The penultimate day of NaPoWriMo/ GloPoWriMo2020 invites us to pen a paean to a pet. Those who follow me on Facebook from way back in 2016 will be familiar with the saga of The Taming of a Tuxedo Tom. He appeared in the summer of 2016 and slid in through the kitchen window, which we use as a kind of cat flap to save ourselves constantly opening and closing doors and windows. (We had two cats back then. We swelled to four and now are back to three. Also three dogs, now just two. ) Eighteen months later he was the Cat Who Came in from the Cold. There have been many cats who have padded through my life and won my heart, but this tom really wowed me. If familiars are soul friends, then Felix is my feline anam cara. Also, as my husband might say, my bit of rough.
Felix has an autoimmune condition, feline leukaemia, so we know we have been his life savers. But I am also aware that he may only be on loan to us. He is four years old and doing pretty well. Love sometimes is the best medicine.
The Taming Of A Tuxedo Tom Consider my familiar, Felix, a formerly feral feline fellow, who took his time to shapeshift from spit and drawn claws, accepting a human’s outstretched paw and promise of domesticated bliss. First came the head bumps, then accepting a head scritch in exchange for Cat Milk, tinned Whiskas and kibble. He began his career as cat burglar, sneaking in to snitch the other cats’ Whiskas. But inside all that street swagger I recognised a less bumptious soul, one hungering to come in from the cold. He looked in our window from outside at Christmastide and saw all the animals lounging, ranged round. But he needed some better manners. Courtships go as courtships go. There were spats. Some requiring antiseptic. There were lectures on the benefits of being a lover rather than a fighter. Finally, wounded, he trusted in me. The vet said he had all the makings of a great pet. He was read the House Rules. (Be in by midnight. Don’t biff The Girls. Don’t nip or bite.) It’s hard to resist a reformed Bad Boy. He got with the whole Love Programme thing, yet there remain the embers of his former life - the odd irritable tail flick, a wildish snap in his agate eyes, the scarring on his pink nose, the occasional raised hackle and fur fly. He loves – wholeheartedly. Made friends with one other cat. Will share some affection with other, stranger humans. Sometimes, if I will be very still and give up my daily bustling round, he insinuates himself onto my hip. He purrs. He restrains himself from tangling my wool as I knit. To love and be loved in return. To have the courage to lower a defending paw. To give fealty based on mutual loyalty. Oh, my kingdom, for Felix, a cat. Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.
And if you are a real glutton for cute kitty videos I include one of our conversations from October 2017 when he was considering moving in, but hadn’t really bought into the whole family dynamic yet.