It’s 20 years since I last owned a cat but when Teddy and Pun’kin asked if they could live with the Howsons, how could we say no?

It took me a long time to get over the death of my grey, half-Persian childhood companion Pompeii – named after the exhibition which came to Brisbane in 1981. Pathetic, I know, but I still have Pompeii’s collar and used to smell it to feel like he was back with me. Okay, that sounds weird – but scents are a powerful trigger for memories.

I once asked listeners what smells they had kept of their deceased loved ones. We were inundated with calls, with everything from pillows to jumpers being put aside, unwashed, so they could be brought out for a hug and a smell.

But back to Teddy and Pun’kin. Once I started making noises about having another cat, our word-of-mouth enquiries led us to Katina Balson. Katina runs the Pussies Galore op-shop on Musgrave Road, Red Hill, and her nearby house is full of strays, ferals, abandoned and abused cats all just looking for love.

Many of them have terrible backgrounds and some have been with Katina for months, too shy to sell themselves to potential families. Katina calls them her “scaredy cats”.

When we arrived, they scattered to all corners of the house. You wouldn’t have known there were 22 kittens and cats hiding under the furniture and behind the curtains!

Then, one by one, they emerged, wandering past and looking us up and down. Until the most remarkable thing happened. Two of them chose us. A well-fed (thanks to Katina) ginger feral with a beautiful white tummy hopped onto my lap and a much thinner tiger-striped kitten that had been abused in Darwin (apparently lots of rescued cats are flown down from the top end) lay down next to Nikki. And with that, we were cat owners once again. Teddy and Pun’kin had a new home.

I can’t recommend Katina highly enough. Living with the cats, she knows their personalities. Everything she told us about Teddy and Pun’kin has turned out to be spot on, from their food likes and dislikes, to the way they play, sleep and interact with each other.

An abused animal might not be for everyone – as Katina explains, you can’t expect them to be all over you from the minute you get them home – but it has only taken a few weeks for Teddy and Pun’kin to come out of their shells and the five of us couldn’t be happier.

Sausages on election day
It’s election day on Saturday and while the main battle is between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, the competition can be just as fierce when it comes to which polling booth has the best sausages and lamingtons!

To help you decide where in your electorate to vote, the Booth Reviews website is back. Click on now and you’ll get the idea. Once you have voted, go back to the site and leave your comments. As the day progresses, it will become more and more useful for those who have yet to vote. (Mischievous Spencer loves the fact that a sausage-review-based decision on where to vote will completely muck up Antony Green’s analysis on ABC TV on Saturday night when he talks about the way certain booths voted in 2010).

Meanwhile, ABC 612’s Saturday Breakfast presenter Phil Smith has already crowned his Best Booth in Brisbane. Phil ran a competition over a couple of weeks and will broadcast from the winner, Seven Hills State School, on election day.

Kids vs children
Finally, in response to my column on kids vs children, ABC radio family affairs reporter Susan Hetherington says: “Don’t you remember the Sesame Street song that says ‘goats have kids, like people have kids’? Case closed”.

And from Brisbane author Nick Earls: “With ‘kid’ first used to mean ‘child’ in the 1590s, I think I’m ready for us to relax the ‘only for goats’ rule.”

Roman Masiarek goes further: “There is a much more important issue – the insidious way the Australian language is being sold out to the Americans. More and more, our biscuits are becoming cookies, our chips are becoming fries, our toilets are becoming bathrooms and our Zeds are becoming Zees”.

But then Pauline Taylor asks: “For folks who persist in calling them kids, how would they like to be addressed as ‘goats’?”