Wednesday, 24 August 2016


The end of the summer season is coming, or so the weather tells me. The season of visitors and visiting seems over for a while, and I’m noticing a certain empty space.

Cat, our crotchety and very elderly tabby, died last autumn and, at times, we miss having her about. Cats have always been part of our home - single, double, triple cats and even, in a season of kittens, quadruple – but for several practical reasons, there is no cat here right now.

I’m suddenly reminded to make a quick diversion to a lovely picture book that had one small boy giggling away for ages: THERE ARE NO CATS IN THIS BOOK by Viviane Schwarz*. 

Do click on that title to see the video - and Viviane has created more brilliant books since.

Right. Back here for my Cranky Laptop admission.
Since last October, I’ve been peeping into a certain Cat Adoption website, looking at the various moggies pictured, and day-dreaming about the very lovely moments of about cat owning.

I ignore memories of gruesome remnants on the kitchen floor, the itchiness of fleas, the clearing up of ailments, the midnight retching or the early morning yowling. I even close my mind to the possibly eco-unfriendly litter tray used when Cat got poorly. Instead, I gaze at all the cat portraits and imagine a soft, purring cat sitting snugly on my lap. Ah!

Now, on that website, at the start of the summer holidays, there were three pages rich with cats and kittens. Yet, if I had to choose right now, just as schools start back, only one, thin page-full of photos remains - and some of those cats will need kind and careful placing. I do hope that good new homes are found for these cats, but it’s still not time for us to take on a new cat, not right now,

Yet, during these cat-lurking months, I’ve come across something I hadn’t expected. Ursula Moray William’s little Gobbolino was not the only black kitten that needed to find a friendly home.

I’d wondered whether I was imagining this pattern or catching some quirk of the site but when I mentioned this idea to a sensible animal-loving friend, she’d heard the same from a veterinary nurse. Besides, even the national website carries a story about a large litter of five black kittens along with a request for help, explaining that black kittens take at least a week longer to be “homed”. Black cats (and black and white cats) aren’t chosen so speedily either and August 17th was even designated Black Cat Appreciation Day, which is both good and sad at the same time. As I’ve really been eyeing all the tabby cats, it makes me feel a little guilty too.

Wondering why this was, another factor popped into my mind. When I visit EYFS & Key Stage One school-children, I often take a sheep puppet with me. Named Barley – as in baaaa! - he’s a great favourite with young children, probably more a favourite than I am, in truth.

Yet I’ve noticed that Barley never comes over clearly in newspaper photographs despite his popular personality. Visually, it’s not easy to see his precise features or expressions in a photo – and, yes, Barley does have some.

There must be something about the photographic play of light within all these black “pet” portraits that diminishes their full personality – their noticeability - which does seems a pity for all those real-life cats and kittens, much more than for my soggy cloth sheep. Not a comfortable thought at all. 

Mog, as we (and a certain retailer) know, is a striped tabby and comfortably lovable - but Slinky Malinki is definitely cunning. 

Or what about the dark, dangerous world that opens for hero-cat Varjak Paw when the Gentleman with the Black Cats enters the house?

Maybe, thinking of all those homeless felines, a new Gobbolino needs to be created? A kitten with sweetness and appeal? (She scribbles in notebook and recalls an old, shelved m/s in filing cabinet . . . . Bother. Shelved cat was definitely a tabby. )

*Meanwhile, whilst checking on Viviane Shwarz facts (and spelling), I noticed there's a link to Viviane's (possibly grown-up) web-comic, CAT AND BAG. It certainly seemed worth investigating – especially as I hadn’t thought about "web-comics" up till that nosy moment.


1 comment:

  1. I'm always looking into cats needing homes too, Penny. And even dogs. But partner - the very man who landed me with my late and much missed cat - says he doesn't want to be 'tied.' And he doesn't like dogs. And where would you put the litter tray. I'd ignore all this if it weren't for the killer question: How would you manage the vet bills?
    It's odd that people are put off by black cats. Does it differ in those parts of the country - I come from one - where black cats are 'lucky'? I'd go for a sleek little black panther before any other, I think - or is that the Bagheera effect?