Wednesday, 9 April 2008

So this cat comes up to me and says ...

Meow. Or rather, MEOW. He has something of a strident voice, this little guy, and sometimes it's a little bit scratchy. So I was sitting there, on the "patio" down by the house. He comes walking down the path, meowing almost every step of the way, and plonks himself down in front of me for some good kitty scratching.

I grew up with cats (first Tiger, then Twinkie, then Muffin) until I was nine years old. Strangely, at that age, I became allergic to cats. Not just a bit of a sniffle and sneeze, but proper, if you rub you face on this cat your eyes will swell shut, allergic. Shock! I was a little "cat person" for the first 9 years of my life, and suddenly, after we found Muffin a nice new home, and were ready to get the next cat, we couldn't.

We got a dog instead, a year later, a beautiful collie/corgi cross. I became a "dog person". Dusty left us when I was in my early 20's.

Years later, husband and I had our own dog, from Battersea Dogs Home, a stunningly beautiful boy who lit up our lives for seven glorious years. He left us in 2002. We still miss him.

So we moved in here, still dogless. As you may remember, watching from my kitchen window it was Cat Central out there. I have my own names for them, fairly obvious - Whitey (aka Meerkat), Blackie, Big Ginger and Little Ginger.

It was Little Ginger who crept into our lives, bit by bit. He seemed to be immediately in love with me from first look. Now, I really don't understand it, but this cat loves me. Maybe there is some cat memory that enabled me to give him the perfect scratching. Maybe it's something deeper than that. The cat just loves me. I don't remember a lot of cat interaction from my early days, but I don't recall any cat jumping up to reach my hand to be petted. When he sees me, even after an hour perhaps since I've let him out, he still runs down the path to me like I'm his long lost love. When I come home from work and open the kitchen door, there he is, with his big old meow from a small kitty, asking for love.

What happened was, initially, we had lots of love-ins outdoors. The first time he crawled into my lap, I was too scared to move so we sat there for half an hour. Eventually he came inside, but only in the kitchen, and only with the door open. As he came by every day, I really wondered if he had a home, or if out of the four he was a stray. He seemed to want so much love! So I started feeding him. First they were lefover scraps - fish, chicken. Eventually, the beginning of the end as a non-cat owner, I started buying cat food.

Soon he moved to the sitting room. Soon he made himself at home everywhere. Soon I could shut the door and he didn't mind!

What to do? At that point last year, I actually bought the cat flap, which has yet to be installed (but I think that's going to be very soon now, to at least stop me getting up at 5:00 am EVERY MORNING to let him out).

And then we found out - he's not a homeless little kitty. He has a home, right behind us in the left hand corner, a lovely couple with two ginger cats, big and little. The nice man even told my husband his name, but he doesn't remember and I didn't hear. I felt a bit guilty. I felt like I had stolen their cat!

But how could I turn him away? How could I shut the door on his sweet little face? I polled some of my cat owning friends, and they seemed to be very philosophical about it. You can't, after all, ask a cat to do anything. They will do what they want!

And I remembered Tiger, our first cat (a noble soul). I don't remember Tiger not being there so I must have been very small when he was acquired. Perhaps four small children was a bit much for him, because he did the same as my kitty (especially as a very small Thora looks like she's trying to strangle him in this picture). He was very much an outdoor cat, and eventually he disappeared for longer and longer spells - until he didn't come back. EXCEPT, once a year. Almost like clockwork, we would hear the loud bang on the screen door (yes, just like Garfield) and venture out back to see Tiger hanging there, as usual. We made much of him, he stayed around for a bit, then went "home".

Who can control a cat?

Oh and by the way, I'm not allergic any more!


  1. What an amazing story .. I can't help but read cat stories .. I am a cat person .. this guy was fascinating .. I didn't expect to read he actually had a good home that was so close too.
    It is the main rule of a cat owning you .. you, can't make a cat do what you want .. they have the upper hand .. you do what THEY WANT ! haha

  2. Joy, thanks so much for your comment! I try not to feel too guilty, as he is curled up beside me (thankfully not sitting on my computer this time, but on his, "my" chair) and feeling loved and happy. I so much appreciate your comment!