MY LIFE WITH STALIN
AN EVERYDAY TALE OF ONE BLOKE AND HIS CAT
PART 1: YES, WE CAN HAVE A CAT!
I remember when we first decided to get a cat. It was function over style really. After years of pleading with my girlfriend that a cat was probably the solution to our deep-seated hostility towards each other, a good young mouser was finally deemed to be the answer to another problem, that of mice in the kitchen cupboards. The Evil Woman Who Hates Cats had finally decided that her hatred of all things feline paled into insignificance when confronted by her fear of mice.
The decision had now been made, the emotional leap taken – at last we were going to live in the ‘grown-up’ world, become the kind of people responsible enough to look after a live animal. We were finally going to get a cat, and all we had to do now was find one. But where do you shop for a cat? I was sure that Tescos hadn’t yet started bringing reasonably priced quality cats in from the European grey market, so like any bloke, my first instinct was the lazy shopper’s way of solving the problem – I logged on! After hours of trawling the world wide web though, it became obvious that no-one had yet thought of www.wannabuyacat.com, so someone in the cat-loop whispered a suggestion in my ear and we set off on the short drive to the Cat Protection League.
Getting our first pet was a big move and I thought I’d got everything sorted in my head, but on the way The Evil Woman Who Hates Cats caught me by surprise. She hit me with the kind of left-field question that, as a bloke, you are never really prepared for, like ‘where were you last night when you said you were out with your mates?’ or ‘do you really love me?’. In this instance she really did catch me cold. “What kind of cat do you want?” she said.
I was startled. It had never really occurred to me that anyone could possibly want any other kind of cat than the one I had pictured in my mind. After all, there are certain fundamental life principles for a bloke – a Gibson 335 guitar comes in cherry red, a widescreen TV comes in metallic silver, a Ben Sherman shirt comes in blue checks, and a cat comes in black and white. It’s a style thing, a bloke thing. And after all, I was shopping for a bloke’s cat – the kind of cat who would be one of the lads, who would party hard but still curl up on the sofa with me and watch the late night Michael Caine film, a cat who wouldn’t worry too much if I disappeared abroad for a couple of days to watch an England match.
As we approached the Cat Protection League, I remember freezing with fear at the thought that little black and white cats would be so in demand that I would have to offer a bung and put my name down on some secret under-the-counter waiting list. But the reality couldn’t have been more different. As we walked into the small room full of big-eyed heartbreakers, all housed in their little antiseptically clean cages, all desperate for a home, it really came as a shock when our guide told me that black and white moggies are harder to give away than tickets to a midweek replay in the LDV Vans Trophy, Northern Section!
“Everyone wants tabby cats, you see, or ginger cats,” the lady helpfully told us. It was a revelation. I was about to set off on my usual anti-ginger tirade, but that’s when I set eyes on Stalin and his little brother Lenin! They were black and white and cute as hell – and it was love at first sight! The deal was about to go down. I was going to get a cat, maybe two, and all I had to do now was pass the Cat Protection League’s rigorous testing procedure. Would I be deemed suitable for pet ownership? Would we pass the home visit? Now that was a real worry!
NEXT MONTH: The home inspection – would we be deemed suitable for cat ownership!
© Words copyright Chris Hunt 2007