Saturday, 1 March 2008

Acquiring cats

After reading an entry on Maggie Mays blog I thought I would write about how we got our cats.

When I was living in Durham in 1992, I drove a housemate to someone that had kittens to give away. I knew that I didn't want one, after all I wasn't that keen on them, and we had dogs when we were children, first a golden labrador then an alsatian. Well, while she was making her choice a little ball of fluff bumped into my ankle, as I picked it up and looked into its eyes, I knew I was hooked. So Josh aged 6 weeks came home with me, and Jigsaw went home with my friend. Josh came everywhere with me. I would travel to Buckinghamshire to see my family and he would come along happily sitting around my neck like a scarf. He is with me still, he will be 16 in June.

After a couple of months the lease on the houseshare was up, and Josh and I moved to Stockton on Tees. I decided that he needed a friend and contacted the local RSPCA. After a week or so I got a phonecall saying that they had a 13 week old male kitten, and was I interested. Well, I went to the cat sanctuary and caught a glimpse of a silver grey tabby as he darted for cover behind a box. Apparently they had taken 30 cats and kittens from on old lady somwhere. She hadn't mistreated them, just couldn't look after them. So Bobbin, which later became Bobby came home with me. He was very timid and spent the first month living under the duver, only coming out for meals. He and Josh became great friends. He had a wonderful swagger and looked like John Wayne walking down the garden. Sadly he died in 2003 after a very short illness.

In 1999, OH decided that he would like to buy a nice, black sports car and I decided that I would like 2 black female kittens! OH didn't want anymore cats, 2 was enough he said. One of my clients at that time was doing some work for the RSPCA and knew someone who ran a kitten orphanage. I asked her to let me know if they got 2 black females. Well, in November of that year I got a phone call to say that they had just taken in 2 black females, sisters and they were 14 weeks old. They were not vaccinated and I could take them for a small donation to the RSPCA. I told OH that while he was going off to look at a nice black MR2, I was going to look at them, borrowed a cat box from my in-laws and off I went. Well, of course I came back with them just as I had intended, and he was not very pleased. They had been called Noodle and Dumpling in the orphanage as one was thin and the other a bit chubby. We renamed them Rosie and Tabitha. They were jet black apart from half a dozen white hairs on their chest. Rosie is still with us aged 9 this August. Tabitha went out on New Years Eve 2007 and never returned. We were totally devasted, me more so as she was my cat. She had always been a bit wary of men and would sit next to me and sleep next to me.

2001 saw the arrival of Jemima Puddlekitten. We had not intended to get another cat, and I was perfectly content with my 4. A colleague at work told me that her sister had found a tiny kitten and didn't know what to do with it. I told her about the kitten orphanage and that I would take it there if she wanted. Well a week passed and eventually I was asked to take it. Even when I collected this little kitten I was certain that I didn't want another one. Well, I got it home and it was put in the spare bedroom with litter tray, food and toys. I was all set to take it to the orphanage the next day and had phoned to let them know. OH kept popping upstairs to play with it and make sure it was ok. Each time he came down he would tell me how playful it had been and how cuddly it was. Then he suggested keeping it at our house for a couple of days as she had really hated being in the car. The next night each time he came downstairs asking how much neutering costs, and how old they had to be. Then he brought her downstairs and showed it all the around the kitchen, and finished up by saying to it: ' this is where the other cats eat, and this is where their bowls are kept. What's that? There's no bowl for you. Ok, Debra will get you a bowl tomorrow'. And that was that. Jemima came to live with and she is OH's cat. He carries her around on his shoulder and she adores him. She is now 7 years old.

