There have always been cats in my life. Mum and Dad bought 2 kittens when they got married and moved into their own home…Three and Six….2 tabby sisters who cost 3/6d each (3 shillings and sixpence for you youngsters 🙂 )…hence the names. So when I and my brother arrived, they were already part of the family. Sadly Six died of shock after being chased by a dog, and neither of us really remember her…but Three lived to the ripe old age of 21, so was very much part of our lives growing up.
When I got married, we took in an unwanted cat called Sophie, who settled in very quickly. She wasn’t with us long sadly, as she had kidney disease, but I’m glad her last year or two were happy. We, of course, got another soon after……and so the boys, as they came along, always had a feline protector/companion or two as they grew up. Some were rescues, some were from friends whose cat had kittens, some lived long, some didn’t. Tiger was chosen by our eldest, from a friends litter, when he was two. When we packed her off to the vets for ‘the op’ they were unable to do anything as she’d already been a dirty stop out and was expecting. It was our first taste of the unusual situation of ‘Dad’ being involved. When the kittens were old enough to go out in the garden for some air, he used to come and visit them, laying in the grass with Tiger while the kids played on and around them….amazing! I’d never seen such behaviour before, and it was really touching…a few years later his son behaved in the same way when he fathered a litter with the neighbours cat!
We kept two of Tigers kittens, Scraggy and Tabby, and so became a family of 3 cats and 3 kids.
At 10 months, Scraggy was attacked while out, (we presume by some mean children) and ended up losing her tail, and her sight and hearing on the left. She forever walked and ran like a crab thereafter, but was a brilliant hunter, bringing us many ‘presents’ over the years, as did her Mum. And in spite of how she had been treated that day, she was the soppiest, most compliant cat I’ve ever known, allowing my middle lad in particular, to lump her around all over the place, sit and hold her round the middle while ‘they’ drew pictures and all sorts.
Tabby was sadly a victim of an RTA when still young, but the girls were soon joined by Pouncer, who grew into a very fine, handsome tabby cat, who became our ‘guard cat’ for the rest of his days, patrolling our gardens to ensure no other cats, or any other animal for that matter, entered his domain…even dogs were seen off from the pavement in front of our house, more than one going off with a scratch to it’s nose!
Tiger lived to the ripe old age of 19, finally succumbing to a stroke one day. It rendered her deaf and blind immediately, and she was only calm if I lay with her stroking her. Our wonderful vet came to the house to put her down, getting down on the floor under the dining table with us to do so. Pouncer was taken by cancer. It was very swift, and we did the kindest thing for him, again, the vet coming to the house to do so. Scraggy spent her later life with my Mum and Dad, giving them solace and company after they lost their beloved dog Lass. She came back home when my parents died, spending her last few months back with her Mum Tiger.
And then there was Jessica Spectacles…what a character! She joined us when we were licking our wounds from the divorce, joining Tiger and Pouncer (Scraggy being with my parents by then)! She hated cats, spitting and swearing if they came near her, or were in her way, occasionally walloping them just to remind them who was boss…. thought she was a human…..refused to use the cat flap, insisting on having doors opened for her…had to be the first to eat, while the others sat patiently waiting their turn. If anyone tried to sneak some food while she was eating, they were growled at, and got a cuff round the head for their trouble….a matriarch and pack leader if ever there was one! Even Tiger bowed before her, in spite of being the senior cat. She was very vocal, and you really could have a conversation with her, although she always had to have the last word, particularly if she was having a jealous huff ‘cos one of the others was sitting on her humans laps. She could get the right hump at times, behaving like a spoilt child, love her.
We were suckers for rejected, damaged, abused and abandoned cats, so many rescues joined the throng along the line…some moved on to new homes, but the really odd/damaged ones stayed with us. Stumpy, whose legs never grew longer than 3 ins….leaving us late in her first year, peacefully in her sleep in her favourite armchair. My darling Squirt, a runt I hand-reared, who then damaged her tongue,(ran headlong into a locked catflap, biting clean through it) losing half of it…but still managing to feed herself, picking the food up with her teeth, then throwing her head back to get it to the back of her throat in order to swallow it….. and attempt to keep herself clean. She was forever washing, but was in truth just spitting on herself and spreading it with her bottom lip, leaving her coat oily and slimy, so she had to be bathed every week, and shaved in the summer to keep flies away. She left us in her 9th year, falling into her final sleep one morning in the lounge. Phoebe, with tunnel vision and brain damage, always swaying her head from side to side as she walked to see as much as she could of her surroundings…. but still walking into walls and furniture now and then bless her…. passing away on the sofa one day with a little meow and a purr. Fudge, a ginger boy with a pointy face, siamese yowl and bowed front legs so his head was always lower than his bum, who drooled for England when he purred, which was most of the time….spending his last evening sitting on my forearm with his front paws round my neck and his head on my shoulder, purring softly….going gently in the night while we slept. Tufty, mother of Squirt, who was a big, fat, daft lump who loved a tummy tickle. Cloudy, Squirts sister, with damage to both eyes after arguments with rose bushes, but managing really well, and a terrific climber of trees. Scully, a dainty girl with a lovely nature, who loved to sit and watch the children play in the park outside our house. Sadly when she went deaf, her park habit was her undoing as she didn’t hear the car that clipped her as she came home, dying in my arms as I carried her indoors. Pinky and Perky, Phoebes sons, who went everywhere and did everything together. Pinky bolted as he was being taken to the vets for ‘the op’, having made a hole in his carrier, and despite extensive searching, was never seen again…I hope someone found him and took him in and he had a happy life. Perky mourned his brother deeply, and went out one morning never to return….we always hoped, and looked, but we never found him. Spot, a handsome white boy with a tabby spot on his back and on the tip of his tail, did the same thing a few months later…maybe they found each other……… Belle, who was ‘catnapped’ by the people who lived behind us….I tried bringing her home more than once, but she always returned to the temptations of fresh salmon etc on the other side of the fence, so I let her go……Titch, son of Jessica, who would lie in my arms like a baby to be rocked to sleep, and sit on the corner of the road every day waiting for the boys to come home from school. Sadly, at 11 months, he was run over while waiting in his usual spot, rupturing his diaphragm……..got him to the vets within 15 minutes, but they couldn’t help him…..it was from then, losing her boy, that Jess became a human and began her hatred of cats!….and they say they have no feelings…PAH!
There were others along the way, but these were the ones that had the biggest pieces of our hearts!
When I moved here, 5 years ago, I brought the remaining 5 with me, Jessica, Tufty, Cloudy, Tuftys sister Lightning, and her son Sparky.
Tufty became ill about 4 months after we moved in. I didn’t realise untill the last day or so as she was still going to the kitchen when I fed them, but, as it turned out, not actually eating…just following the routine. I found her one afternoon when I came back from work. I don’t know what it was, I’m just glad she didn’t suffer through it. Maybe she knew she was poorly, and was consciously starving herself, who knows?
Jessie managed a couple of years here, stretching out in the sun and cooking herself at every opportunity. One day she tried to jump off the sofa and her back legs had gone. I made her a bed on the floor beside my chair with an old duvet so she didn’t have to jump anymore. She started wetting herself the next day. She’d drag herself to the tray for a poo, but wee’d where she sat/lay. She was still talking away though, and enjoyed being treated to some beaten egg and a bit of evaporated milk. She drifted away curled up on my lap 3 days later, in her 21st year.
Last year the same thing happened to Cloudy…she was 17…got down from the stool she’d been sleeping on and her legs went from under her. I tucked her up on a pillow with a blanket over her in the lounge as she just wanted to sleep. I sat beside her and stroked her gently, and she purred to the last breath a few hours later.
So now I have Lightning, 20, and her son Sparky, 18. Lightning is a very pretty cat, with beautiful soft eyes. Sparky is a Mummys boy who has always been groomed by her, and would head butt her for attention if she ignored him for too long. They’ve always loved to be outside in the summer, only coming in to eat, but I really struggled last year with flies constantly around him as he sunned himself, having to comb him thoroughly every day and wash him frequently to get rid of the eggs they kept laying on him. Absolute nightmare! He now won’t go out at all, can’t say I blame him!
Although they are both still eating well, I have noticed recently that they are looking skinny, and Lightning is now distancing herself from Sparky. They’ve always been together, eating and sleeping together, only apart outside as she prefers the front, and he favours the back. She has now taken to sleeping under my bed, while he is still on the sofa where they used to sleep together….they only tend to meet at the food bowl now, and Lightning doesn’t hang around for long, returning to the bedroom or going outside if it’s warm. He’s stopped begging for attention from her too, although she sometimes gives him a quick lick or two on his head! Is she getting him used to being alone I wonder? Finally forcing him into independence at such a late age?
I fear this will probably be our last summer together, and I don’t know how to feel about it. When they go, it will be the first time in 57 years that I have not had a cat in my home/life. Will I want another one? I don’t think so, but I can’t be sure. I tell myself that I will be freer to go out for longer, stay overnight somewhere…they’ve never been in a cattery, there was always a son or neighbour to feed them before, but not since I’ve moved here!…….I will be better off because I won’t be buying food, biscuits and litter for them( and flea treatments etc)……..won’t be constantly brushing cat hair off everything (they are both long-haired)…….won’t be woken by the plaintive meows of a hungry cat at stupid o’clock in the morning (Sparky! The only time he sets foot in the bedroom)….won’t be tripped up by 2 purring, chirruping, under my feet ‘erberts as I try to get to the kitchen to dole out breakfast before I’ve even got a cuppa brewing. But all that is so much a part of my life, and has been for so many years, that I don’t know if I’ll like it not being there. In a way I suppose it’s something I will gradually get used to…as I did when the boys all moved on, and I no longer had them under my feet, demanding food, clean clothes, lifts etc. I got used to that quite quickly to be honest, and although I have moments when I wish it was like that again, I soon come to my senses lol
Maybe it will be the same when my feline family finally dissipates……I really don’t know, and it’s a sort of scary prospect to be honest! For the first time ever I will be completely, and utterly, alone, with nobody, whether human or furry, claiming my time and attention……….OOER!