An ode to my cat. Because there should be more odes about cats.
I remember when you were younger and our neighbour was in her garden. She was a witch (see, she was a school art teacher and they are always witches). She had a straw hat and an indignant vegetable patch and I had stopped to talk to her on my way home from work, after you collected me at the corner.
She glanced at you as we passed, and struck up a conversation with me about washing lines and weather. But you had waited for me to come home and I wasn’t home yet. So you sat upright at my boots, tail curled, unmoving as long as I was.
Winnie (what great name for a witch) looked at you, looked at me and pulled her focus back to her garden. Eventually, we moved to leave and quickly, as if she’d been stifling it, she said
“He isn’t a normal cat, is he?”
“No” I said.
I remember when I moved house with just you and your sister to remind me what home was. I always have nightmares the first night in a new place, and when they came I croaked your name into the dark, not fully awake. I heard weight on carpet, a duvet landing, and felt both your paws on my hand. Your head was on my pillow. I fell back asleep.
I remember when I was first dating Simon. You didn’t know him well so you’d gone to the other end of the house to read his tea leaves. He had bad news and we sat in my room, door closed and crying. You heard and you came running, hurling your body at the bedroom door to open it. Once, twice, three times, using your whole weight to get in. I opened the door, bewildered, and you flew onto the bed between Simon and I. He gave me that look, Winnie’s look.
If I am sad, you are there. If I am ill, you are there. If I am home, so are you. You join me in the garden and you’re the lifeguard at my baths.
You are hearth magic, Hestia’s gift. Autumn orange and winter white (how is your white so white?).
And you sleep at the foot of my bed.