The joy of familiars

Sure, the baby grand is the perfect place for a cosy snooze!

Looking back on our lives, we often reminisce about our pets. Their short lives, it seems, punctuate our longer ones, and so we might say, ah yes, remember how we brought the Angora rabbits up north with us in the old Morris Minor. Or remember that Scrap, when we picked him up and he scratched my arms into shreds? The familiars we’ve lived with provide salient points of reference as time marches on.

And we accommodate their whims, seeking to keep the peace and being comfortable. Kali cat is an intensely territorial Bengal X Savannah, and any interloper’s life is at risk should she encounter them. So when the darling daughter comes to visit, bringing her growing Rag Doll and Maine Coon kittens with, Kali is sequestered into porch and conservatory for their safety. Her space is warm, her food is laid out according to the normal schedule, but she misses the companionship of her servants, it seems. There’s always a great huff of protracted accommodation, after the visiting cats leave, before Kali deigns to grace our laps.

Sometimes we take care of the neighbour’s lovely golden spaniel. Doris suffers the indignity of being left with us, often sticking her nose into the sofa corner and trying to sleep away her abandonment woes. But if I can rustle up a doggy treat or two, her tail wags, her eyes shine, and we’re suddenly on better terms. That accommodation doesn’t stop her from leaping about in a frenzy of anticipation when she hears her beloveds’ car on the drive!

I’m often bemused by our interaction with our animal friends, the ones we live with, I mean; I know we share great joy over their antics, their companionship, and great sadness when they leave. Our familiars seem to have found a way, or perhaps it’s more correct to think that we’ve found a way to connect directly to our emotions via our interactions with them. The feelings that beloved pets evoke are right there, right on the surface.

So it’s not surprising, really, that a bit of musing, in this blog of joys, on the topic of animal familiars, should arrive so early on in the developing chronicle.

The stories! The tales! Some columnists actually make their living by recounting their interactions with their cat; Tim Dowling’s weekend column often elicits great chortles of shared delight in our household, for example. Doubtless there will be many more anecdotes ahead.

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