Cathy’s story – or a feline tail…
By Tilly Smith Dix
After a courtship of some five years my then fiancé and I decided to elope as we really did not want gifts, each having accumulated plenty earthly belongings in our respective travels as solo homemakers who enjoyed their creature comforts.
This story begins once the initial glow of newly wedded bliss had dimmed somewhat in the face of reality as my husband was commuting to his city office daily and arriving home late and fatigued most nights, whilst I sat hunched over my computer as a freelance copywriter working from our home office.
Having lived in the city and spoilt for choices of restaurants and coffee shops to grab a bite with friends as a respite from being stuck indoors working, I now found myself a good 30 minutes’ drive from the closest shops, with no friends in my new environment, resulting in a little touch of cabin fever at times.
So begins the story of Cathy…
I’ve been living in a hole in the ground, which humans call a storm-water drain, for some years now and my food supply used to be plentiful, with lots of mice living in the ivy around the frog pond nearby, where ducks used to reside until the caretaker of the residential estate decided to have them moved to a duck-farm nearby where there was a bigger dam for them to swim in and more food to eat whilst their feathers were used to plump up expensive bedding for humans.
You see, the people who originally took me from my mother, wherever she may be now, wanted me as a cuddly pet for their little girl. I had a complicated life and often had to hide from the father of the house as he liked to drink a lot of beer and if I got in his way, he’d kick me and shout nasty things.
When I grew bigger, the little girl did not like me anymore as I became too heavy for her to carry and she’d pull my tail and hit me. Her mom was kind but she did not pay much attention to me.
I started to feel very sad and depressed and decided to go for a walk one day and found this dark, cool, wide pipe going under the ground near the duck pond. The pipe was clean and I found it eliminated the noise of the nice but noisy ducks and the passing cars.
Nobody came to look for me; I had a good supply of water at the pond and plenty of mice to catch when I was hungry. I did try to catch a duckling once but the big white mother duck came at me so ferociously, I ran into my drain and promised her I’d not do it again. She quacked: “you better not! Stay in your hole in the ground or I’ll set Shadow on to you.” This really scared me as Shadow was a very big goose who also wanted babies but could only lay ordinary eggs as she did not have a gander to be her husband. This made her very testy, so, we all stayed well away from her. Even the mongoose, which lived nearby was weary and dropped an egg he had tried to eat when she came after him!
When the truck with a cover on the back arrived to take the ducks and the goose to their new home on a farm, I was so afraid, I hardly came out of my hole in the ground and even when I was very hungry and thirsty, I stayed put as I did not want to be carted off to a farm where humans could hurt me.
Then the humans removed the ivy around the pond as they said the creeper was a hiding place for mice. They also said this ground cover could be a hideout for snakes. Very noisy human workers with sharp garden tools, wearing ugly orange overalls and high rubber boots to protect them from snakes came hacking at the ivy, causing the mice to scatter all over the estate to seek refuge. There were no snakes.
This was not good. The noise was so bad during that week when the workers ripped and cut away the ivy, I had to seek shelter elsewhere. One of the humans, a nice lady who always tried to talk to me but whom I’d run away from to hide in my hole in the ground as I just never knew if people might hurt me, had a large house nearby with lots of big pots with pretty plants on her patio, which had an awning to take shelter under.
During the day, I’d creep around to the patio and look through the windows to ensure I was not detected. The husband would leave for work in the morning in his silver car and kiss the lady before he left. The lady would then go into a room next to the patio, where she hardly looked up from a machine I think she called a computer when I overheard her talking to someone on the phone. I remember the telephone ringing a lot in the humans’ houses whenever I was near to seek shelter from the rain but I knew phones could not hurt me – they just made a noise worse than the frogs at the pond.
After the ivy was removed and the mice ran away, there were no mice to feed on except Ratty, the old mouse with the grey whiskers. He could not run away fast enough like the others, who moved to the farm adjacent to the housing estate. Somehow, I could not eat him, so, we had an understanding: he’d remain in his little home hidden under the rocks at the pond and not come near my hole in the ground and I’d leave him be.
By the third day of having had no food, I was desperately hungry. I could smell something delicious being cooked outside the big house. I crept around to the patio, where the lady’s husband was cooking some chicken on what he called a barbeque and when I heard the lady’s voice, it sounded so sweet, I slowly crept towards the door and asked by way of a timid meow to see her as I thought she’d perhaps throw me a little bit of food.
She came outside and when she saw me cowering at the flowerpots, she said, “oh, hello little cat, have you decided to come and visit us now? Oh, but you are pretty with that white diamond on your little grey face!”
I realised she was kind and ran to her, rubbing against her ankles to show I was a nice cat and very, very hungry! She stroked me and tickled behind my ear and under my chin. This was so nice but I was still scared she might hit me.
Tina, the nice lady, gave me some delicious cooked chicken and a big bowl of milk! I tried not to be too greedy as I knew that would give the wrong impression and I wanted her to know I had manners.
When she took me to the veterinarian he confirmed that I was a female and that my former owners had me spayed so I could not have kittens. The veterinarian was very kind and I hardly felt it when he gave me some injections to make sure I stayed healthy.
On our way out of the vet’s surgery I saw a duck with an injured wing, which told me about a large new duck family that had moved to her farm and a big goose called Shadow, which now had a husband and lots of pretty but very noisy goslings!
I love my new home and I really like it when Tina calls me Cathycat. I also love my cosy new bed, with the soft cushion and woollen tartan blanket.
Phew, talk about taking the plunge and trusting humans again – I’m so happy I did! I’ve heard Tina tell Andy, her husband, who is also kind to me, she’s so glad she branched out into a happy life with a good husband and a sweet little cat. I guess I branched out and landed in heaven?
The end – a beginning…