A Cat Story – By Amy Pope
I’ve been on the streets now for almost a year and, in that time, I have perfected how to get food. If I just strollup to the Hoomuns, meow sweetly and curl my entire body around their legs, and they’re mine. One day I see one and saunter up to her.
“Meow Meow Meow”
I say, expectant of food. Instead she stops and strokes me tenderly. She turns around to the other Hoomun and I hear her say,
“Oh, will you look at him. He is only a baby and he hasn’t been neutered yet and he is on the streets. We can’t have that”.
They disappear and I stroll over to the wall and jump up to lie in the sun. Well, there was no point hanging around there with no food in sight! The next thing I know, the Hoomun is back and this time she has what looks like a box. Oooh I love boxes! I quickly jump off the wall and stroll into it, ready to play. All of a sudden, I am no longer on the ground but high up in the air. This is strange. Where am I going? I am bobbing up and down and am unable to get out. I should be scared, but something about her soothing coos into the box reassures me. A ping sounds and we go inside another box. We seem to be moving! My ears have just popped! When is it going to stop?! After what seems like forever, a ping sounds again, and we leave the big box.
She walks a short distance, stops and puts me down onto the ground. I hear her shuffling around for something. The next thing I know, a large dark wall opens up and I see a gigantic container beyond. I realise then what is happening. I’ve heard stories from my fellow street cats about “The Inside”. Tales of a never-ending supply of food, treats and toys; where there are soft places to sleep and lay, rather than the rough ground that we sleep on outside. I’ve heard that cats that are taken to “The Inside” are always happy. I can’t quite believe it. Have I been chosen for “The Inside”?
I’m ushered into a huge container and there is a small open box with what looks a lot like small pieces of tree in it. I walk over to give it a deeper inspection.
“Now this is where you do your business from now on?”
The small trees look and smell funny. I won’t be going in there.
I wander off, ignoring her and start to investigate my new home. “The Inside” is amazing! There are climbing frames.
“Now don’t go jumping up onto the cabinets, those ornaments mean a lot to us”,
Hoomum says, pointing at me as I look up at the climbing frame, noticing small toys placed on each level. Hurrah! We continue the grand tour and I spot scratching posts
“Or even think about scratching the sofa and chairs”,
I can’t wait to have a go at those!
But what’s that I can smell? I lift up my nose to the air for a big sniff. I’m not sure if I am the only cat in this giant box. I can’t see one though, so perhaps I can just smell the remnants of the past.
The next morning, I wake and stretch my long limbs above my head. That was the best sleep of my life, curled up on a fluffy towel. At least I think that’s what they called it as it was laid down for me. I didn’t even have to worry about the other cats prowling into my territory. I think I’m going to like it here.
Hoodad has walked into the room and lets out a loud yell!
“He’s only gone to the toilet on the bed!”,
He says, screwing his face up. Hoomum runs in and she cleans up my morning poop. She’s the best!
“Maybe it’s the litter”
She says to Hoodad, who still has a screwed-up face, but it’s less red now.
“We’d best figure out how to solve this quick, as we can’t have this every night!”
And he walks away.
I am being cooed over and then put back into the box.
“Meow Meow Meow”
I am so sorry I didn’t know where to poop, and I did try to cover it with a towel. Please don’t put me back onto the streets,
We’re back into the travelling box and descending. This is it – I had one night of happiness on “The Inside”, but I am obviously destined for a life on the streets forever. Hang on, where are we going now? We are outside but we are in a small container travelling at speed. I stop meowing and look out of the glass barrier, but we’re moving so fast everything is a blur.
Three hours later…. that’s it, my life is ruined! I can’t believe they removed my private parts! Why would anyone do that?! Hoomum has been chatting away to the evil ones who did this to me and doesn’t seem upset in the slightest. And I thought she liked me!
Back “home” – I think that’s what they call it? She is rushing around and then I hear it, the beautiful dulcet tones of the tin-opening machine. I can’t jump up right now, as I’m still in a bit of pain from my trip to the vets, but I can smell the sweet aroma of fish wafting in my direction. A bowl of it is placed in front of me and a surge of renewed love for her rushes over me.
A few days later… One of my favourites things is to burrow through the tunnels (sofa throw). Hoomum tuts and is always putting the tunnel back together after I’ve demolished it. Which is great, because then I can just carry on with my game. Every now and then, when I’m burrowing or climbing, they call out to me
“You Little Rascal … Terror … Monkey.”
What are these words! Are they my name?
I’ve also discovered that there is another dark wall at the end of the hallway that they always keep closed, but often go in and out of, and shoo me away from. It looms above me. I’m sure they’re hiding something in there. And I’m sure the cat-smell is stronger from here. Strange!
I hear muffled voices on the other side.
“When do you think she’ll be ready?”.
I think Hoomum is speaking.
“Do you remember what she was like last time we tried to do this? When we looked after Oscar just for one week!? She got herself in a terrible state”,
Hoodad says, sounding concerned. Who is ‘she’, I wonder? There’s a gap at the bottom of the wall and I prise my paw under it, but I can’t seem to reach very far.
“They need to meet eventually”,
I hear from beyond the wall. Whatever they’re hiding in there, it must be important.
Another climbing frame has arrived. Oh, how they love me! But hold on. Oh no, this one is going to be tricky to jump onto, as there appears to be something blocking me. And now, they’re putting my small toys into it and shutting them away.
“Let’s see him try to knock our ornaments over from inside a glass cabinet shall we!”
I am not happy about this, I say, sauntering off to sulk. Hang on a minute, there appears to be lots more space on the other climbing frame now. I think I’ll go and lay there for a while, until I’m moved.
“I think I’ll allow that, as you look so comfortable”
She says, looking over to me but not moving. Hurrah!
Something odd is going on. The Hoomuns are now here all day and every day, saying words that I’ve never heard before like “social distancing”, “self-isolating” and “virus”. Sometimes Hoomum’s eyes are all wet and her mouth turns downwards when these words are spoken.When she looks like this, I lay on her and let her stroke me and her mouth starts to turn upwards again.
The stories told on the street about “The Inside” were that cats have the place to themselves to roam and are able to play as they please, yet I am never alone, and my every move is being watched. There is an upside to this, as they both have what I hear them call a ‘laptop” that is perfect for me to sprawl across, although they don’t seem to appreciate this as much, as they pick me up each time, muttering something about how can we get any “work” done with “this Little Rascal making mischief”.
I don’t know for how long I’ve been living with the Hoomuns, but I’m getting more and more intrigued as to what is behind the dark wall. I’ve sniffed and rolled across every inch of this giant box, but that wall remains a mystery. Hang on a minute, Hoomum is going through to the other side of the wall, and she hasn’t shooed me away!
She watches closely as I enter the large, bright box that is filled with sunshine. I do not rush as who knows what is waiting for me in there. I was right …there IS another cat and she’s at least 100 years old! She doesn’t move from her spot and looks very comfortable sitting on fluffy pillows. She’s seen me and uh oh, she doesn’t look veryhappy.
Hoomum is talking to me now
“Marmalade, this is Betty. She is very old and doesn’t mix well with other cats so play nice please”.
I look at her pleading eyes, what a wonderful surprise, I have a playmate! Although she doesn’t look as lively as I am, so maybe I’ll take it easy.
Don’t worry I shall make Betty my friend. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but I’ll try again … and again … and again.
I am curled up on the sofa, Betty walks by, she stops, looks up at me and keeps going. She gets to the other side of the sofa, jumps up, takes one more look at me, then curls herself up in a ball. I leave her be.
I am loved, I am happy and I am home.