Kitt moved into our home in 2013. She was two years old and had lived in an abusive situation for most of that time before being rescued by a cat refuge. My daughter decided that she wanted a cat and chose the option of getting a cat from a rescue home. She chose Kitt from a photograph on the refuge’s website because Kitt looked like a ‘walrus’, which she did.
The cat, whom hadn’t been named at that stage, arrived in a basket and immediately ran to hide under a big cupboard. The lady who brought the cat from the centre explained that the cat had attempted to live in obscurity for two years by hiding under one cupboard to protect herself from abuse.
My daughter named the cat Kitt within minutes of her arrival. It took a day or so for Kitt to bond with my daughter and trust her enough to come out for food and drink. We were given Kitt on a trial period with regular phonecalls and visits from the centre to ensure that we were suitable owners. Finally, on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral on 8 April 2013, we received a phonecall from the centre confirming final ownership of Kitt.
The timing is pure coincidence, I must add, after enduring years of jokes about Kitt being the reincarnation of Margaret Thatcher. As a rebuttal, Kitt wasn’t born on the day of funeral, even if the date is a signifier of a new beginning, and she is no Thatcher. Phew!
I instinctively knew that she was going to be a blessing in our lives. This frightened cat who lived under the cupboard for two whole weeks finally, one day, started exploring her new home. Watching her unfurl in her new surroundings reminded me of the early days of parenthood with my daughter.
Every nook and cranny and room became a place to explore. Sometimes it was hard to find her and we would panic even though Kitt is an indoor cat. A rustling under the bed or another cupboard would alert us to her whereabouts. There were cat toys that she took to and didn’t for no obvious reason, just like a child. Kitt was mainly silent except for an occasional meow when she wanted to use the litter tray. That was our sign to scarper. Kitt, till now, likes her privacy when she does her business.
Kitt has, what a psychologist friend of mine terms, ‘gratitude syndrome’. She never hisses or scratches and is a rule follower to the T. For example, if I am in a hurry and leave her cat treats in a place other than the normal spot, Kitt will stop and stare at it and walk away even though she adores her treats. A few vets have said that they have never come across such a loving and placid cat. My psychologist friend thinks that Kitt does not want to inflict harm on us because of the hurt she suffered. I have no idea whether this is true or not but it seems to fit the bill.
We lived hugely busy lives pre-lockdown and Kitt would look sad when we left in the mornings. She would come to the door to see us off. Once lockdown started her mood perceptibly lifted. In the first few weeks from March to April 2020, I took delight in seeing a spring in her step. Little did I know that as time went on she would put a spring in my step too.
For much of lockdown I have lived alone (family health complications) and Kitt has been my one and only steady companion. She runs and climbs into bed in the morning as soon as I stir. She goes to sleep right beside me every night. In the evenings, she curls up beside me and looks at me adoringly while I work or read.
Our human-cat bond has deepened to such an extent that I have begun to regret not knowing Kitt as a kitten. This, in a small way, must be how parents who adopt older children must feel. Adrian Chiles, the former BBC journalist, draws an analogy between having children and parenthood in an article about his dog.
Kitt came with strict instructions from the refuge centre on being an indoor cat only. Silly me sometimes imbues her with the human aspiration of wanting to be outdoors in Spring and Summer. From time to time I put a cat lead on her and take her out into the backgarden. She only wants to come back indoors. So I resort to carrying her tightly and brushing her paws against leaves and flowers. She likes this and doesn’t struggle.
“Time spent with cats is never wasted” – Sigmund Freud
I couldn’t have done as well as I have in lockdown without Kitt. Studies have shown that having a pet with you during this trying time is a comfort. A loved pet helps to curb loneliness. I worry about what will happen post lockdown when Kitt has to be alone again for hours on end. Perhaps I worry too much though because she is a resilient cat. How do I know this? She does not hide under cupboards anymore and ceased to do this, even fleetingly when something alarmed her, about 4 years ago.