A stray that stole a heart
Mutzig the Clown Cat is about a stray that wandered into my life and took over my heart.
She got her name from a Czechoslovak clown who was visiting New Zealand. He left the cat behind and it lived with other, hungrier cats in a house I flatted in. This would be in the early 1980s. Gradually I adopted Mutzig and she became my cat. She repaid this by endless affection. Animals sense moods in people and at times recently, when I have been sick with cancer, my cats have been very sensitive, sometimes approaching me cautiously, sometimes just curling up by my legs and taking a single look at you, before falling asleep. Cats sense sadness as well as happiness and love. That’s what I like about them.
I decided to write a small book to celebrate chance and how we brush up against people and animals and sometimes a rare electricity occurs. So I set out to make the book with drawings done with a 2B pencil, typing it out on my typewriter and then Xeroxing them — very home-made low tech. It became my first book. At the time I was not really a published writer and it meant a lot to me. I ‘printed’ 30 copies and sold them. (That so many people still have their copies and treasure them says something about the wee book.) So this year I decided to get it printed on quality paper and generally improve the book’s production values. It’s still wee, but it’s a gorgeous wee book.
I grew up with cats and I think that predisposes you to loving them. I like their silence, their companionship. My Napier cat, Peg, is sitting right beside me on a table as I write. . She likes the company and I like her company. She was found abandoned in a back shed of a friend in Ahuriri. We adopted her and her sister Parky. Peg is a tortoiseshell, slow and affectionate. Parky was jet black and adventurous and was eventually killed when someone ran her over in the street.
We got an SPCA cat. He was a tall and thin male. He had been at the SPCA for a long time but nobody chose him because he had one leaky eye. But he put on a brilliant audition — ‘choose me’, ‘choose me’! So we did and he turned out to be the loveliest cat, extremely affectionate as if grateful for us choosing him.
■ This is a chance for someone to own a collector’s item of a book about a cat, in a small edition, by an acclaimed NZ author. Peter will be signing copies of Mutzig the Clown Cat at Wardini Books Napier, Thursday, December 20 at 5.30pm — $1 from each book sold goes to Napier SPCA. It’s also Napier’s late night shopping.
Peg is supervising.