Sunday, April 16, 2006

Naming cats.

Once upon a time Sean and I were far from our families on Christmas Eve and so we went to Borders. To our surprise it closed early because Boxing Day is not a holiday in Indiana. We biked home to read our purchases. When we got to our apartment in the snow under the tree where we had left peanut butter on toast for the squirrels was a very cute cat.

She rushed into our house as if she belonged "Excuse me, would you happen to be hosting my banquet?" We let her warm up and then Sean tried to get her to show him where she lived. They followed each other around for some time, making big and little footprints in the snow. Eventually he felt that she was following him more than he was following her and they came back in to the warm. She made our first foreign Christmas feel like home but we had promised to dog-sit for a week and so we had to take her to the animal shelter. They said that they had no room and so, after ten days she would be destroyed.

As soon as we finished dog-sitting (a keen miniature daschund can jump high enough to rob a plate on a dining table) we came and rescued her and brought her home. Our honeymoon had been at a grey and stripey beach called Hokio and she was grey and stripey so we called her Hokio too.

Three years later we were planning to leave the states; we thought very hard about bringing her with us but felt she would prefer to stay where there were squirrels, chipmunks and bats available. I promised her that every cat of ours would have Hokio as one of their names in memory of her and she would thus found a dynasty. She didn't care. We drove about a thousand miles to leave her with an old friend of mine, his american wife and their 9 month old baby. The first day of driving (Christmas Day 1999) she sat up on the dashboard of the 1987 Toyota Corolla we called The Millenium Falcon and looked around. We spent the night in a cheap motel room that apparently smelt reasonably interesting; posh motels do not allow pets. The next day we got back in the car and Hokio went under the passenger seat and stayed there. "I didn't mind travelling to a destination, but if it's a life-style choice I quit." The baby was thrilled. The last time we saw Hokio was New Year's Day 2000.

That May we spent a month getting back to New Zealand, we drove from Indiana across to California, we went to Arches and admired the red stripey rocks around Moab.

A few months after we got back we decided to get another cat. I had promised myself that one day I would have a kitten and then seemed like a good time. We rang the SPCA and they had no kittens, we tried all the pet shops and vets but they had no kittens either. We considered buying a Maine Coon. Then we rang the Cats' Protection League and they said they had three kittens so we went to see them.

They got the first kitten out of the cage and passed him to me. He was bright eyed, black and white, and climbed up my front, over my shoulder, across the top of the cage and up onto the ledge around the top of the room. They got the second kitten out of the cage and passed him to me, he was ginger where the first was black with white in the same places. He sat carefully in my hand for a minute and then climbed up onto the top of the cage and sat there. They got the third kitten out of the cage, he had soft ginger fur. He sat down heavily in my hand, closed his golden eyes and purred with emphasis. We said we'd think about it. They said we really ought to get two to keep each other company.

We left and talked about the kittens, we didn't think we could manage three, so we talked about the adventurous one and the cuddly one. I said "Well, I don't know, but I think Moab would be a very good name for a stripey red cat."

So we got Moab Hokio, and his black and white independent brother, who after about twenty trial-names, we called Bunter. Actually Mr. Hokio Bunter is too independent. We moved, he didn't. A while later, made up of collecting him and returning him to our new house and keeping him in and him escaping and going back to the old house, the people at the old house said that was okay, they'd be his people. But now they've just moved, kindly only a minute's walk from our old house so Bunter can commute to his territory, but Bunter sighs and says "time for new flatmates again."

I think my cousin who owns the house may try to let it with cat included.


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