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In The Company of Cats

Lockdown with our furry friends

It’s trying times for people and business’s everywhere. Our cat care business is no exception. We look after our customers cats when they go on holiday and at the time of writing this all of our holidays are indefinitely on hold.

Thank god, then for Moriarty. A large white cat with patches of russet and brown, a lovely pink nose and a big triangular tummy. Moriarty has been staying with us since January while his owner looks for a home for them abroad. He is a charming cat and as long as he is fed and cuddled regularly he is a happy boy. If he is hungry or stressed he will omit a meow from deep within his rumbling tummy. Mostly though he is just happy to hang out and we have fallen into an easy routine of Moriarty snoozing nearby whilst I paint during the day and snoozing next to me whilst I watch television in the evening. At night he is restless and if I don’t set the automatic feeder for 5am he will let me know, pacing the apartment and howling his mournful meow. If this doesn’t rouse me he sits upright in front of my pillow and taps me on the nose until I wake up.

Moriarty is due to go home in a week and I am starting to wonder how I’ll manage without him when I get a frantic phone call from a potential customer. She is in the UK studying with her female Ragdoll, Nori and her worried parents have ordered her to fly home immediately. It is difficult enough getting flights for humans at the moment and near impossible for cats.

Nori’s owner would like us to look after her for two maybe three months. I jump at the chance offering to visit Nori everyday in her home for the next few days. Then when Moriarty is collected I can bring Nori home with me.

Moriarty seems to sense it’s nearly time for him to leave and in the morning after his 5am breakfast he has taken to climbing on to my bed, pushing his nose under the quilt and scrambling under the covers. He tucks himself into the crook of my knees and we both snooze for a few more hours.

Mid morning I dust off my electric bike and ride from Notting Hill Gate through two royal parks to Knightsbridge to see Nori. She is waiting for me in the front room, seemingly unperturbed by her owners sudden absence. She meows and swishes around my legs, looking up at me, her clear blue eyes twinkling from her beautiful brown face. She stands next to me while I sit on the sofa, her face inches from mine and looks into my eyes purring with curiosity as I stroke her fluffy white coat.

The next day I get a message from another customer, they are getting out of London for a couple of weeks and want me to visit Fletch, one of my many favourite cats, twice daily until they get back.

I agree immediately. Fletch is a blue eyed snow Bengal who I have written about previously. His sister Bouboulina, a golden bengal with a wild streak recently passed away but Fletch taking it in his stride. Like many cats he is a loner and seems happier now that he no longer has to share his home life with Boubou. He is not an unsociable cat though. Every day when I arrive he runs towards me screeching his croaky meow, rubs against my legs and rolls around on the floor with glee.

Before long it is time for Moriarty to leave and I pack his bag and place this gentle cat in his basket. Social distancing rules have got stricter in the last few days and I am forced to put Moriarty on the floor in his basket and wait at the top of the steps while his owner trundles up the street to collect him.

After a thorough clean of the flat I grab my bike and my empty cat basket/ backpack and head off to collect Nori.

We have bonded over the last few visits and she doesn’t complain when I carefully put her in my back pack and load her onto my back. She meows a little as we cycle through Knightsbridge but the roads are quiet and within minutes we are riding through Hyde park. It is a beautiful day and Nori is silent and still as we cycle over the bridge and into Kensington gardens.

Before long we arrive at home and Nori steps out of the basket, her tail in the air and her blue eyes twinkling as she starts to explore. She is fascinated by the large window but it is not until nightfall that she ventures out onto the protected balcony. She immediately masters the cat flap and spends most of our first evening together snuggled in the corner of the cat den with the wind blowing through her thick soft fur.

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