I am, first and foremost, a cat person. When I say first, I mean before humans. I like cats better, mostly. I like their independence, their physical beauty, the touch and sounds of them, and sometimes, depending on the cat, I like the smell of them. I like kittens, especially when they are at that pubescent stage, all gangly legs and big ears. I like squishy, comfy cats like my Dylan, and I’m amused by naughty cats, scratchy cats, aloof cats.
I grew up amongst cats and dogs. The dogs were, mostly, loyal, affectionate and predictable. The cats were often willful, bossy, demanding and surprising; I loved that about them. It has been the patterns that my dogs have been female and my cats male, but there have been exceptions; Wilhelmina, or Willa (because otherwise her name was too big for her), whom we hand reared and who didn’t realise that cats and humans were different species. We had her kitten, Mildred, who left home to live with her boyfriend – I kid you not. Then later, my mom’s little cats, Nanci and Alice; both tiny, dainty, enormously hungry little girls.
Mildred had a brother, George. George was very slow witted, and very lovable. He was the cat who gave me my soft spot for ginger moggies. We also had Moses, the oriental cat who came from a rescue centre on account of being so badly treated. He was completely deaf and so had no idea how loud his voice was – he was a real character. Later there was Clarence, or Ratbag. He was fluffy and very handsome, but had an evil temper and some very bad habits involving sexual behaviour and women’s heads – eventually we banned him from sitting on the back of chairs. We had other cats too; Oliver, Billy, Pixie, Dixie and Tommy; they were all special, and stayed with us for varying amounts of time.
When I finally left home and lived in a flat, I was desperate for a cat. I investigated the possibility of an indoor cat, and ended up with Robinson, a gorgeous, bright ginger tom. He and I were a great partnership but he was generous enough to allow The Bloke into our home, and he is cited as the cat who changed The Bloke’s mind. It was a sad day for both of us when we had to say goodbye to Robs, but Robs was old and had become very unwell, and we had to make that terrible decision. Neither myself or The Bloke liked living in a cat-free house, so we started to look around for another cat.
We soon learned of Dylan and Edward, who were being fostered in Coventry. They weren’t brothers, or even friends, but I loved Dyl and Ed loved The Bloke, so we had to have both of them and they eventually learned to rub along together. Ed has recently shuffled off this mortal coil and we’re a one-cat family again, but some day there’ll be another – a home is richer for having cats.
And I love the big cats too. I love their cat-ness, but also their other-ness. They roll, and show furry bellies and big fat cat paws. They nuzzle each other and twitch whiskers just like those that twitch every day in my kitchen, but they seem to be a little bit magical too, and I think maybe they’ve shared a little bit of their spell with my kitchen-cat.
…and in my eyes, so do I.