My love for the kitties is so physical. I stroke their heads and stare adoringly into their wide-eyed faces; I have committed to memory the feel of four different backs; I hold their perfectly formed little paws in my hand; I enjoy their warm, soft and yielding forms. The kitties touch me a lot: Blackie kneads my tummy; Cupcake drapes herself across my arms when I type or read; Curly sits in my lap; Poppy twines himself repeatedly around my feet. A lot of love is mutually expressed through touch. It feels very primal, a totally unabashed expression of basic need.
I have a recurring nightmare about the kitties. In this nightmare, I lose my darlings into a large room filled with similarly-coloured cats. I call and I call, but I can’t find my four, my very special four, the four who have grown up with me and live in my heart of hearts. I can’t recognise them, and so I lose them.
Sometimes this plays out in real life. On my way home, my heart lurches stupidly when I see other cats that look like mine. Is that Blackie oh god I must have forgotten to shut the door – but then I crouch down, run my hand along the imposter’s back, and the precious touch-memory tells me, this is not what Blackie feels like, and then I can breathe easy.