About Felines and Fiction

An ardent cat lover and creative writer from Scotland.

Snow Kitten

By Rachel H Grant

Melissa turned restlessly, holding her cross tightly to her chest. It helped her to feel a connection to Chloe, her daughter who had died of cancer last month. The metal bit her skin as she clutched it, but she did not notice. She turned over again, night-time teasing her closed eyes with the prospect of sleep. But it would not come.

Then she heard it. A scratching at the back door, followed by a frantic meowing.

Slowly she rose, her legs weary, and her senses sleep deprived. Melissa opened the back door and beheld the first winter snow, gently raining down like a promise of peace from heaven. On the doorstep, a pure white kitten shivered, the colour of snow, a winter wish come true.

Melissa swept it in to her arms, all her ills forgotten. Cuteness squeezed her heart, the spell of love stroking her soul. With a bang she closed the door on the cold night. The kitten began to purr.

She steamed some milk, which the kitten drank ravenously.  Melissa smiled for the first time in weeks, but she did not notice. She was transfixed by the kitten.

Small and dainty, with deep autumn leaf eyes, it was the perfect chocolate box cat. “You are like a ballet dancer in a white tutu,” decided Melissa. “I will call you Odette, after the ballerina in Swan Lake.”

Odette became her cherished companion. Sleep returned, laughter resumed. She truly was a gift from heaven.

“You are sent by Chloe,” murmured Melissa, holding her cross.

The winter crept slowly through snow-topped days. Odette grey bigger and to Melissa she was ever more delightful. Then spring stretched its paws as the first snowdrops appeared. Melissa went to bed one night with Odette in her arms, but the next morning she was gone.

Melissa searched everywhere, painting the village white with her snow kitten posters. But Odette was never found.

Months passed. Melissa wrote a children’s novel about a magic kitten. Then another, and another. The Snow Kitten in DisneyLand, the Snow Kitten in space. The ideas came, and more ideas came. It was fun, and so surprising to find herself published. The legacy of the snow kitten would live on.

But Melissa would not. Decades had passed, and she was an old lady. One night, she retired to bed with bad indigestion. She did not feel well at all. As she drifted to sleep, the sound of purring filled her ears. She sat up. It was Odette, and still a tiny kitten. Melissa smiled. There would be a new book to write. The Snow Kitten and time travel.

She slowly succumbed to sleep, a deep slumber from which she would never awake. When her neighbours found her, they were surprised to find a white whisker on her pillow. They searched the house, but there was no sign of a cat.

In a house far away, a small girl cried. She was bullied at school, and her best friend had moved away. Then she felt it. Claws on her back. Stephanie looked over her shoulder. A snow white kitten beheld her, deep golden eyes answering all the questions she never knew she had. She smiled, and took the kitten in her arms. It was just as she had imagined the kitten in her favourite novel, The Snow Kitten at Christmas, by Melissa Thomas.

The kitten purred, pure love in its eyes. Its travels were over.

In another dimension, Melissa and Chloe played in heaven. One day, perhaps, a snow white kitten would join them. But not today. A perfect day, just over the horizon.

Meanwhile, Stephanie laughed. She had found her perfect day. Perhaps it would never end. Because a kitten’s purrs last forever.

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(c) Can Stock Photo / pressmaster

A Labrador’s Most Excellent Adventure

By Rachel H Grant

Prequels:
Billy and Teddy’s Most Excellent Highland Adventure

Billy and Teddy’s Excellent Adventure

In their favourite corner of the room, Billy and Teddy slept in the sun chasing mice through a daisy-dotted meadow. Life was good.

They had forgotten their previous adventures, the notion of time travel a muted memory in a dream from afar. They had no time to think about it anyway. Their lives had awoken in to something new, every day an adventure, and all because of their new house companion Marty the Golden Labrador. Through his young and curious eyes they saw the world afresh. And it had become a better, a more exciting place.

Billy yawned in his sleep, then stirred, immediately alert. Teddy raised his head.

“I wondered when you two would wake up.” It was Ambrose, the large ginger cat from their previous adventures. What did he want now?

“I have never met two so reluctant heroes,” admonished Ambrose. “But it’s not just you two I need today, it’s Marty too!”

Marty ran in to the room, and barked nervously. “Tell him to stop that!” shrieked Ambrose. “My ears are so sensitive. A drawback of time travel, I fear.”

Marty sniffed Ambrose, and barked again. “It’s okay, we know this cat,” reassured Billy. “But life does get more interesting when he is around! What do you want us to do now?”

