CLEO by Mel
You would call her a tortoiseshell, sort of. Grey and white and amber and rust and red and brown thrown together in a higgly-piggly, haphazard but ultimately aesthetic kind of way. White socks on each tiny foot, her back feet splayed outward like a ballerina’s when she runs. Sturdy head and body, on same tiny feet give her a short and stumpy appearance for a cat, strangely cropped tail (lost a few inches somewhere?), more bulldog than feline, more squat than elegant, and yet somehow in the grand tradition of a street moggy, she pulls it all off! Perhaps it’s the luminescent gold, green eyes, wide as saucers, and magnificent pipe cleaner whiskers that detract from all her other features, rendering her ultimately attractive in a brutish kind of way. If not beautiful, then full of beguiling charm and cunning nouce, built to survive, made for the long haul, a street rescue cat, named Cleo – short for Cleopatra we are told – Queen of all she surveys despite her humble beginnings.
She chose us as cats will do! Perched in the window of the animal adoption centre, she spied us from afar, or more correctly my husband! Primping and preening at the window, rolling and curling and ‘playing cutesy’, atop a sign in the window that read “Cleo is seeking her forevermore home”.
“I don’t t like cats he says” as the attendant opens her cage ‘just for a pat’, as if we don’t know already that we are hopelessly trapped. “She’s more like a dog mate” he replies, “great temperament, just fits in, loves people, men in particular”.
She makes a bee line for my husband; completely aware he is the one she must cajole first. She works him swiftly and adeptly, careening into him, purring and ‘mipping’ her greetings, rubbing her head against his chest, assuring him she belongs to us now and in fact always has. He is captivated and I have already fallen.
And so, she joins our home, stomping down the hallway, she heads straight for the leather couch, no moggy basket in the laundry for her! At night she sleeps on the foot of our bed, and inches ever closer as the night progresses, usually ending up on my husband’s chest or pillow by morning fall. She demands her breakfast early, knows I’m an early riser and sees no reason why she should not be fed at 5am – makes sense, I am awake already and how easy is it to serve her brekkie as I make a cuppa? – Only reasonable thing to do really! And then let her out for her morning walk, and then let her back in when she scratches at the back door. And turn the kitchen tap on for her to take a drink. And then turn it off when she’s finally finished. By then I’m fully awake and she is back in bed for her morning nap!
And so the saying rings true – ‘cats have slaves’!
She teaches us quickly – her likes and dislikes, her favourite cat food is eaten with relish, while that which is not to her liking is left with utter disdain in her bowl! Fresh, clean kitty litter every day please, which she throws around with great gusto, aware I will tidy up after her daily ablutions! She prefers fresh, flowing water from the kitchen tap to drink, not in a bowl thank you, and loves, loves loves, an open fire, heated bathroom floor and our bed with fresh linen in the winter sun – it is a Melbourne winter after all!
When we move house, she seems to know she’s coming too, submits to being put in her carry cage – as if she was a cat or something! – and sits happily between us as we drive for 20 hours from Victoria to Northern NSW. She likes to see out the window and where we are going, please – all part of the grand adventure – and once we are there, likes a guided tour of the facilities, especially our sleeping quarters, which are hers too after all, as well as her food and tray locations. Thus satisfied, she promptly falls asleep, happy, and content after a long drive to be with her people in a new and much warmer location!
I buy luxurious bed linen for our new bed; a house-warming gift for us and our new home! They are exorbitantly expensive – pure mulberry silk sheets in a champagne colour and a raw linen quilt, in muted tangerine, all with matching pillowcases! I have just dressed the bed and leave the room to call my husband in to survey the latest purchase, making sure I have hidden the receipt and hoping he is suitably impressed, so as not to ask the price anyhow! There, sitting in the middle of the bed, resplendent is our Cleo – very impressed with the new colour scheme, which after all sets off her natural hues, as well as the quality of her new bed linen, mulberry silk, and raw linen – befitting for a Queen after all!
I remove her gently two times – at least until we use them first, I tell her! The third removal is a little less gentle and accompanied by a sharp closing of our bedroom door!! I then get on with my day, and at about 5pm, her dinner time, I have trouble locating her. Mortally offended has she left us for another family? Surely not? I am frantic as I search the house and garden – and then I spy it – our bedroom screen door, expertly jimmied open with a sly and agile paw, and on the bed again in her Queenly composure Cleo, short for Cleopatra after all, Royal and Regal and very fond of mulberry silk and fresh bed linen as it appears!
SPRUNG BAD PUSS!!!!
Mel is a first- time novelist and writer
Having escaped Corporate Melbourne life, where she lived and worked for 25 + years as an Human Resources Practitioner, Consultant and Executive Coach, Mel made the move to the Northern NSW Hamlet of Suffolk Park in November of 2020. She now marvels at the beauty of the area and its wildlife daily. Having befriended a local wildlife manager, Mel has become fascinated with wildlife preservation issues in the hinterland and has chosen this as a backdrop to her much of her writing.
Mel has a family of 5 adult children who live variously in Melbourne, Sydney and South Korea and a new granddaughter who has just turned 1, as well as a LARGE and ROWDY extended family. She lives happily with her husband Drew and cat Cleo, just a short walk from the iconic Tallow Beach and Broken Head on the Northern NSW coast.