A tale of five cats (April 2010)

I’ve heard it said repeatedly that you are either a dog person or a cat person.  Even if you have both, they say, you favour one or the other.  But ‘they’ don’t know everything, I guess.  Consider this: my family only ever had one dog, but what a dog.  Benjie the golden retriever was the most wonderful friend a man could have, and indeed my dad went into mourning when his faithful hound passed away.  My sister and her family have owned a whole series of dogs since then, and are unmistakably dog people, right down to the wet noses and shaggy hair.

Me, I married a cat person.  Not that we had any animals at first, not that my wife would have allowed a dog into the house.  But the house next door to where we were living at the time owned a small menagerie, including a female tabby cat named Gizmo after the charming furry critter in the film Gremlins.  Gizmo was something of a nervous cat, not helped by the presence of dogs in the house, who ate the cat’s food with relish.  So it was little surprise when Gizzy (for short) popped over the fence one day when we were BBQing some trout and was given some choice morsels as the party took pity on the poor cat.  Thereafter, things snowballed.  Gizzy would leap for England through the small kitchen window and earned some tasty titbits.  And eventually it was me who became the big softie and bought tins of cat food, until eventually we adopted Gizzy full time.

I say Gizzy was nervous.  In fact, the poor beast was terrified of all the neighbourhood cats and got into terrible scraps while trying to escape.  Then something strange happened.  Some of the cats in the road started to vanish, presumably cat-napped.  Nothing to do with me but it caused great distress to the owners.  Anyway, it made life more pleasant for Gizzy, who enjoyed the run of our garden thereafter without any interference.  This was truly a lap cat, a gentle and affectionate animal that lived a long and happy life.  In fact, she even survived getting locked in the shed when we went away for our 5-week pre-kiddy holiday, thanks to being heard by neighbours and released before starving to death.  She made the move down to Broxbourne with us, eventually contracted cancer and had to be put to sleep.  But a lovely pet and a great character.

After experiments with hamsters and guinea pigs, it was not long before the kids decided more cats were in order.  So it was that we went to a cat rescue place looking for one cat and ended up with two brothers, ginger and white, who became known as Oscar and Tiger, the irony being that Oscar looks more like a tiger than Tiger.  To this day, Oscar and Tiger patrol the house and garden in Broxbourne and are fat and happy as the day is long.

But I moved out and eventually into my new home in Tiptree.  I live alone, I travel to work and can’t be here during the day, so a dog was not really a viable proposition.  But cats?  The house comes equipped with a cat flap and a lovely big garden.  Hell, even the shed has a cat flap!! I had no choice, did I?  So it was that I went out to rescue centres looking for cats…. and also ended up with two, which at least means they keep one another company.  Older cats, 8 and 9, Misty and Molly.  Misty is grey and longer haired, while Molly is a tabby with a large white patch.  At present, they are holed up in a bedroom to allow them time to acclimatise, though I’m hoping they will eventually have the run of the place and the garden.  My kids are delighted and in truth it’s nice to have some company.

Does this mean I am finally transformed?  Have I mutated from dog man into catman?  Darn it, I was hoping for superman but my time passed by…. 🙂

PS. Sadly, Tiger was run over and killed in December 2010, aged about 5.  His mistake was a late night sortie to the Lea Valley country park, over the road from Jean’s house.  It’s a reasonably quiet residential road but drivers do tend to step on it.  Evidently he mistimed his run and paid the penalty. RIP.

PPS. The same fate befell Oscar 3 years later.  What a shame 🙁

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