As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I love cats. Let me rephrase that: I looooove cats. Ever since I was old enough to know what they were, I wanted one. Sadly my parents hate them so I was doomed to a cat-less childhood. The nearest I could get was a library book called Care for your Kitten. I read it from cover to cover and I could have told you all about fleas and de-worming and making sure your cat’s collar was partially elasticated so he wouldn’t get stuck in a tree … but I never got the chance to put it into practice. Instead I had gerbils (Snuffles and Snuggles) which was fine until, well, Snuggles, or Snuffles (I forget which) found out the hard way that gerbils are cannibals. I know. Trauma.
Nearly 30 years later, I still want a cat, though A is less than convinced, because of the hassle/responsibility; we’d also have to have an indoor cat and he thinks this is cruel and refers to such a hypothetical cat as a ‘prisoner’. So when my friend S asked us to take in her two indoor cats for a few days post Christmas while she went away, I was thrilled. It would be a cat holiday for everyone! Alas. When they got here initially, Charlie (short-haired tabby) seemed reasonably OK and explored cautiously, while Eddie (long-haired tabby) shot under the sofa and refused to emerge. He later relocated to his litter box – ie a poo tray with a lid – where he hid the entire 2 days he was with us. I would peep in once a day to check he was still alive, and if ever a cat’s lip could tremble it would have trembled. He also – much more worryingly – refused to eat or drink any of the gourmet foil-wrapped treats and meals his owners had left.
Meanwhile Charlie entertained us by playing fetch with us (throw him a hairband and he retrieves it, like a dog!). But his brother was miserable and still on hunger strike. Like an idiot, I googled ‘How long can cats go without eating’ thinking I’d find something reassuring. Oh, no. It turns out that if cats go for longer than 48 hours without food they can get something called fatty liver disease or feline HL which can be FATAL. Who knew? It’s probably really rare, but still, was I going to take the risk? And should I lie to my friend and say Eddie was having the time of his life, or should I tell her the truth?
I told her the truth. And to cut a long story short, my friend ended up coming back a day early from her stay in Dublin. Which some people might think is nuts but I understood and was really relieved. And I thankfully, as soon as he got home, Eddie started eating heartily and the traumatic memory of his stay in North London was obviously wiped from his memory. My friend S will be MUCH more traumatised I’m sure. So has any of this put me off owning a cat? Absolutely not. The cats were lovely. And considering how scared and freaked out they must have been, they were so good; not a single scratch or mess the whole time they were here. I still really, really want one, preferably a kitten. I’d especially like a silver tabby or a ragdoll cat. Now I just need to convince A. Watch this space …