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Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't get a cat!

Minerva by Mark Liddell
Minerva, a photo by Mark Liddell on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
Min has earned herself a fair number of nicknames since her arrival (Mini, Mina, Monster Munch, ad infinitum) but her full name is Minerva Dax Millar-Liddell. That she shares a middle name – and more-than-passing resemblance – with our much loved and still missed Mr Pip is no coincidence. She is, in fact, his half-sister on their father’s side, and a kitten from the last litter their dad is set to sire before his retirement.

Mini’s arrival, like her brother’s, was a sudden one. In both instances, John attempted to "convince" me that we should get a Bengal – a process which largely amounted to him asking and me saying yes. In Minerva’s case, however, the need was a little stronger. Losing Pip so young was impossibly difficult, and the two years since his passing have failed to blunt the awareness of his absence. He was with us for just seven months before he fell ill, and only two weeks after, but was more loved in those months than some cats are in a lifetime.

My only reservation about getting another Bengal, therefore, was that I didn’t want it to feel like we were attempting to replace Mr Pip: the cat who sailed through the air and upturned a mug of coffee into John’s lap then walked around the house with one brown leg for the two weeks that followed; the one I’m reminded of every day when the shift and ‘i’ keys on my laptop give their familiar wobble from the time he used my keyboard as a diving board; and the one who slept between us every night from the day he was with us until the day he wasn’t. In Mini, however, we’ve found his living legacy: a frenetic ball of leopardine vitality to steal our hearts (and test our patience!) like her brother before her. She even has a silver-tipped tail that we’ve come to affectionately refer to as the “Pip tip.” Minerva is no less her own personality, but her presence has gone a ways towards healing the Pip-shaped hole in our little family.

Rather aptly, the ‘Dax’ middle name came to mean something more than its original intention: a nerdy joke emerging from a species in the Star Trek universe called the Trill who – like Bengals – are noted for their characteristic spots. The Trill, however, are also a race who join with symbionts that, when their humanoid host die, move to a new host and carry the memories of the previous ones with them. The Trill on Deep Space Nine is named Dax (its hosts, Curzon Dax then Jadzia Dax then Ezri Dax), and whilst we gave the name to Pip on account of his markings, it seemed only fitting that Mini should carry on their Dax line, too - Phillip Dax and now Minerva Dax. She has big paws to fill, but if the trail of destruction she’s wrought so far is anything to go by, Mini is definitely the cat for the job.

(Glasgow, 2013)