I now own a cat – or : to quote all those fridge magnets…”she owns me”.
She first appeared in my life about 18 months ago. I have a bench in the garden – near my back door. It is in a sunny, sheltered spot and as an added enticement, has a cushion. One day, I found a cat asleep on the cushion. From that day on, she appeared to spend most of her day asleep there. Whenever I ventured into the back yard she would indignantly retire to a corner of the yard and wait for me to disappear. Gradually, she became accustomed to my presence and stayed in place – watching me warily as I passed. This continued for some weeks until the fatal day where…as I passed, I scratched her head.
This apparently made me her favourite person in the whole world. Each time she saw me she would run over and flop onto her side and look at me with adoring/alluring eyes. “Pat me” she seemed to say….so of course I did! My fate, as they say in all the ‘best’ novellas, was sealed.
She obviously ‘belonged’ to someone – because she was well fed and in good condition. As additional confirmation that she was being fed: every couple of weeks I would pick her up to see if she had lost any weight. Supporting evidence was in the fact that every evening she would disappear around 6 pm and return about 30 minutes later. I assumed this was feeding time. Because of this, I deliberately made a point of not feeding her- as I knew that this would probably result in her taking up permanent residence -and I didn’t want to be responsible for ‘stealing’ another person’s cat.
Months past and we both enjoyed our uncomplicated relationship. Then, just before Christmas, she stopped her visits.
About 3 weeks later she returned. She looked a little leaner and, on picking her up, I could see she had lost a lot of weight. I assumed that she had been ill. If that was the case and she had now recovered, she should quickly regain what she had lost. So, over the next few days, whenever I saw her, I would scrutinise her condition. It became evident that there was no weight being gained. As to whether she was recovered from the assumed illness: she was certainly not behaving as if she was ill – each time she saw me, she would run up and be her usual affectionate self.
Finally on New Years day 2010, I picked her up – only to find that she not regained any weight – if anything, she was a little lighter. Biting the bullet, I went inside and rummaged around in my pantry. Finding a tin of sardines, I emptied them onto a plate and put it down on the ground.
She positively inhaled the food – all the time making a small mewing sounds of delight. It was strangely moving and I knew I had done the right thing.
Of course, that sealed my fate. I now had a cat.
Moreover, this was a cat who now had an obsession about food. (I say ‘now had’ because I don’t know what she was like previously with regards to food) I will be generous and assume that perhaps her behaviour was the result of those few weeks of deprivation. Whatever the cause, she was an absolute greedy guts. She rapidly regained the lost weight – and a few thousand pounds (and you think I am exaggerating….) extra.
It got to the point where, when she tried to ‘flop’ on her side and make those alluring eyes at me, there would be a ‘thud’ and the house would shudder from the reverberations. In fact, often when she would attempt to ‘flop’ on her side – she would change her mind mid flop because it was too difficult with the extra weight.
I then had to put her on a diet.
During this time, I could not decide on a name. I tried various labels and none of them were quite ‘her’.
One Saturday, I finished the salad sandwich I had made for my lunch and dashed down to the shops to finish the week’s shopping. Upon my return, I dashed outside to hang out a load of washing. Opening the door, she wandered into the house – and I left her there. (She was nominally an ‘outside’ cat – but I let her into the house in the daytime on weekends, when I am at home).
Returning back to the house, I could hear her rustling around in the kitchen. Calling her, I decided to put her outside as she would just be underfoot. She met me halfway and then, realising my intention, stopped and wouldn’t come any further. Sighing I walked over, picked her up and carried her outside. As I did so, I realised that she smelt of cucumber. “Oh no” I thought. “I left the cucumber on the bench. I bet she jumped up and sniffed it”.
I was wrong.
In fact, what she had done was: jump up onto the bench, grabbed the cucumber and pulled it down onto the kitchen floor – where she proceeded to gnaw about 4 inches off the end. Worryingly, this included the plastic wrapped around the cucumber. I was amazed – as I had never heard of a cat eating a cucumber. I was also delighted.
I had found her name.