My cat died in 2012. She wasn’t even my cat. She was a rescue who belonged to a neighbour. Three years after adopting her the neighbour got two new kittens, and the older cat found herself a new home. Mine.
I’d never liked cats before then, but I felt honored to have been chosen. She was perfect, and she accepted my worship as her due. She understood that I called her ‘Cat’ not from a lack of love, but from an acknowledgement that I was respecting her essence, which would only be diminished by a human name. We had a good life together, both knowing we were there for each other for the long haul. She got over her fear of thunderstorms and fireworks, as long she could sleep on top of my face, but she never got used to men.
We had twelve years together. I stroked her as she died. She was not in any pain. That’s all any of us can ask for, in the end.
I took her loss hard. It took months to stop calling out a greeting when I got in from work. I was so certain I’d never want another cat that when I found my dream condo in 2014 the fact it had a strict ‘no pets’ policy didn’t faze me. But now it’s 2016 and I desperately wish I could have a cat to lie on my keyboard and hijack my pillow.
So I went to a cat cafe.
It’s set up like a spacious living room, with an attached fenced-in outside deck. There’s a big cat-only withdrawing room, for when the humans are all too much. In the centre of the room is a giant wooden climbing tree, and the walls are layered with walkways, hidey holes, and cat-sized Indiana-Jones bridges.
Before you’re allowed in with the cats they give you a laminated set of rules: Do not feed the cats human food; Do not vigorously rub the cats’ bellies; Do not pick up a cat who doesn’t want to be picked up.
Once inside the cat room it was clear they had neglected to give the cats their laminated rules: Do not demand belly rubs with swipes of your tiny adamantine claws; Do not attack the humans’ feet while they are walking; Do not mug the humans for their food.
I definitely recommend visiting The Cat Lounge if you’re in Auckland. They partner with The Lonely Miaow, a non-profit cat rescue and welfare organization. Also – bonus – the coffee wasn’t hideous.
I still yearn for a cat of my own, but at least now I’m a junkie on the equivalent of a methadone program. And they don’t adopt these cats out, so I can go visit Maze any time I want. And enjoy being mugged.