essays on history, myth, ideas, books, film, music…
I’ve looked after a lot of animals over the years, but somehow my cats have meant the most. My first cat came to live at my house when I was a child. It was my mother’s cat really, and was called Biddy, almost the same size as me when we first met. Years later, when I wanted a cat my mother found one called Sputnik, more fleas than cat, and half feral, a real wild character whom we tamed. That one too was my mother’s cat.
My first cat, one I really related to, was a grey tabby I saw in a pet shop and fell in love with, and I took her home with her brother, a beautiful black tabby. I was reading a Charles Dickens novel at that time, and the cats became Chuzzlewit and Sweedlepipe. They were symmetrical cats, and often posed identically for me. When it was time for Chuzzlewit to die she gave me the wisest and most compassionate look I have ever received, before disappearing, never to be seen again. Then I discovered two more cats, introduced by a friend, who were of the same litter, one completely white, the other completely black. I called them Phoebe and Fergus. Fergus had a hard life, he was accident prone, and I was his safety zone, but one day he failed to negotiate a car and died while having surgery, probably from fear. He was four years old. Phoebe however lived to be 20, and hers was the longest lasting relationship I ever knew. I watched her die, and knew she was one of a kind, as are we all. Another disturbed cat came to live with me called Ebby, more commonly known now as Blackie. He’s a Norwegian Forest cat, lovely to look at, but nervous and bad tempered. Other cats have taken refuge at my homes from time to time, but haven’t stayed for one reason or another, but I’ve enjoyed their company.
The other cats here I don’t know personally. Max and Norm, the two looking over their shoulder, belong to someone’s website, and the others have been posted on the web too by cat lovers. I think they’re beautiful.