Monday, May 19, 2014

the arrival of oberon

A few days after losing Mao, I had a dream that another cat found me. He was a big chocolate-brown bear of a cat, so naturally enough I called him Bear. It may or may not be pertinent that I have a thing about bears, and also a thing about John Irving novels, which also have a thing about bears. But I digress.

When looking for our next cat, I was not really looking for a cat at all, and not for a Mao either. I was looking for a Bear. When I found the little Tabby/Tonkinese cross on Gumtree I was not sure he looked much like a Bear, but I wasn't sure what name would suit him. Then one morning I flicked open my very dog-eared baby name book and the first word my eyes fell on was Auberon (also spelt Oberon). And the meaning: Gentle bear.

We picked up our little bundle one recent overcast Sunday, after a long drive to the surprisingly affluent western suburbs of Sydney. And after the long drive home, we introduced our Oberon to HRH Violet and the result was not entirely unexpected. Much hissing and spitting but very little actual contact ensued for the next several hours until they settled on a respectful distance and realised that they in fact had more in common than first thought. By the next evening I had both of them asleep on my lap. At once.

But Oberon, or Obi as we have taken to calling him (Obi Wan Kenobi may have been mentioned once or twice), is no gentle bear. He is much more like a tiny leopard, all legs-like-steel-springs and wily manouevres on an ever unsuspecting Violet. He can be such a mischievous little boy, much like I imagine any little boy can sometimes be, and while I chastise him for his endless torment of poor Violet, I think both she and I can't help but love him. They will play, then fight, then play some more, then I'll find them curled up together on a chair where they'll sleep for hours. And when all is quiet at the end of another long day, and I fall onto the lounge to savour my thank-god-that's-over cuppa, I will feel a small presence beside me and my little leopard will jump onto my lap and curl up as quiet as a lamb. No bears allowed.

Friday, May 9, 2014

the story of violet

I knew we would never replace Mao. How could we? But I was less certain how I would get through the pain of losing him without the benefit of a cat. There is no better cure for heartache.

After a week, I searched Gumtree through tears for Tonkinese kittens. They were all outside the state or outside our budget, or both. Then finally a compromise: a Tonkinese/tabby cross in Sydney with a pedigree mum and a mischievous glint in his eye. He’d be ready in just over a month. I paid the deposit and said nothing to the girls. When they asked would we ever get another cat, I just said “One day.”

It was only a couple of days later that a series of random events led to me being at a park where I wouldn’t normally have been. I was with Rosa in the playground and we noticed a fire engine parked at the shopping centre, which seemed odd, but there were only a couple of people standing around so no emergency. Then another, bigger fire engine appeared, with a huge cherry picker on the back. Now any novice who has read her share of Golden Books can tell you that can mean only one thing: a cat needed rescuing. I didn’t think these things happened in real life either, but there you are.

We walked over to the people standing below the trees where the fire engines were parked and found a woman holding a towel. On closer inspection, we found that the towel contained the most gorgeous kitten in all creation, who was purring loudly and completely unfazed by the ridiculous scene unfolding before us. In keeping with the whole storybook theme, this kitten (we found out later it was a she, though there wasn’t ever much doubt) appeared to have escaped from some kind of palace, where she might have spent all day lounging on a velvet cushion and having her silken coat and mile-long whiskers groomed by a thousand tiny cat worshippers.

But she was not in the palace any more. On closer inspection she was covered in fleas, her coat was dirty and she had either given up or never really learnt how to properly groom herself. She had an accomplice, too. Another kitten had high-tailed it up the nearest tree and was refusing to budge, hence the fire engine. Apparently they had been found in the park together, but this little princess was slightly more keen to be rescued than her friend.

When I saw this sweetest of kittens, I couldn’t believe the universe could be quite so generous, I patted her and we both purred, and although I was starting to tremble with the excitement of it all, I managed to ask the lady who was holding her whether she would be taking her home. “I have two cats already,” she said apologetically, “so I really can’t”. Cue dream sequence music, soft focus close-up of Her Royal Highness the luckiest cat in the world, and roll credits.  

We took her to the nearest vet - she rode in the car on my lap and fell asleep - and they confirmed she was female, about five months old and not microchipped. We named her Violet, which suits her beautiful grey eyes and silken coat perfectly, and now she sleeps on a velvet cushion whenever she can and is surrounded by cat worshippers of many shapes and sizes, the largest and most devout of whom is me. Because whenever I see her I marvel at how she found me just when I needed her. And I hope she would say the same about me.

Next: The arrival of Oberon