Rest in peace my beautiful Arthur

Arthur Jenkin was born somewhere in South London and dumped with his three siblings, at my friend’s petshop. Walking by one day, with plans now that I owned my house, to get an older cat that no one wanted (for the cat) and a kitten (for me), I was drawn instead to a local petshop.

The last time I felt that sort of urge, which was also the last time I had stepped foot inside a petshop, I had found a three week old kitten, half comatose in a bird cage. So there was no way I was going to ignore the urge. A “Kittens for sale” sign was in the window and accompanied by a rather confused-at-my-I-hate-pet-shops-growl-and-subsequent-perambulation towards it, Sally, my friend and lodger, I marched into the shop.

A rather robust conversation ensued … our friends have heard the story 100s of times, about how I waltzed in, asked about kittens, discovered they were ill, demanded to see them, had a stand up fight with the owner, eventually getting my way and discovering that despite my worst fears, they were getting excellent care.

We were talking only yesterday how Marion chose me as their owner some time before I did. I checked on them every Saturday for weeks, as Marion battled to save all four, then as the girls stabilised, just the boys and then just Arthur as Merlin stabilised and he battled catflu, vision problems, hearing problems and was finally deemed well enough to rehome, with several reservations.

To describe him as a fighter, would do discredit to his loving nature. To describe him as a loving cat would belie the very fire in him that fought to survive.

And survive he did, from frail kitten to frail undersized cat, who always had biggie paws he never quite grew into. Several times, he nearly lost the battle. At 10 months, his first vet agreed to give it one more shot, warning that I would be doing well to get him to one, Merlin to 10.

I, guided by Arthur’s purr, his will to live and his determination to get up and wobble to the food bowl or the litter tray, or lift his head up when he saw me, no matter how ill he was, did whatever I could, culminating in a major turning point in both of our lives when I sat on the floor in my hallway and, with Arthur at my feet and a book in my lap, tried energy healing for the first time and felt it work out of me and into him and felt him accept it.

That night, he made noticeable improvement, astounding everyone. I always told him I wanted a little fat Arfie, not a skinny one and whilst he never ever got near fat, despite the copious amounts he ate, he filled out, his skin cleared up and his fur shone. He eventually developed a little tummy which I used to pat.

The first time he climbed halfway up the pear tree I cried from sheer happiness. The first time I spotted him on the conservatory roof, with Merlin I knew he was going to make it.

Aged about a year and half old, he was still frail when we were having Outsides one weekend afternoon and two strange foxes came into the garden. Aware that they were not “our foxes”, he took one look at them and gave chase, a tiny cat chasing two of the largest foxes I had ever seen. My visibility impaired by the trees, I ran upstairs and watched out of the window, my heart in my mouth, as he chased them two gardens away. When he turned to come back, they were still running. He ran back home, a smile of satisfaction on his tiny mouth.

As my life changed gradually from “woman with two cats” to “mad rescue woman” (https://titflasher.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/looking-back-in-fondness/), he loved and looked after all the frightened, sick and traumatised cats and kittens who found their way to my door. It is always wiser to keep new cats in quarantine for a while if you have resident cats, so Arthur spent many hours stretched out on the landing, purring through a closed door to the cats inside.

He cleaned kittens, played with them, showed them the litter tray, loved the fur of them, resulting in me making a promise I was never then able to keep https://titflasher.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/a-kitten-for-arthur/.

He and Merlin were a complete unit, Merlin the mischevious one, Arthur his rock. My father called them The Bookends, because they unconsciously mimicked each other, in mirror image; always like one cat in two bodies. Whether sitting on either side of the bay window, when I caught them unexpectedly up my curtains in the front room, side by side at the food bowls, curled up in each other’s paws on the sofa, wherever one was, the other would be.

When Guinevere arrived, I was worried their close bond would prevent them fully accepting her, but from the first moment they saw her, they opened their hearts to that tiny orphaned kitten and let her be queen.

When Merlin started to venture out the front, where he was strictly not allowed, Arthur would come and tell me, running to the front window or door and pointing with his nose and meeping until I brought him in, failing only once when Merlin ventured out front quickly late one afternoon and was attacked by a dog. He made it back home and underwent emergency surgery, staying at the vet for nearly 10 days. Arthur fretted the whole of the time and bopped his nose when he arrived home, stitched up like Frankenstein, before spending two weeks loving him back to health.

A legacy from their kitten days, they trusted me completely, one draped over each shoulder, or both on my back.  Up until a few weeks ago, Arthur was still climbing up people’s trousers to get on their back if he really liked them. It was an Arfie badge of honour if he did this.

They let me groom them eventually, and we made it into a game. I would yell “showcats” and they would come running, falling over each other to get under the brush or comb.

Always willing to get me up and well aware that I could sleep through anything, he would be me feline alarm clock. Lately, with my new waking up time, he had taken to waking me up at 5am every morning rather than six, something that was never welcome but always ended in me bringing him into bed with me and him curling up in my arms or in the curve of my side, next to my tummy, purring his wonderful Arfie purr. If he slept next to me, he would put his paw in my hand, holding gently with his claws.

Arthur survived cat flu and its recurrences, severe food allergies, severe flea allergies, an allergy to his arthritis medication which resulted in a perforated stomach ulcer, arthritis and then a complication of it a few years ago, when he simply could not get up one day. He walked two days later after intensive treatment and the spurs on his spine grew over without trapping the nerves he needed to be able to walk. He subsequently survived a nasty stomach bug https://titflasher.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/a-heartbreak-waiting-to-happen/.

He survived so much, it I guess was hardly surprising we all hoped he would survive this too.

He was the origin of the term “persisticat” and “pesticat”, always willing to eat, often eating twice as much as the others. He loved grass, running out the front door at every opportunity to nom some and when there wasn’t any in the winter, the spider plant that grows outside.

He had eclectic tastes, from tinned asaparagus (but only the brand that an ex-boyfriend used to buy in Brighton) to tinned mushrooms, smoothies, bish and grapes. I discovered the grape fetish by making the mistake one day of popping my shopping down in the hallway and going upstairs to start the ironing. As I only had fruit and veg in the carriers, I didn’t think twice when I heard rustling but when I heard the distinctive nomnomnom noises he made, I went to investigate. I discovered he had not only torn the plastic to get at them but had neatly bitten off all the tops of the grapes. He could be driven mad with frenzied passion if I showed him the tin of mushrooms.

When he wasn’t pesticatting for noms, he pesticatted for cuddles and was never happier than when on my lap, his brother draped across my shoulders. He loved his chin rubbed, his nose kissed, bring brushed, being warm and secure, snuggled along my tummy, in my arms, across my neck, in his brother’s paws.

