Ain’t she sweet?

Visiting queen

Johan van Zyl, Gordon’s Bay

My wife and I have always had cats in our lives – in a small village in the geographical centre of the Free State we had as many as six, of which some just came from who knows where, and saw, and conquered (read: conquered our hearts).

We allowed one litter to be born in that big house we owned, to the delight and education of our three kiddies.

Later on, in a big city also in the Free State, we had a white cat named Rupert, who was “forwarded” to us by one of our daughters, now grown.

This Omo-bright white cat graced our home with its antics, frequently demonstrating a favourite posture we called the “dead rat position”.

This entailed presenting itself to us in a spread-eagled sleeping position, squarely on its back, at some spot in the house where we would be sure to see (and fall over) it.

Having moved to the Helderberg post-Rupert in 2010, we are now catless in a sense, not having a feline fellow we can call our own.

Incidentally, considering Rudyard Kipling’s story about the cat that walks by himself, who has a cat they can call their own? At any rate, it is not that we are wanting.

This neighbourhood has many four-footed felines flitting about. I do a lot of strolling, constantly on the lookout for companionship by the roadside.

Some cats take off in fright the moment you try to give them some attention. Others stare you down unappreciatingly, and when you come too close for their liking, they furtively retire.

But others… ah yes… there are others who, having sized you up, approach trustingly and hurl themselves at your feet in rapt enjoyment.

These are the individuals who seem to lie in wait day by day, to meet and greet one.

One such case of frequent fraternisation occurring between me and a furry friend continued for many months, until it came to a sad but rewarding end.

I had noticed for a few days running that the cat, a slim tabby, had not shown up. I was scouting the close where the cat had been meeting me, and saw a man eyeing me from behind his gate.

He seemed to have something to say, and I approached. He said he had been noticing that I was on a friendly foot with his cat, Tiger.

This big man was crying as he spoke. Tiger had been his only companion after his wife died, and now Tiger is dead. The reward for me was an acquaintance with this lonely man.

I had been taking pictures of his cat during my walks, and I had one good photo enlarged for him as a gift.

One specific cat is giving my wife and I great enjoyment at this time. I saw it the first time, sitting on the sidewalk near our house. It was still quite young, a scrawny little thing with a pink collar.

It approached without a moment’s hesitation and rolled around in front of me like a wounded snake, coiling this way and that. It seemed to be beseeching me to become its friend. I acquiesced.

A few days later the cat appeared sporting a very recent spay operation, and in appreciation of the fact that it did have an “owner”, I steadfastly continued to refuse tidbits of any sort.

Nevertheless, this cat showers me with the blessings of her endless attentions. I take her up in my arms, fondling her around the ears, and then walk her into the house to say hello to the missus, before putting her out again, till next time.

She’s a big, beautiful cat now. Just yesterday I went out to get the morning paper. I saw her sitting a few houses away up the block. After a little whistle, she pricked her ears, saw me, then practically galloped over to where I was waiting to give her her morning fondle.

Now to all accounts, and to quote from that song by the Beatles: “Ain’t she nice?”