Dear Readers, my cat Willow is about thirteen years old now, and spends most of her morning following the sun around the living room. She actually miaows at my husband if he’s sitting on her ‘sunny spot’ on the sofa, until he moves out of the way (which he always does once he gets the message). If there is one thing that proves that I married the right man, this is it.
What goes on in that little furry head, I wonder? Willow is not at all motivated by food, but she loves to be brushed after dinner on the sofa, and complains very loudly until the ritual is complete. If I am coming down the stairs, she slinks past me by running up them, always treading on the wood not the carpet. She always comes to see me once I’m in bed, and will let me know if my hot water bottle is not in exactly the right position for her to lay on. But once I turn the light off, she jumps down and disappears until I turn the light on in the morning. She is pretty much the perfect cat for us, because although she could go outside, she never does, probably because there are so many other big, scary cats around, and so she never menaces the frogs or kills the fledglings.
I have spent so much of my life living with a dog or a cat that I can’t imagine how it would be to live without one. And yet, I am writing this on Mother’s Day, and I remember how my Mum wanted to have a little dog during her last years, even though she couldn’t walk it or look after it. She wanted the kind of little dog that wouldn’t want to be walked, and would be happy to just sit on a cushion – in other words, a dog as old and frail as she was. And yet, what a heartbreak such a dog would have been, with its inevitable medical problems. In the end, we never found a dog that was suitable (if indeed such an animal existed) and Mum and Dad had to make do with the alpacas and the therapy dogs who visited the care home where they spent their last months. We take so much for granted, and we assume that things will carry on the way that they are, until something happens, and we realise how finite things are. And so I intend to appreciate my cat, and the cats that may come after her, for as long as I’m able, in the full knowledge that the day will come when I can no longer care for an animal, and will have to admire them from afar. So long as I can see a bird from my window, or a butterfly in the garden, I think that will be enough.