I just didn't 'get' cats before. They came across as unaffectionate ingrates, capable of sudden acts of unwarranted viciousness, leading a sordid double-life of violence, sexual promiscuity and defecation in the gardens and alleys of Britain.
I thought that the owners were even worse, particularly those funny little women who used to buy the 'Cats Are Better Than Men' book from me. Did they really prefer to to form a relationship with a mute animal rather than a real person?
When a friend told me that her cat had been diagnosed with diabetes and would now need a daily injection, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Why didn't she just have it put down?
I'll get my coat.
As much as I love dogs, I can do without the early morning walks - there's nothing good about having to pick up excrement in the rain on a cold winter morning. I'm also glad that our house won't have that cloying dog smell of overcooked peas. But most of all, I'm relieved to be free from the awful feeling of guilt that dogs inspire, with their big, reproachful eyes.
If you have a difficult child, a dog might seem like a solution, but there is a danger that it will simply add to the stresses of family life.
Someone recently told me that a friend of hers - a very thoughtful, considerate man - bought a small tree as a birthday present for his wife. She was having a very difficult time with her children and as she loved trees, it seemed like the perfect present. However, when the plant was unveiled, she broke down and wept: "Oh God, not another fucking thing to worry about!"
The only person that remains immune to our kitten's feline charms is our seven-year-old son, who may be having a fit of pique about being usurped as the youngest and cutest. When asked how he felt, he replied that he was "like Switzerland in the War. Neutral."
It's growing on me.
P.S. - Sadly, Kitten Strachey died in early July - a victim of Feline Infectious Peritonitis.