Why are women so mad about moggies?
Weary and dispirited is how poor old Hugh Grant looked after spending the day in a vain search for Jemima Khan's missing Bengal cat.
If that phrase accurately described his mood on Day One of the drama, it may safely be predicted that by the end of the week he will be a gaunt wreck of a film star.
For behind every lost and adored pussycat lurks an angry, tearful woman ready to launch a 'blame and punish' campaign against the nearest, dearest man in her life.
The first rule in cat ownership clearly states that any feline misfortune may be attributed to male interference.
What is it with women and their cats? Surveys show they are four times more likely to take one in as a pet than men, and that 98 per cent of women prefer a cat-loving man to a man who gets goose pimples at the sight of them.
The truth is that there exists a worryingly close bond between a girl and her moggy - a bond which is, as often as not, a powerful force for trouble.
I speak with authority as the inhabitant of a cat-dominated household.
In my case I have managed to whittle them down to two - it peaked at four, which was intolerable, and I had to put the brakes on to save household sanity.
The rot started many years back when a black-and-white creature subsequently named Fat Ada took up residence.
"Either that animal goes now or I do!" I screamed. Such temerity I had in those pre-feline days! It need only be said that both Ada and her female human stared at me with contempt.
My last stand was fought in vain and before long the debate centred on thinking about adopting a companion cat for the one already with us.
An absurd concept, for cats do not have companions or friends, only slaves and food providers.
There is something about cats that gives them the eerie ability to exert master-to-slave power over humans, especially of the female variety. They learn as kittens to charm a way to power.
Adorable, is the word that springs to mind. Once the woman starts to think like that, she's hooked; and ready to excuse the vicious claw scratch and the malevolent laser beam from the eyes.
"He's only playing! Isn't he sweet with his little paws." Women can actually utter such words even as they wipe away blood from wounds sustained.
To this day, it is unclear whether women have some inexplicable and unwordly affinity with cats, or whether they simply resemble them. But the association between women and cats is so long-standing that it demands examination.
In Cleopatra's times, the cat was associated with Isis, the Egyptian goddess of fertility, hunting... and women.
As soon as Christianity began to exclude women in the third century, they stole off to embrace paganism and took their worship of cats with them.
In medieval times, Pope Gregory IX gave divine sanction to the mass extermination of cats, along with their pagan female associates who were by now considered witches.
Perhaps the Black Death that followed with the soaring rat population was a form of feline retribution.
Womankind has for so long been associated with cats, that it is no surprise that the term 'catty' can never really be applied to men. And it is not by chance that women in sexual pursuit mode are described as 'kittenish'.
Sex kittens are still around in the 21st century. And after years of research, I have come to the conclusion that many a predatory women has chosen to emulate the physical movements of the feline as a route to success.
The snag is that few women are actually capable of the supple and graceful actions.
Perhaps it is because women are so envious of the artless grace which comes so easily even to an ancient old moggie that they fall down and worship cats.
Even a kitten can wind women to their purpose. I have seen it happen.
My wife having introduced yet another small feline into the household released the thing into the garden, failing to remember the presence of a huge oak tree.
The tiny cat, named George, made straight for it and climbed up 50ft or so, thus cunningly beginning a new worship drama.
Nobody could climb that high for a re-capture. No fireman would risk the terror of Elf &£038; Safety laws.
Only a woman's tears got it down by appealing to a passing farmer who used some telescopic loading device on his tractor to effect a rescue.
Here is further proof, (watch out Hugh Grant) that unless vigorous counter-measures are taken, the small co-resident four-legged one will dominate your life.
For instance, you plan to move house, and what is your number one concern? Is the garden adequately protected for cats to feel at ease? Is the street too busy and dangerous?
There are obvious danger signs of a woman falling under feline dominance.
The first comes when your partner begins inviting ever more 'feline guests' into the home.
A second animal may be accepted more or less graciously.
If it gets to the sixth and seventh, it's time to start thinking about which items of furniture to insist upon keeping when the inevitable split comes.
In an ideal world, cats - and that includes Bengals - would live in their own quarters, granny flats-style.
They would be brought into human areas, as Edwardian children used to be, to amuse the grown-ups for half an hour before dinner.
Cardinal Richelieu, the French statesman has been denounced as a cat worshipper.
Perhaps that was the feminine side of his nature coming out.
He was specially keen on kittens, but felt that they became less and less attractive with age, rather as women do.
His solution was to drown his kittens and get in a new supply.
At all costs cats should be kept out of the bedroom. Feline fascination with what humans are up to between the sheets must have spoiled more nights of passion than grey, flannel knickers ever did.
Nor should it be forgotten that women pay a high price for their addiction to cats. Just look what the love of cats has done for Brigitte Bardot and you will begin to get the picture.
Elegant clothes are the first victims of the four-foot hordes.
Addicts wear messy old jeans and horrible pullovers embroidered with cat's head pictures.
Young men beware. A woman's love of cats passeth all understanding - and there's not a lot to be done about that.
RONALD PAYNE is author of 100 Ways To Live With A Cat Addict, published by Hodder &£038; Stoughton.
I can't talk - I have 9!!