I had lots of pets as a child, starting with a hamster in the US when I was seven or eight. Things got more interesting when we moved to Indonesia, where I had a menagerie of tupai (mini squirrels), song birds, rabbits, a civet cat (thankfully for a very short while) and a myna bird. But what I always really wanted was a cat.
My wish was finally granted when we moved to Malaysia. In fact, at one point we ended up with four cats, but my favorite was always Aelin. We got her from the local SPCA when she was half grown. I picked her out because she was a lovely silvery grey, darker at the roots like a wolf. But it turned out to be dirt - she was actually pure white. I had to feed her chicken soup through a turkey baster for the first week or two after we got her because she was too weak to eat, but somehow she survived.
My first cat Aelin
She was never very healthy, but she survived moves to Bangladesh, India, and finally the US, so she did pretty well, considering. My parents ended up looking after her when I moved out on my own and collected more cats in succession (Sasha, Alex, Baby and Buddy).
When I moved to the UK I discovered it was slightly more difficult to aquire cats. I never had to make any effort in the US - I mostly inherited them from friends. But if I had ever had to make an effort to get a cat, I know it would have been easy. When we tried to get a cat in Glasgow we contacted the cat protection league and they sent out a team for a house visit. Apparently we were judged to be unsuitable hosts for a stray cat, because we never heard back from them again.
The British have completely opposite views on the best environment for cats than Americans. In the UK it is considered cruel to keep a cat shut up indoors, so naturally in their eyes our little flat in Glasgow was not ideal. Personally, having had too many of my cats run over by cars, I'm not such a fan of the outdoors. Unfortunately you don't find out if your cat is not savvy enough to avoid cars until it is too late. I figure, if a cat is kept inside from kittenhood it really doesn't know what it is missing.
There are plenty of cats running around the streets of Oxford, but I sometimes wonder how high their fatality rates are. I've heard there is at least one bike fatality per year on St Giles street, and I can't imagine the odds are much better for cats. But anyway, I have better things to do than start a cats indoor campaign - I have my own kitty to look after!
We finally got our own kitty, from a friend of a friend. She was eight weeks old when we got her, a bit young to be separated from her mother, but she's a fiesty little thing.
Harlequin, aka Quinny, Little Miss Quinn, the Quinster, etc.
She has settled in really well, and only confused our bed for her litter box twice (fortunately kitten pee does not seem to have the potent odor of cat pee).
Naturally she is a big fan of yarn and knitting. Who needs the outside when there is yarn?
Biggest ball of yarn she has ever seen!
Now where's that ball of wool gone to?
It is a bit difficult getting knitting done with an attack cat in the house, but fortunately she is pretty easily distracted by socks, and also I can always fit in some quick knitting while she is napping. I imagine she will eventually grow out of the desire to chase anything and everything that moves, but meanwhile she is a very entertaining new member of the family. I'll leave you with one more cute kitty picture.