Growing up, beautiful Cindey was ever present. Quite literally. My constant companion. In almost every photo she’s there, even if just a tail as she saunters out of shot. Her loss when I was eleven was devastating.
Fast forward a few years and it was time for a new love. Mum, brother and I trooped off to the local Blue Cross where we were shown various specimens of feline gorgeousness. They really liked a rather feisty ginger girl, who decided to hiss at me when I edged closer. We weren’t convinced.
“There’s just one more,” the Blue Cross lady said, “but she’s a bit of a state.”
In the recovery area of their on-site surgery, she scooped a skinny black bundle from a cage. Patches of fur missing, bones sharp under her skin, stitches on her side, the bundle looked deep into my eyes and love hit. As I took her in my arms, she edged painfully up towards my left shoulder, nudged her head under my jaw and began to purr. I had been chosen.
Needless to say, two days later, Pippa came home. My beloved girl was always my cat, waiting for me when I came home, whether from a trip tto the village, or a few months in Russia; curling up on my chest to sleep at night, worshipping my every move, and always purring, purring, purring. We had 14 years with her, almost to the day.
When I moved to the south coast I desperately wanted to take her with me, but being used to a garden it didn't seem fair to keep her indoors in my flat. So she stayed with my mum and I went home to visit regularly. One of my greatest sadnesses is not having been there when she passed, although having had a massive stroke I wouldn't want that to be my abiding memory of her. The only digital photos of her are from an old and not very good camera phone, as you can see. She was already old then, but still gorgeous.
After Pippa died I knew I wanted more cats in my life, but couldn't bring myself to do anything about it for about a year. One day I woke up and put an ad on Freecycle, of all things, asking if anyone knew of any kittens. A local family replied to say they had five half-Siamese kits, just a few weeks old, so I went to see them.
The tiny little bundles skittered about on the laminate floor of their sitting room, and just one - white with a grey smudge on her forehead seemed more inquisitive and adventurous. She came and claimed me immediately and that was Taya. When it came time to collect her form her mother, the family asked me if I wanted another. They showed me the last two that didn't yet have homes, although a neighbour had said they would have one of them. In the kitchen, two white fluff balls lay on chairs. One of the gazed up at me and miaowed shrilly; Yuri was coming home.
Once Steve had been vetted by the cats (Yuri used to walk up and down along the tops of the kitchen cupboards keeping an eye on him), he was allowed to move in. When a work colleague had some half-Siamese kittens we were invited to come and see them. Once a little black scrappy thing had climbed all over Steve, bitten his hands and chewed his jacket, we knew we were adding one more to our family. Misha came home.
Our final additions (for now!), were an unwanted pair of ragamuffins. A friend of a friend had bought them but been told by her landlord that she had to get rid of them or lose her home. When their adorable little faces showed up on my Facebook feed, there was nothing else to be done. Late one December night we piled toddler Lara, baby Sophia and a cat basket into the car and drove up to Midhurst.
Jess and Belle (as she was then) were too skinny, jumping with fleas and very, very timid. Jess was a tiny bit braver then her sister and crept out from behind a sofa to talk to us. But for the first week or so they stayed well away and ravenously wolfed down food. Over three years later Jessie still throws up most days as she gobbles down as much as she can, just in case. The rapidly renamed Poppy cat gradually came round to us big people and adores us, while Jess remains slightly wary but worships the girls and lets them dress her up, push her around in prams, build Duplo houses around her etc.
Do cats choose us? I think so, or fate does. Ours have certainly all come to us serendipitously. What about your pets?
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