They say you can tell how crazy a woman is by how many cats she keeps. It's usually one for each time she was jilted at the altar.

There's something rather sinister about these purring barometers of post-menopausal desperation, which Cravendale taps in a malevolent fantasy about cats with thumbs ganging up to steal our milk.

In its way, the new ad is as offbeat as the previous run, in which farmyard figurines gambolled madly in an animated panto.

But this is much darker, a paranoid meditation on mutation and the unspoken horror we have for our own bodies.

For centuries, Egypt's pharaohs mummified cats because they thought they were funny. Now felines feast on the stricken forms of their OAP owners, entombed in freezing council flats under drifts of junk mail as vast as the desert night.

As with the Cravendale, cats prefer their revenge served cold.

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