It’s finally happened. I am 44 years old and I have become obsessed with cats. As I’ve mentioned in an older post, ‘Meow‘, I never really wanted a cat. I grew up with our furry, feline friends during my childhood but did not feel that I missed them in my adult life. But last summer, a pregnant stray came along, broke into the house on numerous occasions and gave us no choice but to adopt her. 7 months later we have gone from a 0 cat family to a 2 cat family (2 kittens were rehomed with friends). And now I wouldn’t be able to part with them.
I’ve even taken to laughing out loud and sharing the copious cat memes and videos that you see on social media these days. I walk around the house talking in a funny voice that is only intended for use whilst conversing with the cats. I used to get up at 7am every morning but I’ve now adjusted that to 6:30 am so I can, ‘sort out the cats’. If we’re out of the house too long, I get super-anxious because I’m so ‘worried about the cats’. But I’m not sure how this has all come about when I was very firmly anti-cat not so long ago…
This is the mother
ship cat; she’s the stray who is probably about 3 years old now. Slim isn’t your ideal cat if I’m completely honest as she’s a bit of a loner and is certainly not a lap-cat. All she wants from life is to be fed, watered and to have a warm bed. We don’t really blame her for her unfriendliness. She’d probably had a horrible life before she came to us and has developed a fear of humans. You can’t stroke her from above as she tends to cower away from you (I dread to think what has happened to her in her former life of living rough that she still has this fear). But on her own terms, she will let you pet her if she’s in the mood. Slim no longer loves her daughter, she hisses and growls whenever the playful kitten comes near. It’s funny how cats lose their maternal instinct so quickly. Slim Shady (which we christened her because she was thin and black when she arrived) turns out to be a completely ridiculous name for her now. She’s enormous. It’s our own fault; when she arrived she was pregnant and scrawny so we fed her whenever she asked (i.e. all the time). So now we don’t call her Slim anymore but, ‘Big Girl’, ‘Big Cat’, ‘Big Mumma’, ‘Mrs Boombastic’, ‘Chubs’, ‘Chunk’, ‘Chunka-Munka’ – and other derogatory names like that. I dread bringing her to the vet anytime soon as we will certainly be reprimanded for letting her get so big. But she’s ALWAYS hungry and is ALWAYS yowling for food. And we just, well, kind of have to…give in. If the vet calls her name out in the waiting room, “Slim Shady” (which is kind of embarrassing anyway. Why do we choose these silly names for cats which are funny at the time but humiliating later?), I’m going to be even more mortified now when I have to bodily heave this big lump of a cat across the room.
I try not to have favourites but Kirby is simply the perfect pet. She’s a little on the naughty side and has destroyed more furniture than I care to let myself think about, but she’s only 7 months old so she can’t help her mischievous nature. Kirby is just so loving and appreciative of us. We often think of cats as rather selfish and aloof creatures (like Slim), but Kirby is nothing like that. She greets you like a dog would when you get home from work, running to meet you with her tail bent at the end (a sign of cat-greeting, I looked it up). And if she could smile, she would be smiling. She purrs like an engine, arching her back as you stroke her, rubbing herself against your shins to show affection. And this isn’t just for food. Yes, Kirby likes to be fed but she isn’t a big eater (hence why Slim is so fat as she eats all of Kirby’s too). Kirby nibbles, gets distracted and goes off to attack one of the kitchen chairs. This cat is happy to sit on my lap but only at the most inopportune times, like when I want to go to the toilet or just when I’ve already been sitting down for ages and am anxious to go do something. She will also sleep on the bed (if you let her), mostly across your face when you’re trying to sleep or on you chest so you can’t turn over. We don’t call Kirby Kirby either, really. We call her ‘Kitten’, or ‘Kitty’, or ‘Baby’, or Baby-Girl’, or ‘Little Cat’ (original, well-thought-out names like that). I don’t think it really matters what you name a cat; they never come running to that given name anyway – only by your tone of voice or the kissing your lips together sound that one makes to beckon a cat (you know the one). We treat Kirby very much like a baby. She has her own set of toys which we keep on a shelf for her, but her very favourite thing is brightly coloured hair-bands. She could chase them for hours; I particularly like when she walks away from a hair-band, pretending to have tired of it, only to run back and pounce on it again when it least suspects. Unfortunately, it’s about time that Kirby was taken to the vet to be neutered but the thought of putting her in for surgery makes me quite depressed. You see, she’s just so small and she’s my baby!
That’s just it. That’s the problem; the kids are growing up (nearly sixteen and ten) and they just don’t need me as much as they once did. And where I had no room in my life for furry little dependants, well, that space has just become available. I couldn’t have pets in the past because I had babies; kids who needed every waking minute of my time. And now that time has been freed up a little, like a lot of women (and maybe any gender of parent), I continue to need to be needed. My children still need me, of course, but not to the level that they once did. They have their studies and gymnastics and extra-curricular activities and YouTube and ‘Pretty Little Liars’ on Netflix. My children will continue to be number one in my life, my top priority. But it’s still comforting to have my kitties who can’t manage without me, and who never really grow up. Thank goodness.