Living with Cats


People who live with cats rarely talk about owning them, and if they do it is usually because the cat was thrust upon them and has not yet made the effort to bury its way into their heart. Cat people will say that they are themselves owned by a cat. They may say it with an ironic smile but you can bet that they know it is the truth.

If dog people make the same remark, the irony is real, for dogs are happiest when they know their place, and cats will not tolerate you, dear human, not knowing yours.

I first came upon the saying ‘It’s like herding cats’ some years ago when involved with hosting a troupe of Senegalese musicians and dancers. It was spoken by the van driver who was waiting to take us to a gig and, as I looked about, noting that one of the musicians had just got out of the shower and was chatting on his phone; out of the five or so who were already seated, two got off to go for a fag, and when one came back, another got off and disappeared into the house. It was all done with that slow, catlike grace that people in very hot countries have adopted to avoid overheating and it did remind me of cats. And like cats, these delightful talented people could not be compelled to be ordered into any situation, unless it was something they wanted to do.


I have been owned by a number of cats and do not adhere to the notion that they have no affection for us. I have lived with cats who have gone on long country walks with me, cats who sensed when I was upset and who literally  embraced me and offered comfort. I had a cat once who brought her kittens to me one by one and laid them between my knees, under the duvet while I was sleeping. I have been adored, slobbered over, snuggled, loved and proudly gifted with mutilated dead creatures.

I have encountered myriad natures in sinewy purry bodies, from a cat who was only possible to cuddle on the rare occasions she had to be anaesthsetised, but who would sit companionably behind me on the sofa as long as I observed the no touching rule. I have witnessed startled sudden bursts of frantic energy over nothing I can see, the first discovery of themselves in a mirror, the way they lie down in front of doorways to prevent their sister or brother from passing.


I have marvelled at how a food dish  is ‘empty’ if they can see the bottom of it… how the water in the cat bowl is undrinkable after a couple of hours, but the nasty, stale, scum-coated puddle that has formed in a garden receptacle is apparently delicious.

The way cats seem to know if a visitor is allergic or doesn’t like cats is astonishing. I had one cat who would deliberately crawl into a friend’s motorbike helmet when he came to visit. He would fastidiously avoid letting her anywhere near his eyes and wash his hands before he left (and that was hard because she adored him) only to arrive home afterwards with eyes and nose streaming from her essence in the helmet.

Cats have made many of my houses into home with their idiosyncrasies, their purrs and chirrups, their sudden appearances and disappearances, their quiet dignity and the way they magically grow extra legs and body mass when you  try to put them into a cat basket.


Equally disturbing is how such a fastidious creature can leave a deposit in a litter tray that seems as much a statement of contempt as a stinky bodily function, and often when guests are expected. Is there anything with a more distinctive lingering odour than cat poo? And it’s one that I have not yet discovered a neutralising scent for.

Ah well. Love them or loathe them ( and how can you loathe them ?) cat images and cat remains have been found in human settlements since humans first put down roots. Cats probably saw a chance to feed off the rats and mice that were attracted to us.

I could share more but right now my master has awoken and is horrified to find there is some breakfast cat food still in his bowl and it is almost 2.30pm. I must away to my duties. Cat lovers, I know you will understand.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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