February 3, 2016

Living and learning with cats



Just before Christmas and out of the blue, I received a text from a friend. She was thinking of getting a kitten for her son and was inviting me to go with her to visit a potential “new furry friend”. Sadly I couldn’t make the very first meeting but we were able to be introduced very soon after Christmas.  What a little bundle of joy he was, and still is, mainly cream all over with little sandy amber tips to his ears and the end of his tail. His name is Stitch. But… Hamlet, the resident 2 year old cat was not too impressed with the new arrival. Initially they were kept in separate rooms unless “under supervision” and gradually Hamlet began to “tolerate” the little one. Four or five weeks later and not only is Hamlet happy for Stitch to share his special chair, they will curl up happily together and Hamlet now grooms his “adopted younger brother”!

It goes to show just how, with loving care, common sense and quite a lot of patience, how adaptable animals can be to changing situations.

At the end of 2014, Meg my old moggy of 21 years of age “left this life” to join the great company of feline friends in cat heaven. It was an extremely sad time. I had lost a very real friend. The house felt empty whenever I came home and there was a huge Meg-shaped hole in my life.

I expected a few months to pass before I might even consider any other furry friend. But… within about a month I heard of someone looking for a new home for his cat. “Puss, the cat with no name” arrived on my doorstep. She had already had two previous owners and always been “an indoor cat”. I was eager for her to feel secure, to be safe and free at the same time. We needed to learn to live together and that had to be at her pace, introducing any changes very slowly. After a few weeks, I started to just leave the back door open whenever going into the garden. “Smokie” would look longingly at the big wide world outside but barely put her nose out. Slowly she might venture down the steps to check out what I was up to but only before dashing swiftly back inside. Eventually she “discovered” the garden bench and immediately commandeered it as her “hiding place”. A brilliant spot under which to crouch and observe: to watch the leaves swishing, insects buzzing and birds flying over head; and to monitor the comings & goings of our local squirrel, not to mention other cats! These days, the shed roof has become her watch tower as she “keeps an eye on” all the surrounding gardens and the neighbourhood foxes too.

I am so proud of Smokie, her curiosity and mindfulness have not only seriously expanded her horizons but they also teach me a thing or two about living and learning and continually changing.


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