I have never considered myself a cat person. Possibly because for the first thirty years of my life, cats did not happen to me. Was it because I lived in the apartments that were in their nature unclimbable and unattainable? Or was it this bit of mistrust and misapprehension on my side that kept them away? Anyway, it took a stray to tame me into a cat person. And since then cats just happen in my life. In cat-onogical order:
It all started with the grey tabby cat that chose to sit on our kitchen window sill or dare I say that chose us. He was a stray one and only graced us with a kind consent to feed him. He would let you watch but would not let you touch. Aloof and withdrawn, he kept his distance for a long time, yet at the same time stayed close enough. He taught me the most fundamental cat facts. That the relationship needs to be earned. That you need to respect the boundaries. That cats come back. In the end he would even let me stroke his back but would never come into the house. He was a proud stray through and through.
Ginger was the biggest cat that ever happened to us. He was also the laziest or should I say the most comfortable. He loved his naps and appreciated indoor amenities. He curled up and rolled over and stretched on the stairs and landing carpet until he got his own cat bed and would snuggle there as happy as cat can be.
Clever She Cat
She was merely a few months old when she sprang into our garden and our lives. Curious, smart and graceful. She was the queen of garden fences. She was a very skillful climber. She surprised us one night meowing gently outside our bedroom window after she climbed from the fence onto the roof and onto the window sill. She loved her midnight walks but usually came back before dawn with a meow and sometimes a scratch at the window and somehow I did not mind getting up to let her in. Even pregnant with her kittens she still jumped with poise, moved with elegance and squeezed in between the windows and fences.
We were there when the kittens were born (which is a whole separate story with plenty of drama and suspension that I promise to tell you another time) and she raised them well, though, they grew feral and were afraid of any human. They looked like a mixture of all the local cats. One kitten was fluffy tortoiseshell. One kitten was black with white collar. One kitten was white with black spots and a black tail. And the last kitten was white with black chin and black ears. They were only few months old when they went their own ways and found their places. One lingered with his mum for a while, slowly got tamed and even played with us but then at the end of the summer he was gone too.
She Cat was happy to get back in shape and strode on the fences and walls as gracefully as ever. When we got our Christmas tree she climbed up the branches but never dropped a single decoration. How would she, she was a little Ms Grace, after all. She disappeared one winter day and never came back. Mr Grey, that I am convinced was secretly in love with her, went to look for her. He searched and searched. He came back after a few days to hang around. Then, he went searching again. And we saw Mr Grey less and less. Until he was gone too.
It wasn’t long until we noticed a new cat around. First sitting on the fence and casually probing the neighbourhood. Then on the bin soaking up the sunshine with eyes closed but still vigilant and ready to jump at the slightest noise. Then on the window sill curiously peeking inside. Tabby Two was a warrior. He fought. He yowled. He chased. He came back with scratched ears and nose. He had a nap to get back on his paws and was out onto the street again.
She seems to be around for ages. A chubby lady always looking for a snack and sometimes for cuddles. Usually sitting on the fence. Literally. Fearful to commit, yet familiar and friendly. A survivor and an observer.
Mimi arrived from Belfast on Maciek’s left shoulder. The kitten was only a few weeks old and so tiny that it fit there perfectly. The little one found his sweet spot. It was not a plan. More like a rescue mission. You just simply do not say ‘no’ to a kitten. But first things first, we needed a proper name and after a brainstorm we all agreed on Mimi that my mother-in-law suggested. We all loved the name and felt it was right for her. Or him – as we found out a few months later.
Mimi was tiny but curious. He hid under the bed and slept there for a while. Then he started exploring. Room by room. Nooks and corners. Garden. Outside the house. Neighbourhood. I was anxious to see if he can climb the trees, jump the fences, cross the streets. He could and he did. But for one unfortunate time when he got stuck on the tree and we had to help him out. Ouch! He can also catch mice. And he does. Nonchalantly leaving it outside the house right next to the door mat. For us to behold.
He is still an explorer. He can be gone for a few days. Then he comes back home to recover and catch up on sleep and food. As after all his wanderings he is hungry as nine cats. To tell you the truth Mimi is always hungry. He can have a pre-breakfast snack, breakfast, eleven-o’clock snack, lunch, teatime snack, dinner and after-eight snack. And he is anything but fat. I wish I had this type of metabolism.
Mimi is the first cat that is ours. We named him as we knew he would live with us. We committed. He got attached and we got attached. When he jumps on my lap, kneads with his paws and purrs happily, I feel happy too.
All the cats that appear in the story are real. Their names are real too. Grey, Ginger, She Cat or Tabby are neither creative nor catchy as the cats just happened to us. They appeared one day and slowly made their ways into our house. In the end the simple nicknames became their names and they all earned a spot in my heart and in this story.
I know cats happen to a lot of us. In real life and in stories such as A Street Cat Named Bob or this brilliant Polish 80s TV series that brings me back to my childhood realities. I might even dare to say that cats happen for a reason. To me a life with a cat gives a cat perspective and opens the eyes to the new ways.
Do cats happen to you?