I never wanted a cat. Cats were never part of my destiny. We had no pets growing up, though I desperately wanted a dog. I am a dog person through and through. There was one time, a while after our dog Sam left us for the great dog park in the sky, that we thought we might get a cat from the rescue centre; since Sam was so irreplaceable, and we needed to rescue something, we got some chickens destined ironically for the dog-food factory. When the pandemic hit we spent our lockdown days sitting amongst and marvelling at their funny little ways. A chicken will eat almost anything, and even though we witnessed (disturbed to this day) Eleanor gulp down a whole mouse - to the chagrin of the others as they chased her for it, we wondered if a cat might be a good idea. Off with us en famille to the cat house in the rescue centre, each cat’s sad story pinned on a card for us to read, each cat with its arse to the glass, could not care less about us and our pity. Let’s go and say hello to the dogs, we decided, while we’re here, and since the cats so clearly want nothing to do with us. We came away with a smelly thirteen year old Collie-Spaniel mix, stone deaf, riddled with arthritis, a murmur on his heart, bothered by dermatitis and, we soon discovered, a penchant for barking at nothing at all.
Brandy hated the chickens but they tolerated each other. What he didn’t tolerate though, was any neighbourhood cat making an appearance in our garden. Ah Brandy, I used to think, you and my mother would have gotten on well: she also liked to run out when she saw a cat sitting on the wall, brandishing her sweeping brush and telling them to clear off. As I said, cats were never meant to be part of my life. Well, the pandemic passed and so did the old dog. Life moved on and we welcomed into our home my daughter’s boyfriend. And his two cats.
My daughter assured me I’d build up a resistance to my chronic cat allergy. I actually did, though my heart is still broken with what they’ve done to the legs of my furniture, while nearby scratching mats lie unscathed. Cat trees adorn the house, but they choose to sit in a hanging plant basket (on top of the plant mind you). They jump on the kitchen counters for God’s sake. I used to spray disinfectant, now I just accept it. They want to sit there, so there they sit. I understand now why cats rule the internet. Of course we have fallen in love with them. What I didn’t expect though, was for them to love us. I am the mad chicken lady of Stillorgan, yet here I sit typing with a cat on my lap. If Meza doesn’t want me to type she will sit on my keyboard, so I work quickly (cat lovers will forgive any typos ;) This love took time to come, especially from Luna. Like most cats, she doesn’t suffer fools, so we were honoured when she began to rub herself against our legs and present herself for belly rubs. My husband and I have trained the puppy (oh yes, there’s a puppy now too) to wait her turn while we throw scraps to the cats. We have broken all our rules about animals and it has been the damn cats that have done it to us. Then Luna disappeared.
For two full nights she could not be found. It’s a trauma I cannot even write about. Suffice it to say we spent forty eight hours tearing the house apart, room after room, nook and cranny and impossible spaces, all were searched, several times over. She did this before when she first came here and we found her eventually, her having hidden in the eaves over night. But this time, this indoor cat managed somehow to get outside, and there she stayed until she was found, going on for a third night, on top of the chicken coop. I cannot fully express our relief having her back safe and sound, but for the next three days she barely moved. My daughter and her boyfriend were the only ones she let near her, hissing at the rest of us. Three full days she slept. Then, yesterday evening she simply got up and rubbed against Geoff as he was cooking dinner.
"We have been forgiven", I whispered. As if to clarify that, she jumped onto the kitchen counter, showed me her bum and sat down comfortably on my lap. She purred, I gave her some Reiki. And she rested her head on my arm.