All I wanted was a pet, I didn’t care what it was, a hamster, gerbil, cat or chicken! My Dad always had an answer as to why I couldn’t have one, too smelly, too messy, it will wreck the furniture we don’t have room. I now realise this was a battle of wills with my parents, my Dad wanted a dog, my Mum didn’t. So the result no pets! This didn’t mean I had no animals in my childhood, I had friends with pets, I looked after them while they went on holiday. I remember a gerbil drawing blood as my friend said her holiday goodbyes. I looked after mice, and even chickens but still the answer was “NO”
Imagine my surprise the day my Dad came home with a cat! YES completely out of the blue with no warning there she was Abby, a beautiful tortoiseshell. It had turned out while my Dad was decorating a customers house, the cat had followed him everywhere. The lady had told my Dad how Abby was a rescue cat who had belonged to her daughter who had sadly died. After a week of being shadowed by the cat the lady had asked my Dad to take her home, and to everyones surprise he had agreed.
So here was a small timid little cat, not the kitten I had dreamed about but still she was a pet. She had lived her early life in Abby woods in Birmingham, hence the name, and had never seen stairs living in a bungalow. She didn’t know how to play, especially with two very excited kids who still couldn’t believe their luck. Slowly she became a member of the family, finding her way from under the bed downstairs to the beanbag at the bottom of my bed. Every night she slept there with me believing she enjoyed my company, and that it wasn’t just the warmth of my nylon 80’s beanbag. Soon Abby became Doris except when my aunty Doris came to stay and a permanent part of family life.
Doris was my best friend never judging and always there for a reassuring purr. I was convinced she came to find me if I was upset, and during my teenage years this was often. She understood all my inner angst, my dislike of all things to do with school, friends moving away, Doris was always there somehow knowing. I remember her love of all things Christmas from the boxes to the wrapping paper, and all of the turkey scraps. During the summer an outdoors mouser in the winter an in front of the fire cat, I thought she would live forever. Forever is a long time, and she did have a very long life, we don’t know exactly how old as we didn’t know how old she was when we were given her. She ended her days with a friend of the family as we had to move to a flat and couldn’t take her with us. Doris left us peaceful having had a very full life full of mice and balancing on fences which she was particularly good at!
I never wanted to replace her as there would never be a cat quite like her so imagine my surprise when a few years later another rescue tortie came into my new family. I was living in a flat with my then boyfriend who worked late shifts. I didn’t like the emptiness of the flat so we looked into getting a kitten, we were advised to get two so they had company while we were out. Sadly one died of Lukemea after only a few weeks, I was devastated as they were my babies. Thomas the tabby cat grew to be a strong willed creature who disliked me and adored my boyfriend. When he got to six months we looked at getting him some company, and there in the rescue centre was this little tortoiseshell, rehomed and returned twice how could I leave her there.
She cam home with us and was soon named Dotty as yes she was very Dotty! she fell over, only drank from a tap and was the most affectionate companion. I have so many fond memories of my new best friend, she slept on me every night sometimes sneaking under the duvet when she thought we weren’t looking. We moved to a house and the garden became just another room till the day Dotty proudly bought home a sausage! It was then followed by bacon, and a slice of toast. We were convinced she was stealing the neighbours breakfast, it turned out they had been feeding left overs to the birds.
Both Thomas and Dotty had full lives and saw many changes, from small garden to large and the arrival of the boy. As elderly cats the boy wasn’t exactly gentle but they tolerated his enthusiastic love. First to leave us was Dotty, who had cancer and then peacefully a year later Thomas. The house seemed empty and after a couple of years without the shadows to trip over and the sound of purring, we looked into getting just one cat this time. I was surprised to find that recue centres wouldn’t rehome with children under five and resigned myself to no more pets for a while anyway.
A friend at work then offered me a kitten, and the boy and I went to meet them they were so adorable, tiny and fluffy and all black. At 5 weeks they wouldn’t be leaving their Mum just yet but the boy was smitten with a little black bundle of silliness. Daddy said ok we can have two and we chose one each, sisters. Our two new housemates were so small and were everywhere, climbing curtains under the washing machine,and up the Christmas tree.
Now our family is complete, the boy wont have any siblings I have come to terms with that, but he has his own feline friends. He chats to them cares for them and when they are indoors which is not that often they can be found in his room, by the radiator or on his beanbag, its not nylon but its home.
“This post is an entry into the Tots100/Swell UK competition.”