Pretty the Mechanic Cat


By Rich aka Hattymender


When Foggy Dave first invited me to contribute some ramblings the wife seemed curiously indifferent, making only a couple of comments:
“Is he as daft as you?” (scrutiny of the web site suggests possibly dafter)
“You leave me out of it or else”
Ahh! So she’s shy! Might as well get the ‘or else’ over with as I’m bound to slip up somewhere if this nonsense is allowed to continue
Now I’d be the first to admit that in counterpoint to the world of Foggy Dave I’m (possibly) slightly the more eccentric one in our relationship. But that’s not to say that my little medical marvel is without issues. Over the years she’s kept house, cooks the best meat pie in the world, brought up two daughters and indulged my lunacy all while maintaining a nursing career. But you can’t help but think all these things happened as side shows to the main events in her life; her cats and dogs.
There’s enough material in my battles with the dogs to fill several books but I’ll leave that for another day*. Suffice to say that it’s a battle of brains against brawn, and evidence suggests they have the advantage in both.
*Planned future chapters include:    
          Labrador snot as 'privacy' glass
          The futility of chew resistant seats
         Wiring, and how it keeps bored dogs amused.

The ‘four legged’ gene has passed on to our daughters. With the eldest it’s dogs and horses (I believe I’m the only person ever to have been reported to Child Line for refusing a second pony). With our younger daughter it’s cats. Lots of cats.
Which brings us to Pretty.
To all outward appearances Pretty is your unremarkable black and white moggy. One of my daughter’s many. But she has ‘powers’. Strange and valuable powers.

Early mechanical interest was confined to sleeping in the Land Rover’s spare wheel (mounted on the bonnet). A devious cat can curl up in this unobserved and leap out to cause me to jump when the engine’s started. But not Pretty, she’s more imaginative than that. Her record is six miles. And then it was just to pop her head up for a moment to get her bearings. Which came as quite a surprise accelerating down the M62 slip road at 50mph.
The really spooky bit started later. One glorious day a few summers ago I got hold of the idea that a few more horsepower could be squeezed out of a four pot petrol engine. (This was before the V8 bug bit).  The engine head would come off for valve grinding and a skim. Vital tools were arranged on the wing tops; tea, cigs and the odd socket. Pretty took position next to the cups, obviously keen to see the process through. After sipping my tea (she’s a non smoker) she decided to help. When reaching out for an alternative socket she’d tap one towards me; correct one every time.
Calling the wife over to observe this phenomenon Pretty had moved on, she was found in the driver’s seat, studying the manual. When the engine head came back from skimming (beautiful job) she sat on it and purred. That engine ran like a watch. A still underpowered watch admittedly, but a watch none the less.

A few weeks later Pretty’s prowess was confirmed. Daughter’s Ford Focus was overheating. Pretty took one look, sighed, and sauntered off. Later tests confirmed a cracked head.
 With electrics she’s a marvel. The love of her life is the rat’s nest of wiring behind the dash. When fitting a tachometer she’d dig in a paw in and pull out a wire;
 “White ignition please. Thank you”
“Earth? Good girl”
 Anybody who’s tried to pass a wire through the bulkhead** will appreciate a helper and I have one who’s willing to sit for hours waiting for the smallest wiggle of an emerging wire before ceasing it and pulling it through the grommet.

There are however downsides:
She sleeps in the engine bay of the Morris 1000. Now I like the smell of engine oil but it’s not always appreciated, especially when she jumps on visitor’s laps.
She doesn’t like Whitworth sockets so tips them out.
When the welder comes out she has to be locked up (a cat with arc eye?) and screams the house down until released. One day I’ll get her a little helmet.
She adores the printer and has spent many a happy hour pressing the copy button, then ‘killing’ the paper as it emerges.
People think it strange when I bring a cat along to scrutinise any potential purchase, but if Pretty rubs herself against that gearbox and purrs it’s as good as sold. With the current exorbitant garage charge for diagnostics I’m thinking of setting up a side line, a cup of tea and a tin of Kitty Kat to get your car checked out?


**This is the equivalent of  passing a camel through the eye of a needle, only a tad harder. FD