During lockdown I have reached to the very back of my over stacked bookshelves to try and find something I never got round to reading, and pulled out Hemingway Islands in the Stream. This turns out to be a book about love and loss, where the central character loses pretty much everyone he ever loved (a real pick me up for the lockdown blues that one, masterpiece or no). But somewhere in the middle is a wonderful description of the man’s love for his old cat, Boise, and the cat’s love for his man.
‘The way he and Boise felt now, he thought, neither one wanted to outlive the other. I don’t know how many people and animals have been in love before, he thought. It probably is a very comic situation. But I don’t find it comic at all’.
Which got me to thinking about my cat Claudie, I was certainly in love with him, and he was mostly in love with me. I was definitely his ‘person’, but he was a little fickle. When I went on holiday, he certainly did not pine, but relaxed into the infinitely tender care of my Mum. He came home fat, and badly behaved (she not having the heart to stop him stealing the fish off her plate with an expert lightning swipe of his paw, but instead resorted to cooking him his own piece when she made her dinner). But he trusted me more. For me, he would quietly take his thyroid tablet, but after two weeks of looking after him, my Mum’s hands and arms looked like she had had a lawnmower accident. He would come up to bed every night, jump up with a merrow, and tuck himself under my arm, his paw in mine (look no claws…). But when he was really sick, he always wanted Daddy, the big alpha cat who could protect him.