Saturday, 27 August 2011

A valued visitor: when Ingjalf came to stay

Hmm, I wonder if these perfumed candles are good to eat?
Once upon a time I fell in love with a hunky male.  I was visiting my friend Carli in Denmark, and this gorgeous Viking chap came and sat next to me on the sofa.  Later that night, he crept into my bedroom just as I was going to sleep.  Unfortunately for me, he was already living with the woman he loved.  But luckily, HE was a Norwegian Forest Cat and SHE was a supremely generous human being.  Imagine my feelings when Carli offered that this wonderful boy, Ingjalf, could stay with me for a few months!  When I realised she wasn’t joking I privately burst into tears.  She explained that his size, impeccable temperament and other great points would really help the gene pool of NFCs in Britain and I had to agree.  There was just one qualification:  Ingjalf must be allowed full access indoors, and live with the rest of my cat family, just as he was used to at home.

During the next few months, Ingjalf went through the treatments that allowed him to gain a passport to travel from Denmark to England.  When he finally arrived at our house he was seven and a half years old, a veteran of the show bench who had sired over twenty litters.  He strolled into the sitting room and jumped in a leisurely fashion onto the settee.  In fact all of Ingjalf’s movements were rather slow and powerful, and if he were a piece of music he would be “largo”.  You could imagine the muscles rippling under his white and brown fur.  My retired stud cat, Kistrand, came up to take a look at the newcomer.  Before, I had always considered Kistrand a good sized NFC, but suddenly he looked as if he had shrunk.   He gave a disapproving snort in the direction of our large visitor, who just sat there as though he didn’t want to intimidate our curious resident cats.  Next Ingjalf checked out Kistrand’s rear end, to see if he might be an accommodating female, but discovering him to be an elderly male neuter he gave him a polite little lick.  Kistrand seemed to enjoy this and soon they were the best of friends.

The settee had been made up as a day bed because my partner, Bob, was seriously ill at the time.  Ingjalf spent a lot of time on that settee, and I truly believe he was instrumental in helping Bob to return to health.  He encouraged Bob to eat (“if you don’t have it, I will” he said) and persuaded him to improve on his dangerously low weight.  He also ensured that Bob was never cold at night, nor lonely, nor bored, and they bonded so well and cared so deeply about each other that by the time Ingjalf went home Bob was nearly fully recovered.

When Ingjalf got down to the business he came for, and was introduced to girls on heat, he was courteous and gentle but also very businesslike and single-minded!  You can imagine how happy I was when one of his kittens turned out to be almost a carbon copy of him, except that she was a girl.  Needless to say I kept her, and called her Ingjalfsdottir.  She certainly helped to ease the pain of knowing that one day he would be leaving us for ever.  Although Ingjalf was so macho, his litter tray never smelled!  I could never work out why this was - could he perhaps be an angel rather than a cat?

Ingjalf relaxing at home

This is Ingjalf's daughter, Dottie (Vieuxtemps Ingjalfsdottir).
Don't you think there is a family resemblance?

The only animal in our house that is bigger than Ingjalf is Butz, our bouncy Airedale.  Some of our cats are understandably wary of Butz, and avoid him at all costs, whilst others will rub up against him when he’s lying down, but keep well clear when he is in one of his more energetic moods, and I have to say I can’t blame them.  It’s not that Butz is in any way dangerous - his mouth is gentle enough to carry a raw egg without breaking the shell, and his judgment is excellent - but when he’s in the mood to give those Airedale BigNosePokes or JawsofDeath impressions it is understandable that  cats or humans give him a wide berth.  We have taken him to multiple training classes but still he’s the bounciest dog on earth.  Ingjalf decided that our dog training methods had been a dismal failure, and took the matter in hand (or rather in paw) himself.  It took a good few months, but in the end Butz would stand quietly or sit like a model dog whenever Ingjalf was around, and then Ingjalf would rub against the rough curly terrier fur and reward Butz’s gentle sniff with a lick.  This seemed little short of miraculous to us.

I did take Ingjalf to a couple of FIFe cat shows whilst he was here, just for fun.  At one of them he was being judged by an elderly Norwegian lady.  As he stood on her judging table, she proclaimed enthusiastically and rather loudly: “…at last, a REAL Norwegian Forest Cat!  I am honoured to have him on my table.”

It was always uppermost in my mind that one day Ingjalf would go back home, so I tried to hold back a little of my heart so that it wouldn’t get broken when he left.  However when the time came, I was surprised that my main emotion was one of joy to think of him being reunited with Carli and his patiently waiting feline harem, in the home where he belonged.  I remembered how Carli had confessed to shedding a tear when she said goodbye to Ingjalf the previous year, and I reflected on how very lucky I was to have had this beautiful cat share my life for a while, and how lucky he was too, in having such a wonderful home in Denmark.

Ingjalf babysitting some of his offspring

No comments:

Post a Comment