Cat Charisma

Found myself doing some genealogical research recently and understand why so many people are enthralled by it. Had to virtually prise myself away from the computer and into the kitchen with bribe of digestive biscuits and a cuppa. I love the programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’

Did some decluttering yesterday, which felt nice, though of course it was a bit boring to trawl through various papers and wonder if I should keep them. For example I doubt if I need aged utility bill receipts. Of course I also found some things I’d forgotten about and that might come in useful.

Went through my wardrobe the other day with a friend. There were a number of items in there that felt like ‘discoveries’. For example I have a number of fairly swanky jackets. Should wear them more often. And I have a large collection of scarves. Also found a nice pink top that seemed like a newcomer. I think I last wore it when I was an extra on a TV programme and was sitting with a very handsome French man in a makey uppy restaurant.

As I’ve mentioned before in my blogs I love animals. I adored a pony called Merrylegs when I was younger. Was also very fond a poodle called Tinkie, a pug called Zoe and a Yorkshire terrier called Scut. Animals often feature in my novels.

I really miss having a cat and here are some jottings about a wonderful feline called Puddy.


Puddy was black and white and opinionated. He was brave too. Sometimes howls rang out in the night when he encountered a mean streets tom. There were evenings when he sat for a full five minutes before leaping through the cat flap like a feline action hero. He knew how to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Though he was neutered he had not lost his va va voom.

He once returned home with a large fish. Where had he got it? Unanswered questions such as these were part of his mystique. He was a big cat. I admired his strength. The heavy, surrendered weight of him on my lap…the deep vibrating purrs. . We sometimes snoozed together. It is extraordinarily therapeutic to have a cat nuzzled into your armpit. He had strong preferences about food, its brands and flavours. He was his own cat. I lloved that about him too.

At first this love was most inconvenient and completely unsought, or so it seemed. I felt I didn’t need this kind of anthropomorphic sentimentality. Puddy’s mother, a stray, brought him and his small siblings to my patio garden. The other cats eventually wandered away but Puddy stayed and, gradually, I began to learn why cats can inspire such devotion.

Hemingway, for example, shared his Key West Home with more than 30 cats. Dr. Samuel Johnson had a pet cat named Hodge whom he fed oysters to and other treats. Mark Twain revealed “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one.” And who would ever have guessed that the august Sir Isaac Newton is often credited with the invention of the cat flap. He cut a hole in his study door so that his pet puss could come and go.

Someone once remarked that “having a dog is like a marriage, but having a cat is like having an affair”. Maybe that’s why ads for cat food sometimes resemble Mills & Boon novels as glamorous career women embrace their purrfect partners.

“As we see animals more as equals we like the fact that cats see us as inferior” one cat lover told me. “I find it rather funny that my cats order me around.” A psychologist who has studied feline charisma added that the human-cat relationship is quite an egalitarian one that may appeal to feminist instincts. Thankfully Puddy was only haughty when he felt the situation required it. But he never quite forgot forgot his wildcat roots. Strangers made him dart for cover,

“There is a time for departure even when there is no certain place to go” Mark Twain once wrote. When I left Ireland for some years I had to rehome Puddy. I wish I could have brought him with me, but his new home in the countryside was wonderful. He could roam freely without fear of bullying toms and his new human companion showered him with care and affection. After a bewildered while he settled. I received photos of him looking extremely contented.

Quite a while ago I bought a bag of catnip and sprinkled it in a corner of the kitchen. Puddy passed away before I returned to Ireland. I wanted him to know that even though I cannot see him he is welcome to wander through these rooms. The cat flap is still in the kitchen door. Sometimes a gust of wind makes it sound as though he has popped through it. Dropping in for a while before setting out on bigger and more satisfying adventures. Bravely exploring his great elsewhere and sleekly slipping into its mysteries.

Lots of love,


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