I’m alone in the house for the first time in nearly four years. It was June 2015 when I brought Eloise cat home with me. Tonight, she is at the vet’s surgery in Ipswich, recovering from her knee operation, and Tim is in Reading.
You may remember how it was that Eloise came to live here, but I’ll remind anyone who has forgotten the details. I spent a lot of time, the year and a half after Russell died, with our lovely friend Linda, or Ziggi as she was known in Blogland. Linda had four cats, though three of them really belonged to her daughters; two dogs; a tortoise and three ponies. When her cancer recurred, her neighbour Kirstie gave her a kitten to bring her good luck. Linda and her daughters loved the Eloise books by Kay Thompson, about the little girl (Linda said that she was reputed to be based on the young Liza Minelli) who lived with her nanny in the Plaza Hotel in New York. They are delightful, if you’ve never come across them. She decided to call the kitten after the child.
Eloise was born two days after Russell died, as it happens, on my granddaughter Zerlina’s birthday on 20th August. I visited in the October, and frequently after that. But Linda’s younger daughter, Baby Doc on her blog, became allergic to the kitten. This seems odd when there were so many other animals in the house, but the others were long haired breeds; three Ragdolls and a Birman, and Eloise is half Ragdoll and half a shorthair, and maybe her dense coat is dustier. Then Linda started to sneeze every time Eloise came near her. She reluctantly decided to rehome her. She couldn’t give her back to Kirstie, as she only lived opposite and Eloise would come and go across the road, and would be in danger and never really leave. I must have looked stricken when she told me, because she said, would I like first refusal?
I’ve never had a cat before. I grew up with dogs, lots of them. I said yes though and the next time I visited, Eloise came home with me. She was ten months old then and she didn’t enjoy the journey at all. She was bewildered when she arrived too, shot straight under the bureau and, when she eventually emerged, I discovered that it’s really quite cobwebby under there. It didn’t take her long to settle in though. Although she was just a kitten, she’d had to keep calm in a small house with so many other pets and, though tortoiseshells have a reputation for a feisty temperament, she is Ragdoll enough to be pretty laid back. I let her in a bit more of the house every day and, in less than a week, she was exploring the garden. She’s never wandered far, to my relief. When we can’t find her, it’s usually because she’s asleep on a spare room bed or else has quietly climbed into the car while we’re getting the shopping out and is asleep on the parcel shelf. She isn’t fond of other cats and dogs and prefers being an only cat.
The vet’s receptionist phoned earlier to say that Eloise cat was recovering from the anaesthetic and had been given some food. I’ll phone in the morning and they’ll tell me when I can come to pick her up. Tim is coming home tomorrow too, so this is the only night when I’ll be alone. It’s very quiet. The only sound is the ticking of the old Dutch clock in the hall.