At your command, my queen

By John Lewis

Lately I’ve waking up in the middle of the night in a feverish lather because our cat might find a door closed and can’t get to her bowl of dried fishy bites before dawn.

Then there are other eye-snapping moments in the dark when I realise the kitchen door might not be ajar enough and Cleopatra can’t get to her favourite cushion.

Waves of guilt engulf me and I lie rigid with doubt until the door just has to be checked.

If the door is not able to be pawed open then I might suffer the terrible Egyptian eye of scorn in the morning.

If one has really behaved sloppily and the kitchen door is firmly closed, one receives six lashes of the Queen’s upright tail at dawn.

These are the trials of a professional cat butler.

My one job in this life is to ensure the safe passage of my Queen to the eternal paradise somewhere on the other side of the garden fence to an underground laundry where dried fishy bites fall endlessly from the roof.

I might have other pastimes during this life — like going to work, paying bills, paying tax and eating.

But all this pales in comparison to the terrible responsibility of keep Cleopatra happy.

I can’t exactly remember when this noisy little regal furbag of bones came into our lives.

I think it was about 12 years ago when I heard the first royal miaow at 3am.

I remember snapping upright in bed to open a door somewhere.

My life has never been the same since.

It is now consumed by butlering duties.

Now I am up at dawn to ensure Cleo has her morning drink from the shower floor, that her fishy bites are ready, and that the annoying giant galumphing canine fool is nowhere to be seen — or preferably outside with the magpies.

If she has a taste of fishy bites and wants a drink from the shower I must ensure that all doors are open for her royal passage.

If she then walks around miaowing and can’t remember where her food is, I must escort her back to the laundry to continue her breakfast.

Who am I to say that her royal etherealness has the memory of a goldfish and the brainpower of a pumpkin seed?

Look, the position of cat butler is not unique.

Cats have ruled people for a long time.

The Ancient Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem.

They worshipped Bastet the cat goddess, often represented as half feline, half woman.

If you disrespected a cat in Thebes you were fed to the lions before being forced to lick Bastet’s paws clean every day for a month.

So I am proud and honoured to call myself a cat butler to the gods.

There are worse, more demeaning jobs. Mr Trump’s public relations officer would be terrible.

Butlering to a big galumphing attack dog wearing an invisible head cone.


John Lewis is chief of staff at The News