Our cat Leo

Year 10 student Sophie was with us for a week’s work experience recently, and decided to write about her beloved Leo, her family’s moggy. Read her story below. 

We got Leo when I was four. We never thought we would get a cat as we had just moved into a house which is right next to a busy road but my mum loves cats so much. The first year Mum would always try to keep Leo in at night so he wouldn’t go wondering, but he soon worked it out and started hiding in the bushes, so Mum couldn’t find him to bring him inside. Leo didn’t seem to be going on the road because he would always be back home the next morning, so we started leaving him outside at night.

Leo was mostly in a playful mood. Even though he passed the kitten stage pretty quickly, he would never give up an opportunity to claw something. You would think he was a playful cat, but in fact, he was mostly scared. He was always hesitant walking through the front door or turning a corner – instead he always liked to be hiding under his favourite bush out in the front yard.

Leo

My beautiful cat Leo

When I turned ten, I started getting bored with Leo and I wanted a dog. I would complain to Mum that Leo wasn’t fun and if we had a dog you could take them on walks and on holidays. When I was eleven we got a dog and named her Lizzie, I was so happy. Lizzie didn’t like Leo but Leo didn’t really care. Leo kept out of the backyard and spent his time inside and out the front, away from Lizzie. I played with Lizzie as much as I could after school. I soon realised as I got older that Lizzie wasn’t as great as I thought she would be. Lizzie would smell, but Leo didn’t. Leo loved cuddles, but Lizzie didn’t. My sister started being great pals with Lizzie and I then went back to loving Leo the most.

On the 23 of January 2015 at 9:11pm (I remember it very clearly) we were watching a movie when mum’s mobile phone rang – it was the local vet. The vet said Leo had been brought in because he had been hit by a car. My mum then asked if she could come and get him the next day (thinking he was OK) but the vet then told mum he didn’t make it. Mum told us what happened and we all started crying. I was then crying for the whole night and the next week.  I couldn’t believe he was gone forever and I would never see him again. It really hurt I didn’t get to say goodbye.

My mum spoke to our neighbours about Leo’s death and they mentioned there had been a dead fox on the road. We now think Leo had been chased by the fox onto the road. I had Leo for eight years and I am glad I have beautiful memories and photos of him. We are not considering getting another cat at the moment but when I am older, have a house of my own and live next to a quiet road I would like to have another cat like Leo.

Way back when, Wednesdays

The naming of cats is a difficult matter

Before the inception of the Facebook lost pets page, many people would take out a classified advertisement in a newspaper. Devoted cat owner Mrs Penning did more than that.  Mrs Penning contacted the Leader Messenger who ran a short article on page 4 of the edition dated 5 March, 1969.  This was probably so her appeal to find her missing cat Pookie-Pookie would be clearly visible to the majority of readers.  Let’s hope that Mrs Penning and her little cat man were reunited.

Pet cat missing Pookie

Babies’ names change with the times and apparently so do the names we give our pets. ‘Bow Wow Meow Pet Names’, which is an online supplier of personalised identification tags, lists the following as being the most frequently ordered names for cats during 2016:   Charlie, Oscar, Leo, Max, Ollie, Milo, Toby, Jasper, Shadow, Simba, Coco, Bella, Luna, Molly, Coco, Lily, Daisy, Lucy, Lulu and Millie, http://www.bowwow.com.au

When naming pets, owners can be influenced by popular culture. For example, lion cub Simba from the Lion King, Milo the kitten from Milo and Otis, Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter or Luna the black cat from the Japanese Manga series Sailor Moon.  People also choose names which are based on a cat’s appearance, their colour and markings, such as Tiger or Leo. For those who want something a little different, you could name your cat Mr Darcy, Pumpkin, Kanye, Laksa, Lord Darth Vader, Marakesh, Burger, Mr Schnitzel, or Qantas!

Evidently Pookie-Pookie has not retained its popularity.

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Book Review

Cats & Lions

Cats & Lions by Mitsuaki Iwago

Ailurophobia is the persistent, irrational fear of cats. Doubtless, a former colleague of mine suffered from this condition, for when looking at a photograph of a reclining cat, she exclaimed in horror “It’s just like a wee lion!”

Remembering this incident, I was drawn to reading Cats & Lions by award winning wildlife and nature photographer Mitsuaki Iwago.

Iwago tells us that “Cats are small lions. Lions are big cats.” In a series of beautiful and distinctive photographs, Iwago cleverly sets out the lives of domestic cats in urban areas and African lions in the wild, side by side. He reveals the similarities between the two species and captures the natural beauty of the different environments in which they live.

He compares these cats’ musculature and movement, when walking, feeding and hunting. We see them when they are at rest or gazing into the distance, thinking who knows what and scenting the air. Other outstanding photographs focus on the close bonds between feline families – parents with kittens or cubs, grooming each other and playing together.

Iwago’s work is atmospheric, which is partly due to the amount of detail the he captures in both the subjects and backgrounds of his photographs. Colours are intense and the lighting stunning. You can almost feel the snow falling, hear the murmur of the wind moving through the grass of the savannah, or anticipate the sound of thunder in the distance, preceding the rain.

I think that Iwago aims to create an emotional response from the reader. His photos invoke happiness, especially if you like cats.  They will make you happy but also perhaps, a little sad.  Iwago explains in his introduction to Cats & Lions that “The Lion is a wild animal and does not have an easy life.” His images show us that while lions are supremely adapted to their environment, they must compete and hunt for food. Their only shelter from danger and the harsh elements of heat, drought and driving rain is the long grass and some sparse acacia trees.

You can reserve Cats & Lions through the One Card Network library catalogue, or enquire when you visit the Library. Mitsuaki Iwago is also the author of Curious Cats, In the Lion’s Den and Mitsuaki Iwago’s Whales which are available through the One Card Library Network.