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…