My first cat – 1st December 1986

Yesterday I was thirty. I’m hungover and have just waved my wife off to the airport. I will be on my own for a month, the longest we’ve been apart in seven years. ‘Come over,’ say friends. ‘We’ve got you something to cheer you up.’

On their sitting room floor is a cardboard box. They’re grinning stupidly as I open it.

A tiny, barely the size of my hand black and white fluff ball looks at me. It has ears and a tiny pink pig’s snout of a nose.

‘Are you pleased?’

I’m terrified. Suddenly, without warning or any sort of psychological preparation I’m responsible for a life.

The little ball licks my fingers with wet sandpaper and I’m in love. I can do this.

Oh stupid hubris.

By the time I’m home with some kitten food, a litter tray and litter, my momentary belief in a Micawberish future where something will turn up has shunted into the rear mudguard of reality. My house isn’t kitten proofed. This becomes instantly apparent as she – still unnamed – disappears under the newly installed kitchen units. If I twist I can just get my hand inside the kickboard, but this particular monochrome pimpernel is not surrendering easily.

Images of my wife retuning to the fetid stench of a rotting carcass of starved kitten fill my mind. I have three options. One, trust the kitten will emerge like a magicians assistant. Two, destroy our new kitchen in the pursuit of the elusive moglet. Or three tempt her out. We settle on three. It takes me four hours, seven splinters, a near dislocated thumb which speaks to me still on wet February mornings but with a hand slathered in a chicken poultice our little escapologist gradually gives into temptation, begins to lick my fingers and bingo I have her. She’s out!

I dispatch her to the security of the bathroom hoping she detests water and resists the urge to make a bid for freedom via the u-bend while I secure the perimeter.

Over the next few days we size each other up. She has this thing about curtains, specifically her need to climb them. But whether they are too vertiginous or her claws not strong enough she fails on her quest. Her persistent hopelessness gives me her name: Sisyphus after the Greek pushing his boulder forlornly up hill. I’m better at cat names now.

She lies behind my head on the sofa as I watch TV. I learn not to eat on a tray after I look down at my well earned bacon and egg supper to find a small blinking yellow head staring back at me. Somehow, knowing where she last licked before she face-planted my supper renders my appetite moot.

When finally my wife returns exhausted from Chicago, Sisyphus and I have a simple routine. It’s as foolproof and mutually acceptable as that I have with my wife, giving and taking with understanding…

Which lasts until she starts bringing in live toads through the newly installed cat flap. Sisy, that is.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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31 Responses to My first cat – 1st December 1986

  1. Mary Smith says:

    Loved this, Geoff. We want more cat stories 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We got our first cat in 1983, A black & white ball of hope. We named her Muzette. She soon became Zbaby kitty. And eventually, Z bitch cat. So goes life…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. willedare says:

    Thank you for this charming story about how Sisy came to be a part of your life. I grew up with an ever-evolving stream of beloved cats. Some were astoundingly wise and others…less so. All were beloved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. willowdot21 says:

    I have read this before and loved and laughted at you, I mean your cat teaching you who is boss 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Darlene says:

    Cats make such great companions, as soon as you figure out who’s boss. A great story. We’ve had a few cats in our lives to. They adored hubby but only tolerated me because I fed them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      The recent twins we have ignore because I feed them. They think they need to curry favour with the Textiliste in the hope she might open a tin… so she gets the lap treatment

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is wonderful, and many of us can relate!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ritu says:

    Oh, the joy of cats!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jennie says:

    Delightful story, Geoff!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. JT Twissel says:

    Adorable! Yes, cats like to hide in the most difficult places possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Elizabeth says:

    The curtain climbing must have been hilarious until you saw the shreds. Our cats always left birds on the back mat. No toads, fortunately.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. arlingwoman says:

    Ah, cats. I’m never sure whether the purrs make up for the frustrations, but Sisy is a handsome cat in the photos. Sorry about the toads. Didn’t she foam at the mouth from them?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a risk for friends to take

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Could be worse, we used to get rats from our first cat. The second was too hopeless to catch anything, except my bare leg.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Widdershins says:

    A cat man, through and through. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. trifflepudling says:

    Lovely, and lovely photos too.
    We too had to dismantle a neighbour’s kitchen when Anton the cat went missing on our watch!

    Liked by 1 person

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