A cat is someone you find at Toowong pet shop, with bright blue eyes and messy fur and an arched-backed, high-tailed, bite-other-kittens-on-the-butt type attitude.
You pay $25 for him and take him home in a shoebox.
You call him Peleguin, because it’s the first half of pelican and the second half of penguin and that’s cool.
A cat can fall in love, and get depressed when his girlfriend Ludis moves out. And never talk to any other cats ever again.
A cat is like a furry black pillow that walks around rubbing your legs and trying to trip you, with his tail high in the air when he’s happy to see you.
He’s someone to hug when things go bad with your boyfriend, and someone to lend to your friends when you go overseas, and someone to give to your parents when you chase your ex across the country.
A cat can take bush safari holidays, too, and he’ll come back when he’s ready.
A cat will pee on your passport to stop you going overseas again.
A cat tests the mettle of potential new boyfriends with his powerful green stare.
A cat can rip up the carpet and shit beneath it when you go away for the weekend.
He can give your new boyfriend nightmares in which his children are named Leniguin.
He can squirt diarrhoea on the brand new Persian rug your parents-in-law give you as a housewarming gift.
He can hate children but show boundless patience when his own little human sister and brother come along (because he knows he can train them to feed him at a young age).
A cat is always around, like a furry black rug on the tiles…when he’s not begging food off the neighbours or hunting lizards, or lying on the road at busy intersections.
Eventually a cat gets old and deaf, then senile and skinny and rickety.
You brush him because he won’t wash himself anymore.
He seems older and weaker, suddenly, one day. And you brush him and turn on the heater and try to get him to drink some water.
Then a cat seeks out a cool place and lies down and quietly dies.
So you wrap him in a pretty green towel and stroke his fur for the last time. You dig a hole and bury him, and drop pink chrysanthemums and tears into his grave. You say goodbye, and cover him with soil, rocks and flowers; with one big rock that makes a worthy headstone.
You tell him you were lucky to have shared your whole adult life with him, and that you will never forget him.
Goodbye, Peleguin. 1997-2013.