When I was sixteen, my mother came home from the hairdresser with a shoebox for me, a shoebox that wriggled. And inside was Charlotte a.k.a. Lottie. She wasn’t my first cat but she was the first to be mine and mine alone.
Lottie was white and ginger and I hardly remember her at all and no wonder. I only lived at home for another three years until she became theirs. They didn’t mind. My Mum had grown up on a farm and loved animals, and my Dad had wanted to be a vet until the war intervened. He had a lovely way with animals which he passed on to me. The secret is to allow them to come to you. And cats have been coming to me ever since.
As a child, our pets were always second-hand; we rescued abandoned pets. We got both our dogs, Boo and Bessie, from the Blue Cross Dogs’ Home. Boo was white and black and Bessie was black and white. There’s a difference. And we also had Pussy Cat Willum, named for a cat on the TV. When we went to Singapore we took over the animals that the previous incumbents in my father’s job (and the house that came with it) had owned and we passed them on just the same, in a form of relay pet-ownership.
Lottie came next in the chronology, until I left home in 1973 and went to Oxford where somehow I acquired Dibble who became famous for being drawn by a Disney cartoonist who visited our house one time. When I brought Dibble back to London in 1077, he was stolen, he was that beautiful. Sometimes pet ownership can be all too brief.
My next acquisition was Senna who was left behind by lodger and right-hand woman, Penny, who moved on to be with the man who became her husband. Senna was immediately re-named Little Girl and I attempted to get the RSPCA to take her off my hands but they could spot a pussycat sucker when they heard one on the phone, and after my initial call no-one ever called me back and LG stayed. My next lodger, Kim, renamed her LG or ELGE as she became known and soon she was joined by Pussy McLean who I took on when his family were posted overseas.
PC McLlean was a grand old man who, when the time came to die, just left home with his dignity intact. ELGE didn’t make old bones either, she pegged it from kidney disease one Easter Weekend in Canary Wharf, much to my upset. There followed long years in rented accommodation where cats were forbidden, though they are always on my vision board and they grativate to me and me to them whenever I go anywhere. Greece is cat heaven, for instance. And so is my dream isle in the Caribbean, perhaps another reason why I love it so. Cats are just another of those things you don’t necessarily need to own to experience love and joy.
As regular readers and visiting clients will know, Mitsy is my current furry companion of choice and my Zen master. I inherited her from Dan, the computer man and, as I write she’s in her new favourite summer place, sleeping on the suitcases. At first I thought it was because she didn’t want me to leave her behind when I go to the Caribbean because how can she prefer it up high in the wardrobe when it is so hot up there in the summer? Doesn’t make sense to me, you’d think she’d be looking for a cooler spot but even after all these decades of cat ownership, what do I know?
And on that point it is said that you own a dog, but a cat owns you. That about sums it up.
In her later years, once widowed, my Mother took much joy from her companions Misty (not to be confused with my Mitsy) who she tamed from feral, and robust Charlie and his rather more dainty female pal (whose name I temporarily forget), both rescued from another military family in Rome. International cats. It seems that to be a Morgan means never allowing a cat needing a home to go unloved.
There’s been an abundance of cats in my life to date. Long may this abundance continue. They have improved my life immeasurably and brought healing and unconditional love. Miaow to you from me an’ Mitts.