We have 2.3 cats (approximately). First, there is Orange Cat (not her real name). Big, fluffy. Somebody applied a fader filter to her underside and she dipped her tail in it. Likes sleeping in cupboards, particularly on shelves storing expensive jumpers. Then there is Little Cat (well, you wouldn’t want me to name all my cats for their colours – that would be colourist). Shiny black fur, yellowy-green eyes. Ginormous ears. Excellent fly-catcher and all-round hunter. The first time we let her out into the garden of our new house , she got trapped in the neighbour’s garden.
And then there is Bonus Cat, who represents the partial cat in my ownership figure. He/she is as big as Orange Cat and as shiny black as Little Cat, on the topside. I know this because we’ve had regular visits. I’ve been awoken by strange noises in the night, decided it was just my imagination and gone to the bathroom (as you do – I mean, I was awake anyway), and been temporarily confused by the fact that there was a cat that had all the properties of my cat but somehow it didn’t quite fit. In fact, it took two such encounters for me to work out that my confusion was not due to my sleepiness, but actually due to the cat not being my cat.
Bonus Cat (henceforth, BC) is a beautiful cat – black on top, cream underneath, with a brown patch by the nose. I’m torn between wanting to make friends and harass it, but currently we have a stand-off. BC creeps into the house once the kitchen light goes off, and the upstairs light goes off, not checking the lights in the front of the house. BC fails to take account of noises upstairs. BC has in the past tried to creep past The Dude while he watched tv (and thought better of it). I have chased BC down the stairs a few times. Little Cat once woke me up just as I was dropping off to sleep to deal with BC. And BC has learnt to only exit via the cat flap if I actually go down the stairs and turn the light on.
In our last encounter, BC hid under the bed where I sleep while I went bounding down the stairs to chase the intruder.
But we only have BC because we have a cat flap and nice food. And we only have a cat flap and nice food because we take care of our cats. Sure we could have the magnetic cat flap, but neither cat is particularly fond of collars, and Little Cat in particular is tree climber. I wouldn’t want her to get her collar snagged on a branch. And actually, I suspect BC and our cats have an understanding, because for all the visits that that cat makes, our cats very seldom kick up a fuss.
So this is the lesson of Bonus Cat – if you are going to share your life, you are going to end up with unexpected consequences. Choose how you respond to them, or you might find yourself outwitted by a feline.
(My thoughts and prayers go out to my family in South Africa at this time. It hurts too much to write about, and the words crumble in my heart, so I wrote this instead. )