“But the wildest of all the wild animals was the Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him.”
The Cat that Walked by Himself, from the Just So Stories of Rudyard Kipling
Last year our three girls were trying their best to persuade us to get a dog. The fact that none of them live with us and would only get to see the hypothetical dog once in a blue moon made it an uphill struggle for them – and you know what we think of hills. We did, however decide that we’d like to get a cat, as we’ve never had a dog but have always had a cat. Our last, Fudge, lived to the grand old age of 20 before she staggered off into the sunset one day, never to return. We assumed that she’d died quietly somewhere but I suppose it’s just possible that she’s still out there, snoozing in someone else’s garden.
Anyway, we finally caved last December and became the proud owners of two kittens, reasoning that they’d be company for each other, though they seem to spend as much time fighting as they do snuggling together. George has always been the dominant one and seemed determined to explore, whereas Dave is more timid.George likes to be up high…
…Dave takes his time to think things over
For a couple of months we kept them indoors, for various reasons. We wanted them to know us and the house, we needed them to be neutered and then we had to wait for the snow to melt. Eventually we knew that the time had come but one of us…not me…was very reluctant to cross the Rubicon and let our boys out into the wide world. What if they strayed too far and couldn’t find their way home? What if they fell into the canal or the river? What if they were attacked by an older, bigger, meaner cat? Or a badger, fox or otter?
To the amusement of the girls, we bought a pair of cat harnesses so that we could escort our two new charges out into the garden secure in the knowledge that they wouldn’t be able to run off. George, who’d been itching to get out into the great wide world and investigate, was fine..if not for the harness he’d have been off and running. Dave, however, was not keen at all and Michael ended up carrying around a trembling bundle of ginger fur. In a way this was a good thing because Michael was reassured that Dave, at least, would stay close to home if he was allowed off his leash. Eventually, under a combined assault from the four women in his life, Michael was worn down and agreed that the time had come to let go…‘Bye!
Maybe it was the harness that had caused Dave to tremble. The first time he was permitted his freedom he tiptoed out fairly nervously but within twenty minutes he was having the time of his life, chasing butterflies across the lawn. Now, a week or so later, both cats are waiting for the door to be opened as soon as we come downstairs each morning.
Time to call the fire brigade?
They spend most of the day outside (even in the rain!) and beyond our garden wall. Goodness knows where they get to and what they get up to; let me just say that the baby rabbit survived but the two shrews did not. It’s hard work being a cat
So Michael has accepted that the boys are independent creatures and will do whatever it is they want. Of course the real crisis will come when one or other of them decide to stay out all night…
“Alright,” said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.”