My Christmas Miracle Cat
Once Sulu and I were settled in our new home in Bulgaria, I thought about adopting another cat. Ideally, this cat should be young, female, healthy, female and intelligent. It should enjoy getting trained, and it should get on well with my resident cat Sulu.
I reckoned that somewhere in the world, such a cat existed, and perhaps I could find it. But I didn't want to search and choose a cat: I wanted a cat to choose me. The odds of this happening, with such a specific kind of cat, were small, but I fantasised anyway. It would be nice, I thought, if this were to happen for Christmas.
On 22 December 2017 I was on my way home from shopping, and as usual, I gave food to the hungry strays I met on the street. Suddenly I was aware that someone - something - was following me. I turned around and saw this tiny ball of fluff running after me. I thought the kitten probably wanted to eat more, so I gave it some more cat food granules. But it didn't want food, although it was clearly undernourished. It wanted to come home with me.
It was a long way for those tiny legs, but it never flagged. The kitten didn't stop at the garden gate. It climbed the front steps, and when I unlocked the front door, it strode right in, without shyness or hesitation.
Yes, the kitten turned out to be female. She also turned out to be gentle, healthy and intelligent. Trainable? Oh yes. I've never seen a cat learn so fast. Within twenty-four hours, she had mastered several tricks that take other cats weeks to learn, and she couldn't get enough of it.
I thought Sulu was the only cat in the world who loves to 'read' books. But when this kitten saw Sulu reading a book, she immediately wanted to read one too. Imagine how my jaw dropped when I saw this:
Sulu blinked in surprise, checked the newcomer out by sniffing, and decided to let it in. The kitten looked around, obviously liked what it saw, and simply took up residence. Here's a photo of her, just two hours after arriving. Doesn't she look smug?
Of course I named her Uhura ('Yura' for short), a Star Trek reference to match her gold-and-brown colouring and gentle intelligence, and to complement Sulu.
Yura and Sulu soon became fast friends. There was a bit of ritual hissing at the beginning, the kind that's normal as cats determine their relative ranks in the hierarchy, but it was amicable and gentle. Soon they were playfighting, and after just a few days, they were cuddling together on my bed.
Yura adored Sulu as her adult role model. Whatever Sulu did, Yura did too. If Sulu gazed out of the window, so did Yura.
Sulu was fond of the little one, and sometimes even allowed her to play with his tail. However, he found her exuberance rather exhausting, and often withdraw to the top of the wardrobe for some piece and quiet and an undisturbed catnap.
He didn't mind sharing his home, his food and his human with Yura, and was happy for her to snuggle between my arms while I was writing.
Yura's brave act to follow me home wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. We had known each other for some weeks. I often walk around town feeding and petting the cats I meet, including the feline family to which she belonged. Little Yura had obviously watched and evaluated me before she made her move. She definitely chose me.
Her bravery resonated with me. Only a few weeks before I had left my home in Britain to settle in Bulgaria - a bold, confident move into excitement and uncertainty. Little Yura and I were kindred spirits.
She soon discovered the joys of being a writer's cat, and often snuggles between my arms while I write. She rubs her little face against mine to show me that she loves me.
There's nothing about the 'naughty tortie' about this tortoiseshell kitty. She's sweet-natured, gentle and cooperative.
She and Sulu are best of friends. Isn't it cute how they're holding paws here?
She loves practising the performance tricks she has learned. However, despite her early display of academic interest, she hasn't yet learned to read books. Whenever I give her book, Sulu gets jealous! He shows jealousy about nothing else, but he wants to be the only book-reading cat in this home. He views book-reading as his prerogative, and he protects it against anyone, including Yura.
She's now one year old, and the scruffy undernourished orphan has grown into a fine young lady.
I'll never forget that cold December day when a tiny ball of fluff followed me home and simply walked into my life and my heart.