks.

Mostly?

WHAT??!!!

May I ask about your issues with food?

What issues? I see food, I eat food. Every time I see my bowl with food in it I think Yay! No going to bed hungry for me tonight!

Do you struggle with body shape?

WHAT??!!!!

Well? You used to eat all his food too, we hear.

[mumble] I don’t any more. I now believe that our humans will always have enough food for us. So it’s OK now. Look, life on the streets is tough and you grab whatever you can get.

But it’s been a long time now, hasn’t it?

Yeah! Life is wonderful. Every morning I wake up next to Man’s pillow and think Wow! Another glorious day of eating, sleeping and going for walks with Man. I love my life!

Tell us about CJ.

She’s great. She doesn’t have a lot to say but she’s very reliable.

Dougal thinks CJ and Valentine are there to soak up any spare hugs around the house.

Yeah, look, I think Teddies are pretty cool even though we’re mostly too old for them now.

Really?

WHAT?

Tell us about bathtub soccer.

Cats don’t understand why humans fill the bath with water and get into it. But obviously it has other uses. And when Man started putting ping-pong balls in the bath we thought it was brilliant. During our first winter we were scared and anxious about climate change, and really bored as well because it was cold and wet outside. So we’d play for hours at night when the humans were asleep.

But you have to stop as soon as they look at you?

Of course. It’s in the rules.

Which are?

Not telling.

Tell us about Woman.

She’s amazing. She’s so kind to us all. I hear about humans who shout but ours don’t. They’re both lovely. And Woman is really good about me sleeping on her hair.

It would be better and more comfortable for her if you didn’t.

What? It smells lovely and I want to.

Any final message for the people out there?

Feed your cats LOTS!

Thank you, Shadow, and good-night.

*PUUURRRRRR!*