‘Mummy, mummy, mummy, I want cat, please please can we have cat? I would love cat. I would take care of cat and love cat. Mummy? Mummy mummy please? If I tidy room I can get cat? Mummy?’
Ahh, sweet isn’t it? It is. The first time you hear it. It’s kind of endearing the second, third and fourth times too. But after years and years of mental torture I just wanted it to end. I turned up at our nearest RSPCA centre and begged them for a cat, any cat, even a bald one. They didn’t have a singleton but two sisters who would have to come as a job lot. ‘Brilliant’ I thought naively, ‘one adopted cat each for our adopted children’.
This about five years ago. Our children were both at primary school. Even without cats, life was very hard. Our eldest child was a boiling mass of anger, our youngest was always touching, scratching, breaking, hiding. I don’t know what I was thinking. I must have been out of my mind (I was).
The adorable, outward-going friendly cat couldn’t take the pace in our house and ran away after only a few months. We put up posters and knocked doors and then when it became clear the cat had gone for good, oh how we grieved (and raged and scribbled and smashed).
The cat that stayed was the timid, shy one, who didn’t like to be stroked, didn’t want to sit on a lap or be dressed as a fairy. Her name is Ron. She had a VERY hard time in our house. She was pursued relentlessly, shut into bedrooms, put into boxes, fought over, shouted over. Children with attachment difficulties can be unspeakably horrible to animals and mine were no exception.
As I was at home more than the children were and not all that partial to cats, Ron gradually started to bond with me. She would follow me around, sit under my desk and eventually sleep on my lap. The children watched this relationship develop and were mad with jealousy. ‘You like the cat more than you like us’ they would scream. And then Ron would be pursued with extra vigour.
Although I love Ron dearly (and enjoy in a dastardly way the preference Ron gives me), her arrival into our family was almost more than I could cope with at the time, on top of the many of layers of trauma behaviours and wobbly attachment difficulties. I should have waited until our children were older and life was a little easier and not given in to the incessant nagging.
NB The author has since acquired two guinea pigs ‘Bart’ and ‘Treacle’ and a tank of miscellaneous fish.