This morning I made the familiar return journey to Chingford. Freya and I travelled thither as she is going to spend 10 days in the cattery while her humans are living it up on holiday.
At home, we performed the usual pantomime where I get out the cat basket and Freya makes a token show of resistance before going limp and allowing herself to be picked up and lowered into the cage.
Everyone knows that cows moo, gulls shriek and cats miaow. In fact, most species have a far wider range of vocal expression than we give them credit for. Gulls, for instance, certainly do make that strident pulsating cry without which no film about the sea is complete, but they also emit quieter sounds like the ha-ha-ha call or the "Seep, seep, seep" of a juvenile begging for food.
While cats do miaow, they are also capable of blood-curdling screams and the low menacing thrumming of two toms trying to face one another down. My old cat used to growl, just like a dog, when she saw something or someone she didn’t like.
Freya’s vocabulary has evolved over time. After I moved to Islington, she took to greeting me with a staccato sound that I can only transcribe as "Eck-eck-eck". Gradually this mutated to a guttural trill, a bit like someone imitating a machine gun.
She still says "Eck" from time to time, or "Ick". I am not sure what it means though it seems to be a verbal acknowledgement of some sort.
When Freya first joined me, she didn’t miaow in the conventional way. It was a definite "miah" sound, accompanied by a searching gaze into my eyes. Once she had settled down and accepted me, the "miah" ceased and I have not heard it since,
Another sound that Freya makes is a soft trill in the back of her throat. She doesn’t open her mouth and the sound comes out through her nose. At other times it is no more than a vibration of her chest and throat muscles that I see rather than hear. This is an exclamation of pleasure or pleased surprise which she makes, for example, if I stroke her in passing.
This morning, when I handed over the cage, I heard the machine-gun eck-eck-eck and it made me feel bad. It was the equivalent of a child stretching out her arms disconsolately to a departing parent.
We have come a long way together, Freya and I. She is the one thing that accompanied me from my old life into my new one. From being terrified of me, she has come to trust and rely on me and I so often (in her eyes) betray that trust by taking her to the vet or to the cattery. Fortunately, the happiness of being home again seems to wipe away the sadness of betrayal, at least until next time. I hope it will be so again.
Freya is taking an enforced holiday in Chingford because we too are going on holiday. We leave tomorrow and return on the following Saturday. If you have read previous posts, you may recall that we try to get away for our respective birthdays and this is my birthday jaunt.
As usual, I will not say where we are going until I blog about it on my return but will leave you a couple of easy clues which you may use if you want to guess our destination. This city was once the second largest in England and it has a canary named after it.
We will be staying in the town but, as usual, visiting various places in the area, having acquired rail rover tickets for the purpose. We expect to be out of the town more than we are in it.
I will be taking a laptop computer with me to collect and catalogue my photos but will not be using it to go online, although I can access the Web and Internet with my phone. So if you leave comments I will (I hope) be able to acknowledge them.