Literary cats provide their own special kind of assistance

By Vita Forest


Meet my cats.

There is Isaboe (black and white, freckle on her nose, likes to chew cardboard boxes and wears a mask.  She is named after the kick-ass heroine from Melina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles).

And there is Zadie (one month younger than Isaboe, but larger and fluffier.  White, currently shedding fur.  Everywhere.  She has a long elegant tail like a feather boa and is rather chatty – chirps and hums as she follows me around.  She is named after the novelist Zadie Smith).

Here they are when they were a little younger and could share the top spot in the cat tower.

Yin and Yang cats

Yin and Yang cats

But let me take you back to last Saturday…

I awoke at 6.30ish and thought I may as well get up (the kids were still asleep and I wanted to fit in some report writing).  While I made a I made a cup of Earl Grey tea, my phone beeped and I saw that a friend from school was also up and about.  She was bemoaning the fact that due to the good weather, she could not start on the school reports as her kids’ cricket would not be cancelled.  Another friend texted from bed, What are you doing!?  Been out dancing and partying.  She was not going to start hers anytime soon. Just about to start, I let them know.

I carried my tea to the table and spread out my piles of Maths tests, report outcomes, notes and lists of children’s names.  Then the cats came to help.

Zadie lay across the Measurement tests.  Isaboe sat expectantly on the class list.  The non-furry children slept on.  I managed to pull out a pile of tests and began grading them.  My phone beeped again.  Another friend had arrived at school with her takeaway coffee to get to work on reports.  It was 7am.  What were we thinking? another texted, she was sleeping in too.

I put down my phone and returned to the tests.  Zadie’s ears pricked up at the sound of the paper clip being removed from the paper.  She started to bat it across the table, flicking it under the sheets of report outcomes, which she then had to scatter to find the paperclip.  I found it for her and threw it across the room.  She bounded after it.

Isaboe blinked at me then curled up neatly again with her tail wrapped along the length of her body.  I sorted tests, I wrote grades for each student for outcomes in Number and Algebra, for Measurement.  Zadie leaped up on the table again and dropped the paperclip near me.

Dogs play fetch with sticks, Zadie uses paper clips.  I threw it again and texted my friends about my “helpers.”

“Go back to bed!” advised one, “The cats are trying to tell you something!”

“Bring them into school!” said another, “They can help me!”

After a few rounds of batting the paperclip along the length of the table like a hockey puck and skidding across the floor to collect it when I threw it for her, Zadie decided enough was enough and sprawled across the Maths tests I had spread in front on me.



Then I heard a door open and Max burst onto the scene.  Lucy also appeared, rubbing her eyes.  They grabbed the cats and gave them a good morning cuddle.  Papers shuffled and fell on the floor.  Cats leaped from the table, children’s voices argued over what we should have for breakfast.

At least I had made a start…

Maths tests are super comfy

Maths tests are super comfy


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