Meow


I’ve never really seen myself as a cat person. Or any kind of pet person. My children were raised to love and be kind to animals even though we didn’t have any. All cats and dogs in the street would be subjected to affectionate strokes from my pet-starved daughters. Any cat that ventured into our garden was christened with a new name (always with a Christian and a surname – well it’s only polite really. Percy Jackson, Tommy Bigshnoz, Ken Widdlesworth…to name but a few). But we couldn’t help feel it was cruel to keep our pet-loving daughters without animals for their entire childhood. So we got them fish. Okay, this was really just a bribe to fool my daughter’s into thinking they did indeed have a pet. But of course you can’t stroke or cuddle a fish. So my husband and I had to back down a little more and purchase something furry – two guinea pigs (which seemed like the least labour-intensive pet option. It wasn’t, they poo everywhere and all the time). But guinea pigs are naturally fearful creatures and would prefer not to have strokes or cuddles, ‘just feed me and get lost!’ they would say. Or at least I’m fairly certain they would if we could understand them. And let’s face it, the whole point of keeping a pet is to have your affection reciprocated, isn’t it? And fish and guinea pigs are just not big on lavish displays of affection. Who knew? Therefore, the issue of a pet dog or cat continued to rear it’s ugly head on a monthly basis in our house (dogs and cats are the only really affectionate pets in my opinion). If I was retired, I’d choose a dog but we’re out at work every day so we can’t offer a dog a good life until retirement – so I’ve vetoed the dog. And I’m a little bit allergic to animal dander so I’ve managed to stave off the threat of acquiring a cat. Up until now, that is.

About three weeks ago a little black female cat turned up in our garden. At first we thought it belonged to a neighbour but it was always around. Always. Morning, noon and night. And she was alarmingly thin – and afraid. So the sucker in me, racked with guilt, decided to feed it ‘Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference’ smoked salmon from the fridge (like you do). And from that moment on, a subliminal contract was signed between us and the cat.
The cat had decided to adopt us. If the back door was open, it was in like a streak of black lightning. After being shooed out, it found a way in through my daughter’s upstairs open bedroom window and hid under the bed until we could coax it out. This cat wanted to be inside our house very badly. Last thing at night, it could be found mewing at the back door, first thing in the morning it could be found mewing at the back door. I do realise that cats are very flirtatious by nature; I’ve heard of cats creating numerous homes for themselves around neighbourhoods just so they can be fed and fussed-over more regularly. But this cat was never anywhere else but in our garden, sleeping in the overgrown grass at the back mainly. This little cat had no home or was very, very lost.

Soon enough the cat had a name; Slim Shady (courtesy of yours truly) because it was terribly thin. And black. Obviously. I’m a very literal person. Then the smoked salmon supply ran out and after the ‘Tesco Finest Ham slices’ mysteriously disappeared, I was forced to go out and actually purchase cat food. Please bear in mind that I haven’t decided this cat can stay but the cat and the children seem to have taken the decision out of my hands.

I don’t know what makes me so reluctant for this cat to join our family. I grew up with cats. Lots and lots of cats. I think at one time we had five cats living in my childhood home. And whenever one died or went missing, it would soon be replaced by some other stray playing on my parents heart-strings. But even as a child, I tired of the fur on my clothes, scratch-marks on the leg of the sofa, the slightly itchy skin and the stink of the litter tray. Even as a kid I pretty much decided that when I was a grown-up and in charge of my own household, we wouldn’t have a cat. I like cats enough; I like to laugh at the cute cat pictures on social media – cats in cute poses, cats wearing clothes, cats sleeping in fish-bowls, that kind of thing (of course I do, I’m not a monster!). But do I want the responsibility of a cat? No, not really.

