The Reunion Book Tour – For The Love Of Cats By Roisin Meaney
Today on the book tour and the publication day for Roisin Meaney’s brand new book, ‘The Reunion’, Roisin talks about her relationship with cats.
Growing up, we always had a cat about the place. This was because of my mother – not because she was a cat lover, more because she had (and still has) a huge mouse phobia. To this day, she can’t even say the word; she spells it out, and only then if she absolutely has to. Even if an m-o-u-s-e appears on the television screen, she’ll shriek as loudly as if one had materialised on the floor in front of her.
So there was always a cat around the place. Not in the house, mind – she’d grown up in a family where houses were for people, and yards and gardens were for animals, so our cat of the moment would roam the garden, and use the shed for rainy days. Of course, we’d sneak it into the house the minute her back was turned, and shoo it out when she was due home. We all loved cats, me especially.
In due course we grew up and moved out. For the first few years I lived in a series of rented houses with various combinations of pals, so a pet of any kind really wasn’t practical. As soon as I bought my first house, a cat was top of my to-get list – but before I could source one (or more), they came to me.
I glanced out of my kitchen window one morning, just a few days after moving in, and there was a beautiful young tabby sitting on the sill, gazing in at me. I opened the back door and she scampered down and away. Undeterred, I left out a saucer of chopped-up sausage, and half an hour later she was back – and she wasn’t alone. Her companion was slightly smaller, and black and white. They made quick work of the sausage, and promptly vanished again.
It took about a week for the tabby to step inside, nearly a month for the black and white, but eventually they both settled in and made themselves at home. I enquired around – they didn’t look like strays – but nobody seemed to know who owned them. I took them to the vet and discovered that they were two spayed females. I kept asking people in the neighbourhood, but no owner was ever found for either of them, and they seemed happy to relocate from wherever they’d come from to my house.
I never named them – it somehow didn’t seem right, when I was pretty sure somebody somewhere had given them names already – but a little neighbour decided to call the tabby Tigger, and visitors to the house christened the black and white Tux. They were great pals, but I assumed not siblings. I enjoyed having them around – I lived alone, and I loved to see them dozing on the couch or sunning themselves on the window-sill as I wrote – and thankfully they didn’t seem too interested in bothering the bird population of the neighbourhood.
They’d been with me for several years when I went to Spain for a week, leaving a brother and my father doing duty in my absence. I’d done this several times before and it had worked a treat – one or other of the cat-sitters would call by the house a couple of times a day and feed and water the pair – but this time things didn’t go according to plan. Tux was knocked down on the road one morning, and buried by my father before I got home.
Tigger and I mourned and then recovered, and a few years later I chanced going away again. This time Tigger disappeared, about three days after my departure. I didn’t worry unduly – she was put out at my absence, and would return, I was sure, when I did.
But she didn’t. I never saw her again. I reasoned that she was old – I couldn’t be certain, but I thought she was about fifteen – and it was her time. I missed her; the house felt too big without her, too silent with no more purring.
It took a year before I was able for more cats. This time I chose them. With a friend’s help I found two ginger siblings, a boy and a girl. They were about seven weeks old, and so cute that I wanted to cuddle them to death. I brought them home (thankfully I managed to resist the cuddling-to-death urge) and immediately they became the bosses. For the first few weeks I was run ragged: it was like having two baby humans to look after. They demanded food, scratched the furniture, launched themselves at me anytime the opportunity presented itself. I would corral them in the kitchen at night (along with their litter tray) and retire, exhausted, to bed.
They were one year old in November. They’re pals (most of the time) but they couldn’t be more different. Fred is king of the cuddles, happiest when he’s having his head scratched or his belly tickled. Ginger comes for cuddles on her terms. He’s solid with a shaggy coat: she’s petite with much softer fur. He’ll eat anything: she’s picky. For the first few months I kept them mostly indoors; now they come and go during the day and night through a cat flap I had installed in the wall of the utility room.
They’re merciless killers. Birds, mice, anything that moves. My neighbour to the rear doesn’t talk to me since they decimated his wild bird population last spring. I’m constantly finding dead creatures in the garden, and occasionally in the utility room. (And sometimes they’re not quite dead; just as well I didn’t inherit my mother’s phobia.)
But I wouldn’t be without them. They keep life interesting.
Gory, but interesting.
You can buy The Reunion from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.