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I am a Cat Person

15 December, 2013

There have been exactly two dogs I have met and liked, but I have never met a cat I didn’t get along with. I like their aloofness, the fact that you have to earn the trust and affection of a cat. And if something that is more interesting or is edible grabs their attention, there is an honesty in the way they don’t subtly look at a watch, yawn and say “well, I really should be going, I have to be back for the babysitter / have to be up early / am parked on a meter / left the gas on etc”, they decide in an instant that their presence is required elsewhere, or that it will be to their benefit to be elsewhere, and off they dash. So when they are happy to be your friend for a while, that friendship is earned and therefore more valuable.

And it seems that cats are Me Animals. I know how they like to be stroked, how they like to be tickled under the chin and along the jaw, and cats always respond well to me. Two recent examples:

I visited friends recently for a pizza and DVD night. We sat on the sofa, started to eat and the cat wandered in to see who the visitor was. She came and stood next to me on the sofa, I reached out with my free, non-pizza holding hand and scratched around her ears, tickled her chin, said hello. I went back to holding my plate. She nudged my hand for me to carry on with that scratching and tickling thing I was doing. I ate the rest of my pizza whilst dividing my time between holding my plate and petting the cat. Once I had finished eating, she came and laid her head on my lap and watched the film with us. Well, I don’t think she saw it all, to be honest she nodded off a few times but she enjoyed my company nonetheless, and so I enjoyed hers.

On Friday night, I was walking home when I passed a fat ginger cat I sometimes see on my way home. I stopped to stroke it and say hello as usual, and then walked on. Behind me I heard a tiny tinkling bell, and the cat was jogging along the pavement after me. I stopped and in a few seconds he was by my feet, walking round me, eager for attention. I crouched down, put my bag on the floor and spent a few happy minutes stroking this fat fluffy friend who circled me excitedly. It was getting late, I apologised and said I really had to go. I walked on. He followed me. I walked. He followed. We were now about quarter of a mile from his home, and I was a little concerned he might get lost, but he was still bounding after me. I stopped and sat down on the steps of the church on the corner. He came and joined me, stroking his head against my leg as I stroked him, tickled him, made a fuss of him. We spend a few more minutes and again I told him I was sorry but this time I was going home and he should do the same. I bade him a reluctant goodnight and walked on. He followed. We reached the wall, about a foot high, that surrounds the church. I pointed to the wall and said if he jumped up he could have one more stroke but that was it. He jumped up. I stroked him, scratched his chin. I said goodnight again, and he watched me leave, watched me till I had disappeared round the corner.

There is no cutesy ending to this story, there is no “he followed me home”, there is no “I went out the next day and bought a cat of my own”, I’m just relating the story for its own sake. If I owned my own house, if I didn’t live on a busy four-lane road that isn’t safe for people to cross, never mind cats, I would have a couple of cats of my own. But I do, so I don’t.

For now I have to rely on the company of cats who belong to other people and will let me be their friend for a few minutes, Hopefully the fat ginger cat will be outside his house again next Friday.

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