It’s another scorching hot day and I am off the Chingford to fetch Freya home. I am a little worried about her as she was slightly unwell during her stay at the cattery and I will have to keep an eye on her and consult the vet if things don’t improve.
We are not sure how old Freya is but I always take the year as her age, which makes her 10 at present. This is the beginning of a cat’s middle age when health problems can begin to appear.
Freya is always agitated at the cattery for the first few days, so they say. "It’s a case of open the basket and stand back," they told me. I had no idea of this though I know that Freya doesn’t like the company of other cats and that being in the cattery makes her bad tempered. Let’s hope that being home again will restore her in body as well as in mind. We have a couple of trips still to go this year so she will have to put up with two more stays in the cattery before winter calls a halt.
I sometimes feel it is selfish to keep a cat, but Freya was aready with me when I moved to Islington and after her unhappy past history I was determined to give her as happy a life as possible. She has certainly repaid my efforts many times over with her affection. From being a frightened creature who fled from me and hid from me behind the furniture, Freya not only showers me with affection but gives me that greatest of gifts, her trust.
While this pleases me, it also weighs on my conscience because of the responsibility it brings with it. I take decisions about her life that I know she would reject if she were able to. By what right do I impose my will on hers?
The only answer I can find is to ask myself what I think Freya herself would choose if she had the understanding and reasoning power of a human mind. That is a specious argument, I know, because a cat with greater reasoning power would still be a cat and would not necessarily work to my set of assumptions. For that matter, not even another human might work to my particular set of assumptions. This nonetheless remains my best approximation to a solution.
The train rattled its way to Chingford and I waited outside the station for the car to arrive with Freya aboard. When it arrives, M tells me that Freya has been fine for the last couple of days and that makes me feel me optimistic. I carry Freya in her cage to a waiting train and choose the last carriage because I think it is the least likely to become crowded on the ride back to London.
Freya, meanwhile has become vocal as always when I collect her from the cattery. She emits cries like a baby and does so almost continually throughout the journey, including the bus ride to Angel. I worry that someone will complain about the noise but so far no one has done so.
I can insert the tip of a little finger between the bars of the cage and rub Freya’s head or ears. She responds by rubbing the corner of her mouth against my fingers or the cage so hard that I am afraid she will do herself some damage.
At Liverpool Street there are people with luggage using the swing gate and so I follow them through in preference to using the ordinary barriers that are difficult to negotiate carrying a heavy cat in a cage.
We have to wait a long time for a bus and then two come together. I choose the 214 because I can put the cage in the luggage well between the two sideways seats behind the driver. Freya continues squawking and attracts the attention of an elderly couple seated nearby. I avoid eye contact as I am in no mood to engage in small talk.
At last we reach our stop and I prepare to disembark. The bus is now rather full and the gangway is narrow, especially as there are two large people sitting either side of it and almost touching one another. I heft the cage and manage to lift it to shoulder height to clear the obstruction. I am impressed by my own feat of strength but push my way through the standing passengers to the door.
Now we are in the street, Freya becomes active, perhaps sensing we are nearly home. She turns around and around in the cage, making it buck like a boat on a choppy sea.
Indoors at last, I put the cage on the floor, draw the bolt and lift the lid. Freya must know from the familiar smells that she is home but still lifts her head for a cautious look around before she jumps out and with a series of trills and squawks goes to greet Tigger.
If she runs true to form, Freya will be more vocal and more demanding of attention than usual over the next couple of days. Then she will calm down and slide back into the daily routine. If she is resentful at having been sent away, she does not show it. There is no room for negative feelings in the joy of returning home.