We knew our cat was a softy when we got her. The Boy was three and a half at the time, so much as I wanted a cute fluffy kitten, our top priority was a mog who would be tolerant with children. When we met 18-month-old Poppy at the Cats Protection centre, and she immediately prostrated herself at The Boy’s feet, we had a pretty good idea that she’d be good with kids. We weren’t wrong.
Typically, for all his begging and pleading, the novelty of having a cat wore off very quickly for The Boy. DH has never liked her – he’s allergic to cats, and while he’s desensitised to Pops, he resents her on principle. I *do* like her, but I could live without the muddy footprints, wilful destruction of doorframes, dead squirrels and moulting (never get a monochrome cat; they shed white fur when you’re wearing black, and black when you’re wearing white).
Fortunately for Poppy, though, her neglect didn’t last long. Along came The Baby – and now not only is she not neglected, but she doesn’t get a moment’s peace. This photo reveals the evidence of the first proper Baby-meets-cat encounter.
It hasn’t got much better since. At 10 months old, ‘cat’ was The Baby’s first word. ‘Cat, cat, cat!’ Every time she saw the cat, it was as if she was meeting her for the first time, such was her excitement. Initially, though, The Baby wasn’t much of a threat. She couldn’t move until nearly 11 months, after all, so if the cat stayed just out of reach, she was safe.
Then The Baby learnt to crawl, and the baby/cat relationship entered a whole new dimension. The Baby could chase the cat. The Baby could sit on the cat. The Baby could lick the cat (yes, really).
Now, at 16 months old, The Baby is besotted with her furry friend. She can be in the biggest strop going, but if Poppy walks into the room, all is forgotten. She’s far more excited about seeing the cat in the morning than she is about seeing any other member of the family, and instantly throws herself upon her for a full-body ‘tuddle.’
The weird thing is that the cat, for some inexplicable reason, *loves* The Baby, despite all the chasing, tail-pulling and bear hugs. She must do, otherwise she’d have left home by now. Either she has a masochistic side, or she’s just so pathetically grateful for attention that even being squashed by a toddler is preferable to being ignored; in 16 months of cat abuse, The Baby has had a mere two tiny scratches.
Generally, though, the most the cat will do if she’s getting fed up is miaow pitifully and move six inches away – only to be squashed again. The stupid animal positively seeks The Baby out. By day, her favourite sleeping place is a storage tub on top of The Baby’s wardrobe (the number of times I’ve heard a telltale mew through the baby monitor mid-nap…); by night, it’s The Baby’s highchair.
Still, at least the cat is loved. For all his yearning for a pet, The Boy is now entirely disinterested in Poppy. He doesn’t play with her, rarely strokes her, and actively dislikes her on his bed. He’s already counting down the days till she dies so he can get a pet mouse (only another 18 or so years to go…). The Baby, however, seems to be growing up as besotted with her cat as I was with mine when I was little. My childhood moggie used to sleep on my bed, in my bed, in my Barbie’s bed… She was my best friend in the whole wide world. And it looks like The Baby is heading the same way.
Now, has anyone got a number for a good pet therapist?