My First Cat

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:

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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.

My First Cat
My First Cats. Sorry about the poor quality. These are scanned prints and the prints are poor quality!
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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.

cat selects person
Boo Boo on the lap of my ex.

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”

7 thoughts on “My First Cat”

  1. A really lovely honest story Michael the feeling of losing a cat is awful, even worse when you feel that you may be to blame…..I’m sure although you feel alone in your grief of that time you really aren’t because when we love our cats with all our heart theres always a part of us that feels we are to blame.

    I don’t know why but I didn’t realise you had written this until I got to the very end.

    The saying goes ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ and you are a sensitive compassionate man who loves deeply and feels the loss of a beatiful feline companion deeply.

  2. Michael – firstly, I worked on Uxbridge street just off the Camden Hill rd on your side of the street – in a basement photographers studio there – Francis Loney – that was the early 90s. I would go out and smoke a cigarette and must have wandered past your house dozens of times. Little streets there – hard to park! – I rode a bike.

    Reading about Missie makes my stomach turn. I can obviously associate very directly to it only for me it wasn’t long ago. But I don’t doubt for a second that even now you feel it alot just to think about it. Just the other day my ex told me that ever since June I have changed and it’s considerably noticeable. I know that a huge thing is missing for me but I am a little shocked that it is so obvious to those around me. My first cat also chose me when I split up with my girlfriend at the time and her sister chose my ex. Same sort of thing. We were new to cats and the 2 kittens wreaked havoc in our house and it was wonderful having them. This was a magical time for us too. We just loved them and were in awe of them as they grew up. And my Gigi is still alive today and in relatively good health with the beginnings of kidney troubles. I know that if she had been hit by a car it would have been massively hard for me too. But later on Red was the son I never had, somehow he just magically came into my life at a certain time and we spent so much time together – he was the first boy cat I ever had or spent much time with and I was with him from day one. I dont know what it’s all about but anyway Red was a huge part of my enormous happiness that coincided with a change in my life, job, place I was living, and with Red it made everything so perfect. I guess I should be thankful I had his company going through this change in my life even though now Im not be able to feel that perfect feeling and mood that I could knowing I was going home to him at the end of my work and thinking about him during the day. Maybe whatever part of me that is missing will grow back in some other way but I feel – and obviously it’s true – that I can’t ever have that again so it’s still quite hard to come to terms with the future that is noticeably lacking the positive and exciting outlook I had this time last year. I feel about 10 years older.

    I’m sure in 27 years I will find it hard to write a few paragraphs about what happened, but it has been awfully nice knwing a bit about your first cats Michael – I bet you are having or have had a sad time today thinking about it. Thanks anyway. They both looked so beautiful and cute – especially cute lying single file on the back of the couch all tuckered out after chasing eachother probably. I’m sure your home was full of really good vibes at that time. Cats have an enormous presence and aura – they really create atmosphere and when its the first time you have and love them its very exciting and magical and therein lies many great memories. I can’t even remember how it was to not have cats and not feel anything towards them. Having cats changed me enormously.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Thanks Marc. When I think of Missie it still upsets me. Sounds crazy but there is a lot of pain buried inside me which is nicely buried normally. It leaks out at certain times. No solution. I am interested and surprised that you know the area where I lived. I moved from there in 1994 so we could have met! Small world. Sad day because it is a nice area. Too much sadness. No wonder I get a bit grumpy sometimes. I know there is no afterlife but if there was even the possibility of an afterlife I would love to see my Missie again. I would give anything for it.

      • I would give anything to see Red again. Sometimes I just wish he could hear me and see me at least.

        I worked there in 93 and 94. He had 2 grey cats in his studio. It was the first i got to spend alot of time with cats in my life. I was early to work every morning standing near the corner of uxbridge st and Farm Place at quarter to 9. I locked my bike just round the corner on farm place.

  3. I enjoyed reading about your first cats Michael.
    It was sad about Missie being run over but I wouldn’t think you were slack and lazy about her care, in those days cats were expected to cope with traffic, it was just the way things were.
    It’s only with years of having cats in our lives that we learn to understand them and how to care for them better, I know our two present cats benefit from all that our cats over 39 years have taught us.
    Sadly some people never bother to learn from their experiences, but look at you! This popular website PoC proves you have done much serious research about all aspects of cats and cat care and used your own past experiences to try to make a better future for ALL cats.

    • Thanks Ruth. I remember those first days very clearly even though they were 27 years ago. I can see everything in my mind in sharp focus. I have to confess that it makes me sad.


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