Like most parents of school-age children, I’m counting down the days till the end of term. I can’t wait to ditch the school-run/clubs/homework routine in favour of the anarchy that is the school summer holiday. But planning for the holidays this summer will be more complicated, because we now have a cat.
Dorothy Purrkins, as my daughter christened her, moved in on the snowiest day in January. An adaptable, sociable animal, she’d go with the flow, whatever our chaotic household threw at her. So quickly did she adjust to our routines that I wondered whether she’d previously had us under surveillance.
When other cats entered “her” garden, she’d chase them off her territory with gusto. When we had human visitors, she’d greet them on equal terms, confident that they would be pleased to see her (which they always were).
After six months in residence, she’s calling the shots. When her food bowl is empty, she sits next to it, politely but firmly pinning me with a laser-like look until we replenish it. After an outing to the garden, she stands on the window-ledge staring with the intensity only a cat can muster until we open the window to let her in. Seated companionably in the sitting room of an evening, her eyes follow us proprietorially around the room. We should have called her Mona Lisa.
But what will happen when we go away to Scotland in the summer? I worry that, thinking we’ve abandoned her, she’ll move on in search of a more dependable home. I could send her to a cattery for the duration, but a cat with a huge rural territory would not enjoy a fortnight penned indoors. Even with a kind friend happy to feed her while we’re away, it’s a tough call.
Or so I thought until this morning. After despatching husband and daughter on the school run, I was standing quietly in the utility room, enjoying a calming cup of tea before work. Dorothy Purrkins sauntered confidently past my feet, heading for the cat flap. Strolling leisurely up the garden path, she chose the best vantage point before settling down on the lawn, surveying her territory. She was a tortoiseshell Monarch of the Glen. Spoiled for choice by the many pleasurable opportunities that the garden held in store, she lay quietly considering her options. Snooze in the hammock in the shade? Warm up with a sunbathe in the greenhouse? Gaze at bits of blossom falling from the fruit trees? Chase butterflies fluttering around the gooseberry bush? Sprawl on the patio, absorbing the sun’s heat stored in the stone paving slabs?
Whatever was on her agenda, Dorothy Purrkins looked utterly contented with the prospect. And so my decision was made: for her it will be a holiday at home. In fact, I might even join her. Who needs travel anyway?
This post was originally published in the Tetbury Advertiser, July 2013
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