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HOW I MET MY FAMILY AND GOT MY NAME
How we got Harpsie was one of those weird events in life that are simply meant to be.
We'd decided we needed a second cat to be company for our first cat, Tanya. For some reason, I'd got it in my head that I wanted a little white female cat (as it turned out, I had to wait six years for her to appear, in the form of Indie). But then I got a call from a breeder. She'd heard I was looking for a Persian cat, and she had a delicate, sickly runt of the litter who needed a good (read: gullible with deep pockets) home. This kitten was already over three months old, and was neither white nor female: he was a little blond boy. The breeder was being very particular about rehoming this boy because he was very delicate.
As soon as I heard about this little boy kitten, I knew he was going to be ours. I have no idea why or how I knew this, but I did. So we set off to meet this delicate little flower.
When we arrived, the breeder showed us into a room and left us alone with about six kittens. Two were cream, and the others were blue, but they were pretty small and stayed close to their mother. The smaller cream kitten was the first to race over and greet us as we entered the room. He was really active, and very confident yet also very serene, and he liked to be held.
We continued to play with this kitten and the other cream kitten, who was much more reserved and about 50% bigger than the smaller kitten, while we waited for the breeder to re-appear with the sickly kitten. But she did not appear, and gradually it dawned on us that this little active guy must be the sickly one. We were amazed. He didn't seem sickly at all to us.
Eventually the breeder came in and told us about this little guy. He was one of six kittens in his litter. Unfortunately, he had been the runt of the litter, and he was simply useless at fighting for milk (typical laidback Harpsie). So she had had to remove him from his mother and bottle-feed him. When he was less than four weeks old, he caught cat flu. He had survived, but was delicate and pretty small for his age. She said she believed he would have health problems throughout his life. Boy, she wasn't kidding, though we could not have imagined quite what lay ahead of us! But we would still have taken this little guy, even if we'd known what we know now. The joy he brings us far outweighs the worry.
We were due to go on holiday the next day, so it was agreed that, as long as we provided a good vet reference, we could have the delicate kitten and would collect him two weeks later when we returned from holiday.
While we were away, we thought about names and decided we would call the kitten Sebastian. But when we went along to collect him, the breeder informed us that she had already named him and his brother and had been using these names with the kittens. The little guy was called Harpsichord, and his brother was called Hannibal! We nearly fell over.
It turned out the breeder had to use names beginning with the letter H. It was policy to give the kittens she bred names that began with the same initial as their mother. Unfortunately, this was not Harpsie's mother's first litter, and there had been six kittens in his litter, so all the normal names like Henry and Harvey had long since gone. Hence Harpsichord and Hannibal.
I guess we could have changed Harpsie's name - he hadn't been using it for very long. But we never change a cat's name if we know what it is; just a little foible of ours. So we had a Harpsichord! We did initially shorten it to Harpo. This seemed suitable, because he had a mass of blond hair, and when we first had him, he never made a sound. But it never quite fitted him, and gradually he became Harpsie (or his full name, Harpsichord, when he was doing naughty things).
And you know, I doubt there's another cat on the planet called Harpsichord, so it seems rather fitting that our unique boy should have a unique name. And nobody ever forgets him (and that's not only because he's so bad-mannered at the vet's...)
This page last updated: 13 June 2006
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