I never thought of myself as a cat person, having had dogs in the family since I was a child, but when a scruffy old cat in a really bad state came around the neighbourhood I was living in, I felt sorry for him. He had clumps of matted hair, bald patches, was full of fleas, ear mites and worms, but I took care of all that. I fed him daily and gradually he won me over and lived with me for 7 years. I called him Charlie because he was a little tramp, and reminded me of Charlie Chaplin, whose character was a little tramp. Charlie had one functioning kidney and the other was failing so this led to his demise, but having had a faithful furry friend who went everywhere with me, I really missed him so my daughter Wendy got me another cat.
This one, I called Lily Savage, for three reasons – she was a savage little so and so who didn’t like me at first, she reminded me of the drag artiste Lily Savage played by Paul O’Grady since she had black bits on her head like the character’s black roots in the wig Paul wears, and lastly because she was lily white.
Lily had been owned by an airforce officer who got her in Wales. He was posted overseas so couldn’t keep her. She was 3 years old when she went to Oldham Cats and she is now nearly 16. I have had her from 1999. That’s a long time. Pets really are a long-term commitment, but the rewards are great. They love you unconditionally. They are good company and everyone likes to look after or love someone or some thing.
My first cat, Charlie, was very intelligent and easily trained. That old boy could’ve been in he movies since he would learn how to do things easily. People used to say he was like a dog since he would sit, roll over, give a paw and do the kind of tricks that dogs do. Lily, on the other hand is a kind of dumb blond of the cat world and it took me 10 years to teach her to give a paw. She may be cute but she’s not movie material. I do admire the animals in films who perform on demand. Lily will never be a star like her namesake!
She is cute though! Isn’t she? Where people have often let me down, pets never have, which is the good quality of pets. How often have you seen a homeless person with a dog? The dog will love that homeless person regardless of whether he is an alcoholic and smelly or not. I once passed by a beggar who had a dog, on my way to work each day. He was homeless, a rough sleeper, as they say. His dog was a friendly mongrel who always lay quietly by his side and had a rope for a lead. Many homeless men have drug or alcohol problems so I never gave the man money. Instead, every day I would give him the same things: a sandwich, a can of coke and some kind of dog food which didn’t require a can opener to get into. Every day he would smile, tip his forehead and say “Thank you Ma’am” and I would smile and nod and go on my way to work. I did that for two and a half years. I made sure his dog was wormed, treated for fleas and fed for all that time because in winter that dog would keep him warm by lying cuddled up with him. That animal was all he had. For that reason I love animals and it is upsetting when I read about people being cruel to animals.