I would watch his behaviour curiously. During the night Norman the cat and Toby the ageing golden retriever would retire to the kitchen in their beds, Norman having access to a cat flap in the kitchen door which led out to the large garden.
When I would stay at my grandparents’ during school holidays, I would try to wake up very early so that I could be the first one downstairs. I would sit on the floor with them both in my pyjamas until other family members started waking up and coming downstairs.
Later on I learned to knit. Norman would play with my wool if I let it dangle off the edge of the sofa for long enough.
One of my best friends during high school years had a pretty short haired black & white female cat who went by the name of Spatzy. She had been named after the black and white combination in 1950’s style Spatz would create, which gentlemen would wear over their black shoes to dress formally.
These two were partners in crime. Wherever my friend went, Spatzy went too. We would sit watching ‘My So Called Life’ or ‘Ally McBeal’ until mid afternoon on Sundays; Spatzy curling up underneath the duvet and nesting in with her affectionate and doting momma. Later I would live with my friend and Spatzy, more on that later.
My family had a part Persian long haired black male cat named Percy as I was hitting my early teens. He was a gorgeous toast eating kitten who went on to become a soft toy addict. He would find a teddy, drag them off to a romantic private spot (usually our landing) and then make sweet love to them (or try to); usually whilst making very loud low grumbly cat noises which could be mistaken for a scary baby wail. Percy was later joined by the very respectable and gentle lady Cleo. Sadly they are both passed over now, however the scene had been set for me to have cats of my own one day.
Fast forward through my later teenage years until my nineteenth year. Mourning the loss of my beloved first and stillborn daughter, I wearily staggered into the local Cats Protection League branch to meet some one year old cats that needed rehoming.
It was January 2001, and I had been informed by telephone that the kitten season had passed. It may be months before more litters or pregnant female cats started coming into the shelter.
I was sad that there were no kittens, on whom to lavish my motherly instincts. I needed to nurture and to be nurtured like I had never known before.
On arrival at the shelter a young and smiley volunteer led me to an outdoor area where individual cats had runs, that comprised of both a heated & carpeted inside area, and an outside area. She said she wanted to show me something.
I saw two green eyes shining in the dark from the very back of the run. I was let into the outdoor part of the run, and the tiniest skinny little pitch black kitten optimistically hopped through the cat flap into the outdoor section, ran towards me, and practically leapt into my empty arms.
‘Kitten’ had been the last of a litter, and she was in a run on her own. I don’t know how long she spent with her mother or siblings, or if she was born in the shelter or brought in with them.
Her tail had a kink in the end. It made it looked crooked. She couldn’t meow properly (she still can’t), and I loved her immediately. It was three days before they could conduct a home visit to check out where she was going to. It was a long wait but by the end of that week some good friends had driven me back to the shelter to collect her and she came home.
The long grey busy streets in the city I lived in at the time were buzzing with buses and cars, as we made our way home. Looking out the window I noticed how many of the run down shop fronts were fast food eateries. I read one of the signs as we drove past. It said ‘Masala Fish’.
I decided to call my kitten ‘Tikka Masala’ after my favourite curry. Later I would joke that if I ever got another cat, it would be called Rogan Josh. But by the time that happened I had other people in on that decision.
Tikka Masala (full name Kitten Tikka Masala) was later shortened to Tikka, Massler, Tiks, or Mas.
She was timid when I got home, and kept ‘meowing’. Her meow is more like a ‘meh meh mehhhhh’ and still is. She was very affectionate with me from the start but wouldn’t sit with anybody else without incredible patience. Often I would be sat in one place for an hour before she would come and sit on my lap. Even then she did not enjoy being picked up and held.
Later I became single, and in between moves she had to go to a friends place until my new rental was organised. I was so grateful and I missed her terribly. On her first night there I slept at my friends house. Tikka slept on the pillow next to my head all night. Later she joined me at my new home where I lived with my friend from high school, and Spatzy.
We weren’t sure how they (the two cats) would get on. Well, let’s just say that the four of us lived together for eighteen months, and by the end of that time they just about managed to sit on the same sofa without any drama. We were two girls and our cats against the world.
I then moved to my own place. A week or so later, I was getting shopping bags out of a car when she escaped through the front door. Having only just moved in she didn’t know the new area at all, I had planned on keeping her in for six weeks at least. I made posters, put flyers through neighbours’ doors, and even put an ad in the local paper. Nine days later I received a call from someone a few roads away who was feeding a stray of her description. I went round with a catbox, walked into the house, put the box down, and she needed no coaxing to get in. I’ve never seen a cat look so relieved.
At full size Tikka is quite petite still. Some mistake her for a much younger cat. She doesn’t make a point of correcting them.
When I had my second child seven years later I wondered how Tikka would cope living with a baby. On the day after the birth my new daughter was sleeping and wrapped in a blanket on my bed. Tikka jumped up, took a look, sniffed her head, licked it, and then ran off. Our daughter is now six and she is only just starting allowing her to stroke her.
When our daughter was two and a half, we decided to get a second cat. Again the cats protection league was great; Hubby and daughter went to view a litter. When they got back I was told they had chosen a kitten and she would be joining us in a few days.
I asked daughter what she might like to call her new fluffy kitten. She decided on ‘Lady Gaga Boo’. After two days she was respectfully renamed Daisy. Daisy is a white, ginger and black long haired cat.
Daisy is the floppiest, most loving tolerant and patient animal. She loves being held, rocked, stroked, picked up, carried round, brushed, and anything else you can think of.
She has always been around our daughter so she is very friendly towards her. Our daughter started carrying her around a lot, and even now, Daisy is full size and still gets carried around like a rag doll. I have no doubt, if I carried her in a sling, it would make her happiest cat ever.Daisy will sit on anyone as soon as they sit down. She has always been the cheeky toddler to Tikka the mature lady; chasing her tail and waiting for Tikka to come around the corner so she can practice her pouncing. Due to Tikka’s timid disposition this has meant that Daisy quickly became dominant over her, but they have found a middle ground and fights are now few and far between.
Daisy loves games. Her favourite is ‘fetch’. She loves elesticated hair bobbles and will find them and leave them all over the house. She often plays with one and then leaves it in her food bowl as a gift. I would rather receive a hair bobble than a dead mouse so I find this quite sweet. She brings bobbles to us in bed some mornings or to one of us if we are sat on the sofa. She will drop it on your lap or at your feet and sit next to you staring at it, staring at you, bed back again until you throw it. I think she would make a great dog. Maybe she was a dog in her previous life. Maybe that’s why Tikka doesn’t get on with her.
Teasing herself, Daisy will push a bobble under a door, watch it disappear and then go round to the other side to bat it back again as if it was trying to escape. Her meow is loud and unrelenting, she is talkative and purrs very loudly. She makes this noise which is inbetween purring and meowing as if to say ‘here, I’m here, give me love now!’
Both cats love our new rural lifestyle, as do we all. Thanks for reading, and next time back to topic; good food, forever living products, new veggies, the parents library, and children’s birthday parties.