Sunday, February 19, 2012


In the summer of 2007 a cat started hanging around our garden.  Maarten, my husband, had a fondness for cats, which I did not share, being highly allergic (as is my husband). This young-ish cat (we later found out he was about 2 at the time) would sit on the roof of the shed in our garden and meow and purr when we got near to it. On sunny days when we were out in the garden, the cat, whom Maarten started calling 'Fred', would get closer and closer. Near us on the ground, next to us on the chair, with Maarten in the hammock. I was very reserved around the cat, being allergic. I said to Maarten ' Do NOT let that cat into the house!'

I suppose Fred decided that he wanted to live with us so he stayed outside our bedroom window and meowed and mewed all night long. He didn't leave, not even to eat. So of course I fed him. Of course I let him into the house. Of course he started sleeping on our bed. Of course we fell in love with him.

We didn't have a cat door and there were a lot of neighborhood cats, so leaving a door open for him to go in and out of didn't appeal much. It wasn't a problem for Fred, however. He came in by jumping for the fence in the garden on to the window about the garden doors and climbing through, then jumping on the bed. On me. In the middle of the night. But still, we wanted to keep him.

I went to my doctor and explained that we had a cat and he said 'But you are allergic!' and I said 'I know, but I really really like him'. He gave me allergy pills, which I took for a month and then decided to just see what happens. I got used to him and have hardly any problems with him at all. Not the case with other cats, though.

We live at number 41. Freddy (originally called Kiwi) lived at number 26. His former owners brought him and his brother home from a shelter and were frustrated by the power struggle between the two cats. They were always fighting. Freddy decided he wanted his own home and he picked us, an occurrence for which we are thankful for every day.

Freddy changed us. Not only turning me into a cat person (a fact which my sister STILL finds hysterical), but by opening our minds in ways we never imagined. When you don't have a pet, you are happy and content and life can be good. But have a pet, the right pet, intensifies your happiness and broadens it. 

What the cat also did for me was to inspire me to start taking photos. The first really good photo that I believe I took,  was this one of Freddy

Of all the things a cat, A CAT! has inspired me to take a journey I never would have imagined taking for myself. I like to say that the furball is my muse.

In addition to inspiring my photographic journey, Freddy has also been with us during some very important moments in our lives.  When my husband was going through chemo, I had this photo enlarged and we brought to the hospital to hang on the wall during his 6 day chemo cycles (every 21 days for 4 months)
Every time they started his IV at the beginning of the visit (not the most pleasant moment) I would talk to him about Freddy; about what he did that day, or remind him of a Freddy story. It always served as a good distraction. When I was in the hospital giving birth to our son, Fletcher, Maarten brought the poster with him and hung it up in the birthing room, to the delight of myself and the nurses.

We have another cat, Miss Pebbles, who is adorable and unique in her own adorable way for reasons I will expound upon another time, since I want this to be about Freddy, my bubbelah.  On Friday I took him to the vet to look at a bump in his stomach. The bump is just below his nipple and turns out it isn't bump but a tumor. It looks like Freddy has cancer. Breast Cancer, of all things, in our male cat. On Tuesday Fran (our lovely vet and very good friend) will remove the tumor and find out if it has spread. I know he is just a cat, but he means a lot to Maarten and myself, So I hope you will spare a positive thought for him on Tuesday.

1 comment:

HeidiK said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about Freddy's tumor!! He sounds like such a lovely cat, and I hope the cancer hasn't spread. (Btw, great description of how he chose you and won you over!!)

So I should probably introduce myself! My name is Heidi and I live near Chicago. A while ago, I was on Flickr, and I did a search for "Amsterdam". I had done a semester at the VU way back in 1993, and have been back to the city several times, but sometimes I just miss it and like to check out what's going on there these days! I stumbled across your Flickr page, bookmarked it, and have visited periodically for a while now. I bookmarked this blog too at some point, although to tell you the truth I usually go to the Flickr page. Well today I just happened to click the blog bookmark for some reason... maybe I was meant to see Sunday's post about Freddy, who knows.

I've actually been visiting ever since the adorable Mr. Fletcher was really small :) (I hope you don't think that's weird! It started with wanting to see Amsterdam, but then you seemed like such a lovely crew that I kept visiting!)

Anyway, I am a cat lover too and currently share my abode with a lovely little tuxie girl named Minoes. She's 18, but hanging in there! Sadly though, I lost her brother, Jack, three years ago after struggles with colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Losing Jack was the hardest thing I'd ever been through, and every now and then I still have a good cry about it.

I would never, ever say "just a cat" -- believe me, I understand how much a cat can mean to its people. I will be sending many, many positive thoughts your way on Tuesday!!

--Heidi (Minoes72 on Flickr)