There are no longer two black and white faces pushing past the front door to greet me when I come in, day or night, frantic with the need for a cuddle and reassurance, chirruping greetings before I even get the key in the lock. Sometimes, it took every hand, foot and chin I had (and I have several chins) to get my laptop, my handbag, shopping, Jaggie (who waits for me across the road at night and who I then need to carry across so he doesn’t run in front of cars) and my big backside in the door without letting two black and white streaks of lightning out of the door at the same time.
It was great fun though and lasted for almost three months, began when I rescued a malnourished six month old and a skinny adult covered in sores from up the road. As mentioned in previous articles, rescue organisations were only take urgent cases at the time and even then, they had some they couldn’t manage, so I ended up with three rescues, along with my own six cats.
It’s amazing to me how soon you can fall for an animal and even with my household at a stretch financially and physically and a long history of not allowing myself to love rescues because it hurts so much when they go to their new homes, it seemed to be miraculous how these two purred and played their way into all of our hearts.
Arthur and Merlin, traditionally very good with strays, fell for them immediately; Felix, Guinevere and Jaggie who are the least tolerant, accepted them within a week or two. There was nothing more unpleasant between them than the odd hiss at a kitten who had jumped onto a cat by mistake when he was bouncing around the room. I will always smile at the photos I took of six of them on the sofa together and laugh at the day that Jaggie took a swat across the nose from Rosie, the six-month old, because he had the temerity to be his usual bad tempered self. He was so surprised he nearly fell over backwards and he didn’t retaliate at all, just looked at Rosie, stunned.
It was also almost miraculous that we found owners who would take them together. Not everyone wants a three year old and an almost mature cat. Last Sunday, with heart in mouth, I took them to their new home, which is about 20 minutes from me by car. Never had I prepared so assiduously for strays. Normally, I insist on a home visit and owners with previous experience of cats. With these prospective owners, not only did I do a home visit, inspect their garden and ask them the usual questions, but had them come round to meet the cats, answer more questions, exchanged several emails and delayed a week (over Fireworks night) and did a lot of sitting back to see what would happen.
What happened was my dream come true – owners who not only wanted them but prepared for them as much as I had. They requested photos, exchanged emails, didn’t think I was daft by delaying until fireworks night was over, came to visit them in my very messy home, took an instant like to both cats and made a fuss of mine too.
When S and I got there with the cats, the house contained a very excited Forever Mommy and Daddy, a prepared litter tray, bowls, food, toys, you name it. I couldn’t stay for long as I would have blubbed like a baby and made the excuse that S had to get back to finish cooking her Sunday dinner. We left fairy swiftly and Rosie was already ensconced on a lap. Idgy was less certain (and tried to follow me out of the door) but has subsequently settled down and appears happy.
I had a look at their data after I rehomed them – Rosie doubled his weight whilst he was with me and matured properly and Idgy nearly doubled his weight as well Both are still very slim, so you can imagine the state they were in. I heard from their new Mommy last Monday and again today and they have both relaxed into the household, are eating like there’s no tomorrow, cuddling on laps and sleeping on beds and generally living it up, with only one blot on the horizon – Idgy’s habit of sharpening his claws on new wallpaper …
So now my house is quieter, with more space and meal times which are less frantic, with only 7 feline mouths to feed. Our hearts are a little sore but I am so pleased that this story and these particular cats have a happy new beginning after such a bad start.
The current stray I have renamed Poppet, as he simply is a poppet. He is completely undemanding, loves a cuddle, gets readily onto laps and settled right in, apart from the odd bleat to be let outdoors. Due to the circumstances of his case, I can’t easily rehome him so despite best efforts at trying to find a sanctuary who will take him, I have been unsuccessful and he will become a permanent resident.
This weekend I decided to take him out into the garden. Having pondered how best to do it, as I was afraid he would just bolt, I remembered that nearly a decade ago I had bought two velvet cat leads with matching collars in my grand plan to make Arthur and Merlin housecats. They lasted two tries – the expression “like trying to herd cats” says it all and my housecat plan had been scuppered by my partner who had already walked them round the garden and introduced them to all the plants and trees. So the leads went into a drawer until this Saturday.
On Friday night, I put a collar on an unresisting Poppet who wore it happily (step 1 achieved – phew!) and on Saturday morning I collared everyone and attached the lead to Poppet’s (unelasticised) blue collar (step 2 achieved – phew!). I opened the door and Poppet bolted, the lead flew through my fingers and he was out of the door and under a bush before I could utter a single swear word. Having then uttered a few, and climbing underneath the roses and the conifer, I managed to snatch at the lead and we proceeded all over the garden. The lead is only about 1.5 metres long, which doesn’t give a lot of expanse, so whilst Poppet investigated, smelled and rubbed his cheek against every blasted piece of twig under every shrub and tree in the place, I got progressively muddier, leaf-ridden and colder.
He was amazing though, as every time he went to the limit of the collar and it pulled, he sat down, which enabled me to scoop him up and point him in a new direction, although generally this was when he was right under something stingy and thorny and on top of something damp. Eventually we retired to a chair (mine) and table (his). He sat and admired the view and I had a cigarette. You would have thought that I would have learned from the first experience that he was unpredictable, but I did not. I took him inside, still happy and unresisting, and moved him from one bedroom to another, to keep him safe whilst the others were out and the house was being aired. The moment I opened the door, he took a giant leap out of the door and down the stairs. Luckily, when he ran into the conservatory, he turned right instead of running out of the door and I ran behind him and picked him up before he made it outside.
Sunday we repeated the exercise, with me much more nervous and with him determined to outwit me and luckily failing. It is a good thing that I don’t socialise much at weekends as by the time we had finished each batch of Outsides, I was covered in mud, thorns, burrs and nettle stings whilst he stayed pristine and white, apart from slightly muddy paws – unmentionable feline!
Still, it’s all part of the fun. B asked me (whilst I was covered in half the garden and picking twigs ot of my hair) why I didn’t ever think of starting a cat sanctuary. “Start?” I said, “I thought I already had!”. Still, counting my blessings like mad, it’s been a good month for cats.