The summer months are busy ones for me, as well as boarding cats at home I have an increasing number of cats that I visit daily whilst their owners are away.
Yesterday after a long day of cycling from cat to cat, I went to bed early and was soon fast asleep. I was happily dreaming of having my hair gently combed when… “Ouch” I woke up suddenly as my head jolted backwards. Neeps, a regular feline guest of mine was sitting comfortably on my back raking his paws slowly though my hair. I twisted my head to look at him “Neeps” I said sleepily “Stop.” He stopped and started to tap me on the shoulder instead. Next, he head butted me in the face. “Neeps”, I scolded, fully awake now. He put his head down and looked at me from under his brow apologetically before nudging his way under my arm. Soon he was lying outstretched with his head on the pillow beside me, fast asleep and purring. I of course was wide awake.
Eventually I get back to sleep when what seemed like moments later I was woken up by the 6am alarm. I slapped it into snooze mode and dozed.
But it is Sunday morning and I have 7 hungry cats in and around Notting Hill to feed. As Neeps sleeps on, I pull on my clothes and head for the road.
My first visit is to Mogg a lovely, portly black cat with a world weary expression and heavily lidded green eyes that light up at the mere mention of food. A couple of years ago she took fright and shattered the base of her spine. Against all odds her devoted owners have nursed her back to health. Mogg is charm personified with me but repays her owners loyalty by demanding complete servitude and a constant supply of treats.
Shakti a Greek, ginger rescue cat is next on the list. He is terrified of new people and I have spent hours coaxing him out of hiding places, only for him to retreat again on my next visit. Today after a few minutes of gentle chin rubbing I am rewarded by him emerging from his hidey hole, rolling over and balancing on his back with all four of his legs floating in the air.
My next visit is to best friends Felix and Chloe, who were rescued together from an unfit home. Although initially reserved, once they realised they were safe they relaxed. Felix watches from a distance, his back arched standing on the tips of his paws while I prepare their breakfast. Chloe flirts and twists around my ankles. Felix is the larger of the two black and white cats and has black splodges on both legs. When he is sitting upright the splodges join together perfectly to make a wonky circle. They sprint ahead of me while I carry their food to the bathroom. When Felix has gulped down his he hangs around until Chloe has had enough then dives on her leftovers and devours them instantly,
The fifth cat I visit is Thor. She is a sweet looking tabby with white blotches. She will approach you gingerly and sniff your outstretched hand, but beware; leave your hand dangling to long and Thor is likely to swipe it. She operates on the basis that every one other than her owner is probably an enemy.
Arcaine is next, a tiny cat just over a year old. On my first five visits I can’t find her anywhere, even though I searched high and low. On the sixth visit I hide in her owner’s bedroom and wait. When I come out Arcaine is sitting in the front room startled. Her eyes are huge, perfectly round and filled with large inky black pupils. She now waits at the window for me every day and greets me by rolling on her tummy and rubbing her cheeks into my hands, whilst purring.
Nymeria is my final visit of the morning. Having arrived from the USA yesterday, it is only our second meeting. She is a beautiful grey tortoiseshell with large trusting eyes that are thickly rimmed with black. After breakfast Nymaria eagerly shows me around her new home, walking a few paces in front of me and waiting for me to catch up. Eventually she settles on the bed and seems perfectly at ease whether in the mountains of America or a top floor flat in Notting Hill.
At about midday I arrive home and the house is quiet. Neeps is lying on my side of the bed, his head buried in his paws as if trying to block out the daylight. He lazily opens an eye as I climb in next to him and we both slip into a deep undisturbed sleep.