Whenever Tony arrives, all my cats go into raptures but Arfie tended to wait until Tony was in bed. Poppet tends to take over Tony completely but Arfie would often just join in, paying no heed to cat manners for a cuddle. One of the last photos I have of him is a couple of weeks ago, doing just that.  He loved to climb onto Tony’s shoulder and purr in his ear.

I can’t actually describe Arthur’s character in words that would make sense to anyone who hadn’t met him. He was wise, funny, loving, pesticatting, fierce when he needed to be and tender always. I can’t describe his purr – it moved from normal purr to deep rumble to chirping when he was ecstatically happy. He purred no matter what was going on with him; the moment he saw me, he purred.

He existed to love and be loved in return. The only creature he ever really disagreed with were spiders and he soon cleared my house of them, several times running around with the spider in his mouse as their legs tickled his whiskers, which he appeared to like.

Because the boys were so allergic to so many foods, they didn’t get treats of any kind and I was always careful not to overdo the human food. However, they never seemed to do him any harm, not even the first grape overdose.

When he was at the vet on Wednesday and so ill and we went to see him, thinking it was time, he purred gently as I held him and Tony, Marion and Chris all stroked his nose and his ears. He made a remarkable recovery, one last effort to stay with us.

On Thursday night when I went back to visit, he purred well, stronger and clung on to me when he realised he was going back into the cage, subsequently trying to claw his way out of it to get back to me. I think he knew then he wasn’t going to make it.

Tony brought him back on Thursday morning and when I got home after work, he had managed to get up and stand on the landing, greeting me. Friday night he did the same, but was noticeably weaker.

Yesterday, he made it downstairs so I wrapped him up in a blanket and took him outside briefly to watch the sky. We went back indoors when he indicated that was enough and he toddled back up the stairs to lie down again.

By last night I knew the fight was over. He didn’t want to be fed or disturbed, just left in the spare room to lie with the cats he had so welcomed a few weeks ago.

Those cats did a sterling job of looking after him, at one point both of them lay surrounding him, not touching but close enough, as he slept. Merlin did not move off the ironing board once except to go to the loo.

This morning, Arthur was nearly comatose but that didn’t stop him staggering up when Merlin got off the ironing board and into the bathroom to eat and drink (Felix at 22 gets to eat where she likes and lately that means feeding her in the bathroom). Arthur lay down next to him, a last gesture of love.

In hindsight, it may be that I should have just left him at home, to die naturally but I could not bear him to suffer until my vet opened tomorrow and with such a small window of time before the emergency vet I wanted to use closed, it was a very distraught me who gathered him up in my arms in a towel. Tony raced home to get the car and we made it to the vet with 30 seconds to spare before they closed.

As we sat and waited, me in absolute fits of tears but trying to stay calm to keep him calm, a lovely lady in there with her own cat, one of many, offered some wonderful words of comfort and stroked his nose. He was slipping away from me then, having I think a stroke in the car which was evident in his eyes.

It was the same vet practice who had treated him when he had the perforated stomach ulcer and as I explained what had gone on, he said in surprise, “yes, I saw his history on the computer”, amazed that this was the same cat.

Arthur’s breathing was imperceptible as he slipped from life to death, with Tony and I stroking his nose, after a life lived so exceptionally well, it is hard to think of an equal, in human or feline form.

The thought of having nocat to nick my smoothies (eventually we agree to share them, so I had the majority, undisturbed, as long as I poured some in the lid for him), nocat waking me up in the morning, nocat trying to get out of the door for grassnoms, nocat loving me quite the way Arthur loved me, is so painful I can hardly breathe.

It was my biggest fear that he would not survive Guin’s passing and sadly I have been proven right. My job now is to love and comfort his brother, the other half of him who, like the rest of us, has to learn to live without him.

Arthur9 ArthurMerlin10 Arthur7 ArthurMerlin4

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And then, suddenly there were eight …

On Wednesday evening at around 5pm, Guinevere took her last breath as I cuddled and stroked her and told her she was a brave girl, how much I loved her, and how proud I was of her.

I was in bits, absolute bits. I still am.

Guinie didn’t want to die.

It was her third close brush with death, after two mystery illnesses, suspected poisonings, a few years ago saw her near comatose, on drips and saved only by my wonderful vets after extensive treatment and her fighting spirit.

I didn’t want her to die either.

But most of all, I didn’t want to put her through painful treatment as she was going into terminal kidney failure, which might have given her a few more days of life reduced to living in a room, on special food, her spirit broken.

Gordon, the vet who took such good care of her in her last years, remarked this evening that despite how ill she was, despite the double incontinence, the dehydration, her failing kidneys, despite everything, she kept her dignity and her spirit throughout. Several times during the day they had gone into the ward room and each time she lifted her head up high and greeted them.

She kept her dignity when she first had trouble walking, she kept her dignity when she first pooed on my feet by mistake (giving me an “oops, sorry, oh dear, tough” look), she kept her dignity when she peed on my pillow, on my mattress, on my carpets; she even kept her dignity when I was bathing her, insisting on arching her back away from me and having nothing to do with the process, except when she chose to latch her still sharp little teeth into my arm and hang on.

She even kept her dignity when she staggered out of the front room not 24 hours before, her nose covered with dried snot and asked for help.

Never underestimate the power of some warm water on a tissue, some left over baytril and a syringe.

Whilst she was on my lap, I called T, warned him that she was ill and I suspected she wasn’t going to make it; she stayed on my lap as I called the emergency vet and said I was bringing her in; she stayed as I texted M to say she was in trouble.

A quarter of an hour later, I had a completely different cat on my lap in terms of situation. With her nose clean, she could drink. Encouraged by the four syringes of water I had carefully got down her, she got down and lapped on her own. Her nose filled up again with green gunk but I cleared it each time so it didn‘t get a chance to cover her nostrils.

She got back up into my lap after each drink, a little calmer, a little more comfortable, although her breathing was shocking.

My other cats gathered in the back room. Merlin tried to get onto my shoulders and unusually, he withdrew once I said no. Arthur huddled around my feet. Poppet, Kitty, Felix, Oscar, Daisy and Jaggie sat on the floor around us, quiet and still. Grumpy was in the spot he had nicked from Oscar. All looked at me, in absolute silence

I knew then we were going to lose her.

I tried to balance the choices of having her put to sleep by a vet she didn’t know, in a strange place, or dying in the night at home, or put to sleep by a vet she did know, with the risk she might suffer before we could get her there in the morning.

I took her upstairs, put eucalyptus and tea tree oils in a diffuser to help her breathing and made her comfortable in the bathroom, where she had spent so many happy hours making nests and pooing in both my clean and dirty washing.

Later, I got an anti-emetic down her to try and encourage her to eat but over the course of the following hour, she continued to heave at the smell of food, so I removed it, topping up her water twice and placing it within half a head’s stretch of her so she could get to it without moving.

I continued wiping her nose and mouth and later, got under her chin and combed out the crud encrusted under her chin, which made her purr through clogged lungs.

Her little head lifted up to receive the gentle combing, her eyes closed in bliss even as her whole body moved with the effort to keep breathing.

I found some baytril, got that down her, gave her a second dose of the painkillers she was on to keep her inflamed skin from hurting her and I gave her intermittent strokes and loves (she didn’t want big fusses) as I watched her stabilise and then plateau, refusing food.

I called the emergency vet back only to discover their vet had “gone home”, something I need to pick up with my vets but it flew out of my head tonight so even if I had taken her down then, she would not have got more than a nurse’s care.

That set the seal on my decision to keep her at home.

Eventually going to bed when she was comfortable, and there was nothing I could do to enhance that comfort, I fell into an exhausted sleep.

Waking the next morning, I topped up her water, tried to syringe feed her, got told off, failed to get anything down her, told her again how much I loved her, said goodbye to her properly in case it really was goodbye and set off to work in my new job, hating every single step I took away from her.

Whilst on the way, I checked that Gordon was available (whilst there is a third vet who is perfectly capable, I don’t have the same level of trust with her as I do with Gordon and Deane and as I was sure we had reached the end, I didn’t want her seen by anyone else), booked her in and confirmed back with Tony that he was in place to take her whilst I wandered around the east end housing estate that my phone gps had decided to take me in lieu of my third workplace in as many days, alternatively sobbing and swearing at my phone.

Having finally reached my destination, I explained to the lady who I am replacing what was happening as I would have to interrupt her training to speak to the vet. She understood perfectly, having been in the US when her childhood cat had taken ill, frantically trying to get on a flight and arriving just in time to say goodbye to him.

At 10.15 came the call I dreaded and after some discussion, Gordon and I agreed, given her spirit, which was still shining through her eyes, that we would give it one last shot but if there was no radical change, we would do the right thing. We would make the decision at 2pm.

At 2pm, Gordon said that she had rallied a little and suggested we postpone the decision until I could get there. She tried so hard to come home. I tried so hard to bring her home.

I suspect Gordon was being kind enough to save me a terrible journey back.

By 4.30pm when T and I arrived, she lifted her head up and silent miaowed as we walked in. She held her head so proudly, waggling the paw that held her drip at me, in complaint. Another silent miaow indicated she wanted it removed. I told her not yet but soon. She put it down and stretched her head over for a scratch.

Gordon joined us, explaining how ill she was.

It was clear she was not coming home. At the start of terminal kidney failure, my worst fears were realised by the fact her body was giving up, just as her spirit would not.

I was going to have to put her to sleep against her will.

Bringing her back would have maybe (if we were lucky) have given her a few more days; days that would have been for me, not for her.

I don’t look after and love cats for me. I love and look after them for them; and no matter how heartbroken I am, no matter how much I didn’t want her to die, more than all of those things, I wanted my sweet girl to not lose that spirit, that dignity, that light in her eyes I first saw 15 and a half years ago, when she was small enough to fit into the palm of my hand, when she sat on the arm of the chair in the back of M’s shop, looked at me and cocked her head, as if to say, “my cat mommi iz ded, yoo beez my Mommi now”.

We agreed it was time.

I cried buckets, composing myself to cuddle her, to whisper encouragement and love, before losing it again, over and over. I stroked her head, her ears, her chin, she purred through heavy breaths, as around us Gordon and the nurse calmly made the preparations they needed to.

T was a tower of strength by my side.  Unhurried, I told her everything I needed to tell her.

Once on the table, she realised what was happening and started to stress.

Again, because we were unhurried and because my vet is fucking awesome, I had the time to calm her. They must have picked up on this too because no move was made until she was ready.

When she was ready, she relaxed under my hands. She looked me full in the face, trust in me shining in her eyes. I looked into hers as I told her I loved her, that she was my gorgeous Guinie baby girl and I would always love her.

I saw Gordon gently remove the drip and insert the syringe which would end her life.

I held her gaze as her spirit left her body, her eyes never leaving mine, not for a single moment. She didn’t blink as life left her, her eyes still open, still staring into mine as her head dropped into my hand.

I stood with her, kissed the top of her little nose for what must be the thousand of a thousands times, ran my bottom lip over the fur there. I took a tissue, wiped her nostrils, found my favourite Guinie-spot, the inside of her front paw, about three-quarters up, where her fur is the softest and pressed my lips to it.

I don’t remember everything I said to her, just that it was right and honest. I cried buckets, drenching her fur with my tears.

Some time later, Gordon came in, apologised because he had to see a patient (I have no idea how long he waited for us, maybe half an hour, bless that man) but telling us to take as long as we needed.

I was nearly done, there was nothing more I could do for her except drench her in more tears. My vet kindly agreed to keep her until I was able to bury her at the weekend.

T and I said our final goodbyes, I asked for the bill as the nurse said how sorry she was, assured me she would look after Guin for me and we were presented with an amount of roughly half what I calculated it would be

That set me off again because not only have they looked after Guin at every point, but they would look after and honour her body now that she has gone. After spending a huge amount of time ensuring I had all the time I needed, they billed me a tiny amount for that time.

I came home tonight and fed the foxes, seeing in my head Guinevere running about the way she did on Sunday, slightly bow-legged, her walking better than it has been in weeks, sniffing here, sniffing there, completely alive and living in the moment.

I cried as I saw her run towards me the way she did on Sunday when I called her in, not ready to come in yet but unable to resist a noms call, pushing Oscar out of the way as she ran towards the back step, stopped, worked out how to scrabble up it, her back legs arriving a millisecond before her body, her head poking forward to redress the balance before plunging into the food bowl. After that, she came inside happily, having reacquainted herself with the foxies, the garden in general, having told everycat what to do and how to do it.

I went into the bathroom tonight, and saw her final bath, the cuddles we had afterwards and saw the one and only time she finished cuddles early and got out of the towel, drying instead by the radiator, which seems to have caused the fatal infection which took her from me.

A whole host of memories assail me now, the first day she arrived, going up the stairs, completely unafraid; the first time she went outside, aged about 14 weeks, way too young but determined, flanked by her brothers who didn’t let her out of their sight or paw’s reach.

I remember her being small enough to sit in her first human Daddi‘s pocket, which she loved, being carried about. She would get disgruntled when he eventually sat down and she had to stalk out, her little face saying “not long enuff”.

I remember the time I had to board her and the two boys at a cattery and she nearly gave my cab driver heart failure https://titflasher.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/for-nicole-why-cardboard-cat-carriers-are-a-swearword-in-my-house/.

I recall the times she sat on the top of the shed with the fox cubs, watching the sun go down over the allotments, the times I would call her in, in the summer, only to have her streak past me with those same cubs, now fully grown.

At the time, we had an old immersion heater, which contained only so much hot water, requiring a run and a second run half an hour later, to get a decent hot bath. Guin learned quickly to come in only after she heard the second lot of water, knowing I would get straight in, which meant she could creep in for food and stay out until the early hours.

Thankfully, we grew wise and my housemate Sally would place herself downstairs, ready to close the kitchen door when she dashed in.

I remember when I got her spayed, later than usual, because I sensed it would not be good for her. It wasn’t and she spent weeks sulking on my pillow and several years after that sulking in whatever place she chose to perch. I suspect she had fancied having some fox babies.

I remember the year Jaggie spent, crawling up to the chair she lived on at the time, trying to say thank you for bringing him home, only to have her ignore totally his advances, or swipe his ears if he was lucky.

I remember the first time she went down with poisoning and an animal hospital wanted to charge me thousands for an ultrasound scan. M ran to a friend of hers for help and he (bless him) arrived in the petshop, with the cash in his hands, just as I found another local vet could and would do the same scan for 50 quid.

I remember the subsequent journey between vets, Guin carefully crated in her carrier, barely conscious, me holding her drip so it didn’t pull out, M in the front seat of the cab and at a major set of traffic lights, a cuntish truck driver got out of his cab to harangue the taxi driver over some alleged infraction.

I told him that I had a seriously ill cat in the back seat, on a drip which I waggled, we were dashing her to the vet and he could kindly get back in his truck and drive away or deal with me. He stepped back, apologised and got back in his vehicle which made us all giggle a bit.

I remember the time Jaggie had a right go at Arthur, a few months after he started living with us. Guinevere gave him one look, just one and he cowered in the corner, in shame. Guin was always on Arthur’s side, apart from when he personally annoyed her. This didn’t happen often but when it did, was usually caused by him making friends with a foster or new kitty. She could never keep it up though and once he got the message which he usually ignored), she would be back to loving him, just the same https://titflasher.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/sleep-no-evil-purrr-no-evil-stare-no-evil/.

When Kitty came along and challenged her for leadership, she didn’t bother to fight, just gave her the look and continued to do so, whilst Kitty tried to engage her in feline warfare.

Kitty eventually gave up, moving upstairs to try and reign in the spare room, a plan Guin thwarted by occasional forays in there, planting herself squarely in the middle of the room and daring Kitty to try and get past.

For years, Guin held herself aloof from most people, even me at times. It is only in the last few years that she started to seek me out again for cuddles and strokes, rather than just waiting for them to come her way.

As she started to lose mobility and continence, she needed more reassurance. Guin, who had depended on no-one and nothing to make her mark on the world, depended on me. Guin, who had never lacked self-confidence, needed to know she was still loved.

She didn’t lose her queenship, it never wavered. Always the quickest cat by far, she soon worked out that she couldn’t stay upright swiping with one paw, so perfected the art of balancing on her disabled back legs and bum, rising up to issue a sharp two-pawed slap on the top of the head of any feline who annoyed her.

She would clamber up into my computer chair, scrabbling in next to me, wait and if a headstroke was not forthcoming, bite my upper arm gently and stay there, her teeth a mere warning on my skin, until she got what she wanted.

She loved the computer chair and before her spine crippled, would often jump on it and wait for me to swing her around, eyes tight shut, her mouth in a grimace of enjoyment, I would turn it around over and over one way, then the same number of times in reverse, leaving her dizzy and purring, leaning against the back of the chair, her eyes still tight shut in pleasure.

When fully mobile, she would open the bathroom door by running at it and hitting it with one hip; this last year, she used the same double-pawed move to pop it open.

The first time I bathed her, I was terrified. She had grown so frail. She never stopped hating it but I could tell she felt better after each one. What she hated more than baths was the cream so I did it as often as I could without distressing her, not quite meeting the veterinary requirement of twice a day, ever mindful that fly strike could kill her or her skin would become so sensitive she couldn’t bear it.

My biggest fear was flies (her kidneys were fine when they were tested about nine months ago) and I did everything I could to encourage the bathroom bitey to get as many as possible.

In becoming a cheerleader for a spider, I realised the enormous trust Guin placed in me to do the right things for her and how much of a privilege it was to do just that.

I got used to my carpets being ruined, I got used to gearing up for the inevitable struggle that would ensue when bathing her, I got used to putting cream on her little bits as she turned her head away from me, refusing to engage with the process, just as she turned her head back to me the moment it was over, pushing her nose into my neck and purring like an engine as she knew bath time was over and cuddles and rubs were now on the agenda.

I got used to being woken in the early hours of the morning by a smelly cat wanting a cuddle. I got used to half-sleeping, my hands on her head and neck, both keeping her at bay and stroking her. I got used to coaxing her off the bed whilst half asleep when she had got in without me being aware of it, determined to sleep on our heads, trying to ensure she didn’t feel excluded as I led her back to the warm spot in the spare room where a heating pipe runs underneath the floorboards.

We even managed a few nights with her curled up next to me.

A couple of times I closed the bedroom door, just to give us a good night’s sleep and would emerge in the morning to find Guin pressed up against the door, as if guarding it, her little face all cross until she realised it was noms o clock at which point she would get up haltingly then stagger around in circles with excitement.

Each of the cats has their special place for feeding and Kitty, Arthur and Poppet eat on the stairs. Guin used to do so, but if she was spending her time downstairs, it was rare for her to make the move upstairs to eat, and I would feed her next to me. If she was spending time upstairs however, she would sit on the landing until I called, at which point she would come downstairs, often at a sideways run. It was a frequent occurrence that she would try to over-compensate and end up crashing into the others, sending bowls flying, food everywhere and poor Kitty upstairs in fright.

The first time she did it, I was so fearful she had hurt herself but I soon realised she caught herself each time, perilously near the bottom and seemed to be enjoying the experience. Kitty and Poppet were slightly less enthralled.

I got used to putting the mattress up on its side each morning, leaving the futon cover (which lives underneath) for her to sleep on and wreck. Kitty would then sleep on the side of the upturned mattress.

Last weekend, Guin nearly made it up there too, so fast I turned with the noise of her paws attempting the run up, watching amazed as she levered herself up it to the top and then fell off as she tried to clamber on, so fast I didn‘t have time to react, just thankful her fall was cushioned by the futon cover as she dusted herself off and glared at me, as if it were my fault.

I got used to agonising about how long she would last and what to do for the best. I made and remade decisions all the time. When she was diagnosed with bladder cancer, only to have the tumour to drop off, followed by developing a nasty mammary tumour, which once tied off, disappeared, it would have been easy to believe that she was always going to be blessed, but I couldn’t buy into that.

Cats pick up their humans stress way too easily and I didn’t want her health to be a type of  worst fears self fulfilling prophecy; but it would be wrong to claim that I never cried when she cuddled in my lap. It would be wrong to claim I didn’t notice her fragility.

I let her out against my own advice, watching her but not interfering as she lived her life, on her terms, did what she wanted to do, always. I was petrified that one day she would not come back, victim of a situation she couldn’t move fast enough to escape, or getting stuck someplace she couldn’t move her body out of. Never a great miaower, her miaow decreased over the years to a whisper and I knew if she needed help and called for it, I would never hear her.

However, I feared something far more than that. I feared her last days would be blighted by my fears; that she would be frustrated and annoyed at being treated like an invalid so I let her out to do her thing.

It was absolutely the right decision for her and she came in, albeit a few times later than she should have, safe every time, her eyes shining with delight and adventure.

During her last bath, as with her first and all the ones in between, she whipped her head around and bit me. I wish it had been deeper, had left a scar rather than just a bruise, something tangible to keep now that she has gone.

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is wishing all her readers a very …

Merry Christmas. Blessings and love to you all xx

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Why I, who hate the thought of abortion, will always be in favour of legal terminations (in loving memory of Florence)

Abortions and protests against them have been much in the news of late. The actions of a certain anti-abortion group have received a great deal of well-founded criticism, the unfortunate side-effect of which is that at least one member of the group has the airtime she thrives on, when she isn’t busy publically exposing survivors of childhood sexual abuse for having terminations or cosying up to nazi wannabes (I know, such a prize).

There has been also a much smaller, quieter amount of scattered support for the protest group, which is concerning.

Let’s for one moment put aside some of the personalities involved in the group, their awful, self-congratulatory efforts, their non-factual representations of what a 12 week old foetus looks like (anyone with any medical/ obstetricial training will spot the problem immediately – for those of you without this, Mr Google is your friend) and their nasty penchant for filming women who enter and exit abortion facilities.

Let’s concentrate instead on their message. Once you do, it will become clear that they are operating from a position of privilege in the first instance and in the second, they are very keen to impose their views on the rest of us, a type of histrionic, emotionally-based fascism which should never be allowed to take root and grow in a civilised society.

They would like to see the end of abortion because they believe it is the same as murdering children. I don’t think I need to go into the arguments here about at what point a foetus becomes a thinking, feeling “person” because (a) that point seems to vary depending on what side of the fence you sit, whether religion is involved and how much medical knowledge you have (and we will be here all night and all year in an attempt to obtain consensus) and (b) there is something that these people forget about when screaming about the sanctity of life – the life of the person carrying the child.

I doubt very much that any of the people standing outside clinics, waving their misleading, blood-soaked images and screaming at women, have ever lived in countries where abortion is illegal (that privilege thing is worth underlining here) and if so, and they still think that a child’s right to life is worth more than that of its mother, then their argument of all life being sacred is hoist on its own petard.

Let me tell you what happens when abortion is made illegal. It still happens.

Instead of happening in sterile surroundings, where the welfare of the mother is paramount, it happens in shacks and kitchens and sheds and backrooms, where any type of instruments and drugs are used, causing damage and internal infections which can and sadly often do, go on to kill the mother. Sometimes the mother dies soon after.

In Florence’s case, it took years and years but it still killed her.

Florence was our “maid” or domestic worker for a number of years. She was very happily married to Dennis and had been for some time. She was slim, beautifully turned out always and would arrive at work in glamourous outfits (including hat and gloves – if you think of an African Katherine Hepburn you won’t be far off) before changing into a uniform for work.

Florence was as lovely as she was beautiful – kind-hearted, warm and interested in people. When Dad lost his job and we struggled to afford her, she offered to forgo her salary for a month and not only did so (my parents paying her double the next month with Mum’s first salary), but brought us back the most magnificent pumpkin from the farm where her family lived, which fed us handsomely.

Unusually, they had no children. My mum asked her about that one day and Florence confided in Mum that she had had an abortion at 16, the result of unwanted sexual attention (her words, ie: she was raped). The abortion, carried out in a shack, with no pain relief, no medical instruments and not very much knowledge, was hideously cruel and distressing.

It left Florence with such damage that when it came to the point where she wanted and was able to afford raise a child with her husband, she couldn’t have one.

Traditional African culture is very child-centric. Children are a blessing, not just for their parents, but for the whole community. Sometimes, child-rearing is done by non-parental family members whilst the parents work, or people who look after a number of children loosely related to them (and in some case, not directly blood related but part of a bigger clan or community).

This is a great way of raising kids in many respects but it does place additional pressure on women in stable relationships to produce children. A traditional African man’s masculinity is often judged by the number of children he has.

Florence and Dennis were both far better educated than their jobs would suggest (he worked on a production line in a factory) and for the first 10 of so years of their marriage, they were able to throw off all of their respective families’ worries. Florence’s family were concerned that Dennis was in some way sexually deficient, Dennis’s family, being a little more traditional, thought perhaps they were cursed.

Dennis’s Mum in particular wanted her son to produce a child and it became an ongoing source of friction between them, until one day the truth of Florence’s infertility came out. Dennis knew but had kept it from his family.

Poor Florence was now not only a fallen woman, whose own family were now the target of several jibes about how they failed to keep her safe, but also a damaged one. Dennis’s Mum was enraged at the fact her family had welcomed someone who couldn’t carry out her familial duties. The fact that she had spent a small fortune on witchdoctors to remove non-existent curses probably did not help either.

Emotionally bruised and with no let-up in sight, Dennis eventually bowed to the immense family pressure he was put under and left Florence to take a second wife, who, already having effortlessly borne a child, was probably not going to have a problem bearing another.

He spent a miserable year or so with her, she fell pregnant as planned and unable to bear it any longer, Dennis went back to Florence. Florence and Dennis were happy to be back together, the child and the second wife were happy to be supported on the farm and life got back into a good groove for them.

We then moved and Florence continued to work for two other families in the area. A few months later, we heard from one family that Florence had started to behave really oddly. She was arriving late fairly regularly (causing a problem as both parents worked and relied on her to arrive on time as they were taking kids to school en route).

Several times they had come home and discovered the housework partially done, the ironing left. The family relied heavily on Florence to keep the house in order and whilst the odd issue could be worked around, her ongoing now frequent inability to do so affected their own stability.

When they tackled this with her, she apologised and said she had not been feeling well, for weeks. They, concerned employers, offered to pay for private treatment for her, which she declined but promised to go to the doctors.

Things came to a head one day when the wife arrived home unexpectedly and discovered Florence completely inebriated. After having endured several months of this behaviour and with Florence unwilling to seek help for her apparent alcohol problem, they did what any other employer would do and dispensed with her services.

The rest of the story we heard from the lady who worked over the road and knew Florence and Dennis.

The child was not the only thing that Dennis’s second wife had given him.

She had also passed on the HIV virus, which he in turn passed to Florence. Within a year, Dennis was dead.

Not unsurprisingly, with her life partner dead; her life in ruins, Flo started drinking, something she had never done before. That put paid to her employment at both houses.

When we moved back to our old home and heard the story from the lady over the road, my parents made several attempts to contact Florence. My family were a little more able than most employers to deal with her non-attendance and more than willing to try and provide her with an income and help her get back on her feet for however long she had left (this was before anti-retrovirals were available for treatment; without which most people who contracted HIV could count their years left on half the fingers of one hand).

I was able to get through to her on the phone only once, during which phone call all she could do was cry. She felt ashamed and responsible for her husband’s death and her own plight and there was nothing we could do to help her. She refused to come back to work for us.

Florence died several months later, a victim of the terrible scourge of AIDs in the late 1980s but first and foremost, a victim of the country’s strict anti-abortion laws.

In my friend Antoinette’s case, those laws ruined her life.

I met Antoinette at the children’s home where she lived, the product of a feckless alcoholic mother. She was 15 to my 13 and we became firm friends.

Antoinette had very simple dreams – get through her childhood, get an education, get a job and be self-sufficient; not do what her mother had done, which was to rely on a succession of unstable men for an income, who left whenever she fell pregnant, leaving her unable to care for her children, financially, physically and emotionally.

Antoinette was going to be better than that.  She struggled in a school which designated her by the colour of her skin to an inferior teaching regime, amidst a chaotic environment. Despite not finishing primary school by the time she was forced to leave the home at 16 (government rules), she taught herself the basics of maths and hoped that someone would take her on in a shop and allow her to learn the book-keeping.

Which is how she ended up working for Oktober, a dubious “herbalist” who plied his unsalubrious craft in town.

Do I need to tell you what happened next?

Antoinette fell pregnant at 17, to Oktober, who was in his 60s and married to a fairly young wife, with whom he had four children.

Antoinette was not able to procure an abortion (it would have been a late one, as it took her a while to understand what was happening to her). She was forced to have the baby and moved from her mother’s ghetto flat to employer’s slightly better house where she raised her child in the heady environment of a wife who realised that her husband had been fucking the hired help and who insisted she just put up with the situation. Not the best recipe for happiness ever.

There not being the support there is in the UK, both Oktober’s wife (I refuse to call him Mr Oktober, he was a cuntmaggot of the highest order and doesn’t deserve any title at all) and Antoinette were trapped.

Oktober’s wife passed away suddenly one day and Antoinette was forced to look after Oktober and Mrs Oktober’s four children (who had been raised to loathe her) and her own daughter. Dear reader, she married him. She had to.

Alongside beating her up, with the usual excuses that she was a useless employee and an even more useless wife, he enjoyed playing very nasty tricks on her. His outstanding one was the day he pretended I had been murdered.

A girl with a similar name had been abducted by her ex-boyfriend, raped and murdered and her body dumped and set alight in the bush in the next suburb from us. As it was an unusual crime for the time, and as the girl was a white teenager, it hit the front page of the newspapers. Antoinette could only discern part of the article and with the girls’ first name being mine and the surname not dissimilar, he pretended to read words that were not there, in an effort to make her believe that the victim was me.

You can imagine her panic and her grief. He refused to let her use the telephone to call my parents and refused to give her money from the till so she could use a public phone. Instead, he kept her in the shop all day, working and the next day too until he had had his fun and allowed her to place one call. I answered and you can imagine the confusion that followed. I could hear him bellowing with laughter in the background whilst we were sorting it out.

When she fell pregnant a second time, Oktober practised his own form of birth control and kicked the baby out of her.

She stayed with him, trapped until he died at which point, his children evicted her from the house he had left them and she ended up on the streets with her child, her dreams and life in ruins.

How many examples would you like? Would you like to hear about the malnourished 12 year old in Cape Town, abused all of her life, falling pregnant the moment she started her period

Would you like to hear how she was saved by State social services and how that same State refused her an abortion for her own good because they were a Christian state and were worried she would go to hell’  like she hadn’t been living there all of her life?

Would you like to know how much her poor, starved body was damaged as her pregnancy progressed

Would you like to hear how her mental health declined, falling further and further into psychosis as she realised she would have to give birth to her attacker’s child?

Would you like to know that the odds of whether she survived the birth were becoming increasingly slim?

Maybe instead you would like to hear about the brave lawyer who stepped in and challenged the State, managing on appeal to obtain their approval for her to have an abortion. It was a late one, at nearly 24 weeks. It wasn’t fun and it wasn’t pretty but if the state had not made abortion illegal in the first place, she would have been able to have one as soon as social services found her (at 12 weeks).

That lawyer saved that child’s sanity and probably her life and was pilloried for it. But he said, 10 years later, it was the thing he was most proud of doing, in the whole of his life.

The examples I have quoted may seem extreme to you. You may think “that would never happen here” and perhaps Florence’s example is unique to a particular time and a place. However, Antoinette’s is not and nor is the abused 12 year old’s and nor are the experiences of other women.

This is the world that Abort67 want us to live in.

You may wince when you think about someone deliberately ridding their body of a foetus, I do.

You may wish that things were different and that every baby was loved and wanted and their mothers able to care for them, I do.

You may want that women didn’t fall pregnant unexpectedly, I do.

You may (if you feel superior and do not fully appreciate your own privilege), see women who have abortions as selfish and stupid, I don’t.

You may even view abortions as “murdering babies”, my internal jury is permanently out on this one.

However, I promise you, you do not want to live in a country where abortion is illegal. You will find many, many more dead babies (often discarded after birth); you will find many, many more dead and wounded women.

Abort67 argue that women who have abortions should not be in a position to make judgements about whether or not to bring a child to term.

But here’s the thing – they want to have the same power over that woman, her body and her foetus. They want to dictate her choices. They want to limit her freedom to make the best decision for herself.

Abort67 are not moral guardians who add to the debate with reasoned argument; they are not helping educate people or, for instance, lobbying for free, lifelong contraception for women.  I don’t see them offering to counsel women or offer them solace.

Instead they seem all too ready to judge and name-call a woman who is faced with one of the the most emotionally-laden, difficult choices she may ever have to make.

They stand outside abortion clinics, making those same women feel guilty and despised.

They are ignorant, hysterical people who, whilst decrying the power a woman has, want to grab that same power for themselves, thinking it is acceptable to bully and harass women who make legal choices as to what to do with their own bodies and their own foetuses; getting off on their own sense of moral superiority.

They want to make us live in a country where Florence’s life is worth nothing, where Antoinette’s life is dictated by her abuser; where an under-nourished 12 year old may die from being forced to give birth.

That is pretty despicable, viewed from every angle I can see.

PS In concentrating on what life is like for women in a country with strict anti-abortion laws, in order to explain the hell that these idiots wish to inflict on us, I have not covered the many and myriad other reasons why a woman may choose to have a termination.

That doesn’t mean that I judge any of those reasons as more or less valid or judge anyone who has a termination, for instance, for financial reasons; it’s just that this blogpost doesn’t cover them.

PPS Dear Abort67, go fuck yourselves. Sideways. With a speculum.

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Please read this if you care about the online abuse of animals or children

I see a lot of animal and child abuse online.  I also see a lot of very well-meaning people doing very stupid things.

At best, people don’t know what to do, so do anything at all to make themselves feel better.  If you have ever been in a situation where you can’t help someone in a situation beyond your control, and you suddenly lose your temper at someone, you’ll understand why people do stupid things – it is an emotional release that brings the added value of thinking you have been helpful.

However, the consequences of those ill-thought out actions can in some cases be severe for the very beings you are trying to help.

Having had an investigation endangered today by a complete idiot who should really know better, I thought I’d write out this easy guide so that people understand the issues and (hopefully) act appropriately.

One of the most common things I see are requests for prosecutions for people who have hurt an animal.  All well and great but in many of these cases, (a) the person has not been identified (good luck with petitioning for a prosecution for an unnamed piece of human excrement) or (b) they are in countries where little or no animal welfare laws exist (please ask yourself whether you really believe the Chinese government are going to take notice of 650 westerners all carrying on about an animal abuser in China, when so little of their economy relies on what other people think of them).

I also often see people go “oh report it to facebook!”.  Yes, well having original posts taken down because you have reported to facebook will serve only to hinder any investigation taking place.  It won’t stop the abuse; in some cases, it may well allow the abuse to continue because it makes it harder to catch the perpetrator.

Do not report child or animal abuse images to Interpol – Interpol do not investigate every lead that is sent to them and unless you can establish jurisdiction (which means you don’t need Interpol), they are unlikely to be of much assistance.

Sharing the profiles of, or private messaging people you suspect to be guilty of animal abuse achieves nothing.  If they have posted it online, they don’t give a fuck and in many cases, are looking for the attention you are going to give them.  Worst case, they will take their profile down and start another one and you will have been responsible for the loss of evidence.

There are instances where sharing on social media works and I will get onto those circumstances at the end of this post.

So what do you do when confronted by the evil that is some of mankind?  How do you help to stop the violence depicted against animals, children, adults?

Here is my guide on how to be a responsible internet user:

(i) Child abuse images

Do not whatever you do share the page.  Sharing images of child sexual abuse is, in most countries, punishable by law.  Please also do not save screengrabs to your computer, for the same reason.

If you can, try and work out whether the poster is the same person who is the abuser; or knows them.

If the answer is “yes” to either of those, then have a look and see if you can identify where they live.  If you can, google the relevant police department for their country and town and report it to them.  You can also report to the child welfare department closest to where the poster lives – google is absolutely your friend in these instances.

If you cannot find out any of the location information, please report it to your local child services department who may be able to report it to the police.  In the UK, there is also a group called CEOP, which is part of the Metropolitan Police.  They investigate child abuse and exploitation including online child sex abuse and they can be contacted here: http://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/.

(ii) Animal abuse images

Do not whatever you do share the page.  Sharing images of crush videos (ie: animals tortured to death by crushing them, usually with heels but sometimes other things, in a sexualised environment) is illegal in the UK, most of Europe and some US states and may well get you prosecuted.

There are a number of online groups who investigate animal cruelty.  I have personal knowledge of two; both are excellent:

The Animal Beta Project: http://www.abproject.org/

Stop Crush: http://www.stopcrush.org/

Bear in mind in all circumstances that cases may take a while to investigate, are “live” until they get to court (and sometimes beyond if cases are complex), so please be patient.  Don’t assume that because you haven’t had an update for a few months that nothing is being done.

Finally, there are some instances where social media shares save lives.  You should be able to tell the difference:

(i) when an animal is in immediate distress and the local authorities are unable or appear unwilling to do anything about it.  Public pressure on large organisations such as the SPCA/RSPCA does work.  This situation normally arises when someone discovers a neighbour or someone they know beating an animal.  I do not advise you go around their house with a big stick but posting video evidence on facebook (only and if only) you are getting absolutely nowhere is a good way to ensure the relevant authorities attend.  Just bear in mind that in doing so, you will also attract a mob and mobs are only as clever as their loudest, least bright member.  Your key objective should be (a) to save the animal and (b) to ensure that any evidence is untainted; not start a riot.

(ii) when the government of countries that do have animal welfare laws can be swayed by public opinion.  In my experience, this is very rare.  In the UK, if a petition to parliament (see rules for these here: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/petitioning/public-petitions/) hits 100,000 signatories, it has to be mentioned in parliament.  That is 100,000, which is an awful lot of signatures.

(iii) when putting pressure on local businesses to (for instance), stop selling fur.  A petition signed by a few thousand residents, asking shopkeepers not to sell fur may well have an effect, if you can attract local publicity along the way.

There are some people who spend an awful lot of time putting cases together, establishing relationships between abusers; ensuring that evidence is worthy enough to be considered for court.  They do this generally in their free time, amongst everything else life throws at them and with the limited resources they have.  They then present cases to the authorities so that animals can be saved and offenders prosecuted.  To have an investigation compromised and animals or children endangered by the actions of well-meaning (and sometimes just stupid) people is frustration of the worst kind.

Your actions on the internet can make a difference between a child or animal abuser being caught, or getting away with it.  Please, choose wisely.

 

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How not to spend a Sunday evening …

The day before I found Kitty comatose on the kitchen floor, the Stalker and I had been at a close friend’s birthday party.  I had just reached the stage of afternoon drinking which relaxes me so much I move effortlessly from socialable to snoozy and I was contemplated 40 winks on her couch, when my phone started bleeping. The woman who I had removed Kitty from had a problem – a cat under her bath in a small flat full of two fierce dogs.  Could I help?

