On the twelfth night of August 2015, at about 11 pm my youngest, decided to head outside to catch sight of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Perseid meteor shower 2015 – In-The-Sky.org With the computer attached and plugged into my umbilical chord, I was otherwise distracted with writing and fine tuning one of my characters near fall from grace. I could hear the dog, though. It had sensed she was preparing to go out somewhere and had clearly leapt up with excitement. This happy, warm companion would be a perfect chaperone on this cool, summer evening, I thought. This rural area with comparatively little light pollution was ideal, for optimum visibility of the night sky.
Later, she explained to me what unfolded. She opened the door and the dog shot out. Also, and unexpectedly, the cat, close by, eased himself up quickly from First Position we call it -no, not at all like ballet. First Position is, stretched out flat, splayed one side and spread across, what seems like the entire floor space; front paws sandwiched together, back paws, apart like an open pair of scissors. He stood up from this, and with his tail courting a bold question mark, he followed her out too.
So my daughter, the cat and the dog, stood together and stared up at the starlit sky. You would be forgiven for thinking that I’m describing an ideal fairytale scene, from such a book, where the animals and children seem to communicate with little effort. But this is what she said happened.
Spotting shooting stars required patience. After a short while, once her eyes were more accustomed to the night light, she decided to lie down onto her back, on our gently sloping forecourt and stare up at the stars. The dog and protector lay flat too- in First Position, so my daughter, spotting the perfect head rest, got closer, to settle her head upon this warm ‘pillow’. With daughter comfortable, the cat decided he would like to get comfy too, and climbed onto her chest. He sat upright, with his back facing her for a while; I imagine, standing proud as a monument. She turned to her right to see the dog’s eyes searching the skies before it started searching hers.
She studied the heavens carefully, she said, trying to tune in, till eventually she saw them, meteors shooting past the stars. Flashes with tails; the markings of a new chapter, streaking across the universe, some disappearing as quickly as they came; blink, she said, and they were gone as quickly as it takes to.
By now, the cat had curled itself up upon on her tummy and was warm as a hot-water bottle, she told me. Coiled, with its face turned outward and upward, feigning sleep.
She saw four enormous trajectories, which caught her breath, as she nestled among the rhythm of the others; that of the long haired pillow and from the heated short pile fluff ball, all cosy, under the jet cloth, encrusted with sparkles. Though the animals couldn’t talk, she says if they could, they wouldn’t have.
She felt they were all in awe of something special happening above them; the universe unfolding, and she was aware of a complete and utter connection between the three, something, she says, will stay with her always.
I ought to add here, a little history about the cat sitting on her stomach. He has a brother. Both almost two years old. And if the affection that this particular cat demands and receives from us were presented as his favourite nosh, then I would have to tell you now, that regretfully, we would have a cat with a serious obesity problem. Oh, and the nosh we serve our cat? Well, it doesn’t in fact, meet up to his standards- not one bit. I cannot begin to tell you what he has brought back home to eat. Some, almost as big as him. Slowly, it is dawning upon us why we could never compete.
I know there are many who do not have any simpatico towards cats- so I will try not to get too sentimental. In essence, he has never shown any aggressiveness towards us, from the moment he was born, despite mother cat turning nasty towards him and his brother, once the novelty of being a mother wore off, i.e. she wouldn’t feed them anymore, so that in the end, we had to re-house her- she made it clear that three was a crowd. Nor have we ever had to complain that his play fights have gone too far, never drawing blood. With his sharp teeth and claws he always exercised impeccable restraint, unlike his brother, who would take your hand off for a slither of solid air- until he’s tasted it, he can’t tell you whether he likes it or not. Fast developing into a’ kit cat chunky’; like a broad, strong bear with eyes that resonate the old saying ‘Still waters run deep’, but also a kit cat chunky who will, in contrast, drop at a moment’s notice, into First Position, demanding that the entire length of his belly be rubbed, sometimes thinking nothing of waking you at 3.30 in the morning to carry out these duties on him, while he purrs, (only ever getting up to face bomb purr you, should you think of stopping), at a Hertz range that I’m sure would give Drum and Bass a run for their money.
But something else has been happening. Besides his pure hedonistic, blissed out, chilled out attitude, unaided by catnip, he’s been returning home, after weeks away, with war wounds- collecting them like badges, along with scratches across his nose and under his eyes. For example, there was a clear, clean and very deep puncture to his hind leg that he refused to be disabled by and another time, the skin of a front padded paw was virtually hanging off. Another occasion, he sported a heavy limp with no obvious sign of injury at all. The most recent event was waking up in the morning to find bedding covered in blood and the cat all curled up relaxed, despite a massive chunk of something missing from behind his ear. I suppose all part of a good night’s work to him- returning with the gift of eyes carrying untold stories and not a trace of compromised nerves.
Fully aware that it’s the cat that chooses to adopt whatever family it likes, we wondered whether he had found another home; was being fed something he absolutely adored and treated like a king. So after another two weeks awol, we gave him a thorough inspection on return. Delighted at the fuss, he just turned over in wait for the customary belly rub. He was clearly slightly underweight, and there were no signs that he’d been on a domesticated holiday. In reality, he looked like he’d been walking on the wild side.
This cat is nonchalance personified. No- feline-ified. There is no fuss regarding injury, no whimpering from him, and he has the coolest, calmest attitude. He is Jekyll. We’ve never seen Hyde, but we know it’s there. And as for him turning up his nose at domesticated food? The odd chicken slice? We even tried to tempt him with a slither of Waygu beef. Waygu beef? For Goodness sake. No, he doesn’t stick around for the food, that’s for certain.
Here’s this hunk of a cat, so sure of himself but so malleable to handle; my daughter would wear him around her neck like an ermine jacket, (one simply has to make do), and he wouldn’t necessarily open his eyes during the ascent. But then one day a few weeks ago, he lay down in First Position, and she went to rub his belly, like he always demands, but instead, he hissed at her, stopping her in her tracks. A long seething hiss, with undercurrents of a growl. I was there, I heard it. He looked comfortable expressing himself as if he’d found his voice, and it was feral.
After the fourth major streak and a wish, she decided she ought to come inside. She headed back to the house. Opening the door, she switched on the hall landing-purposely turned off so as not to pollute the sky. The dog followed. The cat, only up to a point. She beckoned him in and she told me she felt sad; she knew in her heart of hearts, what was going to happen next. He brushed his body against her legs, his tail gently stroking and then with an impatient flick of his tail, she got his message: ‘I Like you, but I’m not part of your world. I love the wild- I won’t be coming in.’ Then he walked away into the darkness and never looked back. The last time he disappeared it was for four weeks. This time, who knows, but we haven’t seen him since.
And my take on this? Well, a dear friend once told me of a saying: that things come into your life for, a reason, a season or a lifetime.
I think she witnessed a fifth trajectory but of a different kind, just above ground, stealing into the night, with the brush of his tail the streak, and then he was gone.