According to the vaccination certificate we received from the RSPCA when we adopted her, Aggie puss turned 19 at some point during March. She’s understandably slowed up a lot, and these days spends most of her days – and nights – sleeping. She certainly poses no threat to wildlife or birds any more either, content to watch them from the window, in the sunniest spot she can find, while she muses perhaps upon her more agile youth, but she remains as glamorous and glossy as she was when we brought her home.
Aggie was 18 months old when we adopted her, and rejoiced in the name of ‘Biddles’ – a name that didn’t suit her at all, and one we immediately ditched. We knew from previous experience a name would manifest itself eventually as a result of her own personality and behaviour, but it has to be said Aggie (or Agnes) has subsequently become the official, and certainly the most respectable of the many alternate monikers, my partner in particular, uses.
Despite the appealing show she put on for us at the RSPCA, Aggie was a bit snooty at first when we got her home. I suspect she’d been over indulged by her previous owner – a youthful twenty-something apparently, whose job involved an unexpected move to New Zealand for an unspecified time. She’d left the cat in the care of her parents, and I’ve often wondered if they ever confessed to their daughter they’d surrendered Biddles/Aggie to the RSPCA shortly afterwards. Or offered another explanation for the cat’s disappearance.
It was a stay in the RSPCA’s boarding kennel facility* that cured Aggie’s initial aloofness. Despite the excellent care she received there while we were overseas, my theory was always she was so horrified to find herself back at the RSPCA she felt she’d better change her tune when she finally arrived back home. Certainly she looked relieved to see me when I collected her, and ever since has been remarkably friendly, affectionate and placid. For a cat.
It wasn’t all lazing about being waited on hand and foot though – which is arguably what she’d been led to expect and deserve. Aggie had a job to do living with us, and it was keeping the rodents under control on our semi-rural property. It was a job she swiftly took to with typical feline skill and enthusiasm and her tally of mice, rats – and young rabbits – mounted steadily. Possibly because there were enough rodents to keep her occupied Aggie never – thankfully – seriously turned her deadly hunting instincts towards birds.
These days any of those residual hunting instincts are limited to seeking out the sunniest spot in the house, so she can enjoy the warmth in her ageing bones. Or else snuggling up as close as she possibly can to the heater. How many more summers and winters we’ll have Aggie is, of course, unknown, but hopefully come next March we’ll be celebrating her 20th!
* Tasmania’s RSPCA no longer offers boarding facilities for cats and dogs.