Feline Friends: Some Cats Choose Their Owners

Some cats choose their owners; they need us just as much as we need them. I was raised with family pets for as long as I can remember, typically cats and dogs. Personally, I consider myself to have had only two pets of my own: Leo and Ginger. The way our paths crossed for both cats was truly astonishing.

One morning, my friend and I were walking to school together. Our route took us via the arches that led to the new Den opposite Silwood Estate – when I say Den, I’m referring to the Millwall Football Stadium. The weather was cold, wet, and miserable, with sooty dark grey clouds and thick, constant rain. Both soaked, we eagerly anticipated reaching shelter under the archways. As we approached the initial arch from the right, we spotted a vacant white car parked by the side of the road. A ginger and white cat appeared from underneath; despite the rain, he wanted to make his presence known to me. Cold, wet, and with motor oil on the top of his head, he began to follow us. I decided to pick him up and place him inside my bomber jacket, thinking this would give him temporary relief from the weather and allow me to provide more shelter for him under the arches.

Upon reaching the archway, I removed him from my jacket and placed him on the dry floor. As we began to leave, he continued to follow. I turned to him and told him to stay, pointing towards a nearby mattress. Surprisingly, he sat and listened, and my friend and I continued our journey to school.

After school, as my friend and I walked home together, the weather had improved, and specks of sunlight peeked through the clouds. We soon reached the arches, and there sat the cat on a concrete block under the arch. He had been waiting patiently all day. Astonished, I picked him up again and placed him back inside my jacket, with both of us deciding what to do with him. I wasn’t confident I could keep him, as we already had a cat and a dog, and I wasn’t comfortable approaching my mum. My friend insisted he would take the cat home with him and ask his parents, certain it wouldn’t be a problem.

The following morning, as I left for school, I found the cat sitting patiently on top of the concrete encasement housing the bin. Somehow, perhaps by scent, he had managed to find his way to me. My friend, who lived in the block of flats directly in front of mine, was not there. As I stood in the doorway, thinking about how to handle the situation, I felt a presence behind me. I turned to face my mum, who informed me the cat had been sitting out there all morning. She was aware of my encounter with him the day before and, without hesitation or malice, asked if I would like to keep him. Stunned, I immediately accepted. Although Ginger wasn’t entirely ginger, I decided to name him Ginger, a temporary nickname my mother had given him.

Ginger was a great companion of mine during those days, always there for me when I returned home. He lived a comfortable life until he was diagnosed with feline AIDS. Our last encounter took place on the stairwell.

It wasn’t until 2015 that a similar event persuaded me to consider owning a pet again. I incorporated my new business, in August 2012 when I was forced to find alternative routes back into employment. By 2015, I was working alone from home or in isolation when conducting property inspections.

One afternoon, feeling very tired, I decided to take a nap to replenish my energy. During this nap, I had a very lucid dream that though brief, remains memorable. Upon becoming conscious, I found myself in a bright white environment with a lady whose identity was unclear. I could sense her presence as I lay on my back, looking up. The atmosphere was peaceful and tranquil. The lady approached me, leaning over as if to give me a kiss. As she drew closer, her identity faded and her face gradually transformed into that of a young ginger cat that began to give me gentle cat kisses. I awoke, returning to reality.

As pleasant as the dream was, I remained confused. I knew the dream had meaning or purpose, but I couldn’t connect the dots between the lady and the cat. This rested on my mind for a while, but I knew from experience that the answers would come in time.

Surprisingly, the answer came much sooner than expected. That following weekend, my partner approached me. Her sister’s cat had recently given birth to a litter of kittens, and she wondered if I’d be interested in homing one. She showed me a photo of a tiny ginger kitten with blue eyes. Though I tried to find every reason not to say yes, it was futile; I was already attached to him, and my logical reasoning was no match for my growing affection. I trusted my instincts, and to this day, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Initially, Leo was named Kingsley, a name I admired. However, I wanted to name him Leo, also known as “Leo the Lion.” When he arrived, I offered him some crème fraiche from my dinner plate to help him feel comfortable. He slept at the foot of my bed that night, and our bond grew stronger. He would lay behind my monitor while I worked, eventually moving to my lap when he outgrew the desk. Over time, he developed the quirk of always touching me with a paw when laying close by or overwhelming me with cat kisses when it was time to focus on him or take a break.

Leo and Ginger taught me something unforgettable: animals can be incredibly loving and affectionate. Although I am an omnivore, just as Leo is a carnivore, this relationship shaped my outlook on the food industry. I became more concerned about the treatment of livestock, the methods of slaughter, and the vast scale of animals unnecessarily killed. Animal lives matter, and as their guardians, it’s our responsibility to remain compassionate towards them and the workers in slaughterhouses, whose detachment from compassionate reasoning is at risk.

A healthy balance of the food chain and respect for animal lives need to be upheld, especially if we want to retain our own humanity.

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