The cat that lives alone is a happy cat, according to veterinary research into feline stress in Britain.
But the next best thing to living alone is living with a cat-relative, I reckon.
I'm onto my second pair of related cats. For 17 years I had Stevie Smith and her son Bill, an odd pair of furry pyjama-case pussy cats who flew from Brixton in London to a sunny life in Sydney and lived happily ever after ... until they both died within three weeks of each other almost three years ago.
I immediately, after the first had died, went and got a new kitten from a cat rescue vet. I'd felt an intense urge to get a new young animal in the face of old age and death. When the mother cat died soon after her son (in a classic case of 'giving up'), we went back to the vet and found that our kitten's sister was still there, waiting for a home. Of course we took her.
So now we have a brother-sister pair.
In the long ago days when we only had two cats, the house was silent but the cats were a constant visual source of quiet amusement and aesthetic pleasure. Then we got a dog and focus shifted, although the cats stood their ground and insisted on sharing the hearth with the dog.
Then we got a baby and I'm afraid the cats were semi-banished to the outdoors, especially as the by-this-time 14 year old mother cat had taken to weeing in the house.
So they got far less laptime than ever before, probably at the time they needed it most. Well, only the female cat needed and wanted it, the boy remained a scaredy cat till the day he died, shy and timid and a lover of hot tin roofs.
The two new kittens came into a household with a three year old child and a dog and we went away to England for a chunk of their kittenhood ... so they developed into cats almost unnoticed by me. They live on the periphery of the household, especially since we got a second dog.
That dog, Dirty Harry, has status anxiety and tries to reinforce his position above the cats by harassing them when he thinks he can get away with it. Typically, the female cat stands her ground, but the boy cat is nervous and runs away, with Harry snapping at his heels. That Harry [insert eye-roll here]!
The other day I was looking out at the garden and saw a beautiful large black and white butterfly. Then I saw the boy cat, sitting still. I barely had time to think 'I'll go and shoo that cat away before he notices the butterfly' when he leapt vertically four feet in the air, with his body a straight line, and caught the butterfly in his mouth.
Oh. This is why my Greens-member brother always scowls at mention of our cats.
I do religiously bring them inside each night. Now I'm thinking of belling them, not that I think that does much good, but it would be something, especially in relation to birds. As far as I know he has only ever killed two baby birds (at the same time) which I think he stole from a nest.
There is a huge literature about cats which I will not attempt to add to, but what I will say here is that although cats do not like living with stranger cats, they enjoy the company of their kin. My two cats spend a lot of time together, lying together, licking each other, watching each other. It's nice to have a pair.