The constants no matter where you live

<Photo of Squeak the kitten>Moving countries can be a lonely business. If you’re leaving family behind, you need to find a new support network in your new country, and sometimes that’s not easy. Even if family come with you, there might be language and culture barriers that prevent an easy transition, and family members aren’t always at home when you need support. That’s where pets come in.

Pets can provide a sympathetic ear when you feel physically isolated from loved ones or the community. They’re patient, loving (usually!) and dependent on you, giving you a purpose at a time when you might feel lost.

I travelled for years without a pet, then I had the good fortune to move into a household with a cat in Cambridge. Gingerpus (can you guess his colour?) provided a group of housemates with a proper family feeling that helped us bond with each other quickly and easily. When I moved to France, I adopted Bruno the cat, who passed away almost a year ago, and life has frankly been less fun without him. Although I now feel settled, pets still conjure memories of childhood pets and that feeling of security. It was time for cats or dogs, and cats just seem easier.

Let me introduce the two new arrivals. To the right is Squeak the kitten (because he squeaks all the time), and below is Pantoufle (French for slipper), a ten-year-old girl from the SPA animal shelter. They’re in separate photos because they’re still getting to know each other. Typically, they are happy to eat out of the same bowl (even though they eat different food), but they won’t sit next to each other yet.

<Photo of Pantoufle the cat>One thing about pets in France is that each year gets a letter to help identify the age of animals. For example, some French authority recommends that animals born in 2008 are named beginning with the letter D. The letters continue with the alphabet up to Y, then restart at A. So animals born in years with U, X and Y no doubt end up with names that begin with other letters.

If we were to stick to the rules with the two new arrivals, Pantoufle’s name should start with a U and Squeek’s should start with an I. So, Ulysses and Icarus? Names with those two vowels are a bit difficult, so we flouted the recommendation and gave them their names without that restriction.

Of course, owning a pet is a big decision. Any plans I had to move countries are now on hold, and will only eventuate if I feel the two cats can cope with a move. It looks like Le Franco Phoney won’t become Cibo Vita any time soon.

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I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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3 comments on “The constants no matter where you live
  1. Ron Rundle says:

    Wendy, cats are great, loving, non-judgemental companions. I am pleased you have found two new friends. We have to put our two old boys in a cattery for the first time at the end of the year for two weeks. They may cope. I don’t think I will!

  2. Lesley says:

    Abandonned/lost cats & dogs don’t have their date of birth on them for SPA to give a name that is in the correct letter range, but it sounds as if if could be a useful idea.
    Pity that you can’t tell how old a car is from it’s number plate here in France.

  3. Wendy says:

    Ron, good luck with the cattery – always a hard time for cats AND owners. I’m really enjoying having the fluff balls around the house after the big hold Bruno left last year.

    Lesley, I love that a car’s region is still on the new number plates! The alphabet idea is indeed no use for lost animals, but it helps owners remember their pets’ age if they change vets and don’t have the records. Pantoufle was aged according to her teeth and blood test results, but the SPA called her Dina, which definitely doesn’t start with U! I wonder if anyone follows these rules…

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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