Eleven years ago today, Mr Fantapants and I journeyed to an Animal Welfare League foster home hoping to meet the cat of our dreams. Instead we adopted the Big Orange Cat.*
I'd called the AWL with a vague request for a kitten, perhaps of the ginger persuasion (because Mr F had always had gingers and my first cat, Yellowish, was also a ginge, not so that Mr F and the cat should shed the same colour hair all over the house). The nice lady on the phone told me that there was a kitten that met our prerequisites coming up for adoption that weekend. When we met the then Small Ginger Cat, he was 8 weeks old and had been at the foster home (i.e. away from his mum) for all of a couple of hours. He and one of his brothers were huddled together in a cat carrier, looking as miserable as two very young kittens taken away from their mum could. He looked deceptively sweet.
When I first held him he wouldn't stop mewing, and not in a cute I'm-so-small-and-helpless-and-I-need-you-to-take-care-of-me way, in an I'm-a-whinger way. Just as I was about to declare that he hated me and move on to greener kittens, I mean pastures, he started purring. Loudly. And making bread with his little ginger paws on my woolly jumper.** And nuzzling me with his little ginger face. And I fell in love.
Eleven years on, we are scarred (both literally and emotionally), we have dealt with more abcesses, fleas and blocked anal glands*** than I care to remember, and spent more hours worrying about his whereabouts than we should, but the sight of his ageing ginger chops leaning over me in the morning to demand breakfast still makes me smile.
Happy birthday Big Orange Cat.
* Just kidding, obv.
** Which turned out not to be because he'd fallen deeply in love with me and wanted me to be his new mum, but because he has a 'thing' for wool. He has a crusty old 'security cardigan' that he still does this to.
*** Oh yes, it happens to cats too. And when it does you have to take them to the vet and get special ointment, not just apply undiluted tea tree oil to the affected area (unless you want to see your cat leap 2 metres vertically in shock, in which case, the tea tree will do the trick, but you'll still have to go to the vet for ointment and your cat won't talk to you until you've fed him copious amounts of prawns).