Philippa Perry on her struggle with total devotion… to her cat, Kevin

Pets can highlight your mental health issues. Ask my late dad how he was, he would tell you, “Fine”. If you wanted more information, it was best to ask him how the dog was. “Oh, the dog is depressed.” My dad was doing what Freud described as projection. This is when you split off a part of you that is too shameful for you to own and project it on to someone else and you believe your stuff is their stuff. My father could not own his vulnerability, but he could dump it on his dog. I hope I would be far too self-aware to project on to my pet. I’d hate to think I was that dotty, but the magazine has just asked if they can send a photographer round. “Kevin isn’t too keen on photos,” I said.

Our cat Kevin had been a stray and came to us from Battersea two years ago when he was around six months old. His body was the size of a can of extra-strong lager. That tubular torso would press against me all night, sometimes stretched alongside me, sometimes curled up in my armpit. In the evening, he would start on a lap but his thin body would elongate itself from your ankles to your thighs like a furry tube. He was playful, affectionate and excellent at being a cat.

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