Eighteen years ago,
I travelled to my parent’s block for Christmas and went home with three kittens.
They were completely wild. Their mother was a black cat who was part of an out-of-control colony on a neighbouring farm. My parents trapped and neutered the cats that moved onto their land, eventually feeding a small group of six for years.
Jack, George and Darcy were the last kittens. They were asleep in a pipe when I happened to spot them. It was a risk – wild kittens can be pretty vicious and I literally have the scars to prove it. But I jammed a hand over either end and took off running. A couple of days later, ‘ the boys’ were tame and I was buying everything in triplicate.
They lived with me in Wellington, and I’d take them with me when I went north. They would sleep for the 620km car trip. A few times they flew Air NZ.
Once at their other ‘home’, they’d go to find their mother (who was now fixed and living in the small group). They would greet each other with love, bumping heads and sleeping together.
George and Darcy were the ideal cats: snuggly, affectionate, always sweet. But their brother Jack... wasn’t. He was aloof and really gave attitude. If he was annoyed – and he was always annoyed, it seemed – he would spray urine on something. It tooks years to stop this behaviour and made life pretty stressful.
Then one day he met the love of his life. His person. It wasn’t me. After 15-odd years of bad behaviour, you could have knocked me over with a feather. He swooned. He was besotted. He would wrap himself around his beloved at any opportunity.
George died aged 14, Darcy followed at 16. A couple of weeks ago, we let Jack go too. This very old man is now in the orchard with his brothers in the plum section. Every time the Billington bursts into flower, I’ll remember my boys.
The road to my heart is paved with paw prints
Nadene Hall, Editor