I’d always wanted a cat and when I bought a flat in Stamford Hill in 1997 it felt as though the time was right. It was a Maine Coon or nothing for me. I have always admired them, and was enchanted by their inquisitive nature, the odd sounds they produce and the sheer size of them. That and the tendency they have to follow you around. So I did some research and found a breeder in West Croydon who had a bunch of kittens for sale. I took a trip out there and was greeted by four little Maine Coons from the same litter, six weeks old. Two immediately caught my attention. The first one was a ginger tom, and it was flying around, a wild look in its eyes, as if it had a propeller in its backside. The other was a smoky grey female, calmly observing this lesser mortal with an almost amused air. I plumped for the grey, and took her home in a box.
I called her Redknapp, after my favourite footballer at the time, but since his retirement (and realising anyway that it was a pretty dumb thing to do) we now call her Reddie. When she was a kitten she developed a number of lifelong habits which include licking the edges of glossy magazines or paperback books and chewing plastic bags.
I feed her dry food, mainly Science Plan (she has always turned her nose up at human food but loves tuna and chopped-up tiger prawns). She’s a bit timid with strangers, and it’s taken her years to get used to our boys (when our first son was born she hid under the bed and did not emerge for two entire days) but when everyone’s out at school or in bed at night, she will come and find me and curl up next to me while I write, or while I unwind in front of the box.
She’s getting on a bit now (13 is pretty old for Maine Coons) and last year she was very ill for a spell. The vet discovered that her kidneys were failing so now she takes a tablet every day. She’s been fine since, but despite retaining a healthy appetite she’s getting a little boney and ragged around the edges (but that didn’t stop her from escaping yesterday and spending the whole night outdoors). She sleeps a lot, but when she wakes up we have a little chat (Maine Coons love to chat) and part of me suspects she’s asking me how the writing’s going and why the hell are you talking to a cat when you should be getting back to it, numb-nuts?
So excuse the writer-has-cat cliché, but I just wanted to show her off. And why not? She’s prettier than all of you…