I don’t think of myself as a ‘cat woman’, I can’t really say I am an animal fanatic. Some friends of mine really love their animals. I like that about them. Other friends have cats or dogs and you sort of discover that about them, or even find their animals roaming around their house, but they are not the first thing you talk about. I will say that I like both cats and dogs, but our lifestyle and where we live makes having a cat much more sensible.
Well there you go – very logical, measured and sane. Then along came Stanley. He stole our hearts. We went and found Stanley just over a year a go. Our beloved cat Bernard passed away at the end of the summer 2015. He was proper poorly and it was difficult to watch. I thought at the time that for Little B it is very important to have a foil in the house. Another character to chat about, care about, blame random accidents on. Far too quickly for common decency we began looking for a new little furry.
We alighted upon the local RSPCA website and found that they had a dastardly practice of not only posting the photos of their beautiful charges but also writing rather engaging character descriptions of all the animals in their care. The problem was we almost fell in love with our ‘splendid lad’ before we met him.
So after a period of checking – us not him! – Stanley arrived in our home and oh my word he certainly brings character.
I’m ready for the close up
Very quickly we realised two things about Stanley, he LOVES his food. You might even call him greedy. He is also very photogenic. I think it is his distinct black and white colouring which allows the camera to make a good, clear contrast in each photograph. Bernard was nearly completely black. I always found it so difficult to take a flattering or accurate photo of him. He either looked too brown or his features disappeared into a silhouette. Bernard was also much more shy. Stanley on the other hand seems to love the camera. Cats are not well known for their compliance, they have their own schedule and priorities. Fortunately Stanley seems happy to get involved in family life and is far more patient in front of the lens.
If you visited our house you would also discover that Stanley has a lot to say. I have never known a cat like it. The majority of the time he is informing us that it would be ideal if we prepared his breakfast, lunch, dinner, mid-morning snack, afternoon tea, bedtime supper. He is vocal about food. I only just discovered that cats only meow to communicate with humans, how strange. Well he is doing quite a bit of communicating. For a while I thought his conversation was solely about culinary arrangements, but soon Little B was translating other needs. It appears that my son and my cat can understand each other much better than the grown-ups. Apparently some of the chatter is requesting a cuddle, or a stroke. I was skeptical at first, but it appears that B is correct and often some of the caterwauling will cease if he is just picked up.
In the evening, once the chores are done and we settle down to a little bit of work or some time on the couch, Stanley is keen to be involved. He will be asleep somewhere in the house and then rise spontaneously, come and find a human and look for a cuddle on their lap. Curled up on the sofa, crochet in hand I am delighted to have his company. I feel rather honoured. However if you are Big B, and you are working on your laptop on an important document then the addition of a little work-mate is not quite so helpful. You can frequently hear the sound of, ‘No, Stanley, I have told you before, no catty typing!’.
When I started designing the animals for my book Cute Crocheted animals I started chatting with my editor and it was she how suggested that we immortilise Stanley in crochet. This is the very first picture of him together with his finished toy. It made us laugh at home so much. The clothes he wears in the book are chosen because their boyish and preppy look suit Stanley’s character. I have no idea how animals make their way into our hearts. Both for his monochrome style, his rakish whisker mustache and for his slightly dog-like loyalty, Stanley has become our fluffy family member and for my creative life he is in many ways my mews (sorry).