He was my friend for a long time. He was a unique cat, in his looks and behaviour. His sedate walk gave him a sense of calmness rarely found in other cats. The brightness of his eyes gave the beholder an impression of an intelligence beyond the norm for his kind. This was confirmed, for me and others who knew him, by the fact that he rarely miaowed. He would do this only to express his desires, approaching me serenely and saying: “miaow”.
When he wanted something, he invited me to follow him. I would go to the door and open it; when he returned, he miaowed once or twice and I would open it again for him and he would enter, calmly.
Even though I had had Feero since he was a kitten, living in my garden, he had never done anything – as other pets might do – to provoke my anger or disgust. Unlike most cats he didn’t even rub at my leg. He simply sat by me, enticing me to stroke his thick fur, feeling his softness under my hand.
My friends liked to sit with him; if one of them came to visit they would ask me to call him. Feero would come and sit opposite us on the sofa, looking at the speaker as if he had a perfect understanding of everything they said. When we talked about him and his serenity, his singularity, he would let out a small miaow. We would respond with wonder. My God! Was this a cat, or a human being in cat’s form?
The enigmatic aura he drew for himself distanced Feero from my friends. They couldn’t get too close to him. They thought of him as one of them, understanding what it was that he wanted to reveal, but without getting close enough to touch his fur.
But one day Samir, one of my friends, asked me to call Feero to sit amongst us. Feero let out a small miaow in response to my hand’s movement, then sat between me and Samir on a rectangular pillow. When I stretched my hand out to stroke his head, Samir also reached out to pull Feero’s tail.
I knew that Samir was a troublemaker by nature, but I never expected this kind of irresponsibility from him. Feero let out a strong miaow, but I didn’t understand why. I didn’t react to his voice and he didn’t act as he should have done, leaving his place, because I didn’t direct him to do so. He didn’t lose his temper, but I couldn’t work out why he had lost some of his usual composure. Samir didn’t explain either, but instead distracted me with another subject of conversation. While we were speaking, Feero scratched my hand until it bled.
Samir laughed hysterically. “He is a cat!” he exclaimed, laughing out loud. “A cat! Do you still claim that he’s a human in feline form?”
Feero left. He looked at me with darkened eyes and walked away. I called his name but he didn’t respond. I didn’t see or hear from him for a month.
Four weeks later, he miaowed outside the door. I picked him up and said, where have you been? He sat beside me and started rubbing his head against me, but it felt strange. I didn’t stop him and with the passage of time the habit stuck. Whenever I sat close to him, he would come to me without invitation. I said to myself: he is a cat, not a human being.
My friends stopped respecting him. They started mocking him and pulling his tail, and he would miaow in deep pain. He rarely scratched them and I tried to stop them from teasing him, but Feero himself didn’t react. He didn’t move away from them when they taunted him. I found it strange.
One day a mouse walked past Feero’s nose and he didn’t react – this after he used, in the old days, to be the guardian of the house from all types of rodents and insects. I had appreciated this as something he had in common with any domestic cat, but I said to myself: he didn’t see it. Perhaps his eyes have weakened? But a few days later I saw him playing with a mouse. I made excuses, thinking that I should cut his food and make him hungry. Perhaps his lack of hunger had made him too compassionate? Soon after, I saw him, his hair standing on end, miaowing angrily, withdrawing and bleeding under the assault of three mice.
I cried with pity for Feero, but I also thought of exiling him from my home. This, I thought, is a cat.