This is our cat, Popcorn. Otherwise – and often – known as “Hey!”, “Stop that!”, “OI!”, and other less-salutary names.
(My favourite nickname for her is Captain Useless of the Meow Brigade.)
We have a complicated relationship, this cat and me. It was the husband who rescued her from a puddle in a rainstorm nearly 12 years ago. And from early on he was her mama. She liked climbing legs, clothed or unclothed, and played with claws out.
I, on the other hand, am allergic to cats. Love ’em, but am allergic to them. Puffy face, swollen eyes, non-stop sneezing, runny nose, the works. The first six months the cat was with us, I took Piriton, an antihistamine, daily. It didn’t stop me from having a runny nose and swollen eyes most of the time I was home though.
The cat doesn’t love anyone but my husband and – now – me. It took him going away, back to the U.S., for a year and a half when we were engaged for her to begin getting closer to me. That’s a year and a half of feeding, of having only me for affection and reassurance and comfort. Once he returned, however, he was Person Number One again, with me trailing. But since then, I’ve been one of her people. (It’s a very short list.)
Popcorn spends most of the day sleeping on a corner of the bed in the guest room. The husband feeds her in the morning, before he leaves for work.
Feeding her, by the way, requires a special arrangement. She’s greedy and lacks self-control, so if you put down the full complement of food for any given meal, she gobbles it down too fast… and then throws up all of it a couple of minutes later. As best as we can tell, what happens is she swallows air as she inhales her food, and that’s what makes her hork it all up. Then she sits there meowing loudly and obnoxiously for more food. We’ve tried feeding at regular times (doesn’t help) and free-feeding (she gets fat; see: no self-control)—nothing but splitting up the meal into at least two portions served at least fifteen minutes apart seems to work.
I generally do the evening feeding. In between meals, the cat sleeps, as cats do. She spends the days bathed in indirect sunlight, slumbering peacefully. Except, of course, for those times I walk past, from my study to the bedroom or bathroom. Every time I pass, I meow at her, causing her to flick her ears and sometimes to turn around to look at me. Sometimes I go in and pet her, put my cheek against her fat furry flank.
I do it in part to annoy her, because I find it mildly amusing to tweak her a bit. But the truth, I realised recently, is that I also do it because despite it all? I do love her, and she’s old enough, and sleeps so soundly, and I’ve lost two beloved rabbits, that I do it to reassure myself that she’s still alive.