To have a new cat on the mat tells you two things.
1. We had an old cat.
2. The old cat is not here anymore because as any cat owner knows cats do not share mats.
The old cat’s name was Polo. He was a lovely black cat who died of old age (with the help of the vet) when he was seventeen. Polo turns out is also the new cat’s name. Not his real name, but it is the name I end up using by default. I am getting used to the new cat’s name which is Louis.
You would think being called Polo would be confusing for Louis, but in exchange for food and a warm bed, he seems content to answer anything.
As a rescued cat he had at least one earlier name. Neville. Nice enough but Neville is not me. Louis doesn’t care. He’s not stupid and has figured out that a high pitched cat-call from the back door in a voice he barely knows means the door to warmth, adoration and more importantly that dinner is ready. Louis is smart.
To date he is rather aloof with me, but when it comes to my 20 year old daughter he is a real pussycat. He melts into a purr-fuelled frenzy of rubbings and snugglings, whenever she picks him up. I am tolerated. I open the cupboard, rattle the box of kibble and put food in his bowl. He may give my leg a quick rub and allow me to scratch behind an ear for a second or two but only if I am quick. Otherwise, he whips around and bites me. Leg, hand, arm whatever part of my anatomy is closest and thus annoying him most.
My daughter on the other hand gets the gushy, loving Louis. He spends all day lying on her bed regarding me with a passing stare if I should happen to walk into her room with a pile of clean clothes. He lies back burrowing luxuriously into her duvet trying his best to ignore me. If I stop what I am doing or try to get his attention, some tiny indication of his approval, I feel his gaze travel over me before … I am dismissed and with his back leg high in the air, he licks his anus.
A cat is the only animal who can make you feel ‘not quite good enough’ in your own home.
Until this morning.
Louis is not dumb and has come to realise, if he wants breakfast, I am the person to be nice to.
I get out of bed earlier than the aforementioned daughter and feed him, while she gets her beauty sleep.
This morning, after he ate breakfast and when I was sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper and drinking my tea in that lovely quiet morning time, Louis jumped up beside me and sat close enough to allow me to scratch behind his ear.
He moved a little bit closer.
I scratched his ear and his chin.
He started purring. Just a little.
He moved close enough to touch me and for a moment, we enjoyed a cat/person bonding moment.
Then my daughter came in.
The moment we had was enough … for now.