This is the story of my first cat. Actually, it is cats, plural, because we (my ex and I) adopted a brother and sister. Let me try and remember. What year was it? It wasn’t so long ago because, although I have been involved with cats since I was a teenager, through my mother, I didn’t adopt my first cat until relatively late in life. I think the year was 1986. We were living in Notting Hill Gate, London. Although it is well known now, because of the film, at the time it was just another area of London. We had bought a town house just off the high street behind the Gate Cinema. The Gate Cinema was, and still is, famous. This is where we lived:
Nostalgia is kicking in, but anyway…I had heard that a couple who lived in the adjacent street, Jameson Street, had some kittens and were looking for adopters. Personally, and looking back, I realise that the man of this household must have been a bit crazy because he liked to keep his cat pregnant. Bad. At the time it seemed odd but today I know that it is bad behavior. I think he believed that his cat’s personality was better when she was pregnant. For that reason he kept her pregnant. Bizarre and bad.
I knew the mother of my first cats because she was perpetually hungry as a result of being permanently pregnant. I’d feed her with cooked kidneys. That sounds bizarre too, and I am not sure how I discovered she loved cooked kidneys. They were lightly cooked and she used to come into my home and rest on top of the microwave (a piece of kitchen equipment that I still have – a great microwave/combo oven) while I cooked her dinner. She loved being at my home (surprise!) and did not want to go back to her home. The bizarre male owner took her off me. It was traumatic.
We discovered where the mother of my first cats lived, and through her, I discovered that her owner was looking for people to adopt her kittens. Spontaneously, without a lot of deep thought, we visited the owner’s house, whereupon we met and fell in love with the kittens. I think we had been warming up to the idea of adopting a companion animal for a long time. My ex had been used to keeping a dog and I was used to living with a cat.
We picked out two cats. In truth, that is not quite true. The boy kitten, who I called Boo Boo, went up to my ex and sat on her lap (see picture). End of story. Cat selects person. Boo Boo was a black cat. I selected a sweet female kitten who was Boo Boo’s sister who was a black and white cat. I called her Missie (she was a pert madam). There was no charge. We were just doing a service in finding a home for two kittens who needed a home.
Life changed; big time. We had a leather sofa and chair. For the first few weeks brother and sister tore up the house and the sofa because they would chase each other along and over the sofa – fast, very fast leaving claw marks. Did I care? No, of course not.
It was a magical time and our lives were changed. Against the preachings of many concerned cat owners I fed them on the kitchen counter top. Shock horror! On the contrary, it was charming.
We had a small courtyard so they could go out but it was not very good. We longed to let them explore outside but the centre of Notting Hill Gate is not the place for that.
When we split up; guess what? We divided the house contents and brother and sister. I think that was OK, even looking back with the experience I have now. My ex took Boo Boo and I took Missie. Missie was awesome, lovable and deeply loved by me. She was the daughter I never had. God, I loved her. And my ex loved Boo Boo. She didn’t call him by that name. I think she called him Freddie. Time has passed and things become a bit vague.
I moved from the matrimonial home in Notting Hill Gate to Hertfordshire. I was slack and lazy with Missie and preoccupied with my new job, a newly qualified solicitor working in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England. And I was depressed. This was a tough job and I was naive about the dangers to cats. Missie died on the road outside my house. That single event took away 30% of me.
At the time of Missie’s death I also had Binnie as a cat companion. She is another cat story. I adopted her on a freezing November evening in Notting Hill Gate. We had had Missie and Boo Boo for about 3 years at that time. I rescued Binnie from under a parked car outside my house. My ex often worked late. Having left Binnie in the kitchen on the dinning room table and gone to bed, I left a note inside the front door…..
“We have three cats”