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Photo: Millie the cat

Photo: Millie the cat

I‘m drawn to cats. Mysterious and aloof, even the most affectionate cats seem to have a secret life. They’re true explorers. Their agility is as breathtaking as their silent steps surprise.

Millie is special. She belongs to my friend Christine who co-runs the Cataholics cat rescue charity in Newmarket. When I was painting Christine’s conservatory I was introduced to Millie and her brother Barney. Within seconds I was besotted with this dainty black cat.

Millie was found abandoned. The runt of the litter, she had four legs but just three paws. The vet removed the leg as the stump would cause problems in the future. This gave Millie extra vorsprung durch. This nimble cat is no lumbering Reliant Robin. She moves with the swiftness of a streamlined motor bike and side car.

I was delighted when I opened Christine’s front door and spotted Millie sitting on the stairs. Initially she watched my progress from a distance (decorating the hall, landing and stairs this time). Her slim neck was exercised by following the progress of my brush. Then she vanished. I turned a few minutes later and discovered to my horror that my tall wooden step ladder had taken her fancy. She was standing on the landing stage at the top, poised to jump.

I shot down the stairs and carefully lifted Millie down. Her fur was like silk. Within seconds she was climbing deftly up the steps again and defiantly leapt into the oblivion of the staircase. Safer than a computer operated space probe, she landed perfectly. So I let her amuse herself with the step ladder. There was a reverse journey too – stairs to landing stage and then down the steps.

When I was making a cup of tea she stood at my feet and meowed, a plaintive yet piercing cry. I couldn’t resist picking her up and giving her a cuddle. This was a big mistake.

At first she lay nearby observing me, happy with on occasional tummy rub. But then she got braver moving nearer and nearer until finally she dived in between my loaded brush and the skirting. I now had a black and white companion cat.

Millie now spends her days elsewhere. Far away from the paint pots and the possibility of zebra fancy dress. She returned home briefly this evening. I noticed a sheet of newspaper, being tugged under the door into the sitting room I peeped through the glass. There was Millie on her back underneath the newspaper. She shifted the paper with her front legs and gazed back at me from the shadow of her tent. Inquisitive, acrobatic and totally seductive. I lifted my brush in homage.

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  1. My attitude to cats is summed up by Death’s reply to the dying wizard in Terry Pratchett’s novel. The wizard asks, as he is about to leave the world that if that’s it, then what’s so good about life? Death thinks about it for a moment and then replies (in upper case, as always) “CATS. CATS ARE NICE.”

  2. Kate – my cat does that showing you he wants too! They are so clever arem’t they? i do adore the moggies. The moment I met my cat it was love, and it is a lovely tale (tail). We decided we wanted a rescue cat about three years ago, registered for a cat (not minding age, colour) and waited for the call that came in July 06, “we have a cat for you, well actually a kitten”…uh oh, a naughty kitten! All I was told was that it was a black and white seven week old kitten. These were the days before we had a car, so OH and I walked the 8 miles to the rescue home to be “introduced” to our new cat….it was the hottest day of the year, and we nearly missed the opening hours. We got to the home and there was a pen of kittens, all dozing in the sun with a big fan on them. The lady didn’t know which was ours (there were three black n whites as well as tabbies etc) so off she went to find out. This one small black and white kitten got up, stretched his back and moseyed over to us, he sniffed at us, and we bent down and stroked him through the cage, bright green eyes and pink nose and paws, on a symmetrical black and white coat – a real beauty! We were so relieved when the woman returned and said “its that one” otherwise I think we would have had 2 cats!! It turns out he was born at the centre, the runt off the litter. He is two and a half now a brilliant, bright, beautiful boy-cat. I always remember him choosing us.

  3. but being Dutch, more than likely Protestant, I should say?

  4. kate (uk)

    Catholic cats?!? Had me wondering.Our current cat is Andrew. He is a very large ginger and white Dutch rescue cat. He learned English fast, within days of being with us he could understand “do you want food?” “upstairs to bed” “cuddles”. He is the most effectively communicative cat I have ever had- if he wants something he comes to tell you, then you say “show me what you want” and he does- going either to the fridge, his food bowl, the door or a comfy chair/bed. He has a box of toys and when he fancies a game he gets them out one by one until he finds the one he wants to massacre; he will only sit on laps if they have a blanket on them, he’s no fool when it comes to comfort. Very entertaining.

  5. That is so amazing – it was only when I read the comments that I realised it wasn’t Catholics too! Lovely story about Millie. We have dogs but I have cat-sat 4 times a year for my friend for about 20yrs. She has had several during this time and all are so unique. x

  6. I’m so relieved that I wasn’t the only one to see it as Catholic! Have you ever been sent that email which is written with all the letters in the words jumbled up and just the first and last letters in their correct place? It explains why it is that you can read the email perfectly well. I received it in French once as well and it was just as easy to read! That did surprise me.

  7. Me too! I only realised that it was not Catholic when reading your comments. The mind does play tricks as I understand that as we become efficient at reading our brains just look at a few letters in a word to recognise it especially the first, last and middle letter.

    Millie sounds lovely and reminds me of my own little ginger longhaired fluffball-Bluebell.
    We called her bluebell because she had the most amazing blue-violet coloured eyes that sparkled in contrast against her fur.
    Sadly she passed away last summer due to kidney failure. The cause was more than likely anti-freeze poisoning as cats are attracted to it for some reason the vet told me. Her mischievous ways negotiating the various nooks and crannies in other peoples garages had in the end been her downfall.
    I miss her greatly but thankyou Fiona for reminding me of her with your reflection on Millie.

  8. Yup! Third taker for Catholic Cat Rescue.
    I was already wondering if there were going to be issues with placing the cats …… :0)

  9. michelle sheets

    Pamela, that is so funny, I read it as Catholic too! I must be tired.
    Millie sounds like quiet a character, and lovely to boot. I have 5 cats currently, and my character cat right now is Rex, a rescue cat we saved from a garbage dumping station. He is a polydactyl (hope I spelled that right) so he has 7 toes on his front paws. It looks like he has on boxing gloves. Rex’s hobby is to run up and down the halls and stairs and slide, with much clattering, untill he gets tired, and then he stops moving his front legs, and just pushes himself along with his back. The first time I saw this manuver I was in a room and he walked past the doorway, front legs fixed, back legs pumping along. I thought he was sick at first, and then I realized he was clowning.
    He is also the only cat I’ve ever had that knows his name, because he will come when you call him.

  10. For a moment there I read Catholic Cat Rescue Charity and was somewhat confused! I envy cats for their incredible sinuous movement and their coats which feel like the softest and smoothest velvet. I envy the way they can so quickly and easily stretch their whole body before moving away with such an economy of effort. I once read a description of the way a cat stretches like a concertina held in the middle in a child’s arms and it is an image which has stuck in my mind. Cats have the total monopoly on impressive stealth. Except for TobyCat who lived with us many years ago now and who didn’t really do cat. He tried it and decided it wasn’t for him when he fell off the fence in the garden and we found him hanging by his tail from a rose bush, I think he was distracted when we called him. He was a Persian Chinchilla with long white fur. Once or twice he had to be rescued from the roof of the shed until he decided there really was no point. But he was very beautiful and toward the end of his own life he spent a lot of time sleeping on my dad who was terminally ill.

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