There was a story I was told when I was at school, that a Saint Helena brought a shit ton of cats to a small monastery to get rid of the local population of rats and snakes, and that was why there are so many cats in Cyprus. Whether the story is genuinely true or she just let go of a bunch of cats near a church and only added slightly to the Cypriot feline population, I have no idea. But I like cats and I felt this was a good story to start off this ramble.
Also apparently, some of the earliest evidence of the domestication of cats can be found in Cyprus. That’s pretty cool.
I happen to have two cats. One of them is called Mog. He’s technically the first pet I ever had and everyone in the family household loves him. The other cat is called Ringo. His story is a little… less happy.
You see, I live in the middle of nowhere. Yet somehow I had a neighbour. Had. They were in the middle of building a massive house about 300m away from our humble little bungalow. It was a family of four, two kids, a mum and dad, all British ex-pats. The parents got a divorce. The kids and the mum both went back to live in the UK. They’re much happier now. The dad stuck around for a bit, waiting for money in order to finish his mansion. It never got finished and only the top floor is furnished. These days, I don’t even know if one can live there. It’s definitely not a secure place to sleep since the locks can all be gotten around with a simple saw.
This family though, they had a cat. His name was Ringo, and he’d been their pet all his life. When the wife and kids left, we assumed they took Ringo with them. We didn’t see Ringo for a long time.
When we did see him, he was starving, licking ants off the ground. So of course we fed him and gave him water. But his whole ordeal really messed him up. He was no longer a cute, happy cat, but a terrified little creature. Any vaguely loud noise and he’d scarper away. We have no idea how long he was on his own, and when Colin, our derpy beagle, came along, Ringo got even more scared. Had he been terrorized by dogs while he was out there on his own? Colin is completely harmless and thinks Ringo and Mog are amazing, but Ringo still sometimes cowers when Colin is nearby.
The turning point was when we finally managed to get a collar on Ringo. For ages, he would not come near anyone (apart from the time my cousins visited from the UK – he loved them for some reason) and every time we tried putting a collar on him (or generally just trying to keep him still), he’d flail all over the place. When we finally got a nice white collar around his neck (with a quick release in case he ever got it caught on something), Ringo seemed to calm down and finally act as if he was part of the family.
But all of Ringo’s pain and fear could have been avoided. All our neighbours had to do was knock on our door and ask us to look after him. We would have looked after him straight away if we had known he was on his own. He could have remained a happy cat, rather than going somewhat feral in his desperate bid for food.
These days, he’s a happy little kitty… unless something startles him. He’s terrified of plastic bags and jangling keys, but he’s finally relearned to keep his claws in. He even sits on command if you offer him food. Ringo’s favourite is tuna, but he’ll eat anything – a leftover trait from when he was starving. He’ll probably never grow out of that permanent desire for food or his fear of loud noises.
What does this have to do with video games? Absolutely nothing. This is just a little reminder that animals have feelings too. Especially pets who look up to you and need you.