Covid, the cat

He showed up at the neigh­bors’ house at the end of March 2020. The province had just gone into con­tain­ment mode. There were rumors that cats were spread­ing COVID-19, anoth­er of those sto­ries that, like toi­let paper, occu­pied people’s minds for a while. It’s a beau­ti­ful black cat, with almost per­fect lines. It imme­di­ate­ly made me think of Toulouse Lautrec’s cat on the poster.

It is not the first stray cat who wants to take up res­i­dence with the neigh­bors. Already they had tak­en in two a year ear­li­er when the lit­tle female Aria came to present her off­spring to Lau­rent and Yves. Just before, a trou­bled cat, also black, had caused us some trou­ble, lock­ing her­self in the attic or tak­ing refuge in impos­si­ble places. Although very fear­ful, my neigh­bors had man­aged to tame her for a while until she had her first heat. We nev­er saw her again, but the dam­age was done. The neigh­bors had both been struck by the cat’s bite, a dis­ease from which human­i­ty has not yet recovered.

There was also Arthur, the beau­ti­ful tiger cat, who will have spent a whole win­ter in a heat­ed hut bought espe­cial­ly for him. There again, Arthur had final­ly made his lit­tle tour of the house, cre­at­ing a diplo­mat­ic place for him­self among the three oth­er cats that my neigh­bors own.

Let’s not for­get the kit­tens aban­doned by Aria fol­low­ing the death of the neigh­bor. Those could have stayed at my house. I’m glad I resisted.

So here is the beau­ti­ful black cat, obvi­ous­ly well treat­ed, there­fore com­ing from a house that will have fed him well. He nev­er seemed des­per­ate. We thought he was just pass­ing through, but he came back the fol­low­ing days. Not at all aggres­sive, he was already let­ting him­self be tak­en in our arms. The oth­er three cats ignored him, as they should, at first, and then prob­a­bly lift­ed their cat shoul­ders. They had seen oth­ers, espe­cial­ly Minette, the old­est, strongest, it is the case to say it, with her big ango­ra coat.

Cats have names, but nobody real­ly calls them cor­rect­ly. I don’t even remem­ber Minette’s real name. I think it’s Cli­to. One calls her Princess, I called her Big Fat­ty for a long time. As for The White One, well, maybe that’s her only name after all. And the nim­ble Lit­tle Grey who wants to go out so bad­ly and go on a five‑, ten-minute adventure.

Final­ly, here comes Virus, the new­com­er. I instead call him Covid and Lau­rent named him Placid because he’s so calm. In short, PCV, Placid-Covid-Virus.

The cat remains offi­cial­ly wan­der­ing. He grav­i­tates around the house, sleeps in the house, wakes Yves up at 4:30 am because he’s hun­gry, lies on the couple’s bed. He is at home.

Often, in the morn­ing or dur­ing the day, he comes meow­ing at my win­dow, and not dis­creet­ly either. It is urgent, he seems to say, he wants to come in. After five insis­tent min­utes, I decide to get out and go down the back stairs. Covid doesn’t let him­self be prayed for, often tak­ing advan­tage of this to turn me around, just to pass on to me all his par­a­sitic love. I open the door of the neigh­bors who have start­ed work­ing in the front of the house, each in their own office.

Some­times, one of them sends me by iMes­sage a “Thank you”.

What will hap­pen to Covid this win­ter ? He prob­a­bly won’t want to go out any­more. He’s not fat, and he doesn’t have Minette’s fur. But maybe he will do like Arthur or the oth­ers. He will go to live his des­tiny, blind­ly sub­mit­ting to Darwin’s laws. You can expect any­thing with viruses.