12/02/2010 11:06 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Achtung Baby Or CATastrophe!

Now I know cat lovers out there are convinced that our feline friends should be worshiped and revered for the intelligent and superior beings they are. Let it be known that I too, am CATegorically an animal lover. Nevertheless, I refuse to accept that the reason Ripley furtively slipped out of the house, disappearing into the night, not to been seen or heard of for days, was because she "heard" us talking about her impending appointment with the V.E.T.

She was, as my husband insists on saying, due to "have her femininity taken away" the next day. She'd been as fruity as a bag of Gummi Bears. It was time.

Anyway, that was immaterial as she had done a runner. Maybe off for a last chance for "lurve" before the urge was removed? She may be domestiCATed but she was still amorous. When she failed to return after a couple of days we began to worry and Finje, now upset, started to ask questions about her loCATion. I wanted to plaCATe her but I too had feelings of dread. I tried to soften the blow by saying there was a good chance Riply would return but if not we had to accept the other possibility. Finje preempted the grimness by deliCATely asking:

"Is she dead?"

Before I could pontifiCATe over an appropriate response, she followed up with "What does dead mean?" I replied that it's like going to sleep forever. Somewhat of a simplifiCATion I know, but she nodded, indiCATing no further interest and continued to play.

The German word for dead is "tot". Pronounced "tote" like the betting system not "tot" as in jelly! Having accepted my explanation with no indiCATion of perplexion I was rather taken aback when her kindergarten teacher asked for a quiet word. Never a good sign.

"Frau Nowak is everything alright with Herr Nowak? Finje said he was......well..... dead!"

My husband, suffering from a nasty chest infection, had taken a generous dollop of Night Nurse and was not for being roused that morning. Finje had communiCATed this (omitting the Night Nurse detail) and apparently demonstrating no signs of anguish whatsoever was telling everyone, "Mein Vater ist tot!"

Time for some more eduCATion me thinks.

How do we talk about death with three-year-olds?