Whenever someone posts a picture of their cat I feel a pang. It’s a long time since we had a cat or a dog and there are still times when I miss a warm furry body snuggled up on the sofa next to me. The engine like purr of a happy cat or the rhythmic breathing a contentedly sleeping dog.
Once we lived with five cats and five dogs. That was when we had more space and outdoor kennels. Moving into town, after our return from Jamaica we were reunited with our cats who had been living with my son while we were away.
Gradually, over the years, the cats died. Some from old age, other from illness. This included Spike or German Short Haired Pointer, who unbeknown to us had a long standing hereditary condition. When we lost Seren we had the conversation whether we should replace our last cat. Up until then cats had always somehow arrived. Seren was one that literally turned up on the doorstep and although, due to personal circumstances we decide that we wouldn’t replace her we both knew that if a cat turned up and needed a home…
The trouble is one never did. Next door’s black and white cat sits in the sun on our doorstep and she occasionally slips past us into the house, but we know she is loved and wanted, so out she has to go.
A house without animals lacks something. A pet gives companionship and comfort. Caring for it structures the day. Dogs have to be walked, fed and groomed. Cats need stroking and petting –on their own terms of course. They connect you with other people too. Take a dog out for a walk and people stop to chat, especially if they have a dog of their own. When we first moved into our house, Mike got to know the neighbours far more quickly because he walked Spike.
For years after Seren died I’d catch a glimpse of something, a flash of movement, a flicker of light and have to remind myself she is no longer with us.
In the meantime, there are cats in nearly every book I write. Some are domestic pets, others play a more otherworldly role, like the black cat in “House of Shadows” There’s a cat on the cover of “Picking up the Pieces” and at least four in “Freecycling for Beginners” my latest work in progress.
The kitchen is full of cat pictures and a big fat marmalade cat keeps the teapot warm. He is such a comforting presence that sometimes I can almost hear him purr.