I live with two cats.
They are called Harris and Kilda (all the best cats are named after Scottish islands). They are nearly three years old, and the longest they have spent apart since they were born is about three hours. A trip to the vet was involved. It was very traumatic for all concerned.
Kilda is the brave one, and the more sociable one. If new people come to the flat, she comes out for a sniff and a cuddle and to let them photograph her. She is more talkative. She has been the first one to come out of the box in every new place they have ever been to. In my parents’ house when I first brought them home, in my flat after a five hour journey during which neither of them had been able to pee, and at church for a St Francistide service – and when they were both finally out, she went to say hello to the dogs while her sister ran for cover under the organ pedals.
She is utterly baffled at the idea that you (if you were a cat) might occasionally not want to be jumped on and licked half to death.
Recently, someone told me that they were surprised Harris had ever come out of the box. And the thing is, they weren’t wrong. Harris is an introvert, which mostly manifests in her propensity to take herself off for parts of the day and spent time by herself. And before you accuse me of anthropomorphising the two of them, consider this: not too long ago, when they were both locked in the sitting room with A Magnificent Human for the better part of the day so that electricity workmen could do things that involved having the door to my flat open, Harris sat in the litter tray for an hour with the door shut.
Kilda spent the same time learning how to hold a crochet hook.
There is photographic evidence of this somewhere.
Harris’s tendency to take herself off includes an ability to get locked into places that you never ever imagined a cat could possibly get into in the first place.
Sometimes, the result of this, combined with the fact that Kilda is the smother-you-all-with-loves sort of sociable and the fact that they’ve never really been separated, is that my evening goes as follows:
[ARRIVE HOME, LADEN WITH WORK CRAP AND GROCERIES]
ME: Hello. No, let me put this down first. Dinner? Hello. Where is your sister?
KILDA: Mrow. [runs around flat like a maniac]
ME: [serves dinner] I’m sure she’s in here somewhere, she always is.
KILDA: [ignores dinner] MROW. MROW.
ME: [opens up all the doors that a cat might reasonably get stuck behind]
KILDA: [runs through all of the doors, comes back out of them looking crestfallen] MROW.
ME: Well, I’m going to make dinner for me. I’m sure she’ll come out. I’ve looked in all the places she could be locked.
KILDA: [glares accusingly from the kitchen door while I chop]
ME: I’ll have a better look in a minute. I’m going to just get this in the oven.
KILDA: [loses patience and pats me on the face] Mrow. This is a situation of great emergency. Mrow.
ME: Yes, but she can’t have got out, so it’s fine.
KILDA: MROW MY SISTER IS MISSING AND MY WORLD HAS BEEN TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AND IT HAS BEEN FOREVER AND MROW WHY ARE WE NOT LOOKING FOR HER MROW. MROW.
ME: Oh, for God’s sake.
[MY DINNER BURNS AS KILDA AND I EMBARK ON A CAT-HUNT]
[HALF AN HOUR LATER. IT IS NOT A BIG FLAT.]
[I MAY BE PANICKING SLIGHTLY NOW.]
ME: [leaves flat briefly to check stairwell in close, because she can’t have got out but what if she got out?]
KILDA: [in flat] MROOOOOOOWWWWW.
NEIGHBOURS: [call RSPCA as clearly I am doing great evil to a tiger]
ME: [on phone to landlord / parents / long-suffering friends] Oh help I’ve lost a cat.
LANDLORD / PARENTS / LONG-SUFFERING FRIENDS: Which one?
ME: Which one do you think? I’ve looked everywhere that she could possibly be! What if she got out? What if there was a car? I’m panicking really quite a lot oh God.
[OPENS A DOOR THAT NO BEING WITHOUT OPPOSABLE THUMBS COULD POSSIBLY HAVE OPENED]
HARRIS: [blinks] Oh. Hello. Yes. How can I help you? You weren’t looking for me, were you?