Category Archives: Cat

How lovely to have a cat

Rupert hugging Josh's shoes
Rupert 2nd hugging Josh’s shoes

I’d love to have a cat again but we live in an apartment on the 9th floor and it would be too dangerous to allow our cat out on the balcony. I’d already had one cat fall from my balcony when I was 7 and living in Petticoat Lane, though that was only from the 3rd floor.

Extract from my memoir Woman in a White Coat
It was wonderful coming home to Rupert. He’d wind himself round and round my ankles, delighted to see me again. I was used to being greeted by a mother who seemed barely to tolerate me.

When I went to the toilet outside on our little balcony, Rupert would follow me and walk along the brick support at the bottom of the protective railings. As he grew bolder, he started climbing over the coal bunker and up to the bar at the top, weaving in and out of the upright spikes. I could hardly bear to watch him. Sometimes he walked along the railings to our neighbour’s balcony. She always had a few scraps for a cat who was always hungry, even when he had just been fed.

‘Be careful,’ I told Rupert. ‘I know you’ve got nine lives, but we’re on the third floor, and it’s a long way down.’

Rupert said nothing and stalked into the kitchen, but when I did my homework he came to sit on my lap, purring loudly.

One terrible day, when I was standing on the balcony watching as Rupert put one careful foot in front of the other on the top bar of the guard rail, my mother called me.

‘Abby, come in at once. What’s all this?’

As I turned back, Rupert lost his footing and fell. I was paralysed; couldn’t move,

‘Mummy, come quickly,’ I screamed. ‘Rupert’s fallen off.’

‘He’ll be dead, for sure, but you’d better go down and see.’

I raced down the six flights of stairs, out into Goulston Street, round into Wentworth Street and into the entrance of our courtyard. Rupert was sitting there, nonchalantly licking a paw, as if falling from the third floor was nothing.

‘You’re a naughty, naughty, kitten,’ I said as I picked him up and hugged him.

The old woman who was always on her first floor balcony, looking out and gossiping about everyone, said:

‘They’ve got nine lives and no mistake. You should look after it better, Abby. You tell your mother I said so.’

Rupert licked my hand with his rough little tongue.

‘You’re to stop walking along the railings,’ I told him, but an hour later he was winding in and out of the spikes, as if to show he wasn’t a scaredy cat, even if I was.

When Josh and i were first married we had a tabby cat we also called Rupert

 From my memoir Woman in a White coat

The Long Wait

Simon Lighter

Rupert patiently waiting for dinner 1957

Now the long wait – waiting for Stephanie’s approval and then waiting for agents to reply. Cats are very good at waiting – for us, for dinner, for the mouse to stick its head out of its hole just once more.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat .
When I was 14 we had a tabby I named Rupert after ‘Rupert the Bear.’ At first when I came home from school he wouldn’t talk to me after I’d left him for so long, but he soon forgave me and greeted me, winding in and out of my legs and rubbing his face against me. We had a second Rupert when Josh and I were married and living in a basement flat in Hampton Street. He loved the old-fashioned claw-footed iron bath in the passageway from our bedroom to the cellars. The cold water tap always dripped. He would sit on the rim, dipping a careful paw under the tap and having a quick drink. Hot water came from an enormous gas-fired Ascot at the end of the bath. He didn’t like the explosion when we lit it. He would scurry away only to return and walk around the narrow rim, looking at us quizzically as we soaked. He came perilously close to the edge but he never fell in.