Advantages Marvellous, delightful companions
Disadvantages Can be expensive (but, unlike kids, you don't need to send them to school)
In the family we've always had at least one cat, and never more than three at once, since I was small. Now I'd find it hard to imagine life without one.
At present we have two tabby-and-white twin sisters. They were the last offspring of a cat belonging to friends and, after a lifetime of feline pregnancies, signed off with these two kittens on 16 April 1987. We had been promised them virtually from birth, as a replacement for our tortoiseshell and white of 18 who had died the previous summer.
Within a few weeks we saw how different they were in character. Moth, named after two moth wing-shaped blotches on one side, is larger, more heavily-built, looks at us through half-closed eyes, and rapidly showed her love of being cuddled nearly all the time. Vicky, named after the Empress Frederick (Queen Victoria's eldest), has very similar markings, except for three symmetrical spots instead of 'moth wings', still looks like a little wide-eyed kitten, and for ages hated being picked up. She would decide when she wanted to be made a fuss of, thank you very much. Even now she demonstrates and gives great affection when she feels like it, but is still stubbornly independent and 'you-won't-catch-me' when the mood takes her. At the first sight of an unfamiliar face at the door, she will run and hide, while Moth will cautiously observe strangers from a safe distance - like the top of the kitchen cupboard.When we brought them home, the sole animal occupant was Orlando, a red tabby tom aged nearly 7. (His instant reaction on seeing these two for the first time was to turn tail and hide in one of the bedrooms, the wimp). He had had an unsettled life for his first two years or so, until we got him from a cattery where he had been placed by a services family who had been posted overseas. His first few days with us were spent hardly venturing out of our airing cupboard - except when he heard the rattle of a Munchies box. Once he realised we weren't going to send him back to the cats' home from whence he came, he duly became a little less timid, and utterly devoted to us for the rest of his (nearly) 16 years.
It was a sad day when we took him to the vet after he had been off his food and getting progressively weaker over 48 hours. Nevertheless we took comfort in knowing that we had enjoyed 13 years of his companionship, and that he had had a full life. That was not the case with his predecessor Hercules, a small velvety-black tom. He 'adopted' us as a partly-grown kitten on our return from a summer holiday, dumped (we think) by persons unknown who didn't want to be bothered with him any more. Although we already had Sally, our tortoiseshell and white mentioned above, this little black fellow, named by us after an escaped pet bear in Scotland who had escaped from his family and was in the national news, bowled us over completely.
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