How I fell in love…with cats

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By 2017-11-12

By Shani Asokan
Ceylon Today Features

I've never really been a 'cat person.' From puppies to full-fledged adult canines, if you had one, I was there. I got my first dog when I was eleven, and was twelve when he passed away after being poisoned. We ended up getting another dog soon after, a beautiful Lion German Shepherd. Being a huge fan of Enid Blyton at the time, I named him Scamper.

Scamper was eight when the cats came into our lives. We adopted a bushy-tailed ginger cat who had been abandoned on the side of the road due to a tail deformity. We were unaware that she was pregnant at the time, and it really was a New Year's surprise when she gave birth to three kittens on New Year's Eve 2014. My grandmother, unable to part with the kittens, decided to keep them all. Not long later we found two other kittens abandoned in the drain outside our house. Unable to find them good homes, we decided to add them to our growing posse.

Like most cats, all five kittens weren't very affectionate. They turned up at feeding times but refused to allow anyone to pick them up or pet them, leaving the few but far between daring souls with some nasty scratches. They preferred to be left alone and eyed the dog with great suspicion every time they crossed paths. Scamper, being a gentle giant was never really bothered by it. He would attempt to playfully chase them around sometimes and then retreat to a corner after being treated to a vicious scratch or hiss.

The cats avoided me like the plague, and to this day I don't know why. It's most likely because Scamper followed me everywhere. In 2016, Scamper was diagnosed with final-stage lung cancer. He was ten at the time, which is quite old for a big dog and he was only given a couple of weeks to live at best. Having treated him like the second child of the family, this news was a cruel shock to everyone. His condition deteriorated fast and soon he was unable to climb the stairs. For the first time in ten years, he wasn't sleeping in my room.

Being used to a furry roommate, sleep didn't come easy. It was on the third day of sleeping alone that she made her way into my room. Duchess, one of the original three kittens, who had barely spared a look in my direction before, made her way to my bed, hopped up and settled down for the night. In the week and a half leading up to Scamper's passing, she barely left my side. I had to force her out of my room at meal times, and when I opened the door, she would be sitting there patiently, waiting.

This continued for months. Finally, she stopped sleeping in my room through the night but would worm her way back in early morning and be there, curled up somewhere on my bed when I woke up. This practice still continues. When I get home, she bounds towards me like a dog would, following me up the stairs to my bedroom. She mews and curls herself around my legs until I pet her or play with her and then settles down to snooze on my bed.

It's safe to say my opinion of cats has changed. They're pretty great!

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