Friday, 19 August 2011

Cats Tails (2)

Having coffee yesterday with someone to whom I had (perhaps unwisely) admitted to being lonely, I was asked, "have  you not considered getting another cat.

For those you may have read previous blogs, it will come as no surprise that a, I have not considered it and b, I don't believe one "gets" a cat.  In my experience the cat chooses after careful consideration, the - lucky - recipient of his or her attentions.

Sam (crookedly displayed above), was one such.

We had been in this house for about 3 months (John, Mitzy our tortoiseshell cat) and I, when one frosty November morning I saw a large thin tabby 'stealing' a potato peeling from the pit in the rough ground full of builder's rubble which was then our back garden.

I knew at some s tage I'd be starting a compost pit and had thrown out all vegetable peelings from day one.

The tabby jumped the chain-link fence into the rough field at the back and began to gnaw ravenously at the scrap of peeling.

I called to him to try to give him something more palatable, but he fled.

The next morning, before leaving for work I put a bowl of milk and a handfull of dry biscuits outside the back door, which, when we returned some 13 hours later was gone.

This went on for about a month, and gradually he became less nervous and would eat the food we put out as long as we went nowhere near him.

Every day I moved the food nearer and nearer to the back door and began slowly to leave the door ajar.
He would eat very fast and run if we made a move so one day I put the food and milk in its usual place and stood beside it without moving.  He advanced very slowly and very bravely began to eat, but with his ears back, ready to leap away.

This went on for a week, then one day, while he was eating I bent very cautiously and touched the top of his head.  He flattened almost to ground level so I stood up and he went on eating.  I did it again, and this time he just stopped for a minute then continued to eat.

The next day, I stroked his head with one finger and after the initial stiffening he relaxed and let me stroke him.

The weather was getting colder and John suggested we put a cardboard box outside and cover it with PVC.
This we did and put a bit of old carpet in the bottom and with  the box on its side left it overnight.  In the morning, it had snowed, and all that was visible of the tabby was one gigantic paw, a nose and his whiskers poking out of the box.

In time this was replaced by an old bedside cabinet converted into a kennel-like house, covered in PVC and carpet lined facing in to the house to keep out the weather..

Sam, as we now called him slept in that for the whole of that first Winter.

When, after many months he bacame handleable we took him to the vet, had him checked over and neutered.
We were told he was young, about three years old, and fairly healthy apart from  the inevitable fleas and malnourishment.

Within twelve months, apart from the odd spat with Mitzy, he was a fully paid-up member of the family a simply massive, totally beautifull and very affectionate cat who lived with us for 14 years before finally succumbing to kidney failure.

Mitzy survived him by two years.

Our lovely lovely feral Sam left a vast tabby hole in our lives when he said his last goodbye.

Never be put off by the idea that feral cat's are untameable.  It takes time, patience and a lot of love but it is so very worth the effort.


  1. What a lovely story, and how patient and persistent both you and Sam were! I hope that another kitty will find you soon. But perhaps it wouldn't hurt to go looking?

  2. So guess what I'm doing -praying a cat will come and choose you, or someone will move abroad and ask you to have their beloved.

  3. Glad you liked Sam's story Penny.
    I am trying not to take on another cat until I'm really too old to be out most of the time,
    However, the best laid plans..........

  4. Margaret, I do hope this particular prayer of yours goes unanswered.
    The freedom from ties has to be experienced to be appreciated.
    Yes I know only too well that a solitary life has pretty severe disadvantages too, but hope it will be a while before my next 'furry' moves in.

  5. How lovely to have a cat adopt you like this. We once had a pregnant cat move into the outhouse and produce a litter of adorable kittens. My landlady was less than happy though as I let the cat in! The kittens were all taken by families and the cat went to a rescue centre.

    I didn't realise you were lonely. But then we don't realise things about other people and they don't realise the things about us - like that we are lonely, or fearful, or depressed, or in despair.
    I am not such a cat person, but I know that my dog brings so much joy and, yes, she is company. I hope you do get a cat one day when life is less busy:)

  6. I do sympathise - my own beloved 'adopted' tabby, Seve, has been gone for two and a half years now and I still miss him, even though his tortie room-mate has now come out of hiding and is sitting on my lap again.

    May I offer another way of looking at this 'adopt/wait to be adopted' dilemma, taking into account that there are always more cats seeking homes than there are homes. The way I see it is this - I am now drawing my pension. My cats usually hang on to about 20-ish. My current cat is 15 and in good health so may well make it to 20. Then what? No cat! If I 'obtain' a 'new' cat at pension+5, that 'new' cat will last well into my eighties and might even have the audacity to outlive me. That's a problem I don't wish to hand on to my heirs and successors because they'll have enough on their plate sorting out the other detritus of my life.

    Clearly, the sooner I get another cat, the better and Madame Holly the tetchy tortie will have to learn to love (avoid) a new house-mate. Strays are thin on the ground around here but there are lots of cats in rescue places awaiting parole.

    My course is clear (when the rush is over!)

  7. Sue
    I try to play down the loneliness aspect of my life but my earliest blogs were full of it.
    The church has played a very big part in assuaging the most intense feelings of friendlessness but I do not intend to spend all my life in church.
    I love cats, but they are a tie, and if cared for as they deserve take up more time than I am prepared to offer at present.
    That said, any really homeless stray would never be turned away.

  8. Nancy
    I am a life member of Cats' Protection, and have been an active rescuer, taking cats to be neutered or for veterinary treatment, and occasionally trapping sick ferals to be put down.
    Add to that, the fact that all of my own cats have been strays, and you'll see that I'm really under no illusions as to my ability to avoid cat company (I refuse to call it ownership).
    I think probably if no beggar comes to my door, I'll probably take on an older cat from one of the rescue centres. (Just not yet!)

  9. My cat abandons me at the drop of a hat when the neighbour walks through his door because the cat is allowed to drink out of the neighbour's bathroom tap. I, on the other hand, won't allow it in my home. Yours is a much nicer story.

  10. Oh Jane how unkind. Couldn't you give him his own tap, say a little garden one for instance?

    Seriously if there is one thing I've learned about cats it's that whatever you do for them is never quite good enough.

    They have no illusions about who is boss.

  11. You know, Ray, if you got two cats, then they would keep one another company when you were out. :-)

  12. Yes Penny, oddly enough, I can count too.
    Nice try!