I have a cat. His name is Sandokan. He’s a big, fat tabby that weighs in at around 8kg with a temper to match his size. Everyone’s scared of him, including me. Despite his unexpected swipes and frequent hand mauls, I really do love him. And miss him a lot… because, you see, he doesn’t live with me.

I got him in 2009 when he was just a tiny kitten with big ears, big eyes and a tiny belly and I was in the last phase of writing my thesis. For about six months we lived in bliss, him frequently launching his mini feline body across the room and skidding along the highlighted pages carefully arranged on my bed or desk; me, in turn, insisting on constant cuddles that would cramp his tiny style. We got on each other’s nerves, but always made up just in time for him to find a cozy spot on my head/face/neck to sleep while I lay in meditative shavasana so as not to disturb his delicate rest.

At the end of that year I got an amazing internship opportunity that would send me careering off across the country – from Cape Town to Joburg to Port Elizabeth, and back to Joburg and Cape Town again – for the whole of 2010. There was (and still is) nothing Sandokan hates more than a road trip, so it became obvious that our paths would have to split for those twelve months. I put him in foster care with my parents in Betty’s Bay, comforting myself with the knowledge that he had a huge backyard to play around in, fynbos to explore, field mice to pester and birds to dream of catching.

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