Last Christmas, for the first time since the year 2000, there were 3 stockings hung up in our house, not 2. Our system is pretty simple, we all get gifts under the tree, and my sister and I, the “children”, also have stockings. This time, there was an ‘A’ stocking alongside our ‘P’ and ‘S’ ones, for our cat Apollo.
Apollo’s stocking was a very accurate representation of the things that can now always be found strewn around the floor of our house. An old sock wrapped into a donut tied to a long string, a few wind-up toys that my mother picked up from Lalbagh last time she was there, a little old stuffed toy of mine that I know will soon be missing a few threads, and my favourite, the balls of wool.
Flash back to about a year ago, and perhaps all my family knew about cats was that they like milk and love playing with balls of wool. Yes, not very well-aware I know, but we’d never actually had an active interest in cats. This one just entered our lives out of nowhere. (That’s another story I’ve been intending to write, about how I picked her off the street and brought her home).
Anyway, the balls of wool. Apollo now had three brightly coloured balls of wool, and how she loved them. She’d chase them all over the house, running helter-skelter behind this unravelling ball, often getting herself tangled up in it, before collapsing on one side, exhausted from all the exercise. Then she’d get up and leave, and being the fools we are, one of us would pick up the tiny ball at the end and re-roll the entire thing back into a large sphere of wool. And so the cycle continued.
Apollo’s favourite place to do this continues, to this day, to be under the table in front of our couch, and she excels in wrapping the wool in complicated patterns around the four legs of the table. Obvious though it may seem, as my mother brilliantly commented the other day, this must be why they call it a cat’s cradle!