If Not Cat does not sleep soundly tonight I shall worry.
He has been on the go since lunchtime. I can see that if I want to enjoy his companion animal services in the warmer months, I may have to put a tent up in the garden. This is his first spring with me.
Unbelievably, it is nearly a year since Cat died. A year since Mother hovered between life and death, and, as I now know, the beginning of her move into the nursing home.
Not Cat has eased some of the pain of Cat’s death. He, like Cat, has unknowingly provided support through some of the darker days of Mother’s decline. He has given us pleasure, and somehow, hope.
So this time last year, I had a feisty but ageing Cat, an elder statesman of the feline world, expecting respect as his due; basking in the attention of the carers at Mother’s scheme. I am still so glad he had those twelve days there. He had a rare old time, and I can’t help but smile thinking about him. If ever a cat was born to command, it was Cat.
This year, I have the ginger ninja. He is certainly more malleable than Cat, and I have less of a struggle to assert my authority, but he is as headstrong and reckless as any adolescent. Cat was reaching the pipe and slippers stage; happy to sleep more, unable to jump much – though he did get to the top of the trellis outside Mother’s flat – and generally slowing down.
In contrast, Not Cat just seems to get busier every day. His playmate of a few weeks ago came to see him today. She was open mouthed to see him on the highest walls. He came down and snuggled round her, pushing his head against her hand and rolling on his back. He even allowed himself to be picked up. She used to brush Cat in the garden. We had a brush hidden in the ivy for her to use. I thought it had been thrown away when the ivy was taken down, but she tells me she has it at home.
She is hoping to spend more time in the garden when summer comes. Her parents own a flat in the block for her nanny. “Do you think he’ll get to know me better?” she asked tonight. Then, “I love him. He’s so sweet.” “I love him too,” I said.
If Cat hadn’t died, I wouldn’t have Not Cat. The circle of life. Both have brought me so much joy.
He is not a replacement. He’s a boy in his own right. My silver lining. But if there is a Cat Heaven, I bet Cat is shaking his head at this boy on his territory and thinking he could do things so much better.