A part of me always wanted to have a pet. Of mine own. My very very own cat.
With whom I would have a secret language, which only we’d understand, who’d sit on my window-sill, prowl around me legs in the kitchen, canoodle with me on the couch.
(Yes. This installment is about cats. It’s just a lurid headline with which I intended to get you here. Ha.)
Having a pet when you are a child is awesome.
You know how it is with people who grow up with a cat. In most cases, it’s a life-long love-story.
I grew up with a cat. His name was Cesar. Like the Roman Emperor. Cesar was a black half-Angora, fluffy hair, amber eyes and he purred most exquisitely. He had a sister, Cleopatra, white fluffy hair, amber eyes. Cesar was special. Not only because he dragged his tail along due to some accident. I think he could actually feel what we were feeling.
Cesar and I were close. As close as a child and a pet can get. My parents got him when I was born, so we grew up together. (There is also a chestnut tree in their garden which was planted when I was born, but that’s another story.)
So Cesar was more than a cat: a friend to whom I talked, a family member who had his place at the breakfast table. We referred to him as a part of our daily life. I carried him about with me in the house, made a belt-tail for myself and followed him meowing through the garden, I searched for him when he wasn’t there and scolded him when scratched me. But the truth about cats and dogs is, that they die.
And so did Cesar.
I remember that even my dad cried when we buried Cesar illegally in the garden.
We made him a little cross. I was fifteen.
Having a cat when you are a student is stupid.
Especially when you live in a dorm. So I went to the mall with my friend A., who was also suffering from severe pet-less-ness, and we got ourselves a hamster. She got a short haired one, I got a long haired one. It took me a while to name him. I watched him run around manic in his tiny red cage, nibbling at everything he found, be it plastic or a finger. I tried to determine his personality, so the name would fit. (It is the same as with children: I think it does make sense to wait a while until you name them, because they do have a name internally hidden in their cells.) I pitied him and took him out of his cage. He urinated on my pants. I sat him on the window-sill. He fell down. I put him back up and watched him. He fell again (he survived). I put him on the floor. He disappeared behind the cover panel of the fridge. I still loved him and named him Lonny Kacynski.
(I listened to Mando Diao at that time, before they became famous celebrities, and their song “Killer Kacynski”.)
A few weeks later I found out that Ted Kacynski is a serial killer.
I’m not sure if his falls or his name contributed to Lonny’s cruel death. I don’t think so. Lonny died a few years later in my parents’ house, where I had brought him after I had quit Uni and went to search for my self. (Which meant travelling around and then moving from one city to another.)
It turned out that Lonny must have had a tumor. Unfortunately that’s quite common with these little animals that are bred to excess and mutate into something weird, genetically speaking. After Lonny died in my arms or rather hands, him squeaking, me crying, I decided not to have any pets anymore.
Like Sandra Bullock in “28 days” I had to wait for having a pet until I managed to live with plants.
That’s what I told myself. “No pets anymore, you’re just not stable and responsible enough.”
(There were guineapigs in grammar school, too.)
So I went out into the world, pet-less, happy to carry a tiny (teddy) bear with me and see some parts of the world. When I came back to Austria, I went to my people’s place and visited their new cats, Max and Moritz, who sadly decreased to Moritz and then no more Moritz.
Since madness – or lets say, devotedness – runs in the family, I decided to give my sister a cat for her birthday.
My sister loves cats as much as I do and she had the perfect prerequisites: a house, a garden, a house-mate who loves cats. So I drove down to Styria (which is a Southern part of Austria) and got a tiny little reddish thing from a farm. It meowed the whole way back, which is about three hours. But it was worth the effort and sis’ loved litte Gulliver. (Who turned out to be a girl, at the vet.) And what do cats, when they’re young and the nights are dulcet? Some months later, on Easter sunday, we found four kitten whom Luna had born, in my sister’s basement.
There were four. And I was there. At least for a while.
Having a cat, when you are a traveller, is selfish.
I couldn’t imagine giving the cat – my cat, as I had already chosen one – to anyone else. Let alone be one of the farmers in the village. They would never be able to grasp the especialness of my cat. It took me months to find a name. While I was in Italy, I searched for inspiration. In every museum in Rome and Naples and Florence, one particular name jumped at me, literally.
When I came back, Mimmo, who had grown into a sweet handfull of reddish hair, had to move around with me. (Mimmo derives from Domenico, which means, Man, Master, Lord. Obviously.)
From my sister’s couch, where I stayed, to my parent’s place, he had to come along. Back and forth. Until it turned out, that made sweet Mimmo nervous. Cats, I read, must have a stable environment. They don’t like being carried around all the time. They like to have their territory to hunt and have little snug places and can-openers (people) at hand.
I felt incredibly bad for putting Mimmo in that situation. Especially since I didn’t know where I would live, and most likely, it wouldn’t have a garden in the next years. His brother and sister already lived with my parents, so we decided he should stay with them, until I knew what to do. Well, as these things go, I didn’t, really. Berlin was calling and then London, and Mimmo wasn’t someone I could put in a bag and take with me. In the end, my mum said she would adopt him, as it didn’t matter if there were three or more cats in the house.
So now my pussy lives with a foster family.
And it turns out, Mimmo is so much more like me than I thought. He is always on the run, up and about, only coming only to eat, sleep a bit, and then he is off again.
The moral of this is quite obvious. But you know what?
When I’m at my parents’ house, sitting at the pond, watching birds fly by and twigs rustle in the wind, and suddenly a golden slender tomcat turns up behind the rosebush, amber eyes glowing, purring like a V12 engine, prowling around me legs, canoodling with me for a minute, I am perfectly happy. And so is he, I suppose.