There is something fundamental and raw about cats. They are well-known to be less amenable than dogs. Feline is almost a synonym for independence, thus the oft used term in these parts: “Getting them to do as they’re told is like trying to herd cats.” That independence is what attracts and repels in equal measure. Thus the world is divided into cat people and non-cat people. I and my beloved B are cat people. We have in the past, in our younger years, been dog folks too. But dogs are for the very young and the very old. In the busy years of ones life, a cat fits better. A cat demands less from one: food and a place to sleep. A place to drop prize dead, wounded or soon to be ex, mice and voles. This is all a cat really requires of its person. Some cats seek a warm lap or better, a roaring open fire with an errant snack of coal to chew as a mineral supplement. A sunning window ledge, free of impediments is desirable. Vets are needed but not welcome and most felines have a special aria reserved for the car trip to the vets. What they will or will not eat is not a given. This changes with whim and weather. Bathing is not required and if attempted, can be bloody and dangerous for the cats’ person. That person needs to know that the cats armoury can and will be used with surprising and shocking speed if boundaries, know only to the cat, are crossed.
Charlie was a rescue cat, as most of the cats that have owned us have been. He came from the Cork city rescue and was the only cat they had when we went to fetch him. He chose us and let it be known we would be acceptable to him. He was kept indoors at our home on the sea at Sandy Cove. This was meant to be for ten days to ensure non-wandering. He decided after four days that he’d seen all the inside he needed and left by a carelessly opened high window. This was only discovered when he returned three hours later and sat by the door waiting to be admitted. He brought a prize as compensation. A fine head of Mackerel stolen or borrowed from a fisher person down at the slip. One imagines the body of the fish was consumed prior to return, just in case we assumed the fish was ours to use as we saw fit. Over the next few days Charlie established clearly that he was a little known sub-species: the aquatic white fishing feline. His diet was catholic but he had marked preference for fresh fish and prawn, fresh wriggling being best.
Any person seen fishing at the slip soon had the fishing feline for company. Any fish caught was marked as potential food. Nothing was too small to be considered. In this way Charlie lightened the financial burden on his persons and made the purchase of cat food largely unnecessary. He did make it clear early on, that fish cooked was food ruined. Live hopping prawns fished from the sand with net were consumed with noisy relish, while the cooked version of the same thing produced a sniff and look of disdain and disgust over the bowl.
Moths were an acceptable substitute for the crunch of the prawn. The conservatory was his moth larder. The poor deluded moths thought themselves safe, tucked away in the beams but as can be seen from the picture, Charlie had that sussed and knew exactly where to go if he fancied a crisp snack.
The stain seen here on Charlie’s back, results from his part-time occupation as a vehicle inspector. When we moved away from the sea, he became a farm cat. Haunting the barns, circus acting in the beams and watching the milking with curiosity. He tasked the farm dogs with his fearless insolence and scrappy defiance. He like to inspect the tractors and would examine any visiting vehicle intimately. This was unfortunate, for oil and grease are very notable on a white cat. This was when his persons’ learned that Charlie and showers are a painful combination. Hence forth his stains remained until self-cleaning removed them. One such stain caused him distress. His acrobatic hunting of pigeon in the barn went wrong and he plunged into a deep morass of cow slurry. Licking this off caused intestinal distress that might have made the shower seem less fearful.
This cat’s tail has an unhappy end. We came home one evening to be greeted by sad crying from beneath a large garden shrub. The bold Charlie was laid low by a thrombosis on his spine that paralyzed his rear end. Inoperable and a common ailment among the feline race. B fled the vets in tears and I held Charlie, while the final sleep came. Tears wet his face as life left his eyes. He had a great and happy life and is fondly immortalised in several of my novels.