While growing up I never had pets at home. I think that is precisely the reason why I am not super comfortable around cats or dogs. As kids, my siblings and I would excitedly bring in stray kittens or pups from the neighbourhood. However, in spite of giving them cute names and trying our best to convince our parents to let us keep them, we would have to part with them in a few hours.
As a grown up, I have noticed my awkwardness around pets but I don’t think it’s fear; it probably stems from my lack of exposure. Nevertheless, I have come to the realisation that I really do enjoy the company of cats as well as dogs. Big disclaimer though; with this bold proclamation I do not mean to express my intent to take this relationship to the next level i.e. I am probably not ready to have a pet of my own. It is a huge responsibility indeed and I don’t think I am up for it, at least at this point of time in my life.
Anyway the protagonist of this post and the reason I broke my blog silence after months is Lucy. She is a kitten, about 6 months old, from one of the neighbouring houses who jumps the fence and comes over to our garden on a regular basis. She’s become a frequent visitor and it is now my daily ritual to meet Lucy every morning and evening.
It was just a few month ago that she came over for the very first time. We were casually chatting with our neighbours in our shared garden one evening and out came Lucy, eagerly jumping around in a very playful mood. Her older friend, Bounty, accompanied her along because this was probably the first time little Lucy was out exploring foreign territory. After a leisurely stroll, Bounty decided to spring up the cherry tree. I can’t even express it in words, how impressive it was to see her in action. With the beautiful stripes on her black coat it was almost like watching one of those big cat adventures on National Geographic. Little Lucy, just like us, could only watch in awe from down below.
This summer with Lucy has been nothing short of fabulous. She is the first cat I have been in close contact with and has helped me learn a lot about feline behaviour. Cats love self-grooming and like to keep things super clean. It’s not that I want to snoop on her private matters, but it is fascinating for me to see her dig a hole in the ground before pooping or peeing and then covering her business with new dirt. I call out for her on days she’s not around and wonder about the probable reasons for her absence. It is also interesting to see that cats are so independent and wander around in other’s gardens all the time as if they are the king of the jungle. They are also very moody and only let you pet them when they want to be petted. It’s so funny because sometimes Lucy would just drop at your feet, lying on her back, tummy facing up, to let you know with those big staring eyes that she wants you to pet her. But then would run away if you barely touch her while she’s not in the mood. We also give her some water and food sometimes and she is comfortable eating from the palm of our hands. Some days she accompanies us into the apartment and explores the different corners. She loves kneading with her paws, taking her claws out, especially when brushing up against fabric. I call it cat yoga. It is a sight to behold!
My neighbour also made her a simple toy to play with. A small wooden block attached to a twig with a string. She finds it so fascinating. It’s fun to watch her in action when she is in hunt mode with her body close to the ground and tail stealthily wagging. And then she suddenly springs towards or runs after the mousy block! Being the garden supervisor is her favourite pass time and she watches closely as I water my plants in the evening checking out what’s growing all around. While she still loves jumping at bugs and fighting with bushes, Lucy now also engages in more challenging pursuits like playful wrestling with Bounty.
Some days Lucy is excessively curious and adventurous. Once I saw her strolling by on the slanting roof of our house. I don’t know what intrigued her to climb up there and how she got back down, but I looked on in absolute horror as she tried to walk all the way to my neighbour’s balcony on the 2nd floor. Then one evening, while we were chatting in the garden, she climbed up a tree in the neighbour’s garden. Before we could even praise young Lucy for her heroic pursuit of the unknown, she ambiguously walked on the thin wobbly branches in all directions, searching cautiously for a way to hop down. She was clueless but soon realised that it was way beyond her scope. We were watching in amazement but then she finally started purring for help and we decided to come to her rescue. I grabbed a plastic chair lying around the back of the garden and Govind grabbed a bucket. The stem where she finally stood was also a bit high for us but we motivated her (Komm Lucy!) to jump onto either of these. She continued purring, while maintaining eye contact, but couldn’t gather the courage or confidence to make that, albeit mildly assisted, giant leap back to Earth. Finally she faced her worst fears and took things in her own paws, clawing her way down through the stem, back to safety.
And continuing with her adventurous conquests, today morning, during my usual pre-work garden check-up, I found her cat-walking on the top of the thin wire fence separating our garden from that of our neighbours. I can’t really fathom what could possibly have convinced her to go down that path, but that’s Lucy for you! With hardly any surface contact, I’d imagine it would be difficult to continue walking towards the end of the fence, but it was also absolutely impossible to turn back. It was tough seeing her frozen in the middle, figuratively stuck between a rock and a hard place, so I placed a large plastic board slanting from the top of the fence to the ground to help her slide down. She was obviously not impressed with my resourcefulness and continued her tough yet impressive stride. I couldn’t stay to watch the whole movie as I was already late for work, but I’m sure that now and in the future, with her adventurous and courageous heart, little Lucy would always find her way.