The other day Caren from Cat Chat wrote a post about when her love for cats started; she was fifteen. In my blog profile it says I have been an animal lover and a cat person in particular ever since I can remember. This is true but Caren’s post prompted me to try to figure out when “ever since I can remember” actually was! We emigrated from Scotland when I was four. I have no real recollection of life before Canada but I do know we did not have any pets in the UK. The letters c-a-t are the letters that begin my name and I believe my brother Angus might have been the first one to coin the nickname “Cat”…this very well could have started me on the road I’m still on today.
When I was little I was cat crazy (still am) and had everything cat; cat books, cat posters, cat pjs, cat toys, cat Halloween costumes (every single year) and cat themed birthday parties. If anyone had a cat they were tops in my book. A woman lived across the street from us named Mrs. Watson and I used to call on her daily (I’m sure she was thrilled) so I could pet her Siamese cat, I couldn’t have been anymore than five. This of course was back in the day when children visited people in their neighbourhood, rode bikes without helmets, spontaneously played outside on the street, walked to school and all without parents thinking they would be abducted…but I digress.
One summer afternoon at school when I was about six a cat appeared on the window ledge of our classroom. I went to school in Toronto but it was very small sort of bungalow school, one class per grade up to grade eight and about twenty students in each class. The entire class was excited to see this ginger and white beauty, robust and vocal, walking back and forth on the ledge meowing at us. We were totally distracted and the teacher was forced to shoo him away in order for us to get any work done. Little did I know that when she shooed him off he just walked around to the other side of the school and visited some more classrooms where my older sister and brother saw him too. This cat appeared at school everyday for about a week.
When school let out that Friday, my two best friends, Cindy Head and Lynn Willams and myself went in search of this cat. We found him and decided to take him home, in the mind of a six year old, what else could possibly be done? He was a pretty big cat and heavy for youngsters like ourselves, so we took turns carrying him. I can just picture the poor thing probably dangling precariously from our small arms for the twenty minute walk home, yet he never made a peep or squirmed to get away! The first stop on our route was Cindy’s house. Her mum said no she couldn’t keep the orange cat because they already had a cat (named Christmas). Next stop was Lynn’s house where her mum said she couldn’t keep the cat either because they too had a cat (named Timothy). We had the wherewithal to take a couple of tins of cat food with us from Lynn’s house then it was off to our last stop, my house. We didn’t have a cat so I was hopeful. We snuck into the house with this cat and sequestered ourselves in the front hall where we gave him some food. We didn’t have a cat basket, so I dumped some of my dollies out of their bed and we used that. Now all we had to do was wait until my father got home. At some point my mum discovered us and Lynn was sent home for dinner and everything gets a little vague after that. We put an ad in the paper to see if anyone had lost a cat. I think two people came to our house and I remember those agonizing moments waiting to see if they would claim him as their own. They did not. We were allowed to keep the cat; our first family cat and he was called Doobie, short for Monsieur Dubois. Doobie was a great cat, tolerant and wise and if I wasn’t completely hooked on cats before him, I certainly was after he came into my life!
I invite anyone who is so inclined to write a post about how their love of cats began and I look forward to reading your stories.