August 11th, 2005


Leila and\or Manasse

I really don't know what else to try with Leila anymore. She's been in a near constant state of panic and distress for almost 4 months. Best Friend has offered to take her in for a week or two, to see if she'll be able to (re-)socialise with other cats in a completely new environment. She's got 3 of her own, 2 of which have only just been added to her household in the previous week. Which means that the pecking order hasn't fully been established yet, and she thought it might help give Leila's confidence a boost. OTOH, it could send her into an even deeper state of catatonia and depression... Luckily, Best Friend has quite a big house; there'll be plenty of places Leila can hide if she decides she doesn't like the change.

The vet keeps pressing me to make a choice, based on which cat means the most to me, but how can she ask me this? They may not be my children, but they're my babies, both of them! How can I choose between the cat that saved me, and the cat I've wished for?

In exactly 16 days from now, it will have been 20 years since Aloysius came into my life. He was a two day old orphaned kitten, a blind little helpless ball of black fluff, that I had to take care of because nobody else thought they could do it. He thrived and grew into a beautiful big black cat who sometimes acted as though he thought he was a man, sleeping stretched out next to me with his head on a pillow and his body under the covers and accompanied me on grocery runs and walks through the park. He and I were very close -- in fact, it was something of a love affair. I thought it would be me and him forever, but then he died, 5 years ago this October.

At first, I didn't think I wanted another cat ever again. But 6 months later, I was going up the wall, I so missed having a cat around. So I went looking for a kitten, and I knew exactly what it was I was looking for. I knew I didn't want a black cat, and I didn't want a female. The number of kittens I was offered when I said I didn't want one! There weren't any to be had by the time I decided I did. Two months later, I was desperate. So when my sister told me that one of her co-worker's sister was looking to rehome a kitten, I didn't ask whether it were male or female, black or white -- I just wanted it. Two days later, I met 5-week old Leila (who was then saddled with the name 'Psycho' for no other reason than that her mother's owner thought it funny -- clearly, this was a cat that needed rescuing). And she did the strangest thing: she left her brothers and sisters to their game while I was leaning against the kitchen sink making polite conversation with her 1st human family, and clawed her way up my trouser leg, up my jacket, right up to my shoulder, stretched her paw across to touch my nose, and when I turned my head towards her, opened her mouth and said "meow". She was the wrong sex and the wrong colour, but five minutes later, I took her home.

Six weeks after that, I bought 9-week old Clio in a pet shop. I was on the bus and it was purely by accident that I saw the sign proclaiming 'Kittens For Sale'. I got off at the next stop, and ran all the way back. Again, I didn't get a choice: Clio was the last one left -- no one had wanted her, probably because she's quite shy. Their loss: she's a lovely cat -- shy, but playful, loving, and very clever.

For 3 years, I was very happy with my two girls. Then my longing for a tom cat was reawakened when a colleague who was about to go on a trip around the world mentioned her cat had had a litter, and she needed to find homes for the li'l uns...I resisted the temptation at first, but when 2 days before she was due to fly out she called me in a panic to say that a prospective owner had backed out and she urgently needed someone to take the last remaining two kittens off her hands, and she mentioned one of them was male, I said I'd take him. The next day, I went to fetch him home.

I gave him the name Manasse for a reason: he's the cat 'who makes forget'.

I'm not nearly as close with him as I was with Aloysius. Yet I can't bear the thought of having to part with him. He's a very independent cat, who up until recently needed no one but his surrogate mum Leila. But now that she's turned against him, he doesn't know what to do with himself and looks to me for reassurance. He's started to 'talk' to me, and comes for a cuddle now once in a while, which I like. The other day, he even had a five minute lie down in my lap. His look told me not to make anything of it, but still...He's not really a people cat, like Leila who likes nothing better than to be around and preferably sat next to or on a person...any person will do, although she does love me best, of course...

How can I send either one of them away?