2 January 2011
Cat pens update: The very timid new female cat Jo, from two weeks ago, has transformed in to a confident affectionate girl, even with a stuck up attitude to food – they know how to twist my arm to get something better.
By Rachel H Grant
The Christmas morning was chill. A sprinkling of snow wove a drunken tapestry across the lawn, while the coal fire stitched festive flair inside. Sophie sighed. The first Christmas in the new house.
Gazing out the window, a winter wonderland kissed her heart. Her dream garden, finally. Then she noticed them. The tiny paw prints on the lawn, heading towards the front door.
Opening the door, she gasped. A tiny light ginger kitten shivered before her, green eyes glowing with Christmas hope. She cuddled the purring but cold bundle in her arms, and then placed him tenderly by the fire. The kids were going to be ecstatic, Santa had certainly delivered this year!
The kitten slept by the fire all day, taking a break for some lunchtime turkey. Later, he played with them at after dinner boardgame time, chasing the counters around the board like a feline football player. The children – Tessa and Tom – laughed, enjoying the kitten more than their actual presents. “We can keep him, can’t we?”
“Well … he might have a home. We will have to advertise him.”
But the kitten was gone the next morning, vanished like a Christmas Cinderella that could not stay for Boxing Day. They searched everywhere. But he was gone.
Days went by, the children hoping to see the little boy again. But there was no sign.
A year passed. It was next Christmas. Sophie opened the front door to welcome the special day: and there he was. The kitten. Looking just the same. But how could he be?
She invited him in, a smile covering her disquiet. This could not be the same kitten, a crazy feline coincidence. But the children thought otherwise. “He’s come back!” they shrieked in delight. Their laughter extinguished her unease. He was a Christmas charm. Let’s just enjoy him! she thought.
They played kitten games all day. But on Boxing Day, he was gone.
Christmas Day came round again. Sophie marched to the front door in the morning, confident there would be no kitten there. But he was on the doorstep, shivering in the cold and regarding her with those imploring eyes.
So it became a Christmas tradition. They would spend their day with this kitten who never grew up, and then lose him again on Boxing Day. They told no one. Who would believe them, after all?
Years passed like dominoes falling in slow motion. When the children grew up, the kitten stopped coming. The first Christmas without him felt strange; Sophie repeatedly opened the front door, she searched the garden but Kitten Klaus, as they had named him, was not to be found.
Decades sped by like fields glimpsed from a car window, gone before they could be explored. Sophie was admitted to a nursing home at age 83, after suffering a minor stroke. When her children came to visit, she told them excitedly about the nursing home cat. “He is old but ginger. He reminds me of Kitten Klaus, but of course it can’t be him. He is a comfort to me, sometimes he sleeps on my bed.”
The months passed; at each visit, Sophie relayed to her children how much she enjoyed the ginger cat’s company. Then one day the dreaded phonecall came; Sophie had died suddenly but peacefully in her sleep.
On the way to the home, Tessa and Tom bought a present for the cat. He had, after all, given their mother such comfort. But when they arrived, the nurse looked confused. “We do not have a cat here.”
That night, Tessa slept with the tears fresh on her pillow. She woke to the sound of purring. But there was no cat there. As she fell asleep again, she dreamt of Kitten Klaus, and the family Christmases she used to enjoy. The next morning, a whisker fell to the floor as Tessa rose. But she did not see it.
A shadow walked across her garden and then was gone. Miles away, a little girl cried for her deceased ginger cat. Christmas snow had begun to fall. A ginger kitten appeared at the window, meowing to get in. Cindy opened the window and smiled. Her Christmas wish had come true. The kitten meowed and rubbed round her. She laughed in delight.
In another dimension, Sophie was at peace, as she rested with a ginger cat in her arms. She smiled in the world of dreams, a special place where kittens never grow up, where all Christmases are white and where children’s tears are firmly wiped away. Sophie continued to smile in the perfect world of everafter, as a little girl played with a kitten far below. The love of a cat never dies.
