Because it (still) is World Animal Day today, I’d like to tell you a story about a meeting with a cat. It really happened.
Paris, halfway August, 2009,
This must be the third metro I’ve seen go away, from my seat at the metro station Bonne Nouvelle. It’s interesting to see them come and go, they remind me of my thoughts. Yesterday night, I did the same thing with tourists in Montmartre. Observing lives pass by, as if they were never lived.
I was at home two days ago. My friends were gone, and I had little to do, so I hitch hiked to Paris in an impulse. Beautiful drivers, crazy drivers and boring drivers. Same old freedom, still fresh. Ended up on a couch at a juggler’s festival. Went on in the morning, and arrived in the early afternoon. I love Paris.
As I see another metro go, I write in my diary that I’ll take the next one. I keep putting down words, but within a few minutes, I hear the next one come. I stand up and see it slow down as the compartments pass in front of me. It almost stands still. Inside, in front of the door in the back, stands a darkish girl with thick black dread locks, not entirely unattractive, but not extremely well taken care of either. She is surrounded by a great deal of backpack-like luggage. Yet what strikes me most, is the black and white baby cat standing on her shoulder. I follow her compartment for another ten meters, then it halts. I get in and sit down in the hallway, a bodylength away from her and her little companion.
The metro accelerates. Everybody else seems to know quite well where they’re going to. I look at the cute little creature. It’s completely relaxed, looking around, then it looks at me. The girl picks it of her shoulder and holds it in front of her. It miauws. She starts shaking it in the air, and tells it how cute it is. It miauws harder, and lifts a paw in her direction as if it wants to scratch her, but she is several armlengths away. The scene breaks my heart.
“You should not treat a cat like that.” I tell her. She looks at me, then does it again. It pisses me off.
“Give it to me.” I say.
She does not react.
The metro moves on, stations come and go, surprised passengers half ignore the situation, while I get more and more pissed off. The cat looks at me sometimes as if it wants to come towards me. I’d swear it even reaches out to me with its paw.
“Give it to me.” I repeat in the exact same tone. My own calm determination surprises me. “I’ll take it to cat paradise.”
No response. More people start to be annoyed about her behaviour.
A few more stops go by, then she turns to me.
I hate her.
“Do you want a cat?”
“If it’s that cat, yes.”
“I’m going on a long trip.” she says. “so I can’t take care of it. Here it is.”
She hands it over. The little fella steps on my hand and instantly starts licking it. The metro slows down. The girl picks up her many bags and walks to the door. The metro stops.
“What’s his name?” I ask.
“Félix des Trois Points.” (Felix of three dots).
“Ah… Félix du Pointain…”
She steps outside. Without looking back at me, she walks off and exclaims a long high pitched yell. Sounds like release. The cat is calm, still licking my hands. I lift its tale. It’s a boy. Okay, now what? For one thing, I won’t get out of the metro here. I call my housemates and ask if they mind if we have another cat. They’re surprised, but they don’t mind. Good. I send a message to a friend to ask if she minds if I stay over with a cat. Stations keep coming and going until we reach the final one. Well I won’t get out here either, so I just keep carressing this little cutie. The metro goes back. Stations go by.
Looking back, I still wonder how he knew. At some stop, I couldn’t tell you which one, Pointain – that’s how I call him from now on – gets very restless, as if he wants to leave me. All I can do leave the metro with him in my arms and walk up the stairs together. Maybe he wants to go somewhere in particular.
We meet a middle aged lady on the street.
“Awww… that’s such a cutie, why do you have it here?”
I explain the story.
“Ow, that’s very good of you,” she lets me know. “I always find abandoned cats in Paris and take them into my house. I’d welcome this one, but I have nine already. What are you going to do with it?”
I explain that because the friend doesn’t respond to the SMS, I’d hitch hike back, but with a cat that could be troublesome because I might not make it before sunset and it could walk away while I’m sleeping. Instead, we will probably go pay a visit to my mom in Luxembourg, that’s not very far. We could look for the closest railwaystation.
The lady answers that I should wait here, goes into the nearest shop and comes back with a bagfull of baby cat food. She gives me fifty euros for the train.
On day one back in the Netherlands, Pointain explores the entire house.
On day two, he climbs a tree, but doesn’t dare to get out, so I pick him.
On day three, he climbs the tree again. This time I wait with picking and he clims out himself. Step by step, face down, from three meters height (Cats usually descend tale down because their claws piont inwards. It’s a control thing).
On day four, he drinks French wine from the ground. I notice he has three dots on one side. Aha.
On day five, he learns to climb a ladder, the steps of which are as far away as he can reach. He never falls.
On day six, he still jumps on the face of our other cat Willem, even though he has many significant bashes by now and will again.
On day seven, he walks on a 2,5 meters high ridge, looks me into the eyes, wondering, I say “try it”, and he jumps down. A one time stunt I’ll never forget.
I’ve lived with Pointain for a year. People ask me why I didn’t take him with me when I left. I think he belongs to the place. He steals food from the neighbours, goes on strides in the region, takes on the local dogs… He gets love from the students around him. It’s rural there. I couldn’t bring him back to the city and see him locked in a house or poisoned by a neighbour for his unstoppable attitude. He is not my property, he’s my friend.
I saw him again last week. It was same old. Carressed him a little, he climbed on my shoulder, we had a nice chat about our lives. Then he left to play in the garden. He’s fierce sometimes, but very sensitive to those he loves. Great tiny being. Today, my love goes out to him.