I hate overt affection in a multitude of different ways, so you’d think that I’d be a total cat and dog hater. While that assumption would be half correct (GET. DOGS. AWAY. FROM. ME.), I am a total fanatic when it comes to cats. I love them; there’s a reason my Twitter handle is @shaunycat after all. In my entire life, I have only lived without a cat for about six months – our first was taken in by my mum and dad a few months before I was born – so I suppose that a lifetime of being surrounded by them justifies my love. But despite all of this, when my mum turned around to me last week and said “do you want to get another cat?”, even I was surprised that my reasoned and considered answer was “no, leave me alone, I’m busy”.
When it comes to pets, I’ve learned that three really is a crowd, but it’s a lesson that you don’t learn or realise until you’re in that situation. When we got my second cat that we currently have, Casper, it was because we’d had a few complications with a dog before (long story short: my mother rescued a dog despite all of us hating dogs, so after the rescuing process was complete, she moved on to another home. The heartache felt distinctly similar to elation). Now that we were back down to having just one pet, we decided that adding another cat into the mix wouldn’t do any harm, but boy were we wrong. The two fought for weeks and didn’t become civil with one another until a matter of months ago when they both started to reach a similar physical size.
That was a balance that really didn’t work, so when she asked me if I wanted another cat, my immediate response was a resounding ‘no’. Alas, my requests were ignored and a few days later, in waddled this tiny baby of a cat (a.k.a. a kitten, everyone!) and immediately I fell head over heels. He is that level of cute where you find yourself grinding your teeth at the thought of him and wanting to start chewing his tail in a completely non-murderous kind of way. I was in love, my sister was half-in love and the cat was totally in love with me: it was a win-win situation.
One of the first things we wanted to do when Salem arrived home was introduce him to the other two boys, Charlie and Casper, which would’ve worked fabulously had the two of them wanted to get involved. In fact, the two are so uninterested in getting involved with Salem that they have essentially lived in the garden for the past week to ignore him, not because they hate him, but more because they just cannot be bothered with him. It seems as though adding a third cat into the mix wasn’t the brightest idea we’d had as a household and the cracks in the foundations were already showing.
Despite this, Salem immediately showed signs of loving to live with us. In fact, he seems to have liked living here so much that he has become terrifyingly attached to me. At night, I’ll come into my room to go to bed, closing the door behind me, while I am forced to listen to a solid half an hour of crying as he wants to play with me. You may think me cruel for not letting him in, but internalise the fact that he spends literally half an hour outside my room crying and imagine how pestering he would be when inside my room as I try to sleep. Like I said before: I hate overt affection. That being said, I will happily give him a lot of affection in the day time to make up for my want for a full night’s sleep, something he too can achieve if he tries for it, at the age of three months.
Today, my mum came home from work: “I’ve come to a decision and Salem has to go” she said as I stood there, jam from the toast I was eating dripping down my chin like blood. I stared at her, bemused by the audacity of a women who is literally asking for an ‘I told you so’. Her reason for this outburst? “He’s so obsessed with you that when you weren’t here last night, he would not stop crying outside your bedroom door until 3am. I nearly let him fall out of the bathroom window this morning because of it”. I wipe the jam from my chin and smile; if my mother thinks that telling me a cat is obsessed with me will make me agree with her getting rid of him, she clearly doesn’t know the first thing about me.
I love my cats. We play together, we cuddle together and, sometimes, we talk together. I’ve had full-blown conversations with the cats I’ve had all my life. It’s a weird kind of way of saying what I want to say out loud but without a judgemental response. I mean, the judgemental response only lacks because he can’t verbalise his opinions – I’m sure he can still think them – but that’s besides the point.
Of course, my mother came around to the idea of him staying pretty quickly: “He’s only been here four days for God’s sake, give the kitten a chance” seemed to work. The fact that I am the ultimate cat whisperer seems to have done the trick.