Tail of Devotion for Fat Eric
Every morning, about ten minutes before the alarms go off, I am woken by the sound of a loud “mew” out on the landing. Then there is the thudding of heavy feet entering the bedroom, a scrabbling sound, and the bed shakes with a thump as Fat Eric lands on it. If I am lying on my back, he walks straight up my body, settles on my chest (compressing my lungs with his substantial weight!) and begins to purr deafeningly. If I’m lying on my side, he wedges himself into the space between me and my husband and begins to purr ditto. I pet him for a few minutes and get my hand licked. As soon as the alarm clocks go off, he heaves himself up and spreads himself across my husband’s pillow, and then starts licking John’s hair ruthlessly. Eric likes to lick all human hair, but for some reason John’s hair is the most delicious hair in the world, we are not sure why! The hair-licking continues until one of us gets up and goes to dish up Eric’s breakfast.
On days when John and I are both at work, Fat Eric likes to spend his days mainly sleeping, snacking on any breakfast leftovers, playing with his Giant Scratchy Mouse and watching the birds, foxes and Evil Intruder Cats in the back garden through the patio windows. At the sound of my key in the door when I get home, he stations himself inside the door and greets me with loud miaows and attempting to climb up my legs until I pick him up, when he licks my hair in greeting and leaves smudgy nose-prints on my glasses. Then he rushes to the food bowls, as the serving of dinner is a high priority. When I’ve fed him, changed and made myself a cup of tea, I get miaowed at again until I sit down. As soon as I do, he climbs up and spreads his 21 lb floofy body over my legs and I am pinned down for at least twenty minutes, while he purrs, drools happily on my shirt, and eventually snores. When John gets home, though, Fat Eric needs to lick his delicious hair again in greeting, and then spends most of the rest of the evening upside down on the carpet with his paws in the air, snoring loudly enough to drown out the television. What a life.
Three years ago I dragged a reluctant John to our local cat sanctuary. I’d grown up surrounded by animals but John had never had a pet and wasn’t comfortable around animals. Finally he agreed to a cat – or two – provided they were “laid-back cats and not hyperactive kittens.” When we mentioned this request to the staff at the sanctuary, we were led straight to a shelf where two large balls of orange fluff were snoring – it was Fat Eric and his sister, Hattie, both aged 8. A week later, they strolled into our house as though they had always owned it, and set about turning John into a cat-lover.
Although they were both cuddly, purry cats, Eric was the primary cuddler of the pair – the one who always wanted to be on a lap, licking someone, getting petted or drooling on someone. He was also the comedian, getting lots of laughs for his favourite “flat on back, paws sticking out at ridiculous angles” sleeping positions. Sadly, five months after we got the cats, Hattie died of cancer, and I worried that Eric would be lonely. They hadn’t been inseparable but he’d spent a lot of time licking her. It quickly became clear, however, that Fat Eric was planning to make the most of being a Spoilt Only Cat.
I have never known such an easy-going cat. He loves being groomed, and will continue purring even if I am pulling out tangles with the comb. When visiting the vet, he lies on the vet’s table purring, completely unstressed. The only times he isn’t laid-back is when he is resisting being put in the Evil Cat Carrier, chasing Evil Intruder Kitties out of his garden, and if there is a dog around.
As for my animal-hating husband, when I watch him letting Eric lick his hair and sneakily feeding Eric cat treats, I think Fat Eric did a good job turning him into a cat-lover! We love Eric – he is our big, floofy, purry, cuddly boy!