Are you a cat person or a dog person? Each seems to have their own traits.
A 2010 study at the University of Texas found that those who identified as “dog people” tended to be more social and outgoing, whereas “cat people” tended to be more neurotic and “open”, meaning creative, philosophical, or non-traditional.
My family must be a family of neurotics as we have always had a cat. Tabby cats to be precise.
When I moved to Brussels, I lived in an apartment and had no intention of having a pet of any kind.
That was all to change on a fierce stormy night.
As I passed a derelict house, near to where I lived, I heard a loud screeching sound. I climbed through the wire to see where it was coming from. A black and white cat, with half its tail hanging off, was yowling with all its might in the pouring rain. “Poor little thing,” I thought to myself and decided to bring her home.
I had a super large handbag with me and tried to put the cat into it. As you can imagine, the cat was having none of it. So I put the cat inside my coat to keep her warm and squeezed through the wire fence again.
Reaching my apartment, I had major anxiety. A woman in the apartment block had a bulldog, which she regularly walked. If we met them in the lobby, there would be fur and feathers flying and my cat would come off worst. So would I take the lift or the stairs? I opted for the lift and breathed a huge sigh of relief when it opened and I saw that it was empty.
Safely installed in my apartment, my new pet, Tia, walked around sizing it up. I gave her a saucer of milk and pondered what to do next. Food was an essential item, as was a litter tray, so I bundled myself up again and braved the elements to source these items in my local supermarket.
An hour later, Tia enjoyed her first plate of cat food, while I set up her litter tray under a table in the sitting room.
The next job I tackled was the part of her tail hanging on by a sinew. She must have got it caught in barbed wire. I took her to the vet to get it sorted. He simply cut the damaged part off with a scissors. Drat, I thought to myself. I could have done that myself and saved myself the vet’s fee.
So far, so good. But I was soon confronted by an unusual problem.
Tia did not like to sleep at night. She paced up and down the windowsill in the sitting room, yowling at the top of her voice. I couldn’t believe that such a small animal could make so much noise. I was petrified that I would get complaints from my neighbours. In addition, my sleep was being affected.
Back I went to the vet. He examined Tia and made his judgement.
“Your cat is a nymphomaniac,” he pronounced, and looked at me severely as if it was my fault.
“Oh, sorry,” I said, wide-eyed, wondering if he thought the cat took after its owner.
His remedy for this condition was to have Tia neutered. This had a profound on her personality. She slept throughout the night and so did I.
Everybody thinks their cat/dog is the most intelligent around but I really think that Tia was almost human like. “Time for bed,” I would say to her and she would jump up on her corner of the sofa and curl up to sleep.
Some mornings she would jump up on the handle of my bedroom door, which didn’t close properly, and using her hind legs, push away so that the door opened. She would then jump up on the bed and greet me. How many cats do that?
Tia had a naughty side to her too! During the summer she stayed at a friend’s place in the countryside to give her a taste of freedom. My friend had a snow-white cat that was completely deaf. Tia used to creep up behind her in the garden, then touch her, and the cat went flying up in the air with fright.
My time in Brussels was nearly up and I worried what to do about Tia. I couldn’t bear to leave her behind. My parents had kindly said that they would look after her at home as I lived in an apartment. Luckily, the passport for pet’s scheme was in operation and I went about securing a passport for Tia.
I trekked around Brussels with Tia, getting the necessary in order. She needed to be micro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies.
The day came for me to part with my cherished pet. Tia was collected from my apartment and brought to Schiphol airport in the Netherlands for a flight to London and then to Dublin. My nerves were fraught.
How would she cope with being in the airplane hold? Not once but twice. The next day, I received a phone call from my parents at the airport. Tia was there, but couldn’t be released. There seemed to be a problem with the paperwork in London. There had been a lot of paperwork involved in the process but I was confident that I had done everything correctly.
Finally, after a lot and toing and froing Tia was released to my harried parents. They expected Tia to be a wreck after the long journey, but there was not a bother on her.
The final test was how my parents cat, Misty, would react to Tia. My Dad had made a large wooden pen in the garage and Tia stayed there for a few days. Misty was brought in from time to time to see Tia. Would there be a rumpus when Tia was released in the house? Not a bit. Misty seemed totally uninterested in her. This was such a relief. Tia had found her forever home.
Tia didn’t lose her cheekiness. If Misty was lying on the mantelpiece in the sitting room, Tia would jump up too. By nudging backwards bit by bit, she edged Misty off the mantelpiece! Misty would jump off the mantelpiece and Tia would the mantelpiece all to herself.
Sadly, after thirteen years of pampering, Tia developed cancer and had to be put down. As she knew that being put into a cage meant a trip to the vet, I had a vet call to the house to perform the procedure. I couldn’t bear to be there but I was told the vet was very gentle and Tia didn’t suffer.
As Sigmund Freud stated:- “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” I have nothing but happy memories of Tia and the time spent with her.
(c) Jenny Crossley
Retired civil servant Jenny Crossley revels in her new role as children’s author. She has written a number of children’s books under the pen name Connie Jessop. You can check them out at www.conniejessop.com. As writing is not a full time job for her, she also volunteers with a Dublin charity. A former marathon runner, she now contents herself with walks near the foothills of the Dublin mountains. Her favourite way to relax is to play bluegrass music on her five-string banjo.