I hadn’t meant to get a cat mainly because I wasn’t allowed pets in my housing association flat. There was also the fact that my student finances didn’t really extend to funding cat food or a Mission Viejo vet clinic visit. However, there are certain circumstances when your plans have to change in an instant and that is how I ended up with Oliver.
I was walking to a friend’s house carrying a cat which must have looked ridiculous. I had been minding the moggie whilst its owner was visiting family and was on my way to drop her back home. I was close to my destination when a guy ran out of one of the houses on the street and asked if I liked cats. I could hardly say no with a tortoiseshell in my arms! The man explained that he was about to drown a kitten because nobody wanted it and he couldn’t afford to feed it. Two minutes later I resumed my journey with a little ginger bundle poking out the top of my jacket.
Oliver settled in quickly and any plans I might have had to find him a more suitable home dissolved into the mists of time as did many of the logistical problems which had presented themselves. The chief of these was the fact that I lived in a third floor flat. I could let Oliver out whenever I was around and for a long time laboured under the impression that this was the only time that he was exploring the great outdoors. I later discovered that he was using the window as a cat flap and was being let back in my friend next door who had a key. He never injured himself skydiving which proved to be just one of many strange habits.
When Oliver was about 12 months old I moved to London. He had no problem dealing with the metropolis but after a few weeks I was forced to move flats due to a falling out with one of the residents. It turned out that Oliver was using the pot of his rubber tree plant as a litter tray! I moved to the more affluent area of Ealing where I found a benevolent landlord who allowed cats. It was then that Oliver developed a taste for travel. He started following me wherever I went which led to several rather embarrassing incidents.
On the Loose
One day I was shopping in the local supermarket and turned into an aisle to discover Oliver walking towards me. I had to usher him out of the shop and leave without my shopping. Visits to the supermarket became a regular event but I managed to train him to wait outside. On another occasion I was on the 207 bus heading for Southall when the conductor asked if anyone owned a ginger cat. I turned around in horror to see Oliver on the bus! A few weeks later he disrupted filming at Ealing Studios by running across the set in the middle of a scene. All I saw as I was passing the gates was a security guard chasing him out. I asked what had happened but thought it best not to mention that the cat was mine!
Oliver continued to follow me everywhere and one evening I was taking a stroll with him trotting along beside me when I saw a gentleman with a large Rottweiler approaching. I feared for Oliver and went to pick him up but he escaped my grasp and ran towards the dog which he then bit on the nose. The owner gave me a lecture in how I should learn to control my cat and went stalking off.
I then discovered that Oliver was taking the odd stroll on his own. Well more of a major hike really. I received a phone call from a woman three miles away who informed me that Oliver was a regular visitor. He had his name and my number on his collar and she thought she ought to let me know. I was then called by an Australian tourist who had picked Oliver up on the slip road of the M4 in Brentford. The man was kind enough to bring him home. God knows where else he went.
Oliver had been with me for 14 years when his health began to fail. One night he went out as usual for a stroll around the neighbourhood but he never returned. For a while I hoped that he had gone off on another adventure but as the days went by I realised that he wasn’t coming back. He may have dropped me in hot water a few times and yes his taste for the finest cat food wrecked my student finances but I wouldn’t have missed my time with him for the world. I have had many cats over the years but none quite like him!
Alisos Animal Hospital
22902 Los Alisos Blvd # D
Mission Viejo, CA 92691