In the autumn of 2003, we took in two 13 year old sisters. Pooh (jet black short hair) and Piglet (pure white long hair). Their owner (one of my clients) was moving abroad and was having to re-home her 7 cats. These 2 were the oldest and were both ill. They both had thyroid problems, Piglet would only drink cat milk and eat dry food, and was terrified of everyone, Pooh was very friendly. At the clients house they were bottom of the pack of 5 big males. If they had gone to the cat shelter it would have been very unlikely they would have been re-homed. The client said that she would pay their vets bills for the rest of their lives and they came home with us. Well, they absolutely blossomed! Away from dominant males Piggles became confident and extremely friendly. Sadly she died a couple of months before we moved to France in 2004. Her sister Pooh came to France with us and loved it here. She died in the autumn of 2006 aged 16.

That brings us to the latest of our cats, Misty. She is my little treasure. She came from a house in the village. She was the runt of the litter and was getting smaller while her siblings got bigger. When I got her at about 6 weeks she was a quarter of the size of the other kittens in the litter, and probably wouldn't have survived much longer. She has mended the hole that Tabitha left. She is so full of fun and mischief. The house is full of scrunched up bits of paper and feathers for her to play with.

I can't imagine life without my cats. The bring joy (and mice) into our home and leave gaping wounds when they leave, but I wouldn't be without them.


dND said...

Cats sort of acquire you don't they. I've had cats more or less all my life. When the second of my first pair (really mine, after I'd married and left my parents) died I was so heartbroken I vowed not to have any more. I lasted 6 months. I would still see the old cats where they used to lie and I missed the warmth and love I got from them.

Snowy is the remaining one of the replacement pair and she's 12 this year, Socs sadly didn't return home one day when she and Snowy were about 5. The others were nominally my children's cats so 4 was more than enough.

But now Mr Tibbs has moved into the loft and my friend who rehomes kittens has the most adorable long haired female ginger tabby - I keep looking at the feed bill, and vets bills to remind myself how much they cost.

Maggie May said...

Oh, they all sounded so lovely, sorry about the ones you lost. That is the worst part of owning a pet, isn't it! If I got a kitten now, it might well out live me!
Many thanks for linking me. You are clever knowing how to do that. I would be lost without my son to help me, but realize that he will be moving to his own place before too long. Should have learnt more by now!

softinthehead said...

Sorry I lost count there - so how many to you have at this moment in time? I love cats they are such characters but so independent. We have had several cats over the years, four at one time for a while, but now we have a large black dopey labrador. I think the menagerie might grow once we finally make it to France though!

aims said...

You know you made me weepy over this post don't you? I have the biggest heart when it comes to cats...I just love them. I had a couple of dogs when I bought my first house but one I gave away and the other was poisoned. His death made me swear I would never get another dog..and I haven't.

You already know about Deeb and his sister Dolly is my baby. She is 15 and counting and I refuse to think any further about that.

Hugs for you - those gaping holes slowly heal - but can be opened really where are my damn tissues...

Breezy said...

We just love your Josh "the Face of Beau" of course the others are wonderful too but he is outstanding. You got me thinking back to how tiny Misty was when you got her. I was terrified that night we kitten sat she was just so fragile I kept checking to make sure she was still breathing! Oh I miss having a cat. ps thanks for the cat joke

Debra in France said...

Hi dnd, You are right. Cats adopt us, not the other way around. How heartbreaking that Socs didn't return. I still look for Tabitha everywhere I go.

Hi Maggie, It is tragic losing a pet, but I still can't live without cats!

Hi SITH, we have 3 adults and Misty now. I am sure that you family will grow when you get here. A cat will set up home in your barn and present you with a litter kittens!

Hi Aims, How awful for you to lose your dog like that. Sorry to make you weepy, I know how big-hearted you are. Give Dolly a big cuddle from me.

Hi Breezy, Face of Beau is just the right name for him, and Misty was such a little dot when we got her. Tell TS she is still 'close to the ground'!

The Lehners in France said...

I lost my beloved Sophie a couple of months after moving to France, liver tumour. I cried for months, my husband was gob smacked that I could cope with the death of my brother, my mum and come through a very bitter divorce. Yet I fell to pieces over a cat. We have five now, it's so easy to "aquire" cats in France, I've had to say enough's enough. For Now that is.