As a child, every so often, to great excitement, cats and kittens turned up, in various bedraggled states, at our back door, and my family took them in. While they received such names as Ella-Lucy-Tiger-Flower, they tended to answer to Pussy. As a child, my Beloved had a much loved ginger tom he trained to bite, and who took to his lessons very well.
So when our kids started campaigning for kittens, we were inclined to say yes. Particularly in light of the face we live next to an easement and vermin are a problem.
Our son received a lizard for his seventh birthday - our eldest daughter demanded a pet for her seventh birthday. I initially considered Guinea Pigs, however, my Beloved considered them snake-bait.
So after a mouse sighting, I began perusing the cat adoption web sites.
I was looking for descriptors like 'bold' 'assertive' 'kid-friendly' 'dog friendly' 'fearless', 'brilliant mouser.' Most descriptions instead read 'will warm to you after a few days', 'best in a kid-free home', 'gentle nature'.
Finally, I found the description I was looking for. Mischief. Likes to wake his foster mum biting toes at 3.am. Bold. Eureka. I'd found our new family member.
But then. Our irresistible ball of grey fluff had a brother. Equally mischievous. And Adventure Boy began begging for 'the naughty one'. And I began considering that a partner in crime to help our new one cope with the overwhelm that is our family would probably be a good idea.
So I got in touch and the lady organising the adoption was delighted to place the two brothers together and said we could get them right away.
Sooo... we began the long trek to Toowoomba and back - a five hour round trip. But the kids agreed that the kittens were completely worth it. They were little balls of beautiful fluff.
And they were indeed bold. And brave. And had a purr you can hear two rooms away.
It took me six weeks to work out that they're bold and brave because they're a wee tad dim.
However, they are also affectionate, playful, bold and brave, so intelligent as well was probably a bit of an ask.
The children adore them.
The dog is entranced. He wants to keep them captive and clean them and clean them and clean them. They are becoming quite blasé about him.
Also about the Monster-Baby who loves how they squeak when she squeezes them. By use of judicious scratches they are teaching her Gentle-Hands. They love to sit on me and purr and purr, while the baby loves to lie by me and feed and feed so they clash more that might be expected. The kittens deem it essential to be close to the Food-Giver, even at the price of an over-hands-y eleven months old.
And she truly adores them. Her face lights in overwhelming glee. And I separate them dozens of times in a day as she hugs them and they meow plaintively.
I try to explain to them that they are mini-lions and much faster and more agile than my little tottery one but they haven't caught on yet.
As I write Smudge has come to join me, lying on the bed as close to me as he can get, and Wolfie has come to join him, so Smudge sits between Wolfie's massive paws while Smudge is resigned to being licked and nosed and licked. He is a very well-groomed (if dog-smelling) gentleman.
And I am remembering the things I find trying about cats - the cleaning up of 'accidents' in the very hardest to reach of spots. The way they always want to walk across the computer keyboard. The way they try to steal my porridge...
And I am remembering all the things I love about cats - their dainty paws, the tickle of their whiskers, their purrs of content, their snuggliness, the light and grace with which they leap and play.