Empty cat carrier in one hand, a backpack of litter-trays and grooming stuff and a trolley bag full of kitty litter and food, the villagers must have thought me mad yesterday. I deserve my SPD.
I also really need to get a driver’s license. The car sat in front of our house, reproachful. Meanwhile I waddled in and collapsed, vaguely registering the excitement that we were getting to bring our kittens home last night.
May I introduce to the circus ring Bojangles. He’s a beautiful black and white tabby, a real explorer with not massive amounts of interest in humans so far but a high aptitude for working out the toilet situation (good grief, the baby’s not even here yet and I’m blogging about wee and poo!). He’s named after a nightclub in Jamaica called Mr Bojangles and no, I definitely didn’t name him.
Secondly, I present to you Hero. She’s a lovely, black thing named after Marlowe’s Hero and Leander simply because I love the name and know that Laurence will never let me give it to a daughter because he’s convinced it sounds like a boy’s name. She’s extremely sociable and crawled all over our community midwife this morning to prove it. She spent quite a lot of time on top of our home birth checklist.
When we finally moved into a house three months ago, we were elated that our landlords, who are also our lovely neighbours, were happy for us to have cats. Finding kittens in Bristol proved more difficult, especially since we didn’t really have much money, after budgeting for all the stuff pets need, to spend hefty amounts on the animals themselves.
It’s clearly taken us a while because the baby’s due in, oh three and a bit weeks and we’ve decided to take on these itty things. The lady in the pet shop where I bought the litter trays took one look at my bump and said: “My, you’re doing it all at once, aren’t you?!” Well, yes, I suppose I am.
Laurence was apprehensive at first about getting kittens so close to the baby’s birth. “It’s a lot of responsibility,” he warned. I had Freudian flashbacks to my father telling us all the reasons why we couldn’t have a pet yet when we were children. But I laughed it off, pointing to my bulgy middle: “We’re becoming very familiar with responsibility!”
The moment of truth came while I was in Bristol library reading about home births. The woman who’s kittens we were adopting texted to ask if we’d like to collect them this week. I jumped over to the pet care section, pulled out a book on cat care (to refresh my memory of what was needed) and spent the next two hours reading it cover to cover and getting increasingly freaked out. Do you know how many things can go wrong with kittens? Lots.
I remembered my cat Caramel whom we’d adopted when I was a teenager. He died, we think, of some kind of poison. We weren’t even in the country. A friend found his ginger body curled up inside our house as if asleep – except he wasn’t. I still get worked up thinking about it, wondering if he was scared and sad that he was alone.
I scoffed when my father-in-law jested that we were becoming a family of four (the two of us, the baby and a cat – we were only getting one at the time). I find the whole thinking of yourself as parents to your animals as a silly modern concept.
But there is truth in the fact that we grow attached to our pets in almost bizarre ways, especially if they live on to 15 or 20 years. (The creature could actually grow up with them. Of course, this means she’ll probably want something else – a dog or snake or something.)
I kept waking up last night and wondering if the kittens were okay and holding myself back from checking on them as I didn’t want them to expect nighttime company.
Already, when Hero naps on my lap or Bojangles runs riot with an old shoe, what I feel isn’t just enjoyment or amusement. It really is love. Strange, huh?