Cats have a lower social IQ than dogs but can solve more difficult cognitive problems when they feel like it.
Cats have a longer-term memory than dogs, especially when they learn by actually doing rather than simply seeing.
17 November 2013
Cat pens update: a cold day but all warm in their heated cabins! Pearl and Jade are the two loveliest black kittens ever, little purr machines who just want a cuddle! Hamish getting better (recovering from cat flu), he is a handsome tabby giant. Maggie so so affectionate but brother Max just hides in the scratching post box. Princess and Bumble more and more confident, while Libby is as desperate for her turn in the corridor as ever. Felix (pictured) all cosy curled up in bed.
Today we are remembering World War One, and this blog would like to give out a shout to all the cats who (also) nobly lost their lives for the war effort.
In the trenches, an estimated 500,000 cats were used for rodent control but also became mascots and a source of comfort to the soldiers. Cats were also used for rodent control on ships.
In remembrance to the brave feline fighters, and to the companionship they gifted to our brave soldiers.
By Rachel H Grant
Sean fingered his old teddy, its stuffing enfolding his fingers, beyond repair but not beyond love. He looked out the window at the cold Halloween night.
A shadow accosted his eyes, forming in to a cat. Its bright yellow eyes looked at him through the window, as it began to mieaw.
Curious, he opened the window. The cat jumped up, purring. “Come with me, there is something to show you.”
The cat had not spoken out loud, but the words formed – perfectly – in his head.
In Sean’s seven years, he had never known a cat to speak with him. He smiled. This could be a new friend.
Hastily, he threw on his jacket and then leapt out the window. The cat ran ahead of him, looking behind to ensure he followed. They crossed the High Street then traversed a small lane which led to a wood. Sean hesitated. Should he really enter a wood at night? But with the cat, he felt somehow safe.
Safer than going trick and treating, with the school bullies at large.
They wound their way through the trees, until they were on the other side. A standing stone circle glowed in the light of a fire. An old lady in a black cape tended the flames.
The cat looked at him. “This is the village crazy cat lady. Every village has one.”
“Have a seat,” the woman said to him. “I see that the cats have chosen you. You must be very special indeed.”
Nervously, Sean sat on the grass. A dozen or more black cats were sitting around the fire. He didn’t know there were this many black cats in the village.
“We are here to work with black cat magic,” said the woman.
Sean looked at her, alarmed. “Are you a witch?”
She laughed. “Make a wish! Breathe it in to the flames before you.”
Sean closed his eyes. He wished that Neville would stop bullying him. As he opened his eyes, he could see black cat shapes in the smoke above the fire.
He began to feel sleepy, the heat bathing his brain with blessings. Or that’s what it felt like. Perhaps this night would never end, no school tomorrow, no school ever again.
The black cat was nudging him. “Time to go home to bed,” she murmured wordlessly in to his eyes.
The woman laughed again. He wondered whether she were mad. “I will walk you home after I have smothered the fire. It is Halloween after all. Not a night for young children to be wandering around with only a cat to protect them! Even if they are magical.”
The next morning he wondered whether it had all been a dream. His teddy lay on the floor at the foot of his bed. He picked him up and smiled. The dream had been good, but it was time to wake up.
That day, Neville came up to him in the playground. “I’m sorry I’ve been hard on you. Let’s start again. Friends?”
Sean swallowed his pride and beamed. “Yes, yes!”
He ran home happy that afternoon. A black cat crossed his path, then was gone.
When he reached home, his mother was smiling. “Surprise!” She was holding a box. Inside there was a small black kitten.
“You’ve been asking for a pet for a while, so…”
But he heard no more. Gently he picked up the kitten, and softly said, “Teddy.”
The kitten meowed in return. A fire lit in his heart, a bonfire that could never be extinguished.
He looked in to the kitten’s eyes, and saw only magic.