Apparently in the Chinese calendar 2015 is the year of the sheep.
But in the Newnham household it has quite suddenly and rather unexpectedly become the year of the cat.
Over the years Matthew and I have occasionally had the cat conversation. We both like them very much, but the one I had when we first got together caused Matthew to become very wheezy and so we’ve always dismissed cats as potential pets due to the danger of allergies.
It’s probably worth pointing out at this stage that the cat I had then was the most nervous creature in the world. He was a rescue cat that never learnt to trust people. Whenever he was scared, which was pretty much all the time, he would shed hair in handfuls. Once, when I took him to the vets, there was so much hair in his box on arrival that I was surprised he wasn’t totally bald when the vet lifted him out.
So looking back he probably wasn’t the best allergy trial test cat we could have chosen.
And then we got Judy the greyhound. She was absolutely the best dog in the world but probably not one that would have been prepared to share a small flat with a cat. Not for long anyway. Greyhounds are bred to chase and potentially kill small furry creatures. It’s in their DNA. For all we know Judy might have learnt to accept a cat. She was after all the gentlest of animals in all other ways, but we weren’t about to put that to the test and risk the consequences. So, for that reason alone cats were not an option while she was around.
But then sometime over Christmas Matthew and I started a cat conversation. He thinks I initiated it whereas I’m pretty sure it was him. Either way we somehow went from not even thinking about cats to deciding we might like to try having one, in the space of one possibly mulled wine infused evening.
I love cats, well almost all animals actually. I grew up surrounded by a great variety of pet dogs, cats, budgies, fish, mice, tortoises… I even had a collection of garden snails in a jam jar at one point, although perhaps I won’t tell you what happened to them. We had ponds filled with goldfish and newts and tadpoles and frogs. There were always animals around the place.
It didn’t take much discussion to get me enthusiastic about the idea. My main concern was the allergy issue, but Matthew has recently spent time around a friend’s cat and shown absolutely no sign of problems. He felt confident that this would no longer be a major issue.
So the plan was to think about the whole idea for a few weeks, see what was out there, get past all the Christmas chaos and then decide if we should go ahead. That was the most sensible and considered approach to take.
What actually happened however was that, having meandered somewhat idly through various Scottish cat charity online adoptees, I came across an advert for an adult house cat needing rehoming due to the owner’s increasing work commitments. The animal was based just ten minutes drive away.
So of course we went to meet the cat.
I bet you would have done the same. Yes, you would.
Anyway surprise surprise, seven hours and a relatively expensive trip to Pets At Home later, we were collecting our new housemate from his owner and installing him into his new abode.
And here he is…
He quickly decided this would be a good vantage point to spy on the garden cats. During the day at least.
He is the most relaxed rescue cat I’ve ever known.
Within a few hours he was totally chilled about his new home.
This might of course have been helped by his discovery of… the gerbils.
The cat decided the best place to be was on top of the tank. He plonked himself up there without a second thought, causing the mesh lid to bend alarmingly. The gerbils were none to pleased either.
To protect the lives of the poor rodents, I managed to find an old wooden plate rack which fits perfectly across the tank and provides a more secure place for the cat to sit whilst still maintaining the gerbils’ air supply and generally keeping them safe underneath, assuming they don’t all die of heart attacks of course. Poor things.
The cat certainly approves, although it doesn’t look particularly comfortable to me.
I suspect the gerbils might have some reservations though.
The cat seems to prefer sitting on the gerbil plate rack to curling up next to the Aga on the soft and not inexpensive cat bed I brought home from the pet shop. They really are strange animals aren’t they?
On his way up or down from the plate rack, the cat often likes to have a wee wander along the top of the bookcase. This is the place I recently decorated with my lovely potted hyacinth, Matthew’s gorgeous blue Buddha and, especially for the festive season, the wooden nativity scene.
I quickly realised I needed to find new and safer homes for the breakables, leaving plenty of space for the cat to get up and down as required. However I thought it would be fine to leave the nativity there for the duration.
That’s it mostly hidden under his tail end. The three wise men looked on helplessly while baby Jesus vanished beneath a pile of shepherds, a donkey, his parents and a cat’s bottom.
The next problem was the naming of the cat, formerly known as Tigger.
You may already own or know of a cat called Tigger. I don’t want to suggest this isn’t a perfectly good name for a cat. It is. It’s just not one that the boys would have chosen.
It’s probably worth pointing out here that, despite the cat’s age, (somewhere around seven we believe), we felt that changing his name wouldn’t be a big problem for him since he seems to respond equally well or not at all to whatever you call him, depending on his mood, how focussed he is on gerbils and whether you’re holding food or not.
So we started making a list of possible cat names. It was quite a long list. Unfortunately not one of them was a name we all agreed on.
Super villains seemed to appear fairly frequently on James’ part of it.
By 9pm on New Year’s Eve we still hadn’t decided and I was getting fed up with having a nameless cat. I became determined to have it sorted before the start of 2015.
After lots and LOTS of rejected suggestions I finally homed in on one I thought we might all agree on. Robert was not entirely sure but Matthew and James were happy and so in the end we plumped for Kato. Pronounced Kay-Toe.
Kato is, according to Wiki anyway, the Esperanto word for cat. It is also a martial arts performing character in the film The Green Hornet, played by Bruce Lee. And of course Cato in The Pink Panther films was hilarious as he and Peter Sellers ambushed each other with karate moves and such, pretty well destroying the house in the process.
We chose the K version as James felt otherwise it would look as if we hadn’t tried very hard.
Kato seems to suit him very well, as this cat does love ambushing us round corners and from behind doors. I expect he’d try some martial arts on the gerbils too if given the chance.
I’m sure you’ll be subjected to many more Kato photos in the next wee while. He’s a very photogenic animal as well as being a most affectionate creature.
Although if you don’t hear from me for a while it’ll probably be because I have a cat sprawled out across my knee preventing me from accessing my laptop.
That’ll be my excuse anyway.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE