Lily is not always the easiest cat to look after. This is mainly because she often meows at night. I don’t really know why she does it, as I always make sure there’s enough food in her bowl! It used to be worse, but back then it was easy to explain: her buddy Suus had just passed away. The sounds she produced echoed through the stairway, so loud that I feared it would cause the neighbors to complain about it! But this was never the case, and by now it seems Lily is mostly used to being an only cat. If it wasn’t for the nights, they still seemed to last longer than she cared for. Preferably, she appears next to my pillow before the crack of dawn, to meow in a way sounding in between a bit angry and lamenting. As I have learned the best way to deal with unwanted behavior is by ignoring it – anything else will be encouragement to do it again – I make sure to keep up. But Lily wasn’t born yesterday either: after she realises her tactics aren’t successful, she gets fed up and impatiently starts patting me against the head. After being outsmarted, I cannot do anything else but deny her access to the bedroom. Unlike her, I am not in a position to lie on the couch all day long napping! Sometimes, shutting her out works, but not always: it does occur that she continues to meow at me angrily from the other side of the door! My final resolution is to make sure she cannot get into the stairway at all. For some reason, her complaints then stops after a while. She is still close enough for me to hear her, but she seems to give up. As it seems, I have finally managed to get the message across!
Luckily, all seems to be forgiven and forgotten the morning after. Without exception, she greets me enthusiastically once she sees me. She meows at me perkily, as if saying: “Finally! What took you so long?” Then she first trots toward her favourite scratch pole and sharpens her nails once or twice. After that, it’s time for our morning dance. It’s the way we start every single day: with a kind of tango for two, with her meticulously getting in my way. When my right leg moves forward, she shoots in front of my left leg. When my left leg goes forward, she moves to the right. With every single step, I have to be careful not to kick or trip over her! Quite a challenge at that time of day. But my first good deed of the day, without exception, is to spoil her with her favourite snack. Not long after that, the house is getting quiet again. But she only relaxes for real, after I sit down for my own breakfast. As if she knows, that soon her day is going to start!
At the age of fifteen, Tonguç suddenly started to display a different kind of behaviour. Born in the streets of Istanbul, she was lovingly welcomed in the safety of her owner’s household. Together with housemate Black Pepper they crossed the Marmara Sea to the island of Büyükada, a well-known cat haven, quite some years ago. Life was good for the two cats there: a roof above their heads, always food and fresh water in their bowls and a lush garden for horsing around in. But Tonguç didn’t seem to be interested in ; she was more of a homebody. Generally, as soon as she had left the house, she wanted to come back in again not long after. One memorable summer, when I was supposed to be online for a yoga training, she kept claiming her spot on my lap. So that’s how I meditated! It must have been too funny seeing her little head pop up at the other end of the screen!
Upon my return one year later, her absence was immediately obvious. In the past, it wouldn’t have taken her long to wrap herself around my legs, meowing “Hello! I am here! Have you noticed me? Pick me up please!” Cuddling was mandatory as far as she was concerned. No wonder I was stupefied when her owner explained that Tonguç now was living the life of an outdoor cat! She only came in occasionally to be fed. “I do understand,” her owner added, “it’s just stifling inside”. I was still surprised, as all previous summers the weather had been hot. Her behaviour seemed a radical change to me. After having laughed it away with an ‘oh well, you know; old age doesn’t always come along with wisdom’, I quickly started changing my mind. From the balcony on the first floor I could see exactly what she was doing on her spot by the roadside. That she had picked because it was excellent for napping in the shade was obvious. But it was only when I saw with my own eyes how she was spending her days that I fully understood what it was all about. In spite of being of respectable age, Tonguç is still gorgeous. And as many visitors of the island regard the cats as a major local attraction, she got loads of attention. Not long after the first eye contact was made – usually this happened simultaneously with somebody making comments in a cooing tone of voice about how cute she was. Mostly girls of all ages would stop in their tracks, but I’ve also seen the occasional guy get off his bike to give her some fuss. Every now and again, people would offer her a handful of dry food; she didn’t care much for that though. It was for that reason that her son, a big, cool tom cat, joined her in the flirting with passers-by! But even the most hardcore cat fans carry on their ways after a while. Never mind: usually it didn’t last that long until the next cat fan would be stopping in his tracks.
Nothing wrong with getting older, the life of a cat begins at fifteen after all!