real life

"My boyfriend has fallen in love with our cat and now I'm the third-wheel."

This is Lucy.

Hello, Lucy.

We first met her four and a half years ago at an animal shelter.

I was raised a cat person and lived with a dog person. It had taken me two years, but I had finally convinced my partner, Ben, to go to the local shelter ‘just to look’ at the cats.

The ‘just to look’ part was his idea. I already knew that no person with half a human heart could survive a trip to a shelter without adopting at least one animal, but I played along.

We arrived at the shelter and asked to see their cats. There were so many – around 100 – and it was a ‘no kill’ shelter, so there were cats that had been there for months and some even years.

We walked through the first room and most of the cats pressed against the front of their cages asking for a petting.

A few of the old-timers looked on cynically from their comfortable beds. Tears prickled my eyes.

Why were there so many? How could we choose just one? We said hello to a few of them, rubbing a few heads through the bars of their little cages – less than a cubic meter each.

Somehow we knew that none of them was our new cat.

Watch Mamamia go and check out the local cat and dog shelter. It will melt your heart. (Post continues after video.)

In the second room, a beautiful little boy cat caught our eye. He was strutting about his cage like Rum Tum Tugger. He was gorgeous and he knew it. We tried to pet him through the bars, but he was being coy.

Ben and I looked at each other. “He’s beautiful, but he’s a bit arrogant,” I said. “How can a cat be arrogant?” asked the dog person. “Like that,” I said, pointing to the little fluffy guy with the brilliant blue eyes as he took another pass around the cage.

We kept looking.

Most of the cats meowed and begged for attention, but there was one who was just chilling in her cage, a little calico. Lucy.

“Hello, Lucy,” I said. We could hear her purring through the bars. “Want to come here, so we can pet you?” She stood and stretched, completely unfazed by the fact that she was inside a cage in a shelter. All around her cats were freaking out and she looked like she was on a spa retreat.

Rather than coming to the front of cage so we could pet her, she turned around, arched her back and showed us her butt. And, as though she was making sure we could see it, she turned her head and looked right at us. “See my butt?” she asked.


We both fell about laughing. Then she curled back into a ball and started cleaning herself. See? Spa retreat.

She knows her place. And it’s a high up one.

“I like her. She’s cool,” I said to Ben. “I never knew cats could have such distinct personalities,” said Ben. I was already a smitten kitten, but we asked if we could meet Lucy properly.

The person who worked there opened her cage and Lucy stayed put, regarding us thoughtfully. “Most cats will try to escape the cage,” she said. “She’s a chill little kitty.” We picked her and up and petted her and put her back in her cage. She never protested and when back in her cage, she showed us her butt again.

“We have to get her,” said the dog person. I smiled in agreement. “She’s crazy weird, so she’ll fit right in with us. Plus she matches our rug.”

He was right on both counts and we took her home that day. As she assimilated into our little family more of her quirks came to light. We saw more of her butt, which she presented to us regularly, and we watched, fascinated, as she chased her tail like a dog. I’d never seen a cat do that. She also loves leather shoes and bags, and I mean loves. We often have to apologise to guests that our cat is practically making love to their handbag. Kooky little thing.

Since then we have moved to Melbourne. Since then, I got a job in an office and Ben works from home. And so began the great affair my cat is having with Ben. She worships Ben.

She sits on his lap while he works and stares up at him adoringly, for hours if he lets her. If he leaves the apartment – even just long enough to take out the rubbish – she wanders around looking for him and reports back to me that he is not there. I offer my lap as a consolation and she scoffs at me. When Ben returns, she runs to him.

“Where were you?” she implores, like a heroine in a Victorian romance novel. If Ben and I are sitting next to each other on the couch, she will walk across me to get to him, as though I am just a soft furnishing.

“Ben is away on business at the moment. It’s been 6 days and she is not coping.”

I am usually the first person up in the morning, so I’m the one who feeds her. I also scoop her poop and freshen her water. I’m positive that in her eyes I am some sort of domestic employee, just a necessary intrusion on her life with Ben. If anyone else picks her up like this, she’ll struggle like that cat in the Pepe Le Pew cartoons, but of course Ben is allowed.

Ben is away on business at the moment. It’s been 6 days and she is not coping. She has looked for him 37 times and reported back that he is not here every time. There is no sensitivity to the fact that I miss him too, because he is her boyfriend not mine.

I have offered her my lap, which she has deigned to take twice, but I can tell she’s not feeling it. The only time I can get her to talk to me is when I brush her, but even then I am pretty sure she just considers it an extension of my job as her domestic servant.

I still love her, though. She is such a sweet little kook, and I don’t really mind being the third wheel.