Me and my Pets

An Introduction.  Me and my pets.

Me&my family

My companionship with animals began in childhood.  That’s me in the middle, with the knobbly knees!   Home was a house full of creatures, fur and feathered.  They were our best friends, the  dogs, all rescues. And the sobbing and cries of “no more after this one” when one died;  these sentiments were quickly forgotten as a new mongrel padded in through the door. Rabbits and ferrets (kept apart – a wise decision), hamsters, budgies (all called Sparky to avoid confusion), goldfish, stick insects (promptly removed from the house when my little brother allowed them to run rampant in the salad bowl).

But there were no cats.  I was allergic to their soft fur and became itchy and breathless when in the same room as one. However, when I found three orphaned kittens in a garden, I popped them into my school satchel, took them home and hid them in the wardrobe with a dish of sardines and some milk.  Although they were my Secret, I guess that my violent sneezing, runny eyes and breathing problems gave the game away and the kittens were given to neighbours.

Except for one kitten.  Following my impressive display of juvenile hysteria, my parents allowed the smallest kitten to stay.  We named that kitten Pussy.   The photo is a  favourite one, taken a  couple of  summers later, of my Mum with Susie Dog, my brother with a Sparky Budgie and me hugging Pussy. My allergies eased with regular contact with the cat and I haven’t suffered since.

That was the beginning of life-long friendships with a number of pets. Into my adult life, my favourite flatmates were a succession of hamsters; Dennis, Arfer and EggyNeighbours and friends asked me to provide temporary care for their fish, rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and to walk their dogs.  

Here are the stories of the cats that once shared my life and remain forever in my heart:-

Eccles.  My first cat since childhood, a marmalade ginger and white. He’d been in a rescue for two years, hiding away with an injured mouth and broken teeth, crippled with fear.  I couldn’t leave him there, as others had done, so we went back to my flat together. We then moved into our own house, so he could have a small garden to enjoy. Timid, gentle Eccles and I were the closest of pals for three years, and I watched him slip away from me in his final sleepI laid him to rest in his garden, said Farewell and moved to the quiet cottage I’d hoped we would share together. 

Crumble. My vet asked me to care for this young ginger cat. He’d been run over and left  for dead, lying in the gutter by the side of a road.  Someone stopped and saw the cat was alive. As a result of the accident, Crumble was left partially sighted, epileptic and with a damaged brain that was a few seconds behind the rest of the world.  His world was me and the peace of the cottage and he was a inseparable, cheeky chum for eleven years. Crumble died of renal failure and I stayed by his side at the end. 

Maisie.  Someone with a heart of stone put  an elderly, epileptic cat in a box, taped it up and dumped it on waste ground.  A dog walker found Maisie trying to claw her way out of the box and her sad plight featured on the front page of the local paper. I couldn’t resist her chequered torty coat, toothless smile and squint and she  joined me and Crumble to share our home.  Old Maisie very much enjoyed what was to be the last year of her life, sleeping by the fire and snoozing in the flower beds.

Algie. He was scheduled to be put down by a rescue, as no- one had shown any interest in adopting a withdrawn, black cat.  I took him away from that hopeless place and Algie quickly made himself comfortable on the sofa and the bed.  It was a joy to see him blossom into a confident and contented pet.  I was lucky to have found Algie but so disappointed to lose this special cat to stomach cancer after just two years together. He was only about 4 years’ old and I wish he could have lived for longer.

Biggles. An eight week old ginger and white kitten with huge ears, playing in a pen at a rescue shelter and booked in for euthanasia because his front leg was fractured. Into my cat basket he hopped, he charged round the house, up and down stairs, up and down trees, swinging his  crooked leg out at a jaunty angle.  Biggles and Algie  quickly became firm friends, both enjoying the lives they deserved.  Biggles was bereft when Algie died.  Nine short years later, curled up in my arms, my sweet and joyful Biggles died of bone cancer. It still feels empty here without him. 

O

Daisy.  Just a kitten when she was thrown out of an upstairs window by drug dealers and then removed from danger by watchful neighbours. The abuse she suffered as  a kitten left her defensive, difficult to handle and wary of people. The sociable Biggles loved his pal  DaisyThe independent Daisy tolerated Biggles.   He was reluctant to come inside from the garden until she returned from her daily travels;  a constant friend, sitting on the garden path to greet her.  And for several weeks following his death, Daisy  waited on the path for Biggles to come home, not understanding that she and I would never see him again. One afternoon in April 2016, as the spring sun emerged from behind a hail storm,   I stroked her head as Daisy died quietly of liver cancer. Her grave is next to Biggles’ by the side of the garden path. 

Teddy.  A middle-aged grey cat, scabby and shabby  with a chronic flea allergy and arthritis.  She was straying for over a year on the streets of an inner city suburb.  A rescue picked her up, a vet patched her up and removed decaying teeth to heal her bleeding gums. Six months later,  this  undemanding cat was still at the rescue, waiting for a new owner. My home had a gap and, in June 2016,  good-natured Teddy made it her home too.  Clearly she was much loved once, then lost , and now loved again. She  enjoys the simple things in life -sleeping with her paw in my hand, eating from a full food bowl, playing with string and curling up her warm bed for a mid day nap. I named her Teddy because she looks like a cuddly toy,  with her soft, crinkly fur and green button eyes.

 

Daisy, leaping off a roof. Without a parachute.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA