Index CATS        

 For many years cats have been part of my life. Until I was about 15 years old I never "owned" a cat, and had to make do with petting friends and neighbours cats. . Of course no one owns a cat, the cat is the one that owns the human.

 Then one day a kitten decided to follow my older sister home despite attempts to shoo him away. All attempts at finding his owners failed and so he was adopted, and named Simon. In many ways he was to serve as a role model for me in later life. He showed that total commitment and independance could live side by side. On the one hand he would come running to me, sometimes leaping over garden fences from several gardens away, when I called him after getting home from school. Then on the other hand he was most definitely his own master and could not be dissuaded from his favourite hobby. Sadly that hobby was to prove his downfall. He liked to sit on the white line in the middle of the road and watch the cars go by. One day I came home after my morning paper round to find him lying by the side of the road with his back broken (but mercifully no other external signs of injury). I was heartbroken.

 Simon was soon replaced by a couple of cats rescued from a local builders yard. They were wild, feral, cats who needed a lot of love and patience before they would accept us. It was Vicky who was most aloof and refused to have anything to do with humans for so long. Her attitude earned her the name Vicky from Queen Victoria - "We are not amused !". Of course, having named Vicky after Queen Victoria it was only natural that Ben would be named after Benjamin Disreali, Queen Victoria's prime minister (if memory serves me correctly).

 It took many months before they settled down to living with humans, but eventually with much patience they came to accept, and trust us. Ben was the first to become a lap cat, and Vicky many months after that. Ben became so placid that he would be happy to be cradled upside down like a baby.

 They both lived long, and hopefully, happy lives until about he age of 17 when the both succumbed to kidney failure and the sad day came when they were put to sleep.

 Vicky is the tortoiseshell sitting on the nice warm TV, and Ben is pictured below her sitting in one of his favourite warm places on the gas fire. (Click on any of the pictures for a larger view)
 The next cat to come into my life was Nelly. She came from the Cats Protection League as a rescued cat. Apparently she was found beneath the floorboards of an empty house. How she got there, and how she was found is still a mystery. She had a profound distrust of humans and was difficult to handle, and so was named Nelly (because she acted like a big nelly).

 I adopted her for two reasons. First I wanted some companionship around the house, and secondly I had a mouse problem in my house. With Nelly invited in, the mouse quickly packed their bags and left. I have no idea how old Nelly is, but she came here in late 1998, and was estimated to be between 2 and 4 years old when rescued.

 She has never consented to be a lap cat, and remains very independant, but she shows her affection in other ways. She very often sleeps on my bed and lulls me to sleep with her loud purring.

 Nelly was joined a few years later by Schiba. He was a stray who adopted me when I started putting Nelly's left over food out for him. I don't know where he came from, but he was obviously used to being handled by humans. He was very friendly, and his favourite position was to wedge himself between me and the arm of the armchair. He still retained a little of the wild in him, and would go out on 36 hour hunts from time to time. He had been neutered before he adopted me, and that explains his odd name. Originally, not seeing any dangly bits, I assumed he was a she, and so named "her" Sheba. Then one day he was cleaning himself and it became very apparent that she was most definitely a he !

 In the last couple of days of his life he started acting slightly strange. Until one night he demanded to go out despite the fact it was raining. That was the last I saw of him. A flyer came through my door asking if anyone had lost a cat answering his description. It turned out that he had been found dead curled up in a neighbours back garden. I never did discover exactly where the neighbour lived, but she said that she had taken him to a vet "just in case". He was unmarked and the vet thought he probably just died of old age.

 It wasn't too long before another stray came along to take advantage of free food. She was Smudge - so called because of a patch of dark fur on her chin that looks like a smudge of mud on her white fur. She is most timid and it has taken a lot of time for her to get to feeling semi-safe. I am not really allowed to get too close to her, but she will come to me and act very much like a lap cat -   until I move a leg and she runs away again - only to come back a few minutes later, and resume purring. In time she will probably settle in a bit more. Nelly used to be reasonably OK with Schiba as he would mind his own business, but Smudge likes to be friendly some times and get a swipe round the head from Nelly for her troubles. It does not appear to be a vicious, all claws out, sort of swipe, but Smudge gets the message quick enough and backs off. Smudge