Cats are such gentle, quiet and delicate creatures, right, with neat toilet habits? Says no-one who’s ever lived with them. Here’s the final in what has turned out to be three blogs in a row about my pets 🙂
I didn’t grow up with cats – my parents like them but we lived in a place with lots of native birds and habitat, so we had dogs instead, and a few budgies (budgerigars) along the way. But I liked the idea of slinky, purring cats, and got my fix every time we went out to my grandmother’s place and stopped at an old-style feed store to pick her up a bag of coal briquettes. We’d be allowed out of the car for a few minutes, during which I hunted around the bags of feed in a desperate attempt to spot and perhaps pat one of the mouse-hunting cats who lived there. I don’t think I succeeded much, if at all. Smart cats.
I finally got to live with a cat when I moved in with my now-husband, who inherited his little black Jasmine after his sister moved to Sydney. Jas was special, a 12yo who looked like a kitten – she’d never really matured or grown past 3kg, probably due to coming from a cat-hoarder’s home where she wouldn’t have received much nutrition. But she was the friendliest little thing who curled up with me on the couch while I recovered from food poisoning on one of our early dates (disclaimer – it wasn’t his fault!). When you let her in the front door, she would stroll past you with a sweet little meow and a glance upwards – there’s no doubt that she was saying both ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’.
After she passed on, we waited a few months before it became unbearable to be animal-free (my dear old dog had gone the previous year). Then my friend rang – a stray kitten was hanging around her apartment. We went straight over. The ginger boy was very vocal, long legged, long tailed, stripey, with a purr like an outboard motor. Nic’s cat Maggie wouldn’t have a bar of him, and no-one else at the flats knew him… We did a few quick calls to the local vets and shelters but he hadn’t been reported missing. No microchip, not desexed, no collar – sorry previous owner but you weren’t responsible enough. Your loss. (And yes, we had all those things done to him – sorry matey!)
My husband named him Hermie, short for Hermit, although he’s the least retiring hermit in history. We’d thought he was hungry and lonely due to being lost, but no, he is just extremely vocal any time he thinks he should be eating, which is about four hours of each day. He has a wide range of calls, one of which is an indignant squeal if the dogs so much as look at him sideways. Others involve what appears to be a sex-crazed yowl that carries down the street (this is usually after he’s been locked inside for the night); and conversely, the most adorable chirrup, like a baby bird, when he wants affection. He’s been known to come to the lounge-room chirping at me if I’m late going to bed. This is NOT related to the sex-crazed yowl. I hope.
When Hermie was perhaps five months old, we decided he needed a companion, so I rang our local vet asking them what they thought. ‘Sure,’ they said, ‘You need a female about his age or younger – come down now because we have one ready to adopt!’ She’d been found stealing food from a local family’s cats, and staying just out of reach until they finally managed to trap her. They took her to the vet, who runs a kitten adoption centre. While older than the usual babies they get, this fluffy black & white girl pushed her head up under my chin when I first held her, and I fell promptly in love. She got my favourite female name, Isabella. However, she’s not quite as graceful as that sounds, so she’s Izzie for short.
Izzie is sort of rotund and short in leg, so she doesn’t often win fights with big brother Hermie. Sometimes she tries to jump onto our bed but falls short. It’s really not funny, but I have been known to laugh ;). She’s the quieter one, but has developed a series of sounds just for us over the years. Did you know that “meows are rarely heard during cat-cat interactions and it is believed to be a learned response, based on its effectiveness in getting human attention“? It certainly works!
There’s the funniest little squeals as she spins around on the floorboards chasing bits of fluff. A terrifying yowl when being brushed or having her front claws trimmed – it’s all for show as she rarely bites or scratches. The most beautiful high-pitched trill and a little front-feet jump when dinner arrives. And a deep rasping purr the moment we start patting her. No-one believes us though, because she’s like a ghost when anyone else visits, disappearing in the blink of an eye, and magically re-appearing as soon as the visitor’s car drives off.
Hermie’s a big, long boy at 7.5kg, and Izzie’s around 5.5, so we have to watch their weight. Unfortunately they adore their ‘diet’ kibble, and ask for more. And more. We measure out their portions, then feed them a third at a time, to try to make them feel fuller as they digest the first lot. Not sure how well that’s going!
Hermie is curled beside me now on the couch, one paw over his face while the other twitches in his sleep. Izzie is probably out the back sunbaking next to one of their catnip patches. When I go outside, she’ll greet me with a trill, and mooch around nearby while I water the vegie garden.