For those of you who follow me on Twitter of Facebook, or don’t follow me (because that would be weird and stalkerish), but just know me in the “real world”, you’ll know that last week my darling boy, Mephistopheles Danger Gordon was in the hospital (for non-animal-lover, the “vets”). You’ll also know that, for the three days I was without him I was on tenterhooks. I couldn’t concentrate. I couldn’t work. My boy wasn’t curled up beside me making cute little sleepy-moany noises and I was BEREFT.
Your reaction to my frequent, anxious posts and tweets about Mephy’s condition probably went in one of three directions:
- Sympathy. Those of you who know me at all know hoe precious Mephy is to me. Or, if you have a precious cat, dog or marmoset yourself, you may have felt empathy. You might have gone through something similar and felt my pain.
- Ambivalence. “What is she getting so worked up about? Mephy is JUST a cat!” or
- Disdain. “Can’t she bloody shut up about that stupid feline? After all he is JUST A CAT!!!’
I have to explain that, before I met Mephy, I never thought of myself as a “cat person”. I mean, sure, we had cats growing up and I liked them well enough (especially old, fat Tom who was so laid-back you could build Lego houses on top of him and he wouldn’t get even the slightest bit annoyed), but we also had dogs and I liked them well enough too (especially darling, dopey Dolly: a dog so lacking in smarts she once didn’t realise she was on fire, even when the whole room was filled with smoke). I always cared about animals. I was a vegetarian and a member of WSPA. I sponsored an orangutan in Indonesia. I asked my wedding guests to make a donation to the dogs’ home in lieu of a gift. Cruelty to animals made me at once incensed and desperately sad.
But I wasn’t a “cat person”. To me, they were animals, the same as all other animals. They were special and beautiful in the way that all animals are (with the possible exception of blob fish), but they were animals. I never felt a connection with them.
Until I met Mephy.
Mephy was meant to be Husband Bear’s cat. HB picked him and named him. And HB loves him to the end of the earth but it was I who fell truly, deeply in love with him. It was I who felt a kind of soul connection to this ungainly, neurotic black housecat. I have never felt about an animal the way I feel about Mephy. He gets me and I get him. He talks to me and I talk back. He sits with me while I write and makes writing a much less solitary profession. He’s my constant companion. The house is empty without him.
So the thought of him being sick; the thought of not having him was …
I still don’t call myself a cat person but I am now a Mephy person and having to leave my poor, scared boy with strangers for not one but two nights tore me apart. When we went to pick him up (complete with a course of antibiotics and a funky new shaved patch on the back of his neck), I was ridiculously excited. The house felt like a home again with him in it, well and yowling up a storm.
He might not be the most easily approachable of cats. He may be shy and neurotic and noisy and naughty (see: Bear’s morning sandwich – lovingly prepared by me; ruthlessly torn to shreds by a certain black cat) but he’s mine. And he’s special. He’s not just a cat. Never was. He’s Mephistopheles Danger Gordon. And he’s one of a kind.