Jeanne Ellin: Little Cat Friday

Jeanne's cat

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Little Cat Friday

Jeanne's catMy closest companion is Little Cat Friday, an eccentric tabby of uncertain temper, erratic digestion and unsocial habits. She is a rescue cat. The charity looking after her was not even posting her on their website because of her temperament. Since I could not then offer a garden or lively company I asked for a cat who might not otherwise be homed. I had experience with cats including fostering ferals.

This proved a trump card. She came and was decanted straight into a cupboard with litter tray then food and water on the next level and bedding above. She vanished from sight and for two weeks. I just replenished food and water and tended the litter tray. I stood outside the cupboard and spoke several times a day, so she could get used to my voice and smell. Then I began to get glimpses, like watching a fan dancer, an ear here, a paw there. She emerged and sat between me and the door to the cupboard for a couple of weeks. I gave her so much positive reinforcement that she thought her name was Good Little Cat and began to answer to it.

Good Little Cat did not seem enough of a name for the vet so she became Good Little Cat Friday.

A wonderful companion, sitting on my chest on nights when I am in pain. Bringing down my blood pressure when medication does not. She and my diabetes motivate me to get up on sluggish mornings. Little Cat Friday needs to be fed and so do I if I wish to avoid a hospital visit.

Doctors now prescribe exercise. I wish they could prescribe a pet. The benefits are great and the costs small. Many older, more sedate cats are languishing and would make suitable pets for older people. I am fortunate to have been given permission to keep a cat in sheltered accommodation. I needed to have arrangements in place for her care if I die, to avoid hassle and expense for the housing association, but also to protect her.

Before I met Little Cat Friday, she had been living with an old man in his flat. It is not clear whether he even realised she was there. Certainly when he was admitted to hospital and then died no-one else was aware of her. Three weeks later, when the council came to clear his flat, they found her surviving on kitchen waste, scrawny and scared. She was ill then showed such anti-social behaviour that the charity hadn’t even put her up for rehoming.

This legacy shows in her reluctance to visit the vet. After some experimentation, chopped up chicken placed in the carry basket lures her in with minimal damage. Then we can be driven to the vet by the charity she came from. They still support me when it is time to go to the vet as I cannot carry her. Little Cat Friday meeps pathetically the whole way.

To have the comfort of touch in stroking her, to have her trust me enough to sit on my lap is a great joy when there are so many days when I touch no-one.

Jeanne Ellin

About Jeanne Ellin

I am a poet working at living a creative life in a one room flat, companioned by a menagerie of chronic health problems. I began this series of posts after being inspired by two women younger than myself, who, fearful of their imagined old age spent in ill health and poverty, committed suicide. I explore every year as a bonus of adventures, with moments of discomfort or fear, but with unexpected treasure to be found - helped by a sense of the ridiculous, a world perspective and creativity.