Yes, this blog post will essentially be a eulogy for my cat. If you are not a cat person, or not an animal person, then that’s ok, I am very happy for you to pass over this blog post. I’m really writing it for myself.
My family had a dog adopt us once but essentially we are cat people. My parents have a cat, my brother has a cat, my sister has two and we had one up until today.
When DH and I decided that our family was complete and there were no new babies coming I really needed something small to cuddle. We jokingly told everyone that the offer was ‘either another baby, or a cat’ and DH chose the cat. He had never had a family pet before and he was willing to give it a try. Turns out, he’s not a family pet kind of guy and he has graciously put up with the cat but she’s really been my pet and not his.
I really REALLY wanted a cat. I was seeing a cat wandering around our house before we even got one. We went to the pet store and chose the food bowls and the litter tray and the collar and everything. Then we went to the cat home and found that it wasn’t the right season and there were no kittens to be had. We put off the acquisition for a couple of months.
When we went again there were plenty of kittens. We sat in the little kitten room and tried to choose. There was an absolutely gorgeous kitten, just like the picture on a cat food box, but I was sure that one would find a home. I picked up a dark tortoiseshell kitten – all black and gold – and gave her a cuddle and she started to purr. Then when I put her down she just sat under my legs and continued to purr and purr and purr. She chose me. I couldn’t say no to that!
DH says she was the ugliest one there and we called her Katisha after the daughter-in-law elect in the Mikado who was famed to have a right elbow that men would swoon over. Katisha neatly shortens to Kat, which we thought was sensible because cats don’t come when you call anyway, do they? Well, Kat did. She came when you called, she came when you put your hand down to patting distance, she loved company.
When she first came into heat she loved company VERY much! She would coo her way up the hallway in the middle of the night. There was nothing we could do to stop it. And then the day came when we had guests over and a two year old boy was playing pretty roughly with her. Did she run away? Put out a claw? Not a bit! She shoved her bum up in the air, ‘bring it on, I’m ready!’ We took her to the vet.
At first she was an inside cat. I am totally on board with the amount of damage cats, domestic and feral, do to our Australian wildlife. We kept her indoors, except for the times when she slipped through our legs and out the door as fast as she could. Which was any time she saw the door open. DH had the job of running after her, scruffing her and bringing her home. She never learned, and DH never enjoyed the experience.
We mad her a cat yard, an enclosed space in the back yard that she could access through a little tunnel. It had a sandpit in it – that made life easier for me. But she much preferred the freedom of the great outdoors. We tried the whole ‘cat on a leash’ thing but as soon as we put the harness on she would flop down on her side. She just would not walk, not with that thing on.
One time she caught a bird in her little cat yard. I thought that was the silly bird’s fault. Another time she caught a mouse, brought it inside, and lost interest. I can picture DH with Kat’s head in his hands, pointing her at the mouse cowering under his desk. She eventually caught and dispatched the mouse.
She got better at mouse catching though. Once we moved to our new house she became an outdoors cat. We weren’t prepared to do the work really, we were lazy. And she was older. But she became an amazing mouser and even caught rats. One time she brought a reasonably large rat in and dispatched it. We left her to it and went to bed. The next morning, no rat body was to be found. That was until DH put his jacket on and found that she had thrown the rat into his jacket pocket! (I’m maybe beginning to see why he didn’t like her so much).
There was one story about Kat that DH likes to tell. It was the time when she was fighting another black cat outside and the fight came through the cat door. DH was jerked out of sleep to the squalling of fighting cats in the house. He got up to see what was going on and the cat-hurricane swept past him into the bedroom, clearing the whole of his bedside table and racing over the bed. DH decided to open the back door to allow them to go outside again but before he could get there a black cat shot past him, up the wall, somersaulted off the ceiling and came at him claws outstretched. He ducked. The cat (we’re really not sure which one – two black cats in the dark) missed and DH opened the door and turned around and they had disappeared. No cats to be seen. DH pulled himself together and went upstairs. There was no noise. There was Kat, sitting on the step. They both weren’t sure where the other cat was and they moved downstairs together, step by step, both of them relieved when the other cat didn’t materialise. It took DH quite a while to calm back down to sleep that night. I’m not even sure that he did.
Kat loved company. She would sit patiently in the car port waiting for all of us to be home of a night before she went back inside. She would sit on my lap on the couch for a bit, then when she decided she’d had enough she would get up and let me know it was time for me to move – she wanted the warm couch. If I didn’t move, she’d start to dig behind me to make me get up. It suited me actually – I’m not much of a long sitter – I fidget and I get up and fix things and make drinks and things. I liked the short cuddle and then the signal that it was time to move. When she was young and sitting on my lap she would stick a claw into my leg, just to make sure I didn’t move. I’m glad we came to a more sensible arrangement.
At one stage it seemed that all of DD’s friends were allergic to cats. They would come over and we would hand out the antihistamines like lollies. And of course we had the friends that we like a lot but that don’t like cats. Cats are attracted to those people. Kat was no different. But we were pretty ruthless. “Kick her away” we’d say. People come before cats, that’s just the way it is.
When DH got up to make a morning coffee for me and bring it down to bed, Kat would come too. She wasn’t allowed in our bedroom, one time she accidentally came in while playing and when she realised where she was she exited backwards. It was hilarious! So she wouldn’t come in to our room of a morning, she would sit outside the door and wait, looking longingly at me through the crack in the door. When I finally surfaced (after coffee magic had happened) she would ask for breakfast and I would have to go and feed her before anything else happened.
She would make a fair bit of noise in the mornings but most of the time, no matter what she was asking for, she wouldn’t meow, she would just purr. She had a very loud purr. At one stage when she was keeping me company while I gave an online tutorial she was purring so loudly that one of the students asked, ‘is that a cat?’ Yep!
Even near the end she lay on the floor and just purred. No complaining, just a lovely purring.
She loved her food, but she loved ours even more. I guess every cat is like that – preferring steak and fish to tinned cat meat. It makes sense. All of us, especially DS, would give her scraps of whatever we were cooking. Bacon, steak, fish – oh and her reaction when a cooked chook was brought into the house!
She hated having her photo taken. DD tried to take selfies more than once, and Kat knew, she would change position, walk away. She loved to lie flat on her back on the floor but woe betide anyone who wanted to pat her tummy – she was not that kind of cat.
She was 14-ish years old. It’s not a bad life for a cat. And it’s a good long time to be a part of any family. I am very grateful to have spent that time with Kat.