My best pal is my cat.
Now, I am aware that this perhaps sounds a little bit sad or makes me seem like a crazy cat lady, but I can assure you that I’m neither of these things. I have a perfectly healthy (okay maybe slightly excessively affectionate) relationship with my family’s pet cat of nine years, Harvey.
Harvey first came into our lives just shy of a decade ago, through conventional means but unusual inspiration. My little sister and I were in that young phase (I say young, I was thirteen and she was eight) when we were constantly pestering our parents for pets. Kittens, specifically. We recieved the usual, “but it’ll be me who ends up taking care of it!” from Mum and, to be fair, that is precisely what had happened with the guinea pigs. But kittens would be different! We assured her that we’d pay attention to kittens and still love them when they grew into cats.
Eventually, Mum and Dad had a Serious Discussion (parental patent) about getting us cats. One each. Mum firmly put her foot down, and when she did she saw how devastated that made Dad. The word she actually used when she relayed this discussion to us was “crestfallen”. It turned out that Dad had wanted a cat as badly as we had! He grew up with cats, most of them ginger and all of them eccentric. His parents had twin ginger tabbies from when they were kittens; Tom and Jerry (seriously) and a big black kitty called Hatty (so called because Grandad had actually wanted to call her Fatty).
Having seen the heartbreak on Dad’s face, Mum hatched a plan there and then which she revealed to us the following morning over breakfast… we were getting Dad a cat! I remember the joy I felt when Mum said those words; a cat! Finally! And for Dad too, how sweet! Mum went on to explain that as Dad’s birthday was coming up soon, the cat would be a gift for him on that occasion. The parents would always joke that Mum could never top the time she got the two of them tickets to Rome for his birthday, and Dad could never top the time he gave Mum twelve bottles of champagne… well, this could be the most legendary gift of all time.
“It must be a ginger cat if it’s a gift for Dad!”, I shrieked. So Mum got searching; she looked into the local cat rescue centres, and found an actual crazy cat lady who simply took cats in and just let them roam free in her living space. And there he was. Frodo. The skinny, spritely, spirited ginger tabby who had been saved from a house full of under five-year-olds who had decided to name him Fifi.
A few days before Dad’s birthday, Grandma, sis and I sat in the back seat with the white wire cage containing our new friend across our laps. We were practically hugging it and crying with excitement as he meowed at us quizzically. We waited patiently in the driveway for Dad to answer the door and when he did, we held up the cage and grinned. Dad’s face was blank; he was stumped for a minute. We, of course, carried on grinning. Dad then locked eyes with ‘Frodo’ and actually squealed! “You got me a cat!” he exclaimed as he began to get emotional. Deciding that Frodo wasn’t really a good fit, Dad named the cat after the famous Sussex ale… Harvey.
Every morning now, Harv will come into my room for sleepy snuggles. He even ‘asks’ permission to come in by standing in the doorway meowing, then he’ll come to the bedside and meow some more, and then he springs onto the duvet next to me. Harv then spends a good few minutes nuzzling my face, purring like a machine gun, before settling curled up atop the duvet as close to me as he can (fo the warmth, no doubt!) Recently I’ve been slower in the mornings which means he’s been cuddling for longer. I feel like he knows I need it.
A freaky fact about Harvey is that he knows when we’re ill. You’ve all probably heard the theory that dogs can sense horrific turns in the weather? Well our cat can sense when we’re poorly, sometimes before we do! Two years ago, Mum had sciatica which was causing her immense pain down her back, between her ribs and in her hips. One day she couldn’t move from the living room floor when Harv suddenly came running in and nestled up next to her, precisely in the spot where she was hurting. He pressed up against her lower back, every inch of him touching the pain. Another instance, not long after that, was when I was experiencing weird body movements and lack of motor skills. At this time Harv was coming in my room every morning but what was odd was that he’d be jumping up onto my bed and going straight onto my pillow. He’d sit heavily on my hair, nuzzling my head and sometimes he’d even lick my head animatedly. It just so happened that this was in the months just before I was diagnosed with something on my brain…you could call it coincidence, I call it Psychic Cat.
Harvey was the missing part of our family when we got him back in 2007. I can’t explain it, it’s like he was meant to join us and fill that spot on the sofa. We feel the loss when we put him in a local cattery the day before we go on holiday, we get him a Christmas present each year (which Dad opens, obviously), we open the cat flap for him when he refuses to actually put his head through it (which is often), we give him our yoghurt lids to lick, and we buy him the cutest collars with jingly bells on. We also get ridiculously livid when he gets in a fight with the bully cat across the road, we find it endlessly perplexing how much he loves sitting on our hessian bags-for-life, and we work hard to eventually forgive him when he brings in a dead mouse with its guts hanging out.
Harvey is such an ingrained part of my life and he finds his way into every other shot of book hauls and cups of coffee on my Instagram feed. The perfect scenario for me has to be when I’m on a major blogging roll, snuggled in my bed with Harv purring (or humming in his sleep, which is the cutest thing maybe ever) next to me, occasionally flicking his tail over my keyboard.
So yes, my cat is my best pal. And that is completely fine and dandy.