Home' Waiheke Weekender : July 19th 2012 Contents 19 July 2012
2 Waiheke Weekender
They say the world
is divided into 'cat
people' and 'dog
people' and you
are either one or
I would have
to put myself in
the cat camp, not
because I actually
dislike dogs, but
rather the usual
most cats -- plentiful food, affection when they
feel like it, a comfy couch -- suit my own need
for a low maintenance pet.
Dogs remind me of children, in need of
constant attention and regular exercise.
And when I had my own needy little
preschooler and an almost full time job, having
to deal with another creature demanding my
time and energy would have sent me over the
Let's face it I was quite close to the edge.
However I did have a gorgeous Burmese cat
in my pre-child and mortgage-free days that I
inherited when her owner moved overseas.
I can still remember the day the cat -- called
Luka -- travelled to the island with me, mildly
objecting to this unexpected turn of events from
her boxy prison on the back seat.
However by the time the car ferry had pulled
into Kennedy Point, mild had become deter-
mined and she had clawed herself free of the box
to prowl miserably around amongst my belong-
ings wondering what the hell was happening.
At that point, speaking 'cat' would have
cleared up a lot of the confusion.
To me, Luka epitomised everything I admire
in an animal; independent, affectionate in
manageable amounts, quietly spoken (without
that blood curdling yowl other oriental cats are
known for) and the sort of wonderful fur -- in
tasteful shades of caramel and chocolate -- that
is soft to the touch but doesn't shed everywhere,
causing instant death to allergy sufferers.
Once acclimatised to her new island home,
In search of the purrfect pet
The first word
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this paragon of feline perfection would cuddle up
to my hugely pregnant stomach and purr rhyth-
mically, sending me drifting off to sleep with a
feeling of happy relaxation that had eluded me
up to that point.
And after the baby was born -- and in spite
of dire warnings from people who I suspect just
hate cats -- she did not become a bundle of furry
jealousy, attempting to malevolently smother or
scratch the baby at every opportunity.
She simply avoided him, preferring to stake
out her claim to places where he wasn't, and
then she sensibly died of oldish age before he
became a tail-pulling toddler and made her life
So since her sad demise, I haven't had the
heart -- or the inclination -- to acquire another
pet, fearing that no other feline could live up to
this impossibly high standard.
But pressures are mounting from all quarters
to become a pet household again -- not least of
which is the proliferation of persistent indoor
mice -- and I am teetering on the brink of giving
in. Another cat is really the only option having,
as I said, ruled out dogs on account of their high
I refuse to get guinea pigs. Stop reading now
guinea-pig fanciers, but if I had a chance, I'd
ship the lot of them to Ecuador where they are
admired more for their tastiness than their cute
I really don't see the point of these unappeal-
ing South American rodents; they seldom do
anything other than gobble grass, make annoy-
ing little squeaking sounds and create a lot of
utterly pointless hassle for parents.
And when you go to pick them up or pat
them, they cower away with fearful eyes and
usually deposit their droppings all over you
as a subtle way of getting their 'put me down'
I once had the sobering experience of attend-
ing a guinea pig show, in which proud owners
from all corners of Auckland brought these
matted balls of hair along to be weighed,
measured, checked and otherwise fawned
over and then... drum roll...awarded a
ribbon, or not, as the case may be.
I feel similarly about rabbits, which,
unless they like being patted, cause all the
same hassles as their South American cous-
ins and offer similarly meagre compensa-
In fact, far from adorable bundles of
fuff, rabbits can be surprisingly vicious;
as a colleague had discovered one day,
arriving at work with nasty scratches all
up her arm.
And as for fsh, they look pretty in
tanks and are admittedly quiet, but don't
have the required 'cuddle factor' I expect
in a pet if I'm going to pay for its food and
While I'm sure they are intelligent, rats
are just never destined to be a pet in my
house and the more er, exotic creatures
beloved of some people -- spiders, axolotls,
lizards -- must be an acquired taste I have
yet to acquire.
And birds in my opinion should be free,
not bred to be put in cages.
Which brings me back to those early inhab-
itants of ancient Egypt; loved, revered, reviled
and rejected over the ages but still the favoured
animal to perch on the end of a broomstick if
you happen to be a witch.
Cats: still the perfect accesory for
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