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My two favourite cats

My two favourite cats 6
My two favourite cats 5
My two favourite cats 4
My two favourite cats 3
My two favourite cats 2
My two favourite cats

Two cats in a cage. Both black and white, both blazing with anger, both six months old, both from the same litter; male and female, both until now completely out of touch with human's. Wild.

The woman of the cat shelter advises us to go for the boy: he's a lot friendlier than his sister. But Marlies takes a shine to the girl. I know better than to go against that. She is the uppercat in our household, master of husband, children and cats. And she decided that we will have a litter from our tomcat Gijs, the sweetest cat you'll ever see, and this ferocious one. So we go home with a caged wild cat.

In the beginning we can only handle Mies - the cat - by throwing a towel over her, so she will not see our hands approaching. Then we cuddle her, while at the same time holding her in a vicelike grip, just to save our hides. When she frees herself, she bounces through the room at incredible speed, just using the tops of the backrests of the seats. I am honestly scared of this potent little bundle of agression. Marlies is scared too, I can tell. But she is the one manhandling Mies most of the time...

Mies discovers that she can remain stationary if she hides behind the books in the bookcase. All she has to do not to get caught, is crawl to another shelf, away from prying hands. But we learn to block her passage by pushing the book in front of her all the way to the wall. After months we reach an understanding, and she agrees to being picked up, but just by Marlies, by me, and by our eldest son Gert. People who visit the house, will remain scared for quite a while longer.

As the atmosphere gets friendlier, we gradually get her used to getting out of the house on her own, until she can stay out all night, like all our cats. That should give Gijs and her ample opportunity to perform their designated duty. But Mies decides that has to be done in the living room, with the entire family present. So be it. After the long and painful courtship, Gijs is not allowed near her again.

Mies puts on weight by the hour, and when the time has come she carefully chooses where her babies will be born: in Marlies's lap. She even waits for her to get home from working. That is a mistake, Marlies, still being the uppercat, puts her in a cardboard box. Mies agrees, but only if I keep fondling her belly. For four hours. The first kitten is quite a big one, and she can't seem to push it out. After a lot of labour I call a vet friend, and she advices me to help Mies. So I gently take grip with my fingertips around the tiny body, and start pulling. Mies goes into a prolonged convulsion, and then our baby is there. The next three arrive without any delay.

Mies stays in the box, together with her little family. Gijs is not welcome, and whenever anything happens in the house - someone closes a door or something - her head will appear over the edge, scanning the perimeter for our puppie. Saartje is a young wheaten terrier, about as old as the litter. As soon as Mies spots her, she jumps out of the box, gives Saar a good hiding and gets back in again. Thank God for the thick fur on wheaten's...

The litter seems to calm Mies down. She doesn't visit the bookshelves anymore and even begins to let other people into her comfort zone. But for years they must be wary when they sit on the couch, because that is Mies's private stomping ground. But even that gets mild.

Today, 15 years after we first set eyes on her, she is just an extremely sweet and affectionate cat. For us, Gijs is still looked upon with disdain. Mies likes it best when I sit on the couch, with my hand on the seat beside me. She will crawl under my hand, wrap her hind legs quite obscenely around my arm, while her front paws hug my hand. My task is fondling her neck and breast. If I don't deliver, she'll get up from our embrace, look at me with a deeply unsatisfied glaze in her beautiful eyes, crawl back under again and grant me a chance to improve my performance. Heaven is when Marlies sits on the couch too, with Mies in between us. At least once she has made up her mind to which of us she will curl up against.

When I'm down or tired, Mies changes role. She'll sit on the backrest behind me, and grooms my balding scalp. Sometimes for as many as twenty minutes. I love that, it makes me feel loved.

Needless to say that the uppercat outperformes Mies in every way. We've been together for 33 years now, and there hasn't been a dull moment ever. Our litter, three proud young men, has left the dugout. Gijs is 17 and Mies 15. And Saar 13. I'm blessed. I'm the richest man alive.

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—The JPG team

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