Anyway, we’ve a few more avenues to go down before Slim can call itself a part of the Archer household. We need to check with a few more neighbours, find out if it’s been chipped etc. But I can’t see a helpless cat starve to death without a roof over her head since we have a perfectly good roof here (well, there is a slate loose and a bit of a leak in the attic but I choose not to think about that). Oh, and the picture above? That’s Slim. If she’s yours – she’s sitting on our sofa licking her tummy and stretching out each paw alternately (one after the other, again and again), purring like an engine and waiting for you to collect her…


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16 thoughts on “Meow

  1. From one sister, who did the same for a lovely girl, 14 years ago, to another. Not sure if this will change your mind or not. Not sure if you’ll be put off by this… It all started about this time 14 years ago for me. There I was, a lady of leisure, with a working partner (a partner I thought I’d go to the grave with), in Ireland. I was washing up and glanced out to the back garden, to see a skinny but very pretty little grey and white cat, eating discarded bird seed, at the bottom of the bird table. It was a saucer of tuna that sealed our partnership of 14 years. Both of us fell hook, line and sinker for her, to be honest. She became the child we never had. Through worrying about her coping with the masses of dogs that would be let out, of a day, as is fashionable in Ireland, trooping the streets as a pack. Then it was worry about leaving her there, when we first flew back to London. After attaching a collar to her with a note, in a capsule, hanging from it, imploring anyone that thought that they provided her ‘real’ home to get in touch with us. When nobody responded, we flew Weasel back to London with us. After a couple of years in Hackney, where Weasel had appeared to win the heart of the neighbourhood, the question of returning to Ireland, this time selling up to buy a farm. After Weasel waged a disappearing act, just before we were about to fly (it turned out she was hiding/being hidden in the house of Eastern European students, up the road from us). Well, though the farm never came off. The human life partner didn’t come off either. We split up and I returned to London, at first alone. I soon realised that I needed Weasel as a reason to get up in the morning. She was flown back, around my birthday time. It was then, I began an existence of a cat woman, shunning potential human partnerships, in favour of this strange sisterhood with a cat. Suppose, over the following 5 years, in the 2 ground floor flats we saw as home, in Haringey, supposedly the singleton’s capital of London, we did not look particularly peculiar. She would follow me part way to work and come and meet me, on the road home. We even went on walks together. She was like a little dog, trotting alongside me. She’d then show off and climb a tree and I’d wait for her, in the shade of the tree, until she decided to come down. Then when my life was once again turned upside down, being diagnosed with cancer, in the same week as our beautiful birth sister, Weasel came through again. As I dealt with powerlessly watching the life of someone I’d been lucky enough to have in mine for 42 years, all too quickly ebbing away, moving in with the barrier to that lovely angel having her mum with her at the end of her life, Weasel came through again and just about held me together then too. It was a close call, though. So our existence has gone on for another 4 years. Over the last few weeks, it has been time forme to have to watch Weasel’s life to quickly ebb away, taken again by bowel cancer that spread, until she passed away 7 days ago. She was cremated yesterday. I can’t wait until she is ‘home’ with me again, being couriered to me in a little casket in another week. She will sit, where she liked to control the TV (on the BT box), when she wanted to get my attention. She would regularly turn the TV on, off or change the channel. By my bed, I’ve still got the cat pram I last took her to the vets in. It seemed the smoothest way of ferrying her weak and frail little body in. I had hoped for chances of being able to perambulate her around the park, remembering our walks together. As soon I was told, on the day after the 5th anniversary that our beautiful sister was told she had inoperable bowel cancer (what would have been her 47th birthday), the vet first warned that she thought she had found a lump, in Weasel’s bowel. Letting Weasel into my life turned out to be something that turned my life around. She never ate discarded bird seed again. She had songs, with her name sung at her, often several times a day. She also had many more hugs and kisses than I’m sure she wanted for. She shared my bed most nights. Though I am again in excruciating emotional pain, being without her, because I love her so, I have no regrets.

    Elaine Archer

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We had one just like that when I was a tiny thing. We named her Kitty. My dad had found her in the stables at the horse farm where he worked. After my third or fourth attempt to see if cats really had multiple lives she went to live with my grandparents. (My research was inconclusive).
    If you want to be a servant then cat ownership is for you. However, on a side note, they’re like autistic kids. If you want to screw them up just rearrange the furniture. Apparently that directly affects their equilibrium.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel your pain, my daughter adopted a stray, and I said, “You can have it, as long as I don’t have to feed it or change the litter box; in fact I want nothing to do with this cat. ”
    My daughter said, “you won’t have to, I will take care of him.” For three years she held true to her promise. Then she moved… guess who takes care of Mr. Velvet now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Crazy Cat Lady | Adele Archer Writes

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