Over the last year or so our elderly cat has witnessed everything around her change. We have packed up the house for earthquake refurbishments, unpacked partially for a family Christmas, had the old driveway and paths removed and replaced, packed up some more for new carpet to be laid, unpacked some more to get ready for the sale of the house, and finally a full pack up and various stuff being sold and taken away over the last few weeks in Christchurch. After that she had the indignity of being packed off to ‘boarding school’ while we moved to Nelson.
When I say ‘indignity’ I exaggerate. The cattery in Avoca Valley is fantastic and she always comes home relaxed and well after being cuddled lots and being indulged in a second breakfast to keep her skinny self at the same weight she came in at. It is a good thing she is such an unrattled character. Despite her deafness, lack of teeth, and only one good eye, she doesn’t seem to be afraid of much. Perhaps at her time of life she has seen it all before! This is a good thing, because the next step will have been a completely new experience, and I was a bit nervous about it for her.
Cat came to us as a stray, from the local cat lady down the road. We joke and say we are her retirement plan. She was quite deliberate in her campaign to get into our lives. Cat started off sitting on our front verandah, sunning herself and saying a very vocal ‘Hello,” as we walked past. We didn’t mind, there had been a stream of cats of various ages over the years who played and fought in our garden, and they were both beautiful and entertaining. We really didn’t want to add a cat to our household though, feeling that we would like to enjoy the freedom of deciding to go away for a few days here and there without the worry of providing care for a dependent creature.
We had not considered the persistence of a small furry feline! She hung out for a few months, but as the weather started to change she looked a bit unwell, and we got concerned for her. Then it snowed and we found her sheltering in the garden and looking miserable. We decided we would feed her and make a nest in the back porch, where she could get shelter and stay warm. Perhaps she had a home already and we were in danger of poaching someone else’s pet.
A couple of days later I looked out the back window and this scrap of a cat was sitting under a bench seat in the snow, all hunched up. I went out and a great big black tomcat leapt from her nest and took off. So we let her in and that was that. We were hers, and now this was home. Two doors down from her original abode, probably where she was born. Still in her neighbourhood but in her known environment.
Now we were taking her from everything she has known into a completely different place. The only things that might be familiar would be ourselves and the furniture. After a six hour car journey. Poor thing, I was very nervous about how she would be but she was a real trooper. After an escape in the car, a throw up, and a couple of deafening howls, she went to sleep and didn’t wake up until ten minutes before I got to our new home.
It turns out that after a couple of days with big eyes and a slightly jumpy demeanour, she has made herself completely at home. Discovering new sunny spots to hang out in, places to sleep, and a determined approach to following us around in the garden and down the path, like a little dog. Perhaps she is getting more exercise with all the stairs we have, or perhaps she has a new lease on life with such a major change.
Whatever the reason, I admire her stoic acceptance of the changes that have come upon her. She can teach me some things about taking some time to find my own new places to enjoy the sun and take in this new place. To stop hurrying and rushing about trying to replace my old life’s patterns and places, but to sit in the sun and take it all in. Taking time to learn its rhythms, shadows, and scents.