It was never our intention to end up with a kitten. At least not when Neko came into our lives.
We were living in rented accommodation, with a no pets clause in our contract, just as many rental tenancy agreements do. Having recently got engaged, we dreamed of one day living in a house which would allow us to keep a cat. We’d go to a local shelter and pick up a nice little moggy or two, probably older cats as they’re so much harder to re-home, then we’d all live Happily Ever After.
However, as ever, life had other plans. We weren’t in a very good place on June 23rd 2013. A lot had happened in the first half of that year and we were both feeling very low. A mixture of health problems, which led to financial difficulties, mixed with break downs in friendships had led us down a dark path. We desperately needed a light at that time, we were newly engaged, in the early stages of planning a wedding, but one thing after another just kept sucking the joy out of everything.
I had been playing over the recent events in my mind as I walked the last leg of my journey home from work that evening. We lived on an unusual street to say the least, an eclectic mix of neighbours made it a rather colourful place to be, for better or worse. There were always children playing in the street, something which never really bothered me, in fact it was actually quite nice to see that some kids still had some parts of a traditional childhood. The children rarely spoke to anyone and kept to themselves, but on this occasion, I noticed two small girls, going door to door with a tiny kitten in their hands, trying to offload him after their mother had said they were no longer allowed to keep him.
This was unusual, even for our street. The girls must have seen me walk past and called after me. There he was, a tiny little ball of fluff by the name of ‘Fluffy’ tucked up in the arms of one of the girls. ‘Do you want my kitten?’ she asked. Of course, I enquired as to why she was giving him away, and the simple answer was, their parents had had a change of heart and they no longer wanted him in the house. He didn’t have any food or toys, a bed or a litter tray. On reflection, I wonder if he ever had any of those things. I agreed to take him for fear of what might happen to him if I didn’t. It just didn’t bear thinking about. As soon as I took him from them, all I could think about is what if we were found out? I toyed with idea of taking him to a rescue, but decided to ask Joe his thoughts first.
Unusually, Joe was home from work before me that day. I opened the door and asked if he was in a good mood – he wasn’t until he saw what I was carrying. That was it then. I knew we couldn’t give him up, he was ours and was always meant to be ours. The fear of being caught didn’t even bother me when I saw how much this little ball of fluff had brightened Joe’s mood. So we simply decided to find a place that would allow pets. It really was that simple.
We had absolutely nothing for him. Including the name. Fluffy did absolutely nothing for him – especially after he’d widdled all over the front doormat the second I put him down. Generous people provided us with the basics, food and bowls, a litter tray and some litter, even a nice big scratching post, but we struggled with the name. We thought about giving him an emo name on account of his very distinct eyeliner, however nothing seemed to fit.
After a couple of days, we’d had time to reflect upon what had just happened. Luckily, Joe was an experienced cat owner so we’d managed to settle the little guy in well and he seemed pretty happy. We both love Japanese culture, so the quest for a name took a turn from the normal names we’d been throwing around thus far. I’d always been a big lover of Japanese Maneki Neko. This little cat hadn’t solved all our problems but he’d sure brought some happiness back into our lives, things started to seem brighter all of a sudden, so with that in mind we decided to call him Neko.
Little Neko had a thing for shoes and socks when he first joined us. Especially socks, well at least until he adopted the stuffed lemur that hung from our stair handrail.
He’s such a great little character. We love him so much and I’m super glad I was in the right place at the right time that day. I’d feel completely lost without him now!
Neko is fully grown now and will be 3 in a couple of months. He likes chicken, dreamies, sleeping in bed with us, chasing the red dot and playing in the garden. He hates baths, bin bags, deodorant cans, the hairdryer and going to the V-E-T. He’s also just become big brother to our new arrival. They’re still getting used to each other at the moment but he’s such a lovely little chap, I’m sure we’ll get there.
It makes me so sad to think about what could have happened to him, especially when I read about all the awful things that happen to animals, usually very young ones at that. Too often I hear stories of kittens being dumped in bushes or bins, sold to homes that may not be suitable – and of course abandoned. Yup, it happens more than you’d think, people move home and can’t take the pets with them for whatever reason so they just up and leave them behind.
I’m going to try and make it one of my goals this year to do more for the places that do so much to take care of these babies. When we went to collect Leica, in addition to her adoption fee I donated two big bags of food for the shelter, it didn’t feel like a lot, so I am determined to find ways that I can do more.
Neko’s story has a happy ending, he is loved, spoiled and lives in a home with a nice big garden for all his kitty adventures, but I want this to happen for more fur babies.
Do you have a story about how you got your little one(s)? I’d love to hear it.