I don’t like cats. I never did. I’ve always considered them to be selfish, and killers at heart. (Have you ever seen them dispose of a defenceless mouse ?)

When Jennifer and I first started hanging out, she had two cats. (I never really thought of it as dating, and neither did Jenn – she thought of it merely as a pre-engagement, from the first time she met me, but I digress…).

Anyway, I informed her that it was them or me; the cats had to go. And go they did.

As you’ll have learned by now, Orla has inherited her mother’s love of animals. I use the word advisedly – note I don’t say dogs, or rabbits, or any species in particular. Nope, Orla loves animals. Rabbits, dogs, fish, turtles, chameleons, ponies, you name it. And cats.

Despite my dislike of cats, I tolerated Orla’s first two cats, Gin and Tikki. (Gin, alas, lasted about as long as a good Gordon’s and Tonic. Jenn, defensively, is at pains to point out that (a) it’s only missing, and (b) it was old !).

The two cats were outdoor cats, and earned their keep by engaging in ethnic cleansing of the local mouse population. (We do, after all, live in the country). Even today, Tikki regularly supplies us with mice for dinner. (Okay, so we don’t indulge, but he’s undaunted).

Fast forward to this week. We had intended going to a petting zoo at the local library (a petting zoo is a traveling animal exhibit where the kids can see kangaroos, goats, baby tigers, etc). We got delayed and so by the time we reached the library the petting zoo was gone. Because we were feeling guilty that we had delayed on the way, and since Jenn wanted another mouser, we made the mistake of going to the local pet store.

Upon entering the store, Orla fell immediately in love with a tri-coloured kitten that she named “Rainbow”. We couldn’t take it home with us there and then because it had just arrived at the shop, and State regulations require a veterinary inspection, etc. So we left a deposit and arranged to pick the feline up in a few days.

On Thursday, Jenn and Orla, with Grandma in tow, returned to the store to discover that – deposit notwithstanding – the incompetent sales assistants had already sold Rainbow. So Orla picked out a different one, which is black and white. Not surprisingly, Orla dubbed her Zebra.

Despite my dislike of cats, I have to admit that this one – which is a house cat, for now – is a bionic kitten. She seems more like a cheetah than your common or garden cat, both in terms of her speed across the floor and the evident relish with which she pounces on toys. She can walk on her hind paws and does gymnastics like Olga Korbut. Orla is thrilled with the super athletic ability; as we mentioned in previous entries, she prides herself on training her charges, and Zebra has proven (so far) to be an excellent pupil. Orla is leash-training her, and puts on “talent shows” which include jumping after toys and climbing up the scratching post. Much to my disapproval, she strolls the cat around town in a cat stroller.

Just when I thought we were finally at the end of our animal purchases, Jenn and Orla are already talking about the second cat, for Eoghan, so that Zebra has a “friend”, and Eoghan has his pet.

There are hypo-allergenic cats now – see “Are those cats from outer space ?” for pictures – and since Eoghan has mild allergies, Jenn wants to get one for him. Since these cats are hairless, I guess we’d have to call it Kojak.


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