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In The Company of Cats


Unusually, Phoenix, a 2 year old golden bengal, is speechless when he arrives. His eyes widen as he takes in his surroundings and before long he is climbing over, crouching under and squeezing between every surface he encounters. First he sticks his nose and then his paws into every nook and cranny in the room, his head pops around corners and over counters, an expression of total surprise etched onto his face . Every now and then he nudges my legs and shoots me me a glance over his shoulder as he gracefully traverses the terrain of furniture and cat toys that permanently litter my living room. I open the window to the cat-proofed balcony and with two paws on the ledge he stretches his neck forward and lit only by a street lamp, peers into the darkness. Phoenix hovers, momentarily unsure for the first time since he has arrived. He stares back at me briefly before disappearing into the night.  At bedtime I give Phoenix a call, his ears appear sideways framed by the open window, followed by his perfectly formed head. ‘Bedtime’ I say. ‘Wah?’ Phoenix replies, finding his voice for the first time. ‘Bedtime’ I repeat, but Phoenix is enjoying the sound of his own voice and continues to chatter as he follows me into the bedroom.  At 3am I am awakened by a heart rending cry, the tone is deeper than before and although not loud in volume fills the room. Phoenix ignores my attempts to comfort him and on and for the next hour or two, Phoenix cries. The next morning I find him curled up, exhausted on the bed next to me. As time passes Phoenix’s personality explodes into action. A chatty, nosy, warm, funny and mischievous cat. We are soon best pals. He follows me everywhere tapping on the bathroom door when I’m on the loo, and like a pushy boyfriend he demands conversation, dinner and affection when I get home from a busy cat sitting shift. After the first night, thankfully, Phoenix’s midnight howling stops but he still stalks the flat, deep in conversation with himself. During the day when I work at my desk he hops onto my lap, climbs over my computer, stick his head under the lead and attempts to pull himself out the other side. After repeatedly lifting him onto the floor out of my way, he eventually wanders off leaving me to my work. I am momentarily relieved until a few minutes later, a wail comes from the wardrobe behind me. I open the door and there is Phoenix, spread eagle across the rack of coats, a claw in every item and very very stuck. I detach the embarrassed cat, who despite having failed miserably, is still determined to scale my outfits. For the rest of the afternoon my work is punctuated by Phoenix’s wails of self pity as again and again he breaks into the wardrobe, gets stuck on my clothes and has to be  airlifted out in my arms.  All too soon it is time for Phoenix to leave, and for a few days the apartment is strangely quiet as I adjust to life without Phoenix .

After a quiet few days Oreo, an 8 week old, fluffy black kitten with white socks and cheeks with a patch of proud whiskers on either side, trots into my apartment. He shoves his nose excitedly into every object he encounters, disappearing under sofas and tables then magically reappearing on the other side of the room. He quickly discovers the litter tray by first popping his two front paws onto the ledge, followed by his back paws, wobbling a bit, then toppling in. After some more exploring I give him lunch, which he devours immediately before wandering off, veering from side to side under the weight of his swollen tummy. He just makes it to the foot of the sofa before collapsing onto the floor and falling fast asleep. He wakes a few moments later as if he’s just remembered something important and then giving himself a few cursory licks falls back to sleep.

I lift Oreo onto the sofa and he wakes with a yawn. He is immediately back in action mode and is soon climbing the giant scratch post and hovering at the top with one paw outstretched like a miniature King Kong about to beat is chest. Leaping down he heads for the sofa, determined to conquer it this time. Before long he is leaping from seat to seat, traversing the back ledge and inching his way downtown cushions until he reaches the seats. There is no stopping this intrepid little explorer and in two giant leaps he is back on the floor.

Overcome by a sudden fatigue, no doubt brought on by extreme adventure, Oreo makes his way over to the armchair with his blanket on and promptly falls fast asleep.

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