Tilou, the amazing cat
I’m in love with a cat and I’d be willing to do anything to have him! We met at a friend’s house who was desperately wanted to talk to me about a project, but my eyes were fixated on the big white cat. A tsunami of love burst inside my chest at the simplest touch of his fur against my ankles. My heart was pounding and my thoughts kept clashing: “Yes, I want this cat. No, I can’t have a cat!”
Tilou, the amazing white cat with a dark patch of fur like a hat over its ears and forehead, kept staring at me, and the ground fell away from my feet. The feline was rubbing against me on purpose it seemed, his eyes holding my gaze. “Quick, quick!” My mind was saying. Where is the door to my heart?
My friend was getting teary-eyed. She wanted to discuss her important project and here I was, ogling her cat. A mature male as gentle as a lamb.
—“He’s 12,” mumbled Monique.
—“Is that old for a cat?”
—“He’s a stray cat. He could live to be 20.”
My heart jumped as I thought to myself “8 long years of happiness!” I’ve never had a pet. When my children clamoured for one, I suggested they try and catch a mouse. “You’re a horrible mom!” the oldest used to say.
It’s cats who catch mice. I remember one time when we moved to the suburbs and stray cats covered our doormat with mice. One fall day, our neighbour was moving back to the city and left his dog, Bobby, with us. The kids were jumping up and down. They would pet him, brush his coat and feed him. Bobby slept at the foot of my oldest’s bed. Their father, who never passed up an opportunity to make a quick buck, sold the house to a family with four kids who begged to keep the dog along with the house. Since we were returning to the Greek neighbourhood in Montreal (now Parc Extension), they kept Bobby. My children cried all the way back to the city.
At our new home, a third-floor apartment with a small balcony overlooking several backyards, my oldest son took to throwing crumbs and fruit trimmings to the squirrels, dutifully ensuring they were fed well. I remember very clearly one Saturday afternoon when I was about to bake baklava for my mother-in-law’s birthday. Without hesitating, my rascal of a child grabbed the almond and walnut mix to feed the friendly squirrels. In a flash, 5 or 6 “furriends” with long bushy tails were having the feast of their lives on the balcony while I cried.
Time and again we moved. Too many cockroaches to chase at night, too many loud kids, too many steps to climb with the stroller and baby. I often felt like I had to climb Mount Everest three or four times each day. Water flowed under the bridge until the fragile understanding between the husband and wife shattered for good. He went back to the old country and the kids went to live with my parents temporarily. A beautiful Siberian husky was waiting for them there. I was overjoyed to see my kids as happy as they were then. My mom registered them at the local school and I came back to Montreal to find work.
None of my children own a pet today. I had never even thought of getting a dog or a cat myself before meeting the amazing Tilou. I’ve never really understood why people get so attached to them even if I often hear ladies my age talking about the benefits of pets. An animal would encourage me to go outside more often, walk, admire the landscape and fill my lungs with fresh air. According to my friends, the relationship between an animal and its owner is very precious. Animals give us unconditional love they say. My neighbour Margot even told me that owning a dog has allowed her to meet new people. Margot walks her dog every evening on the village main street, and her dog talks to everyone. No wonder!