Very regular readers might just recall I have occasionally written about “my” cat – the Cat With No Name.
To reprise, he came into my life when I found my present sanctuary, damn near homeless and at a very low ebb professionally and personally. He turned up one day seeking shelter in the garden. I can hardly say he was feral, he was too poor a hunter for that, but he was essentially wild and terrified of people, even when I offered him food. His experiences and fortunes seemed to have mirrored my own, and so I set about looking after him.
It has been a long journey, and it took many months before I could touch him. Slowly he has become almost domesticated, but even now although he loved being brushed and petted he doesn’t like being “handled” in the sense of being picked up, and a fear of confinement which makes me wonder if he hadn’t been trapped and tormented in some way. I gave him a home.
It has been a long, slowly journey which required a lot of patience. It was a full year as I recall before he decided to investigate the house, and he was mute – no purrs, or meows. That has slowly changed.
He has a good life now, full of treats and safe from harm. He is actually incredibly gentle and undemanding and clean.
However towards the end of last year I could tell he was not well. I didn’t know what the problem was, but he had bad bowels and looked sad and tired. I wanted to get him to the vet, but I was uncertain about confining him or what effect that might have on the bond of trust I had worked so hard to build up. Fortunately my lovely friend Dr Pesta – a vet – came over from America, quite literally to the rescue. She has a special way with animals and although he kicked off quite a fuss, she kindly but firmly controlled him and gave him the once over. The problem became clear. He had a really bad infection in his mouth, with abscesses or sores in his gums at the back. Poor little chap. The answer was surgery, and teeth out.
Not before the vet’s premises had been inspected by Dr Pesta, who introduced herself to the rather startled and awestruck staff, and sweetly but firmly demanded to give the premises and kit a once over. This she duly did, and pronounced herself satisfied.
So with the help of my friend Cat was poured from his little tent house into a box and off to the vet he went, plainly terrified. He kicked off quite a fuss there too. He isn’t violent, and doesn’t scratch – he is just terrified.
The little chap arrived back a couple of days later, minus quite a few teeth and full of vitamins and antibiotic shots – he had picked up some nasties in his wild life, as was to be expected. He was a bit irked by the whole experience I could tell, but he settled down soon enough.
The problem is that this year the problem has resurfaced and I could tell he was in discomfort. I dreaded taking on the task on my own, but with the aid of a blanket I got the surprised Cat into the basket with reasonable speed and efficiency, although he didn’t like it at all. Off to the vet we went, where he was again very scared but acquiesced. A power booster of something was prescribed, which did him the world of good, but another dose was needed a couple of weeks later. This time he recognised the little trap I had made – he’s not stupid, this fellow. And I made a total mess of getting hold of him. A chase ensued, and then he got completely bundled up and stuck in the blanket – my worst nightmare. His booster again helped him a lot, but he had been traumatised way more than I feared.
So he has for a while been a bit edgy and much more reluctant to come in. He seemed to ponder the process for a bit, and he was wary. I understand his perspective.
This week I had to go away on trip for a couple of days. Cat minders were of course enlisted, so he was fully catered for. I returned on Friday afternoon. The minders told me that he had not been in and didn’t seem to be around much. I was concerned.
I went out into the little garden, and there he was on the shed, looking at me impassively and a bit damp from the rain. I bid him good afternoon and made few of the funny clucking noises I make when I call to him, but he stayed where he was, so I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Just a few moments later I discovered Cat winding his way around my feet. As is always my when he is wet way I started to dry him off with a piece of kitchen towel, and he started to purr – much more loudly than I had noticed him for quite a while. He can grin too, which he does when I tickle his forehead. He seemed very happy, and was soon tucking into a meal of tuna and biscuits, and still purring.
I went upstairs to my study to check the emails, and was engrossed in doing that for perhaps 20 minutes. When I turned round in my chair I found Cat sitting and watching me. Just sitting and watching.
We were friends again. We went downstairs and – against “doctor’s orders” – he had a saucer of single cream, which he loved. Later in the evening he sat back on his favourite chair, next to mine and within reach, and slept in total relaxation. He is back there today.
Two matters. Is it possible for an animal to love? I think so. I don’t see any problem with that. Not just loyalty, but in the way we do.
And there is something else. I told my friend Dr Pesta about this story over the phone and she said that problem could have been me. I made major life decision this week, to let some things go, and to take some time out and re-assess my career and priorities. It will involve some financial downsizing and pain, but in the long run I just want to be happy.
When I had reached this decision I felt much more relaxed. Dr Pesta told me not only did I sound a million times better than I had for a while, but that Cat would sense this. Cats, she explained, can be amazingly sensitive to body language and atmosphere. If I was feeling anxious and stressed – which I had been, for all sorts of reasons – then he would pick up on that straight away, and would react accordingly. If he is back to “normal” she suggested, it is because I am back to normal – and thus had made the right decision.
My little friend has helped me understand myself again.
Later on the Classic FM I heard a version of “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables”, performed by “The Piano Guys”. I hadn’t heard of them before, but it was beautiful, and seemed appropriate and relevant for some reason I couldn’t define. Please enjoy, I think it’s lovely. Happy Sunday.
Gildas the Monk