Warning, if you don’t like cats, stop reading now.
Some of you have been asking about the cats in these blog posts. Well, actually, one of you asked. But that’s enough to give me an excuse to dedicate this post to my feline friends.
This morning the neighbour across from me, an elderly gentleman who usually sports a straw fedora but has been appearing bare-headed lately, was pacing back and forth on his balcony (and, I think, spying on me a little), and caught me talking to the cats. I think it was Mean Kitten I was talking to, and telling him what a little devil he was. Or maybe it was Molly, who was chasing a toy mouse at the time, eliciting much praise about her extraordinary prowess.
Yes, embarrassing. Or not.
After months of feeling self-conscious in this neighbourhood perched on the hill and striving to be a good neighbour and self-appointed representative of Canada, I don’t care what people think anymore. How liberating to say this, and, more importantly, to feel it.
Lockdown has changed everything. This small property has become my kingdom. Within the borders of these stone walls, Lockdown Angie, not Complex-Ridden Angie, writes the rules.
And the rules say that talking to cats, my sole companions for the past ten days and for the next several weeks (at least), is perfectly acceptable, healthy, and encouraged. As is playing with cats – dragging home-made toys (fashioned from burgundy Christmas ribbon and scrunchies) up and down the concrete path leading from garden gate to front door, exclaiming, “Get it, Stanley. Jump! Jump!” or “That’s a good girl, Molly. Run! Run!”
In times of crisis, we do what we need to do to survive.
Some of you may wonder why there are so many cats hanging about Carrasqueira 99 (that’s my address), or at least the person who asked me about the cats may wonder.
To make a long story short, my neighbour Débora (of Débora and Miguel from Lockdown #8) runs Asociación Protectora de Gatos Minchiños Moaña – a cat rescue organization. Since we first met and she found out what a fully-fledged Cat Person I am, she’s allowed me to help. I’ve fostered numerous kittens and cared for some of the adult stray cats after they’ve been spayed or neutered.
Attracted perhaps by the lemon tree, the view of the sea, the cream-coloured flagstones (or maybe the wet food I serve on individual plates twice a day) the stray cats of Carrasqueira have claimed this kingdom as their own.
While these are not the kind of cats to come inside and snuggle up on your lap, some allow me to pet their heads. One even allows a belly stroke.
And I am grateful for this contact, however brief, with other beings. Perhaps too grateful. Stella now recoils slightly when I reach for her as she naps on the stone window ledge, calling her “Princess Buttercup.” As she rolls onto her back, letting me rub her soft white belly, other princess names spring forth, from whence I do not know.
Every time she lets me pet her, I’m infused with a warm, fuzzy feeling. I even smile, something one rarely does, in case you haven’t noticed, when alone.