By Co-Artistic Director and cat lover, Rachael Abbey.
Officially my family hasn’t had a cat since 2010, when the night before I was due to come home for summer break after the first year at Uni, our cat was killed. It was traumatic and horrible. She was killed after a drunken farmer let his hunting dogs off the lead after a night at the pub, one of them caught Daisy and that was it. Mum saw everything, Dad saw everything, a young couple walking home saw anything and the bloke was so upset he had to come in the house for a cup of tea. Mum said she wasn’t getting a cat again, the pain was too much to bear.
A furry friend makes herself at home on Rachael's bed.
Jump cut to Jan 2021. Since then, there have been several cats in our house, none of which we have chosen, but cats that have turned up. Here is a comprehensive list for your consideration:
1) For about 9 years we had Cat. She turned up one day and then just didn’t leave. We never gave her a proper name because she wasn’t ours but we were feeding her twice a day and she wouldn’t go home. The woman had loads of cats and hadn’t realised she was missing. She was very independent, she wouldn’t sit on your knee but she would sit near you if she liked you. She turned up when my nan was still here, and she’s been gone 5 years next week. Cat got ill last summer and had to be put down. It was very sad.
2) There was Naughty Boy, who was a big black cat who used to jump onto the counters and nick food (hence the name) but he would let you pick him up and cuddle him which was nice. He was a neighbours cat who just liked to visit, but last spring, he was following my mum around the garden and collapsed. He’d had a heart attack. Very sudden, very sad. 10/10 would pet again – what a soft boy!
3) Bobby Bob Bobs aka Nobby Nob Nobs. This cat has stared directly into the abyss and it has never left his face. He appears on the window ledge and just stares at you in the living room. Mum said he used to get bullied by Cat and therefore is scared to come into the house, but again, will let you pick him up and he’s very snuggly.
Bobby or Nobby, the festive cat at the window
4) Mrs Sausage. She turned up literally a few weeks after Cat passed. She would hang around, mum gave her some of Cat’s old treats, but then she didn’t go home for two weeks. Mum put out facebook posts on local pages to find her owner and found out that you can see her actual home from our garden. Dad took her back, said maybe she should stay indoors for a bit. The previous owners said she’s 16 and has dementia, which made sense. She evidently came to our house and couldn’t remember how to get home. The next day she came back. This happened a few times, they wouldn’t take responsibility for her and so now she lives with us. She’s scabby because she compulsively scratches herself (we’ve checked for fleas, don’t worry), she sleeps with her head resting on walls and radiators, and she would only sleep in the kitchen until I moved in. And now she sleeps with me. I often go to bed with her asleep on the floor next to me and wake up to her asleep on my pillow. This should be the point where I mention I am really rather allergic to cats. Despite my mum calling her Mrs Sausage, my dad has refused on the grounds that when we had Cat put down, he felt silly saying that the cat was called Cat. So her full name is Mrs Esme Sausage. Esme only gets used at the vets. And in a strong west Yorkshire accent, Esme Sausage sounds like “Here’s my sausage” which is honestly phenomenal.
Rachael's face swells up after a close encounter with Mrs Sausage.
Looking after the neighbourhood cats feels like an act of community. Everyone provides a little love, a little food, a little shelter, and in return, you get these beautiful visiting cats who turn up and make the day a bit more interesting- which we all need in lockdown. These little acts of kindness are important. So if you’ve got a cat hanging around, give them a little water and meat, if you see a cat on your walk, give it a little pet. Cats are part of the community just as much as people are.
Rachael and her new best friend. <3