Yesterday I came downstairs to find our utility room awash with hundreds of small brown feathers, covering the floor and fluttering in the morning breeze. Both cats were sat outside look suitably proud/guilty so it was not possible to tell which one was the bird murderer. I hoovered the feathers and got on with the day.

It was just as we were about to leave the house to take my son to the cinema that the culprit revealed herself. Evidently bird had disagreed with Siouxsie, the older cat, and she was ‘poorly’ on our bedspread – and the bedroom floor – and the landing. After manically clearing and cleaning everything (and still getting to the cinema on time) I found myself pondering how we came to have 2 cats.

Our first cat was bought in a flurry of maternal instinct just before Annie found out she was pregnant with our first son. Named Billy, this was an approximation of Bilī, (the Hindi word for cat) We were working with  children who spoke English as a second language at the time, and it seemed natural after having gerbils called Eka and Du’I (One and Two).

Billy met a sad end while we were away on holiday. When we got back our housesitter said she hadn’t seen the cat for a few days, she had kept putting food out (indicate overflowing cat dish) but hadn’t seen Billy for a few days. A hunt around the outside of the flats later we found that Billy’s nemesis, the dog from the end flat, had finally caught her unawares.

To placate an upset 2 year old we let him choose a new pet. He selected a goldfish, and we breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of a short-lived pet that would help us to teach about the circle of life etc. I should add at this point that ‘Fishy’ – as she was named – is still very much alive and well. She has a huge tank that takes up half a kitchen counter, survived a house move involving two days in a margarine tub and a Christmas in a bucket due to a broken tank/flooded kitchen type incident.

With the power of the internet, (not readily available when we got her) we now know that goldfish can live for upwards of twenty years. The World Wide Web is full of stories of fish in their twenties living with the parents of their previous owners (now grown up and left home), all still bearing suitably childish names such as Splish, Splash and Goldy.

Anyway, back to the cats, we moved house (with the fish in a tub) and eventually decided to get a new kitten – enter Siousxsie.  Suze is a model cat, apart from over grooming when she is anxious. She sporadically goes on Cat Prozac’ when her daily routine of sleeping and eating and….not much else, becomes too stressful. Although sleeping on the roof of the beehive doesn’t bother her in the least.

Then a couple of years ago a friend presented us with a scruffy, abandoned fluffy white kitten with some black bits. He came on Halloween and was named Scooby – obviously. Quite possibly the stupidest cat to ever walk the face of the earth, he kept us amused constantly with his filthy, muddy nonchalant, mouse catching, unhygienic antics. These sadly came to an end when the postman rang on the doorbell one Saturday and asked if we had a black and white cat, as he’d just run one over.

“No” I replied, “ours is white and black.”

Postman Pat just looked at me…

Scooby was much loved and much missed, but not irreplaceable apparently. One night last winter Annie and the boys went out, only to return a couple of hours later with a tiny black Russian kitten. Called Koshka, which is Russian for she – cat, she has settled into the hubbub of family life.

The joy of having two black cats to sit on the stairs in the dark and bring dead rodents into our house is immense. All the warm places, hidey holes and comfy chairs are permanently occupied and there’s always someone to sit and keep me company if I need it. Also, this year’s American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals cat of the year was also called Koshka (

which I will take as a good omen.


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