Saturday 12 September 2015

Cat Woman by Tanya landman

I suppose my fascination with Siamese cats started with Blue Peter’s Jason. I remember walking all the way to the Civic Centre in Gravesend, Kent with my brother when I was about six years old because there was a cat show on and Jason himself was going to be there in the flesh! He didn’t disappoint and I was star struck.                                 

However, as an adult I hadn’t ever planned on keeping a Siamese of my own.  I was working in theatre and then – when the boys were small and I’d started writing – we were often away from home and keeping a pet didn’t seem fair.

But then, one fateful afternoon, I went to collect my son from his friend’s house.  I was sitting on the sofa waiting for the boys to finish their game when a small kitten emerged, climbed on to my lap, put his paws on my chest, fixed me with his bright blue eyes and started purring.  It was love at first sight.

It turned out that the friend’s mum had been given the kitten by her husband.  He was in the armed services and was off on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Presumably to give her something to take her mind off it he’d bought her the Siamese she’d always wanted.

I was utterly bowled over by my first encounter with that kitten.  She gave me the breeder’s contact details, but as I walked home with my children that afternoon I thought the trouble is, I don’t want any cat. I just happened to have fallen in love with that particular animal.

When my son’s friend’s mother’s husband returned safely from his tour of duty he started sneezing the moment he walked through the door. Amazingly, he was allergic to cats.  It wasn’t long before I had a phone call. Was I interested in re-homing him?

It felt like Destiny. I blithely agreed. I mean, a cat was a cat, wasn’t it?  Past experience had taught me that cats are more attached to property than people so I reasoned that it didn’t matter if we went away for the odd weekend. As long as we left him enough food and water he’d be fine, wouldn’t he?


You see, Edgar had picked me out.  I had been chosen. I was his. Any attempt of mine to go away always meets with enraged protests.  He follows me down the path, yowling and biting my ankles, trying to drag me back.  If I spend a night in a hotel he walks around the house screaming his head off at the rest of the family, jumping on their heads at 4am and demanding, “Where the f*** is she??”

Edgar has strong opinions on everything.  In the early days there were plenty of things that Edgar disapproved of.  Bath- time was one of them. He really didn’t think the boys should be immersed in water. He’d sit on the side of the bath and try and lift them out by the scruff of their necks.

Having gone down the Pet Ownership road we decided after about a year – under constant pressure from my youngest son – that we might as well get a dog too. Edgar would be fine, I thought  – after all, he’d been brought up with dogs by his previous owner, he’d be OK with a puppy.

Wrong again!!

Edgar has never missed an opportunity to launch an assassination attempt.  He is a Ninja.  The Jackal of the feline world.  Not surprisingly the endless dog/cat dramas found their way into a book – Attack of the Blobs!!!

As any of my friends on facebook will testify, Edgar has some truly revolting habits.  Does it make one iota of difference to the way I feel about him? No, it doesn’t. There is something about a Siamese – a truly regal quality - that makes you feel humbled and grateful that they have chosen to bestow their presence on you.

For a non-cat owner I guess that sounds weird,  but I’m not the only person to feel that way.  In fact, I’m in some rather star-studded company (although I’m not entirely sure Jane Fonda should be doing that to her cat…)

Jean Cocteau
Patricia Highsmith

Alan Ginsberg

Vivien Leigh
John Lennon

Fred Astaire
Frank Zappa
Marilyn Monroe
Errol Flynn
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard

Elizabeth Taylor

Jane Fonda

Peter Lorre
Laurence Olivier


Joan Lennon said...

I LOVE those photographs! The cats' expressions never change (well, they don't, do they) but the people - you see things in their faces you'd never see in any other context. The cat-owned ARE privileged!

Though I'm more of a moggie woman myself - the principle's very much the same.

Ruan Peat said...

As mum of moggies with a touch more wild cat than is safe, I am totally owned. If fact I am typing one handed so I do not wake the baby currently drooling on my arm. Always think of the Pratchett quote about them being worshiped and not forgetting.

Kathryn Evans said...

I've shared my life with a lot of cats but there is the odd one who, quite literally, steals your heart. My first cat, Boddington, was such a cat, and anotehr has just landed. I was smitten the first time he climbed on my knee and sought my fingers to suck for comfort. He's needy and noisy and utterly adorable. Heart Lost Again. Aren't we lucky?