Charlie is a 17 pound three-legged black cat. He has character, a Siamese-like face and his voice has a lot of the characteristics of the voice of Siamese cat. He is definitely not Siamese. He just has some Siamese in him. My vet agrees. Anyway, it is fairly obvious.
He can be a bit OCDish, meaning a tendency towards obsessive compulsive disorder behavior. This may be a Siamese trait too. Siamese cats in the West have lots of “traits” 😉 The interesting bit is how he came to be with me.
My mother always liked fancy cats. Purebred cats. She always liked fancy things, period. Sort of high maintenance. At her cremation about 2 years ago, we all had a chance to say something. I said I had brought home a part of her that would remind me of her, always. His name is Charlie.
Until my mother adopted Charlie from the RSPCA rehoming centre near South Mimms, north of London, she nearly always kept purebred cats. She liked Siamese and Burmese.
Well this is my theory. The Burmese cats all died of kidney or liver disease at about the same time and when relatively young. In my honest opinion, lovable as they were, they were inbred purebreds and it showed. Dull personality. Great to look at, but ornaments. My mother got the message.
A more important reason why she chose Charlie was because he had three legs. My mother had lost cats. They had been killed one way or another. At least one had died on the road outside. He was a large Burmese boy, not one of the three mentioned. He came before them.
At a similar time – we are talking 20 years ago – her favorite girl Burmese cat, also well before the three siblings I have referred to, was poisoned by a neighbour. The little, sweet girl cat made it home and died in her arms. It nearly broke my mum’s heart. Yet, another Burmese, was lost, feared killed by a neighbour. The same cat hating neighbour? Who knows.
My mother became very anxious later in life partly because of a fear of losing her beloved cats.
I installed one of those electric fences for her but it didn’t work properly. I was a different person then.I wouldn’t install one of these things now.
This is around 2000-2003. I then suggested a custom cat enclosure. At first she was reluctant but then agreed to it. It was built next to her house in the back garden. She lived in a nice house in Radlett, Hertfordshire. A cat passageway was cut through the wall of the conservatory to the enclosure.
The cat enclosure was really built for her, to calm her down. Her anxiety had become a problem but I don’t believe it was exclusively to do with the loss of her cats. It was partly what I would call, old age anxiety. The end of one’s life is no longer too far away for it to be unimaginable. Death becomes real and she had always flown above reality but could not, this time.
So, Charlie was ideal. He had three legs. He wouldn’t be able to jump over fences and escape even if she did let him use the garden rather than the enclosure. It worked. Charlie helped calm her down and proved to be a great companion.
I can remember going to the RSPCA with her to have a look at Charlie. We agreed together that he was a fine companion for her. We did not discuss her reason for her selection of Charlie. It was left unsaid.
We did not ask the RSPCA about what happened to Charlie. Why had he lost a leg? It is likely to have been an accident with a car. That is the obvious reason. For some strange reason, I imagined that his previous owner had kicked him out of frustration and ill-temper because Charlie does like to walk around your legs, which is dangerous. How many cats and kittens are walked on by their owner and badly hurt?
Just before my mother’s cremation, I was visiting her house. For about two weeks, she had been in hospital for an operation, died and we were awaiting her funeral and cremation. Charlie was in the house. The house was empty of people. There was one other cat, also a black cat. A semi-feral cat. I don’t think Charlie was that friendly with him but accepted him. My mother had adopted this “other cat” who used to roam through her garden.
When I saw Charlie in the conservatory, looking lonely, nervous, anxious and unsure of what was going, a voice in my head said ,”you have to take him home”. He was destined to be taken to a shelter. I feared he wouldn’t survive it. I had no intention of adopting him before arriving at the house. He had not even entered my head. I did not want to upset my Binnie, with whom I had lived for 15 years or so. However, the instant I saw him, there was nothing else in on my mind.
My sister, who was the executor of my mother’s Will, was delighted when I said, “can I take Charlie” because it was a problem solved. She grabbed a beaten up cat carrier and literally stuffed him into it as fast as she could!
I drove home with Charlie. He was so scared, he crapped in his carrier. He hid under my desk for a week. Now he is part of me and I have a part of my mother with me too.