I had no idea about cats, until I had Eloise. She’s sitting on my lap now, which makes typing quite difficult, looking at me, then having a wash, then gazing around. She’s endlessly entertaining to Tim (equally unaware of cats before this) and me and quite unselfconscious as a dog isn’t. She is mercurial – affectionate or not, randomly; and attentive and clinging or disappearing for hours, with no apparent reason for either behaviour. She has quite a vocabulary, which we have learnt to understand and answers, if she wants to, when we speak to her. She certainly greets us verbally in the mornings and answers when we ask a question, as long as it’s sensible one, such as does she want to go out or does she need food? She is utterly adorable and I love her more than I ever thought I could love a cat. I don’t think I’ll ever have another pet. The thought of loss weighs on me too heavily nowadays.
Talking of talking, one of the young pullets had decided to spend the night in a nest box. I reached in to check on the eggs and she gave an indignant yowl, not a chickeny sort of sound at all. I just removed the closest egg and didn’t explore further – I have a couple of pot eggs in there and I didn’t feel I could upset her by investigating which were the bantams’ and which were the decoys. They are real eggs, but bought ones – clay or china eggs are no good; the chickens are perfectly aware that they aren’t genuine, but bought-in eggs, marked with a cross in indelible ink, keep them laying in the same place, for the most part. As far as I know, at any rate. I don’t think a chicken is likely to go broody at this time of the year, but four years ago on the 1st February, a chicken that had gone missing turned up with a clutch of chicks and had to be looked after. I put her in the greenhouse with a coop.