The names of our next two cats were not very original. Blackie, as you might have guessed was black and Stevie came from the farm of a man called Steve. My grandfather who was a gardener but not an environmentalist detested Blackie because he didn’t deter birds from pecking his vegetables and had an annoying habit of sleeping on seedlings. The rest of us liked Balckie. He was a gentle, amiable animal but Granddad waged a campaign to get rid of the useless beast.
He succeeded in giving Blackie to friends of ours, a retired couple who lived nearby. They didn’t have a large verge patch and were quite happy to let Blackie do what he did best; lie around. When we visited them for morning or afternoon tea, Blackie would be reclining on the carpet. In those days, people used tea wagons to bring the teapot, cups and saucers and food from the kitchen to the front room. On one memorable occasion, the tea wagon wheels rolled right over Blackie’s tail. He didn’t even open an eye.
Steve was very young when we got him. He was grey and white with a perky personality. Chairs were too high for him but he climbed them with the determination of Hilary ascending Everest. Looking back on it, his claws must have caused some damage but I cant recall Mum complaining about it. That year, we got our usual Christmas tree, a branch of a macropapa growing along the driveway of a friend’s farmhouse. It sure wasn’t fancy stuck in a bucket of sand, The decorations weren’t fancy either and we didn’t have any lights. A chain of ornaments hung above the tree from two nails fixed in the wall. We thought the whole corner was beautiful.
It may have looked fine but after a few days, the tree didn’t smell fine. Then we discovered that Stevie was using the sand as a litter box, I think this probably showed intelligence and it was much closer than going outside where it might be wet or cold to do his business. I don’t know how we discouraged the kitten but we certainly got new sand for the tree. Dad taught Stevie to shake paws on command. The cat liked this and would hold up his paw many times to be shaken. Dad tired of the game first. Then Stevie would place a paw on Dad’s knee and dig in his claws. That always got my father’s attention. I don’t know what happened to Stevie or to the next cat Ming.
- I was married when Dad got Ming, the only cat that ever cost money. Dad and Mum had been in the car when he noticed a Siamese ca lying on the back ledge of the car in front. He was greatly taken by this and imagined bringing a cat to Mahia beach when they holidayed at the bach. Dad bought Ming from a breeder in Hawkes Bay. Like most Siamese, Ming was vocal and clever. He learned to shake hands too but he was never happy in the car. I can’t recall how Dad trained him but my father was never known for his great patience with people or animals.
I still have one more New Zealand cat to write about. This was PC my mother’s last pet.