Before I was born, in Jersey, my mother had a cat. Jezebel. I was always aware of her missing presence. Mum spoke of her often, and occasionally considered another cat. There never was another cat though. The ghost of mum’s old cat was really the only feline interaction of my early childhood. Lots of dogs. No cats.
Sometimes I’d go to someone’s house and the cat would come straight to me. Beeline. “He doesn’t normally come to people,” is something I heard often enough. “It’s probably because I haven’t showered.” But really that was all. I had a sense that I might smell interesting to cats.
About five years ago, just before this blog started, I went and found a ceremony with some South American plant medicine and it helped shift the way I look at things.
The beat era psychedelic sage and functioning heroin addict William Burroughs spoke and wrote often about cats. “Evidence indicates that cats were first tamed in Egypt. The Egyptians stored grain, which attracted rodents, which attracted cats. (No evidence that such a thing happened with the Mayans, though a number of wild cats are native to the area.) I don’t think this is accurate. It is certainly not the whole story. Cats didn’t start as mousers. Weasels and snakes and dogs are more efficient as rodent-control agents. I postulate that cats started as psychic companions, as Familiars, and have never deviated from this function.”
When I was on whatever psychedelic journey the medicine took me on, I found myself identifying very strongly with all things feline. I was never really big into cats until that night. I only really noticed this today when I was thinking about it just now in terms of what’s been happening since catwise. A certain cat spirit came and visited me on my strange journey. It helped me find a useful means of understanding myself better, which is really the point of going to those psychedelic ceremonies. I don’t really write about it much cos it’s mine. But thinking back now, it seems that endless colorful night opened the catflap into my existence this time round.
First in was Pickle in May 2017, not long after the ceremony. Little Pickle who followed Brian and Mel home to mine and nobody claimed her. She would sleep on my bed every night. I used to thrash around in bed but her presence stopped that. She would curl up in my heart space and lie there most of the night. Then I ended up looking after loads of other cats short and long term. Nutmeg helping de-adrenalise me catsitting over one long week working in Southwark as shouty King John with too many shows for too little money. Dear little twitchy pissypants Mao who brought some wisdom and calm into the Covid downtime. I still think of him and his ways. He was with me and then Lou for a long long time all said.
After Mao there have been lots of delightful furry friends stewarding my dreams in lots of different contexts. Mochi and Mika up by Eton when I was doing the Bletchley show. Izzy and Tessy in the palace with Lou. Earlier this week I was in Richmond with restless Henry, most likely decimating the bird population of Richmond before demanding endless Sheba packages and occasional snuggles. And now, this pleasant evening, I’m high up in a council flat overlooking Mornington Crescent, ministering to Boy, who is a pudding. He just likes to lie on his side and look at you.
As with my mum back in Jersey, I want another cat but I know the hit you have to take on lifestyle if you haven’t got an Al to come and stay in your place every time you’re away.
I’m off all over the place all the time. My existence would become a logistical hell if I had a furry friend full time. So I’ve become a sort of cat-visitor, gradually building up a web of cats that know me so I can extend my night time dream-voyages into deeper and stranger places. The cats have got my back these days and I’ve got theirs. And all of them came in since I knelt and held that bitter cup to my lips and filled my mouth with that hard deep thick sludge and filling my system with the spirit molecule.