#30daywritingchallenge: Day 7: My Life With Cats

Cats

I’ve always grown up with cats. I can’t imagine having a household without a cat. They say a house without a cat isn’t a home and I honestly say that is true.

Nicholas and Sam

Funny how my name is Sam (well I was born Samantha but I hate it) Mum and Dad bought two black and white cats and I remember them being both at Darlington and later when we lived near Nottingham. I’ve been looking in my photo drawer at home and can’t find any photos of them.

I don’t think really remember much about Nicholas and Sam. Sam must have had another home up the road because he was always going off and coming back for days on end. Then one day when I was about 8, we didn’t see him any more. I can’t remember what happened to him. I was a bit wary of the cats when I was little. Maybe I’d been scratched by one of them but they always ran off when I came near them. I think I or my brother might have annoyed them when we were toddlers. Nicholas was about 13 when he died and had to be put down. It might have been due to cancer. I was only about 10 at the time. I’m not sure why our cat was called Nicholas, but one of my friends thought he was called Knickers at first! One of my memories of Nicholas was of him lying under the radiator in the hallway. It was dark and I’d got out of bed because I couldn’t sleep. All I could see was Nicholas’ eyes gleaming up at me in the dark! I remember been really frightened and screaming.

Bill and Ben

Bill and Ben were ginger or marmalade coloured cats and came to us as kittens from the local RSPCA shelter in Radcliffe on Trent. When we first got them Mum and Dad were asking me and my brother what we should call the kittens and that they should have names which went together. So my brother said “What about Tit and Tat?” My mum then said there was no way she was standing at the back door shouting “Tit, Tit!” to get the cats to come in for their dinner. The kittens’ antics were so funny. Ben used to have a habit of going into my brother’s bedroom and pinching things out of the cupboard. He used to carry socks in his mouth. Maybe they were soft, like his mother’s fur. Ben was very affectionate and loved sitting on people’s laps. Bill was more aloof but he loved my brother and followed him around everywhere. We were all devastated when Ben just disappeared when he was 18 months old. We never found him. Six months later we lost Bill when he was run over on the village bypass.

Thomas

Two days after Bill was run over I saw the most gorgeous black kitten. My secondary school had a Rural Science department with a potting shed and animals, such as goats and hens. We had our Science lesson and were outside in the school grounds. I fell in love with the black kitten and asked the teacher whos it was. I can’t remember the teacher’s name but he said that he belonged to the potting shed cat. She was a tabby and the other kittens had been sold. They were going to keep the black one. I don’t know how it happened but a day or so later we got him. Maybe the teacher had asked my mum to come and see him and before I knew it we had Thomas. My Dad nicknamed him Thomas O’Malley after the Aristocats character. Thomas was a crazy mouser and killed a lot of wildlife. Loads of times I’d come home and find a dead mouse or a load of feathers in the hallway. The worst time was when Thomas brought a mouse into my bedroom and tossed it about. Eventually the poor mouse ended up inside one of my slippers! That was them in the bin then. Thomas wasn’t well liked by our neighbours who had fish ponds, though. He stole goldfish from people’s ponds and even helped himself to a koi carp. Thomas lived until the ripe old age of 18 and ended up living with my Dad and step mum.

Max and Lucy

When I lived on my own I wanted to get a cat. Thomas was at my Dad’s house and I missed having a cat around. Even if they did bring in dead rodents! I was learning to drive and my driving instructor asked me if I knew of anyone who wanted kittens. His cat had just had three kittens, two tabbies and a ginger one. I was interested in the two tabbies as I’d never had tabbies before. He told me the tabbies were both girls and when they were ready to leave their mother he and his girlfriend brought them over to my house. I’d thought about the names Polly and Lucy for the cats. When the kittens arrived, I was told that one of them was a boy. I chose the name Max. I don’t know why, but it was a short name and popular for cats. Max hissed at me when I tried to stroke him but before long they became friendly and happy with me. I used to worry about them with them being tiny as they used to hide behind cupboards. They were very affectionate with one another one minute and then the next they would be fighting. I think Lucy was very much the boss cat. About 6 months after I got the cats I met my husband. I wondered how they would react to a man in the house but they were fine. Although the first time Mr SmartCookieSam came to my house for dinner, Max greeted him with a dead mouse. Sadly we lost Lucy as she got run over but Max stayed with us until he was 12. He was a very affectionate cat and Mr SmartCookieSam and my two children loved him as much as I did. Apart from the time when we moved into our new house and Max jumped up on the coffee table and broke a new lamp! Max ended up having to be put to sleep because he had heart problems. I was utterly devastated and couldn’t stop crying. He was my first baby. It was also our children’s first experience of a pet dying and they were as heartbroken as I was. To remember Max, Mr SmartCookieSam went to the garden centre and bought an apple tree. We still call it Max’s tree and it does give us a few apples. Even though now we have a greedy Labrador who knows how to shake the tree so the apples fall off and he can eat them!

Rocco and Lenny

I know it sounds cruel but I thought the only way cope with losing Max was to have another cat to love and look after. We have a Blue Cross Centre a few miles away from where we live and I wondered if they had any cats that needed rehoming. I drove up to the centre after work and had a look around. In one cage there was a beautiful mother cat with two kittens. One was a tabby and the other was a ginger cat.  They were snuggled up against their mother and my heart melted.  The staff member I spoke to said that the mother had been found in a hedge.  She had been taken back to a farmhouse where they realised she was pregnant and gave birth to the kittens the day after.  The people who found the mother couldn’t keep her or the kittens.  I had to wait until they had had tests and their injections.  Not only that but they both became ill and had a virus so had a visit from the vet.  By the time they were about 10 weeks old they could come home with us.  Rocco and Lenny already had their names when we adopted them. I never asked why they were called that, though one of my work colleagues at the time thought Lenny was a funny name for a cat!

As Lenny grew older his appearance changed and we realised Lenny and Rocco were quite different.  Rocco looked like a typical domestic short hair cat but Lenny has  very pointy features and coarse fur with wrinkles underneath.  We also noticed he had bald patches in places.  I was furious when the vet implied he had a skin condition when I took him for his injections and she didn’t even think that it was to do with his breed. He is crossed with a Sphynx or some type of Abyssinian cat.  He also shows Siamese like cat behaviour in that he miaows a lot and is very affectionate. Rocco didn’t miaow that much and when he did , it was a whingey one. Mr SmartCookieSam thinks Lenny is like Scrat from Ice Age with his features. Rocco was the more dominant of the two cats and he was always beating Lenny up, yet he would never kill any birds or mice.  Lenny is the mouse murderer of our village but Rocco was far too lazy.  Though Rocco used his nine lives up and ended up being at the vets being xrayed for a dislocated leg after he jumped off a wall.  Sadly, he got run over outside our house in December 2011 which was very traumatic for us. To this day we still have Lenny.  He is nearly 11 now and is still very affectionate.  I just wish he didn’t have such sharp claws.

So there you have it, my life in cats.  I can’t imagine ever not having a cat.  Although Lenny has now been joined by our black labrador instead.  Poor Lenny didn’t know what had hit him when we introduced a puppy to him.  Fortunately they get on reasonably well, although our dog knows not to wind Lenny up or else he’ll get the claws out and get hissed at!

Sam xx

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