28 Feb 2021

She's not my cat

A moment of silence for my lockdown roots, if you please.

When I was in primary school, we had to create a book. Like the whole thing, not just write the words. Fold the paper, draw the illustrations, devise the marketing campaign (maybe not that one, can't remember). And I think it had to be an instructional book because I created mine on how to look after a cat.

I wanted a cat. I wasn't allowed a cat, and thought that I could prove to my parents that I was very knowledgeable and capable in looking after a cat by creating (not just writing, remember) a book on the very subject. This was in the 90s without the internet so my knowledge had to come from my own tiny primary school brain. 

Anyway, I was proud of the book but I still wasn't allowed a cat.

I am still, aged 27 and nearly-a-half and back in my childhood home, not allowed a cat. But what I didn't realise when I was a kid, what I missed out in my book, is that you can still have a cat without being allowed a cat.

This is Ali...

Ali lives at No. 5. We do not live at No. 5. And yet, Ali spends 20 hours a day in our house. 


At first, when she wandered in a couple of years ago, all hell broke loose. It's inside. Oh my God. Why is it here. How did it get in?! Martin, get it out. Why is it staring at me? No I will not stroke it. It's ON THE IRONING BOARD. Mum wasn't a fan.

Seeing a cat in our house was like seeing a teacher in Asda. But she kept coming back. She'd wander in, would have a mooch around, then leave. Then she started mooching around, sniffing things, sitting on things, then would leave. Then she went upstairs! Then she lay down. Then she closed her eyes. And she never left.

I could not believe that after years of not being allowed a cat - of dreaming up names and fantasising about finding a stray kitten in a bush - it was as simple as opening your back door and waiting it out. The cat chooses to have you, you do not choose to have the cat.

Until last year, Ali's visits were sporadic but since the pandemic she now absolutely lives here. We don't feed her, we haven't bought things for her (oh the temptation) and yet, she comes back every day. She leaps on to the conservatory roof, under my bedroom at a (godforsakenly early) time of her choice in the morning, and will sit and meow on my windowsill until my lazy human arse opens the window to let her in. And I moan about it, but... I'm a bit obsessed with her. 

I like her padding on my back as I try to get back to sleep. I like her sitting next to me on the sofa as I'm eating beans on toast. I like using her as a pillow and her allowing it (for a bit). I like putting things on her head as she sleeps like Buckaroo.

I like calling her a loaf, my Ali-cat, my furry baby. I like her burying her head in the crook of my elbow when I pick her up to chuck her out at bedtime (10pm, girl's got boundaries) like if she can't see me then I can't see her and she won't have to leave. I like her falling asleep mid-clean.

I like her darting up the ladder into the loft as Dad mutters, 'For God's sake, not again.' I like rescuing her from the loft. I like picking dust off her whiskers after she's been rescued from the loft. I like her sitting on my feet under the desk as I work. I like her sitting on desk as I work. 

I like her picking my jumper to sleep on. I like her shoving her paw under the door when I'm trying to have a poo in peace. I like tucking her in for her fifth cat nap of the day. 

I like her clawing at my thighs ready to tear through my femoral artery. I like her being handy content for my 1 Second Everyday app. I like her choosing my lap.

And I like her lying next to me as I'm wallowing in bed on Day 872987 of the pandemic with her head on my lap as I try to find my next lockdown watch.

This cat, this cat who is not my cat, has been a constant during a time of zero constances. If I could rely on one thing during the pandemic, it's The Cat turning up. And I didn't appreciate how much I relied on that until she didn't turn up for two (2) days last month. I was bereft, I couldn't concentrate on anything and floated around the house in a mope like Moaning fucking Myrtle. I was sure she wasn't ever going to come back and it was then that I realised that 1) I have attachment issues, and 2) what a source of comfort she's been. In a world of instability, every morning that cat is on my windowsill and every day I have some company, some cuddles and another heartbeat nearby. A furry one, but I'll take what I'm given. I felt lost without my little shadow in those two days, even if she does often pretend she's not having a good time???

Obviously she then waltzed back in like she'd never been away. Peace had been restored, pandemic or not.

She's not my cat. Her owners - y'know, the ones who named her, pay for her vet bills, feed her - know she's here. If their kids jump on their trampoline high enough, they can see her on my windowsill. Like peering through the gates of Buckingham Palace hoping to see the Queen, which the cat obviously is. She likes spending time here, I have a new (mal)adaptive coping mechanism. Win/win.

So if you see a (very pretty, the prettiest of cats) cat on my Instagram, or stumble upon my doing-all-the-cat-trends-for-as-long-as-she-lets-me TikTok, know that she is not mine. But she kind of is.


  1. So, what you're saying is it *is* your cat?

    1. I said what I said, Jessicat. I mean Jessica.