I’ve got a cat. I’m in shock.
You see, I’m not a cat person. I’ve never lived with a cat, or owned a cat, and I’ve hardly ever picked up a cat. But cats like me. Oh yes, they purr and wind around my feet and snuggle up to me whenever they get the chance and claw anything I’m wearing. But I’ve never really got the point of cats. I guess it’s because I’m lucky enough to have a cuddly husband on my sofa and he’s already bald and unlikely to shed much more hair.
Besides, I haven’t got a great track record with the feline amongst us. I once was cat-sitting our neighbours beloved old mog, when it carked it on me. I couldn’t find the damn thing. The poor neighbours were distraught when they came back from their hols to find old Pinkie rigid under the roses in the garden. Although they never said anything, I had a ‘cat killer’ reputation for years afterwards and nobody ever asked me to pet-sit again in our street.
Then there was the incident with the esteemed author (and very good friend), who invited me and Emlyn for dinner to her fifth floor flat and introduced me to her pair of very noble-looking rare-breed Siamese cats. She’d spent her whole book advance on these things and had just had them delivered from Harrods. We’re talking posh pussies here. Anyway, after we’d oo-ed and ah-ed for a while, I sat up on the kitchen counter and opened the kitchen window for a sneaky cigarette (oh, those were the days!) and the cat shot past me out onto the window-ledge. I had to crawl out into the night, high above the North Circular to retrieve the damn thing, whilst my friend literally had kittens. We weren’t invited again for some time.
So when it comes to cats (and dogs and hamsters and guinea pigs and even goldfish for that matter) I’ve done the brick wall thing about having a pet, despite the kids begging and begging. How can we have a pet when we come here to Mallorca for our holidays? I always argue. It’s just not fair on the animal. It’s a holiday home or a pet. A simple choice.
And so far I’ve won.
But they’re clever these kids. Wily. Canny. They find ways of blindsiding me, just when I think I’ve got all the angles covered. (They definitely get that off their father.)
So this latest edition to the Rees household occurred in seconds, before I’d even had a chance to order my argument and now I’m going to have to live with the consequences.
It all happened because the Middle One has been begging to go horse riding more or less consistently for about two years, so when she was invited to go to the riding school down the road in Llosetta the other day, it seemed churlish to refuse. The “I’m too busy to get in the car and take you miles away to the countryside to an expensive riding school” argument didn’t wash, when it was dirt cheap and we were getting a lift.
Anyway, it’s a beautiful place with a backdrop of the Tramuntana mountains and it’s just what you’d expect a Mallorcan riding school to be like – lots of lovely looking Spanish horses (and men) and dogs curled up in the shade of the trees, a loud TV in the bar and cold beers on tap for the Mummy’s. My kind of place.
Before long the Middle One was up on a pony who wanted to be near his mate and as I stood on the wooden bars of the riding circle, it was like watching the wacky races. I never thought watching one’s kid on a pony could be so entertaining.
But meanwhile The Little One was back in front of the TV in the bar and had sneakily begun operation ‘covert kitten’, taking a shine to one of the tiny cats that were mewing around the bead curtain. A litter had been dumped at the stables and needed homes. And when the Middle One came back and joined in the cat love-in I knew that the writing was on the wall.
Before I knew it, we were on our way home with the kitten.
Emlyn, who was still painting the pool, rolled his eyes, when the kids explained that the cat would be living outside and would kill the rats in the palm trees.
He did lots of tutting at me, but I couldn’t really explain myself. Other than that when confronted with two sets of human kitten eyes and one set of very, very cute real kitten eyes imploring me to say ‘Yes’, I just didn’t have the heart to say ‘No.’
So ‘Misty’ a.k.a ‘Raffa’ (after Nadal) is staying for the time being and I’m trying not to get attached.
Of course, I’m still going to have to train the thing to be a country cat and to fend for itself when I’m not here, buy a feeder, find a vet, get the injections and all that malarkey, but I’m already worrying. Yesterday, he/she? (we can’t tell) disappeared when the tanker man came to fill up the pool. I was convinced it had run away and had been squished.
But sure enough last night she was back for her dinner and was purring and winding around my legs and batting my flip-flops.
There’s a weird thing that happens when you get a new addition to your family. You sit on strange places on your kitchen floor at odd hours of the night and all of a sudden your perspective changes. You see life from a different angle, because he/she/it is so cute. As in shamelessly, gorgeously cute in a way that makes you forget everything else.
The kids are all so smitten that I have to admit that I’m secretly basking in the attention I’m getting as a result. They can’t believe that their mother was SO nice, that I actually let them keep a kitten. It looks like I did a little bit of blind-siding of my own. It’s made me realize that perhaps I should say ‘Yes’ to them more often.