By Jennifer Pulling
This will be the eleventh Christmas I shall celebrate with my beloved cat, Sheba. We have been through some dark and difficult times together and I am amazed and joyful she is still with me.
When I see her, curled up on the sofa, dreaming her feline dreams, it is hard to recall the poor little scrap I first brought home. Just before Christmas 2006 my sister called me. ‘I know you said you’d never have another cat after Fluffy died but just come up and see what I’ve got.’
It turned out that she and friends had managed to rescue several young cats, mostly black, from a man who appeared to be ‘collecting’ them. They had been kept in a shed with sawdust on the floor. One of them climbed on my lap the moment she saw me, purring and gazing at me with the most beautiful jade green eyes. Fostering until she was found a home very soon turned into adoption.
Sheba came with some health problems, probably the aftermath of cat flu. She sneezed and coughed continually, also her tail hung down at an odd angle. We called her ‘igloo girl’ for she scarcely ever emerged from the hooded bed I bought her.
With love and care (I treated her homoeopathically and the tail healed, though it still has a funny little curve) she recovered and discovered the pleasures of lying on her back in the sunny garden.
We had several happy Christmases together until that of 2012. An ear infection that caused her much irritation was finally diagnosed as cancer. I was faced with the dilemma of an operation that could result in serious balance problems. Otherwise…
Early in the New Year we went to collect Sheba from the clinic and brought her home. One side of her head was completely shaved; she looked like a little alien. But her recovery had been fine, in fact, the surgeon told us that, when she woke up, she purred and wanted to be stroked. During that cold January, I stood shivering in the garden with Sheba on a lead while she did her business. Recovery was slow but progressive, her glossy black fur grew back and, in spring, she was supervising our lawn mowing.
The years have passed and the cancer not returned. Maybe because of her trials, she assumes she should be waited on hand and foot. Loud meows when I am in the bathroom demand she should be instantly combed and as for the new office chair: naturally, she believes it was ordered for her and complains loudly if turfed off. Sheba’s earned it. There is a communication between us, which has grown over these years, a deep trust, and love (at least on my part).
If I were granted a wish under the Christmas tree, this year, it would be that all our furry friends with four paws, out in the wet and cold, might have the same love, care, and happiness as my beautiful Sheba.
About the Author:
Jennifer Pulling is a writer, award-winning playwright, and journalist who has worked for many national newspapers and magazines as a travel and lifestyle writer. Her play, The Return won the Clemence Dane Cup. She is the author of Monet’s Angels (John Blake).
Jennifer runs the project Catsnip for the neutering and treatment of feral cats in Sicily. Her book The Great Sicilian Cat Rescue relates her one-woman mission to save an island’s cats. http://www.jenniferpulling.co.uk