Cat, life mate.

Cats are very special life mates.

That cats are very special life mates has been clear to me since I was a child.

Back then, I was living in Ariano Irpino. I lived in a large farmhouse in a district with a poetic name.

In the farm there were poultry: hens with their angry rooster, white geese, yellow or gray ducks, rabbits, some turkeys.

In the fold, the sheep. In spring – alas, close to the rites of Easter – the tender lambs, I called them mimmì, were born. I’m afraid I’ve tasted more than one, without knowing it.

In the stables, the cows. Woes to call them dairy cattle (mucche), the grandfather got angry. The name is sacrosanctly cows (vacche), he reiterated, contradicting the teacher, who wanted to soften the name (slang: vacche – whores). 

Two of the herd had received a proper name: Bianchina, alluding to the light coat, and Ferrandone with a dark meaning. Perhaps, it was the surname of the breeder that had sold her to grandfather. She certainly had a bad temper. Lunatic and picky, she refused to drink from the bucket if some other beast had poked his head inside. 

Among the many animals, however, those that I felt similar and closest were dogs and cats. Grandfather Gigi grew up alert and quick German shepherd dogs, he kept them in the kennel for safety reasons, and some guard mongrels, free to wander around the gardens and the fields. My playmate was Pupetto (Little puppet), tawny and lively. When I ran at daredevil, he would catch up with me and bite my calf. Sometimes, he put too much heat into the game and ended up hurting me. Still, his teeth left only a superficial mark.

There were many cats. A large colony populated the barns, the stables, the sheepfolds, the chicken coop and the numerous attics in absolute freedom. In good weather, It happened to see a few cats slip from a hay bale or haystack followed by four or five meowing kittens.

Often, the feline squad met a flock of chicks, scurrying behind the ruffled hen. Then, the feathered mother was furious. She spread her wings and flapped them, throwing herself at the hairy mother, that blew and made a big tail. Then, without giving it too much weight, she walked away, the air of superiority.

If some kitten was distracted by a bee or a butterfly and remained behind, mom used to meow a spur. Then, if the little one was less than quick to obey the call, she retrieved him with a slap. Sometimes she made him literally fly among the others – I swear, mother-cat stroked like a possessed – or she bit him by the scruff and led him back among the waiting brothers.

I liked her brisk manner, so much similar my mother’s hasty harshness. Without realizing it, I learned the basic rules – the animal ones – of life, playing with cats and dogs and observing their instinctive behaviors, but always effective and aimed at a useful purpose for the her.

Do you think we can learn from animals?

Do you have a memory related to a special friend?

Share it with me!

Di Giuseppina D'Amato

Amo i libri, la fotografia e i gatti. Sono professoressa in quiescenza, scrittrice e fotografa per passione. Lascio che il mondo precipiti nei miei occhi. Osservo la gente e lo spazio intorno a me. Narro con le parole e scrivo con la luce.

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