“It’s very simple. Marty is a Labrador, the classic guide dog. The instinct to help is strong in him. We need him to help America’s first guide dog! He must convince her to make the relationship work, to try her hardest to be a good assistance dog. Because she has doubts you see. But she is so important. Buddy the German Shepherd will be the first of many; the future depends on her! Your task: to take Marty to meet her, and to impart his Labrador wisdom to her. He instinctively knows how to guide: he needs to help her. If he succeeds, history proceeds as it should. If not, history, the history we know, may be rewritten.”

Teddy looked dubious. “How can you possibly know this?”

Ambrose arched his spine aggressively. “Do not doubt me! When I first recruited you two, I knew you were special, reluctant heroes as you are. So I did a bit of research, looked at articles from across time in the ancient cat library of the cosmos. But more of that on a later adventure. As A Cat Elder, I am allowed access to this library, which spans time, and all times. I have searched for traces of you two throughout history. I am happy – or is that afraid? – to say that the mentions are innumerable. You appear so many times I almost wonder whether there is another cat duo, somewhere. You achieve an unbelievable amount of success. But history is fluid, it can change course. It is my job to keep you on track! I will make sure that the important missions do indeed take place. Nurturing the first American guide dog is one of those missions.”

Teddy and Billy look at each other, resignation burning a hole through their eyes. “I guess it’s our time to shine once more,” muttered Teddy sarcastically.

“Let me tell you about Morris Frank and his guide dog Buddy, the first guide dog in the United States and one of the most memorable and acclaimed dogs in history! Marty has a major task: to teach her Labrador empathy and service.”

A half hour later, Billy and Teddy had convinced Marty to join them in the tiny time capsule. It was a squeeze, but the journey did not take long. The joys of 21st century time travel! “By the way,” asked Billy. “When are our humans going to try time travel?”

“They won’t,” said Teddy. “It’s not been invented yet.”

Then they were there, in a Swiss village in the year 1928 confronting a beautiful female German Shepherd. Marty fell slightly in love straight away.

“Hello Buddy. You are important,” he whispered. “That’s why we are here.”

“My name is Kiss,” she replied.

“But you are to become Buddy. A pioneer, fate has chosen you to leave a great legacy to be remembered forever. Seeing dogs. You will be the first in the US.”

“Me? How can I become such a pioneer? I am just an ordinary dog!”

“Let me teach you.”

Billy and Teddy stared in disbelief. How had young mischievous Marty turned in to this master teacher?

“You and Morris Frank are the pioneers at the heart of guide dog history. Blind persons all over the world will thank you, your legacy lasts forever.”

“I want to see the future! I want to see what we achieve!”

Marty looked at Billy and Teddy for help.

“Time to see Ambrose!” they cried in unison.

So it was back to their house. “What are you doing?” shrieked Ambrose. “Why is Buddy here? She has no place in the future, she is a dog of her own time!”

“She wants to see proof of her legacy.”

“Ah.” Ambrose nodded thoughtfully. “A clever dog. Let’s show her the statue of Morris Frank and Buddy in Morristown, New Jersey, USA. Billy and Teddy – you are going to the land of the free, the continent of big dreams and even bigger dreams come true.”

“Cool,” said Teddy. “When will this assignment be over?”

“Don’t be so impatient!” scolded Ambrose. “Perhaps I should show you your future statue too?”

“We have a statue!” breathed Billy.

So it was off to the US. Buddy was overjoyed. “It is me! In stone!” If dogs could cry, this is when the tears would fall. But Buddy only barked lightly, joy and disbelief forming a ribbon in her eyes and a knot in her heart that would never now be broken.

“I must get back! There is a mission to get on with!”

“And remember every day,” said Marty. “Remember these words. They will echo through canine eternity, and will sound – silently – to so many blind persons. And in your eyes, are my eyes. And in your legs, is my strength. Man’s best friend, a soldier by my side.”

“And in your eyes, are my eyes,” repeated Buddy.

“What about our statue?” whined Billy.

Back in their house, Ambrose was waiting. “Is Buddy returned to her time?”

“Yes and ready for her destiny. History will never forget her.”

“Excellent! So I suppose you want to see your statue now? I can’t tell what you do to deserve it. Spoilers! Suffice it to say, there are many adventures still ahead of you. I will programme the capsule to the year 2163, to a safe corner of the British Museum no less!”

“Museum? Us?”

“Yes! You are heroes! Please don’t let it go to your heads.”

Then they were there, overwhelmed and overjoyed in equal measure. The British Museum was alive with action, people like blood pulsing through its veins, a non-ending stream of noise and energy. Billy, Teddy and Marty hid behind a statue as they stared in astonishment. Then they cautiously approached the statue further down the hall, two cats and a dog staring down at them in brilliant bronze.