Knowing the reluctance of the inhabitants to involve anything remotely related to the authorities into their lives, I knew that unless I did help, someone would no doubt decide it was a good idea to use the dogs to flush the cat out, or some such idiocy. I reluctantly poured the remains of my wine into the bottle, asked for a big cold drink and sobered up whilst I appraised the Stalker of the situation.

We both rather grumpily left the lovely gathering to come home, collect a cat carrier and perambulate up the road to the flat in question.

Immediately surrounded by four people all trying to tell the story at once, with varying degrees of success and accuracy, probably because it was complete bullshit, I fended them off whilst the Stalker looked under the bath.

Indeed, verily one part of the story was fact, part of the bath panel was missing and there was a large, very aggressive black and white cat squeezed into the back corner of the plumbing.

Several words spring to mind, none of them clean or church-worthy.

Various attempts to obtain said cat resulted in a further great dealing of swearing in both English and Cat and it was eventually determined that the only way to get him out was to remove the bath panel.  The residents have an odd arrangement in that they are sort of looked after so we had to obtain the landlord’s (who turned out to be her Dad’s) permission to remove the rest of the bath panel which appeared to be thick plywood, covered in tiles.

There were few tools available so the Stalker, by this time like me, covered in dust and various things found on floors which are less than desirable, went at it with a screwdriver and brute force.  I winced, imagining the tiles flying off in various small sharp, irretrievable bits but all was well and with damage only to one corner, we put it as aside as we well as we could in a small bathroom already populated with two old lady shopping trolleys (standard tea leafing equipment), various cosmetics and two adults lying on the floor in cramped positions.

The cat was less than impressed by our efforts and graduated from growling and hissing to actively encouraging us to bugger off home by using his remarkably accurate and powerful paws and jaws.

Persistence and injury were our middle names as we managed to move the cat from one side of the bath, where he crouched, all of his five weapons at attention, to the other side where I could get hold of him but thanks to the plumbing, could not retrieve him.  This oversight on my part led to several rounds of “oh fuckfuckfuckfuck that’s painful” and related terminology as he sunk his teeth into my fingers and stayed sunk.

He quickly worked out that if he sat in the middle, behind the plumbing, that neither of us could reach him but he could still inflict damage and like a seasoned guerilla fighter, he held the position until one of us was able to dislodge him using a broom handle at a very odd angle and when that failed, finally resorting to water.

Two hours later, when we were all stressed beyond endurance, I finally obtained the resident’s permission to call the RSPCA.  However I knew it might take days for them to trouble themselves to come out so we gave it one last, extended shot, in which there were several near misses and the Stalker obtained numerous nasty bites and scratches.

We swapped places, me at the open end and the Stalker, who by now may have been considering just what the living fuck he was doing going out with me, at the end obstructed by plumbing.

By this time, we were both filthy and wet from the floor and what resided under the bath, and looked less than the smart people who had gone out several hours earlier; more like two homeless people who had just wandered in.  It was entirely in keeping with the environment.

One last attempt to get hold of the cat resulted in the Stalker’s hand being clamped by two sets of exceptionally strong, sharp teeth and he used the opportunity, whilst moaning softly yelling loudly, to pull the cat through the plumbing and up to where I had scrambled up, carrier open at the ready.

My last sight of the cat was as he dangled from his hand, back legs scrabbling to stay out of the carrier, front teeth determined to lever his way up the Stalker’s arm.  Thankfully, gravity took hold just then and the cat slid into the box, still telling us at great length what he thought of both of us in particular and humans in general.  I snapped the door shut just as the kerfuffle had attracted a small crowd outside the door, one of whom opened it.

I mopped up blood, spit, sweat and water, rinsed the Stalker’s and my wounds and after a short time conversing outside with the crowd, including answering a question as to where the cat was going now – I lied, I always lie when rescuing or rehoming from humans who don’t want the cat because in my experience it is easier to lie than to end up with a drunk human at your door, demanding their cat back a week later.

True to form, two days later a request came in from the same household.  Their friend wanted a cat, could they have it?   But of course!  Of course I was going to hand over an unneutered, frightened, aggressive male cat to someone I had never met who was a friend of people I’d removed a cat from previously (to be fair, it’s interesting that she still talks to me).

Of course I bought their story of a timid cat who entered a flat with two dogs and took shelter under the bath.

I explained in words of one syllable that we needed to find where he had come from.

The request was repeated today and the same explanation put forth, along with the addition that if we couldn’t find his owner/s, we already had a home for him which is a complete lie.

Upon inspection, the cat is in good condition and unlikely to be feral for that reason alone.

I can only get near him if I squeeze myself under the bed in the spare room and squirm on my back near to him, and trick him into letting me touch him.  So far, we have done initial touches and graduated to head, ear and chin scritches.  Whilst he is not feral, the Stalker calls him Sharkey, after his prodigious set of jaws and I call him Errol (the Feral).

We both agree that he has responded enough times now to “Felix” for it to probably be his name.  What association he has with that name however, remain to be seen.  If I approach him with my palm, he flinches and runs, approach with the back of my hand however, he stays.

In my experience, that response is normally from a history of being hit. He’s not keen on humans at all, but is using the litter tray with no problems and eating and drinking well.  That, along with a complete disinterest in toys of any kind, tends to paint a very clear picture of what his origins might be.

We will get him down to a vet and chip checked as soon as we can get him into another cat carrier without having to use armour but in truth this is just a tickbox exercise.  A chip doesn’t automatically equate to a decent owner, as our experience with Tom proved last month.

In the meanwhile, he seems happy enough – it’s a big room, he can look out the window and watch the world go by, curl up or under the bed.  He is warm, safe and gets plenty of food and fresh water.

There is currently no rescue space anywhere so I imagine he may be with us for a little while yet.

I have spent the last few days moving between mine, the Stalker’s and the three vets in which Kitty has been, alongside worrying how the hell I am going to pay an even more massive vet’s bill than I paid for the first 48 hours of her care and in all honesty, I’m so exhausted I can’t even drum up the energy to yell “spay your pets you fucking twat-tards” and “adopt don’t shop for pets you twunts” at people.

I have been amazed and thrilled and am deeply grateful for everyone who has contributed to the gofundme for Kitty.  I was very hesitant to set it up and embarrassed about asking friends and strangers for money.

But I did it and Kitty is holding her own, starting to improve and she stands a good chance now of coming home.  I only hope that by Saturday (her approximate home-coming date, if all goes well) I will have the money between the gofundme, people who have donated via paypal and what remains in my bank account to pay the specialist vet.  I will worry about how we are going to eat next week then.

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