In 1986, my otherwise highly intelligent girlfriend asked me to move in with her. Within days I said I wanted us to get a dog. Shortly thereafter she came home with two kittens. The moral being, never tell a woman what you want as she will do the exact opposite.
They were born on a farm so they were not entirely what you would call ‘domesticated’. The large male – according to the vet, twice as large as he would have expected an eight-week-old kitten to be – Carol named The Duke, after John Wayne, who she inexplicably liked. The female, not surprisingly, became The Duchess.
For all you dog lovers out there, there is one major difference between having a dog, or dogs, in your home and having a cat, or cats.
The difference has nothing to do with one barking and the other meowing or anything like that. It is, quite simply, that a dog lives in your home, you live in a cat’s home.
An ‘old wives tale’ of the day was that ‘if you allowed the female to have a litter of kittens they would be happier cats’.
Absolute rubbish of course, but, back then, it is extraordinary what you were prepared to believe.
As a result, The Duchess had one litter, fathered by a demented stray Tomcat that lived in the woodland behind our home. Whenever I went to bring The Duchess indoors, the demented stray Tom would attach itself to my leg with its front legs, and be dragged along making very peculiar noises as it looked up to The Duchess in my arms.
Carol’s parents took one kitten and we kept two. We now had four cats in the home, making me fifth in the pecking order.
By the time we moved to a larger home as demanded by the cats who wanted more space, we had joined the national charity, Cats Protection. Several weeks later, a large pen unit was erected in our garden to care for strays prior to finding them a new home.
I quickly learned that, for some reason, Cats Protection had realized I was a mug. Every stray cat that arrived in our particular unit was absolutely mad as a hatter, and not acceptable to anyone with even the smallest modicum of common sense.
As a result, they came into our home.
My wife, as she was by that time, must have been known about by Matt Groening, as she was clearly used as a model for The Simpsons mad cat lady – albeit she never threw any cats around nor screeched as far as I can remember.
For the last thirty-four years we have had cats in our house, or, more accurately, we have lived in the house owned by many cats.
From Princess Puffball to Billy No Mates and from Gracie Mae The Fruit Bat to our current owners, The Emporer Maximus Spittimus and the other seven, cats have always been here.
Those who are not cat lovers often just don’t get it. I do sympathize. I am a cat lover but I don’t get it either.
Cats are the nearest thing to a genuinely alien life form on the Planet Earth.
They ‘know things’ that no other creature knows. I have no idea what it is they ‘know’ as they won’t tell me, but they do.
The Egyptians, in particular, knew cats ‘knew things’. The Egyptians deified them. I suspect cats loved the Egyptians. After all, cats know they are in charge. It must have been nice for them to be informed by a group of humans that ‘yes, they are not only in charge but Gods!’
The cats already knew all that of course, but I’m sure they appreciated the admittance.
I would write more about cats, in particular, our cats, but I’m afraid I can’t.
It’s time for their food and, if I’m late, Marie The Buglett starts to eat my feet.
You would love being owned by a cat, or cats, but perhaps get a dog or dogs.
It will be safer. I know.
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