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In The Company of Cats

Percy and Winnie

Winnie and Percy both hate travelling, and strapped in baskets in the backseat of their owner, Anna’s Porsche, Winnie voices her objection in a series of plaintive meows. Percy squeezes himself into the corner of his basket, wishing it was all over.

Winnie’s cries continue all the way up the stairs to my front room. But stepping out of her carrier, she immediately forgets her woes and begins to explore. A month older than her 4 year old brother Percy, Winnie takes her duty as a big sister very seriously. She is the stockier of the two with a soft, thick dark coat and killer cheek bones nestled in a wide and furry face.

Anna and I turn our attention to Percy who is sitting perfectly still at the far end of the basket trying not to be noticed. Ignoring our pleas and bribes, he squeezes further into the corner refusing to negotiate.

Sauntering over to me, Winnie pushes her soft face into the palm of my hand and then turns swiftly away so it sweeps underneath her chin. Pleased, she turns on her heels and comes back for more. This time she stretches her neck so far back she loses balance, collapsing into my leg.

Anna and I make small talk with one eye on Percy’s basket, hoping for an appearance. Meanwhile Winnie, who is now dancing from place to place and rubbing her perfectly round cheeks on the edges of all of the furniture, discovers the cat flap. She hops through it and we soon hear her scrabbling in the litter tray on the other side.

Anna drapes Percy’s basket with one of her old t shirts that is covered in her scent, creating both privacy and a reassuring curtain for him. Regretfully she looks at her watch, she has a plane to catch and after saying goodbye to her cats, she leaves.

Winnie is clearly upset at losing half of her audience and retreats through the cat flap to the litter tray.

Percy is silent behind his curtain and I decide to get on with some paperwork. I have almost forgotten they are here when Percy pops his head out from behind the t-shirted curtain and looks around.

Slightly smaller than Winnie, Percy has a sweet open face and large wary eyes. His coat is as soft and dense as his sisters but switches between light grey and a shimmering lilac.

He catches my eye and his head retracts at once into his basket, like a tortoise retreating into his shell. Two seconds later and he is back again, his body still safely ensconced in the basket.

Spotting big sister Winnie on the other side of the cat flap Percy makes a run for it. Skidding to a halt in front of the door he checks over each shoulder before gingerly pushing the flap with his nose.

It isn’t until much later that evening that Winnie appears refreshed and ready for some well deserved adoration. Percy hovers in the background, staying close to the cat flap in case he needs to make a quick getaway.

At about 11pm I go to bed, waking at 4am. Curious as to whether my charges are again hiding in the litter tray or if they have actually used it, which is a prerequisite for new cats before being allowed into the bedroom. I attempt to open the door quietly so as not to scare them, but Percy and Winnie are both poised and waiting for me on the other side. Like detectives about to make an arrest, they rush past me into the bedroom.

Over the following days Percy grows in confidence and Winnie proves herself an adept comedienne. They both adore the cat flap, for Percy it's a convenient escape route, that he will disappear into terrified, reappearing after a quick costume change, ready to face the world. For Winnie it's like going off stage after a performance.

They both rush into the kitchen if they think there is any chance of being fed. Percy will implore with his eyes but Winnie will curl around my legs, lick her lips and push me in the direction of the food.

Winnie wolfs down her meals, whilst Percy, who is forever suspicious and is constantly looking over his shoulder, tends to take his time. One of the perks of being a big sister is knowing your sibling so well you can, on occasion take advantage. While cautious Percy is checking behind him, Winnie will nudge him over and finish off his food. Percy, is outraged when he looks back to find his bowl missing, all his suspicions are justified. Somebody has snuck up and stolen breakfast. Panicked he try's to warn Winnie, but she is too busy licking the dish clean to respond.

Percy and Winnie Lilac and Blue British Shorthairs

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