No report this week as there is only one subject I want to talk about: my cat.
There is nothing more wonderful than being owned by a cat. And they do own you and not the other way around as much as we humans like to delude ourselves.
I’ve been owned by two cats in my life. My first cat and I were soulmates of a kind; both smart, independent females who understood each other. Sparky (or Sparkles to me) was bought for my sister but she was always meant to be my cat. I was the one who picked her up from the pet shop, carried her home in a box, and watched her torment our dog (she learnt how to sit on command to show him how stupid he was that he never got it) and push him out of his bed every night all through my teenage years. She was never a demonstrative cat but I always knew she loved me. She was my anchor through many family ups and downs. She continued to own me even when I went to university and through all my years of working when I was travelling too much to have her stay with me, because despite living my parents she never owned them the way she owned me. We did live together her final years; she left me when she was 18 and a half.
Crackers was us that final day and night, staying over. I still remember how he stood over her, watching and protecting Sparkles in her final hours and how he was a silent comfort to me as Sparkles died.
He and I, on the other hand, were never meant for each other at all. He started out life owning my sister and when she couldn’t look after him, he went to live with my parents and quickly designated my mother as his. He adored her and she adored him. She was the only one he would let anywhere near him. The rest of us were not allowed to touch the fur.
When Mum fell ill and eventually couldn’t look after him, Crackers came to stay with me; indeed, one of the last requests my mother asked of me was to look after him. It was not an easy arrangement. I wasn’t owned by him, I was owned by Sparkles who was still alive at that point – and he knew it. He and Sparkles lived in a state of mutual distrust and grudging respect on Crackers part because she was the Alpha cat. The night my mother died was the first night Crackers ever willingly came to me, cuddling into the crook of my knees as I tried to sleep. I’m certain he knew. And he grieved for a long time after her death.
Still, immediately after, Crackers stayed with my Dad providing him with an anchor just as Sparkles provided me with one. It wasn’t until Sparkles had passed away and Dad was spending more and more time in Mauritius and therefore Crackers was staying with me more and more, that Crackers came to live with me. It was clear that he didn’t own me and didn’t trust me. He still missed Mum. I still missed Sparkles. But he and I worked at it, both of us. Routines were set; I kept my word in regards to food and time in the garden; I played with his favorite toys with him; and I always came back when I went away. In return, he began to cuddle up with me in bed; wind around my legs when I fed him and come to me when I called.
When we moved to the new house 3 and a half years ago, Crackers decided it was time. It was a brand new territory – one that belonged to him and him alone, and so he claimed ownership of it and of me. And because I was his, I became the object of his total affection. He would climb on my lap, bump his nose against mine, cuddle into me with loud purrs. He would sleep right next to me, sometimes on top of me. He would follow me around the house and complain noisily when I had been away. And so, I fell in love with him completely and totally; accepted his ownership with joy and giddiness because I was owned by a cat again. And in that security, he became a much more sociable cat; perhaps he was never eager to let others touch him but he tolerated it, he would talk with his cat sitters and guests, he would sometimes honour visitors with his presence. When I left my job, he loved that I was home and with him. He loved his life and he loved me.
He hasn’t been well these last months and it was evident that this week would be his last. We spent a final day together on Thursday; we cuddled and he slept up next to me for a time in the exact spot where he had slept the night my mother died; the crook of my knees. I’m certain I felt Sparkles nearby, watching over him as he had watched over her.
Yesterday, I said goodbye to him. I will miss him hugely. He and I were never meant for each other but I will always be grateful that we found each other, and that he decided to make me his.