Autumn is setting in, the days are getting cooler and so the time has come to switch to winter sports. Whilst old favourites are still well supported, this year we have both new games and new players. The current state of the contest is as follows:

Oatmeal is still the unchallenged lap-sleeping champion, a fine figure of a sumo-feline who has trimmed his weight back to a mere 6.5kg after a year or more of serious dieting. Even so, he still has the stretch and spread to fully occupy a lap and can keep the effort down for hours if left undisturbed by his people making pots of tea or urgently needing to restore blood circulation below the knee. Winter lap-sleeping is very similar to summer lap-sitting, except the heating is more likely to be on and has the benefit of permanent facilities which means that nobody has to put the garden chairs away in the shed at the end of the day.

For now, the great Teddy-Tubby sleeps supreme.

Piper has taken up golf. Another 6.5kg of furry contender, his leaner looks and longer legs mean that he can chase the golf ball further and faster than anyone else, whilst his natural agility means that he can spin on the spot, dive behind the curtains and be ready to tackle Oatmeal for the ball. This is a new sport for the season and the golf ball itself has largely appeared out of nowhere. New toys simply arriving is not an uncommon occurrence, and the golf ball has a significant advantage over freshly killed rodents – it doesn't start to smell bad after three days lost under a bookshelf.

When not refining his golfing skills, Piper has taken to chasing Ginge who, at a mere 2.5kg, is still mistress of the nose-swipe. For her chosen sport, Ginge has gone back to the below-the-ribs trampoline, testing my reflexes and abdominal muscles in the middle of the night. As in previous years, the scoring system is based on how many expletives I still have the breath for after impact. There are bonus points for the direct-injection purring, her nose right in my ear.

For leisurely evenings, Piper now holds his masterclass in sofa-hogging.

Squeak retains her title as the burrowing champion – why sleep on the furniture when you can be inside? Winter burrowing is naturally quite distinct from summer burrowing in that... OK. I'm sure there is a difference...

The new player for this season is Thug (weight unknown) who likes to drop by once a week and play with everyone. Thug is a lean and fast young ginger and white tom who has proven himself the absolute champion of relentless violence and is clearly a Sean Connery fan. Unfortunately, the Thug take on the Untouchables is I'll put one of yours in the hospital, and then I'll put one of yours in the morgue. To people, Thug is actually a very loving and adoring cat who likes nothing more than a good stroking behind the head whilst he menaces one of the other players. Of course, for those of the feline persuasion, Thug is a blood-thirsty psychopath utterly focussed on victory. Unlike most sports, there is no actual disqualification for trying to bite your opponent's ear off. In fact, biting, gouging and clawing are integral to the game.



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