Caring for Cats
Pages moved to new site 4 November 1999.
Substantially updated 26 August 1999
Many thanks to Richard for scanning in these pictures.
Sirocco is the nervous one, who refused to eat for a day after I brought him to my house, and who lets out plaintive squeaks as he watches his brother play with the toys he wants. Given Sirocco's comparative shyness, it seems somewhat odd that he is the more gregarious of the two. But then, it may just be because he loves to be stroked, especially under the chin. He usually saves this treat for people he knows, stretching out his neck and resting his chin on their hand, half-closing his eyes in pleasure. I often find him watching me silently - he rarely makes a sound.
Although it's difficult to see in most of the photographs which I've managed to corner him into (and you should see my fine photos of suddenly-empty areas of carpet - but I digress), Sirocco has lovely markings, fairly symmetrical at the front and higher at the back. Possibly fortunately for him, he also has a slight kink in his tail (or used to - I can't find it even by touch anymore) which prevents him ever being shown. I can't see him having enjoyed it much.
The Sirocco File
Cirrus is a bold explorer, hedonist and spider-hunter extraordinaire. He likes to pounce on my rug and lick my toes, and follows me everywhere, winding around my ankles with total lack of sinuous grace. His tendency to get underfoot has led him to be kicked more than once, but not only has this failed to stop him, he has communicated the same desire to Sirocco. Throwing cat food in the air as cats dart underfoot has become a relatively common event in my household. Cirrus is also noisier than his brother, but saves his most heart-rending, broken meeps for really urgent occasions; such as when he's bored.
As you can see from his photos, Cirrus has very little fear of the camera. I can almost see him enjoying showing - doubtless far more than his harried owner would! Unfortunately his markings are more than a little dodgy, so that's an experience I'll spare the both of us.
The Cirrus File
Before the birth of Buddha, the Khmer people of Burma worshipped a Goddess called Tsun-Kyan-Kse. The most beautiful of these temples was at Lao Tsan, and the priests of this temple kept pure white cats as companions.
One of the cats, Sinh, was especially devoted to the head priest of the temple, Mun-Ha. When raiders attacked the temple and killed Mun-Ha, Sinh leapt on top of his master's body to spit defiance at the raiders. In that moment the priest's soul entered Sinh, and his head and legs became the brown of earth, his eyes the sapphire of the Goddess, and his white fur misted with gold. But where his paws touched the holy man they remained pure white.
Inspired by the sign from the Goddess, the other priests rallied and saved the temple. Sinh lived for only seven more days before dying and taking Mun-Ha's soul into Paradise. The morning after his death the remaining temple cats were found to be similarly transformed. These sacred cats now contained the souls of good priests on their way to heaven.
The Birman breed arrived in Europe as a gift to two men who are said to have assisted the Kittahs during an uprising. Although the male died during the long voyage, a pregnant female, Sitah, finally arrived in France, and is the basis for the breed today.
The original colour for the Birman was seal-point, later joined by blue-point. Today they can be found in all the colourpoint colours of the spectrum.
If my pair contain the souls of priests, then Sirocco is an earnest young novice - and Cirrus is Friar Tuck.
The mother, Cottonsocks Candice
The father, Rochico Heaven's Applause