This morning, crammed into one corner of my tiny sofa, one cat or another on lap, bowl of Oatibix-and-sliced-banana poised midway ‘twixt hand and mouth, ghastly news on TV as always – I happened to look around and there was Hector sat in the other corner of my tiny sofa. Admittedly, he was leaning sharply away from me, the Hated Mummy. However, this is progress of a sort because although Hector is technically “mine” and has been for some months, I may never actually have touched him.
He and his cohort arrived late one evening in the back of a clapped-out car from the cat sanctuary, in (non-crushed) crush cages. Their elderly human carriers had driven a very long way to bring them to me and were visibly wilting under the weight of these heavy-duty metal contraptions which would normally be used by vets for the treatment of animals that cannot be held securely by the nurse. In the noise, excitement and confusion of their arrival I assumed this was because animal sanctuaries, always struggling for cash, would need to make use of whatever equipment they had for many different purposes.
At the cat sanctuary Hector had – or at least I was sure I remembered he had – allowed me to stroke him, once. But then there had been four very similar cats backed up in one rather small – not illegally small, of course – outdoor wooden cubicle. They had been in that cubicle for the past two years, come rain or shine or bonfire. There was a bonfire burning in the field behind them on that day, and the smoke was drifting through. It was making me cough. They had been inspected by a stream of visitors, all of whom had no doubt reached out with their big, clumsy, terrifying human hands and tried to stroke. Every visitor had walked away with some other cat or kitten.
Why, is now becoming clearer. In a moment of Cat Mummy Madness I volunteered to adopt all four. I couldn’t choose between them and I couldn’t leave them there. All four have turned out to be as wild as wild can be. Hector and his amigos/amiga represent the North Korea of cats. Furthermore, because they are still together in a group, sharing the same scent, they are strong in their wildness. Kind people – soft-hearted and foolish like myself – have rescued and fed them but nobody has had the time to love them, or been permitted to. They cringe at the approach of a hand, or foot. I think they must have been kicked.
I would guess that Hector and his compadres are years away from the stage where I could pick any of them up, which only becomes a problem when there is a need to visit the vet. That’s a real worry. Fingers crossed they don’t get sick for a while or that patience and love will somehow, miraculously, prevail.