Children stopped and stared. “It’s them!” They pointed at the statue in excitement. “It’s them!”

The time travelling trio reached the statue, disbelief dimming their vision. Two small cats and a Labrador, larger than life. Could it really be them? As they could not read, they did not know what the plaque at the statue’s foot proclaimed. Perhaps it was better that way. Spoilers!

People continued to stare. “Let’s go,” muttered Billy nervously.

They raced back to their time travel pod. But when they arrived behind the large statue where it was hidden, there were two black cats and a chocolate Labrador there, staring at them in what looked like awe.

“We knew we would find you!” squealed one of the cats. “We knew there were another us!”

“Who … who are you?” muttered Teddy dumbly. A strange day had turned even stranger.

“We are time travellers, just like you! From the stories in the cosmic cat library, we suspected we weren’t the only ones. It is recorded that on this day a cat duo and dog are seen in the British Museum. We came to find out – is it us. Or you!”

“I am Leo,” said the other cat. “This is my brother, Bruno. We live in the year 2068 but have travelled all over time. There is a large Egyptian spotted cat, Ramses, who directs all our adventures. He is one of the cat elders.”

“We have a cat elder too, his name is Ambrose,” said Billy. “Hey, why don’t we do an adventure together!”

“Why not indeed!” laughed Leo. “Where and when do you live?”

They entered the time capsule and Billy showed them their home coordinates. “We will be sure to get you when we know our next adventure!”

Meanwhile Marty sniffed the new Labrador in excitement, as friendship ignited in his heart. “This is Smartie,” said Leo. “Labradors are great companions, whether at home or travelling through time, as I am sure you have found out!”

Then it was goodbyes in cat style, head butts and purrs. Soon, the intrepid trio were back home. But something had changed in their hearts, forever.

There was another time-travelling trio. Future adventures lit their eyes with inner fire. Where would these adventures end?

But for now, as the sun shone, it was time for another nap. After all, time travel was an exhausting business. They did not tell Ambrose about their encounter. Spoilers! One day he would find out.

As they slept in the sun, the future changed around them. But they did not notice. It was time to sleep.

Far away, in the US, a new statue to Morris Frank and Buddy was erected. In another dimension, in a far off heaven, Morris Frank looked down on Earth, as tears formed in his unearthly eyes. Buddy sat beside him, a friend to the end.

The words beneath the statue read:
“And in your eyes, are my eyes. And in your legs, is my strength. Man’s best friend, a soldier by my side.”  Words that would echo through eternity, and bring light to the dark of blindness. For dogs are man’s best friend forever.

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Cat Pen Memories

4 August 2013
Cat pens update: new cat Mia is the embodiment of fun, she loves to play and does not like being returned to her cabin afterwards! Hopefully she will soon have a large garden to run around in. Ali enjoying her stroll in the corridor; Trixie as adventurous as ever. Milo seems settled in, his second week here, eager for affection. New cat Bella is gracefulness and dignity in feline form. She is lovely, her foster home is on holiday and I reckon they may keep her when they return 🙂 Resident feral Aaron, who loved the Whiskas Oh So Meaty pouches I took with me, is enjoying the summer weather (and no doubt a mouse or two). Finally, I’m delighted that Alfie, who was new last week, has already been rehomed – pictured below…

alfie

Cat Pen Purrs

16 June 2013
Cat pens update: the beautiful Musui enjoyed his turn in the corridor – pictured; Stumpy desperate for affection; Ruby playing in the cat tunnels; Trixie and Ali the black and white wonders out for a stroll; meanwhile poor beautiful plump Sally now on a weight management diet. Aaron resident feral around for his breakfast, he has been there forever and never seems to age!

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Moggy Memories

13 May 2012
Cat pens update: Jamie is homed, replaced by Lexi, a very very elderly frail soul with a meiaw that is barely a whisper. Ginger boy Mannie has really come on in confidence, he is desperate for attention now, and sleek black Hector and Harriet are as adorable as ever. Norman is enjoying playing in the cat tunnels, while poor Fifi has an eye infection and returns to the vet on Tuesday. It’s good to be back.

Melting Memories

… of the cat pens (and my first moments with Tibby, who then became my Tessa).

10 March 2013

Cat pens: all well at the pens, all cats venturing out to the outer corridor for a run around – but very quickly returning to their cosy cabins! Felix playful as ever, Munchkin much more settled – he is a lovely boy, Sox desperate for a cuddle, Jynx enjoying being brushed and Tibby enjoying some affection. New boy Merlin is a handsome black gentleman of 12 years (pensioner age in human terms!) – see photo below.merlin3

Kitten Klaus

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?

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© Can Stock Photo / Anke

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.