Ten years ago today …
“There’s no sign of a microchip. What do you want to do?”
I looked at the vet, and then into the fathomless eyes of one of the most beautiful cats I’d ever seen. “Well, I think she’s mine then,” I said.
About six weeks before I’d been sat in my garden enjoying a rare day of good weather. It was the kind of day that made me miss Breakfast, my old cat, who’d gone missing about six months previously. While I’d been sat out soaking up the sunshine he’d have been popping in and out of the shrubs in the garden and investigating the nooks and crannies behind the oil tank. But I had no plans to replace him. I was travelling a lot at the time (for work and pleasure) and it wouldn’t be fair on a cat.
Then this cat I’d never seen before wandered into my garden. She was black and white, skinny as a rake and her long hair was dirty and matted. She wasn’t wearing a collar. She came over to me, looked me in the eyes and miaowed, before twining round my ankles. After an extended scratch behind the ears she rolled over and insisted I rub her tummy. She had the loudest purr I’d ever heard.
The evening was drawing in, so I picked up my deckchair and went into the house. Cat up and followed me indoors. I don’t normally encourage strange cats (the last thing I would want to do is to cause distress by ‘stealing’ someone else’s pet) but this one looked in such a poor way that I opened a tin of tuna for her. She polished it all off, and then collapsed in an exhausted sleep in the corner of my sitting room. This was not the normal light doze you get with cats – it was a very heavy sleep. It got to 10pm and I wanted to go to bed, so I reluctantly woke her and put her outside.
I spent the next six weeks trying to track down her owners, with no luck. During that time she’d pretty much permanently moved in with me. (Except for the week I went away on holiday, came back, and she was waiting for me.) Taking her to the vets to see if she was microchipped was the only other thing I could think of to do.
In the last ten years she’s been my constant furry companion. We’ve moved house twice, one of those moves across the Irish Sea (she didn’t like flying, it’s fair to say). For a large part of those ten years it was just the two of us She’d be the one greeting me as I came home from work, walking back with me along the road, chattering about her day. She’s a very clingy cat, who suffers from separation anxiety and doesn’t tolerate other cats well (the epic wars with Ginger Cat and Tabby Cat are legendary). But I’ve seen her blossom from a cat who shrunk from other people to one who loves being the centre of attention whenever we have people round.
For all her clinginess, in the last ten years she’s only ever sat on my lap twice. Both of those times were on the same day, when I was off work with an injured shoulder. And they were very brief. Most of the rest of the time she will snuggle next to me on the sofa, purring her little heart out.
She can be a pain sometimes. She has a habit of knocking things off the coffee table if she thinks she’s not getting enough attention. She will behave appallingly if she thinks treats are in the offing. And her idea of treats is not what many people would think is appropriate for a cat: Eccles cakes, pain au chocolat, cheese and onion crisps, mushrooms, scones etc. Her desire for fuss is not always welcome at 4.30am, however much she may poke me in the face. Her long hair means the house ends up covered in tumbleweeds of cat fluff. And don’t get me started on the furballs.
One of my friends is even convinced she is a space alien, disguised as a cat while she scopes out the planet before her civilisation invades.
But I wouldn’t be without her. She’s the most brilliant cat I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet (which is saying something), and I love her dearly.