Monday, 19 December 2011

Happy Christmas!

I love Christmas. Ours is always quiet, just me & TOH & the cats. I do all the decorating, of course. He wouldn't notice if I hadn't. Bah Humbug!
Last year was different. My lovely Candy, the only one of my cats I had had since she was a kitten, became suddenly very unwell with totally unexpected and very rapid kidney failure. To this day I am perplexed by it. The vet who examined her when she was losing her strength casually brushed it off, and gave her a steriod injection. How could her kidneys cope with that? Two horrible days later she was back, this time to mercifully end her suffering.
Still I put the Christmas decoration up, hoping to cheer myself up a bit even with the prospect of redundancies in the year to come. Then, on Boxing day, my old boy Max started fitting, which would inevitably end with a sudden collapse on any hard object near him. I stayed up all night with him. An emergency bank holiday vets visit resulted in tiny miracle pills that worked.....until New Years Eve. Max's previous owner worked out that he must be 24 or 25 years of age. I had him put to sleep in my arms on New Years Day. The Christmas decorations had, by that time, been angrily bundled up and all but thrown into the back of the shed.

So this year, when I rescued the tangled mess, memories flooded back. The anxiety of re-applying for our very reduced new posts in the library service resulted in keeping a full-time job. Relief!
The cats are here. No new ones turned up this year. They seem to arrive in two-yearly intervals. So a Christmas message to all the strays and ferals in the surrounding fields and farms, if one of you would like to migrate this way a warm home awaits, whatever your age or sex.
Just one problem this year was Rolly's diagnosis of thyroid deficiency. He's now on two pills a day, but his levels have dropped to an ideal reading. (10.4 out of a range from 10 to 600, 10 being perfect). He had to have a major dental treatment, costing £250, but now I now his mouth is free from pain when he has his pills pushed down the hatch! I get prescriptions for the expensive pills written by my vet & buy them online for a third of the price. Still expensive, though! But at the end of the day, he has put all his weight back on and is a happy chappy again. He stared in wonder as I put the tree up, and I was reminded that he did exactly the same thing last year, but I was too distracted to give him any attention.
I now have a cat that dabs the baubles.....Kitty. (Very gently, though) and a cat that completely ignores the whole event, too busy planning night time hunting ....Whiskers.
And Rolly.......tree gazing.

Christmas is resumed!
Hope you have a good one!


Sunday, 4 December 2011


One day a little black cat turned up in my garden. She was very small, but had a round tummy. Whiskers immediately spotted her through the window and raced outside, scaring her into the cover of the woods. I followed Whiskers, thinking he would launch into a territorial attack, which he would have done had the little cat been another boy. As it happened, Whiskers has quite bemused by the little creature, and started playing with her. I watched, wondering where she had come from.
When he got bored, Whiskers walked over to me, turned and looked at her with disinterest. Then he went inside for food. The little black cat mieowed pitifully, over and over again. She wanted Whiskers to come back. It was getting dark, and she showed no inclination to return from where she had come from.
Just before night time fell, I picked her up and brought her into the house for a feed. She showed no fear of me or being inside. Unlike my two boys, she was not acting like a feral. She ate and slept in a specially made up bed.
Kitty in her bed on the first night

Next morning she was gone. Out the cat flap in the night. I went to work and spent the day wondering about her. When I returned home that day, a neighbour was peering under a large hedge that borders the road.
"What are you looking at?" I asked.
"There's been a black cat here for 12 days now, and it won't stop crying," he replied. "We've tried to get it to come out, but it just hides." I knelt down, and could just make out two, shiny, black eyes peering back at me several feet under the wide hedge.
"Kitty" I said. She came up to me straight away, and I picked her up. She snuggled deep into my arms.
"Is she yours?" asked the neighbour.
"No, I've got four cats," I replied.
"Looks like you've got five now," he said, stroking her head. "She must have been dumped, it's happened before but last time the cat died."
Our small cluster of homes are in the middle of no-where. One straight road runs by them. If any animal was dumped, unseen on this unlit road, it would probably make it's way to our houses. There's nothing else for miles.
And so Kitty became cat number five. I have never had a cat that was accepted by the others so easily, probably because she was female and so young. The older cats watched her playing and occasionally even joined in a little. She bonded them together.

Cleaning Whisker's ears....the only cat that dares!

 Her first day exploring carpets and chairs!

She was so friendly, I had to contact all the cats homes in case she had been reported missing. She wasn't. Her friendliness and trusting nature is incredible after whet she must have gone through. A visit to the vets found she was pregnant, but too young to give birth, so the kittens had to be removed. The vet smiled as he examined her, for she just loves having her tummy tickled and flops over to display it on every occasion.
 Kitty, when she was still pregnant while I waited to see if anyone had lost her.

She follows me round the house, and sleeps in the shed when I'm working there. I have never heard her hiss or felt her scratch. She has the most gentle nature of any cat I have known.
Strangely, since that first night when I gave her food and a bed, she has never used the cat flap. We have to prop it open during the day, and as soon as we close it late at night, that's it, as far as she is concerned the door is shut.

 Waiting for a tummy-tickle

She remains very small. I don't know if the unborn kittens at such an early age stunted her growth at all. She loved food, and eats until her belly bulges, then flops over for a tickle.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Rolly and Puss

Once upon a time I was the proud owner of a beautiful Welsh Cob. Becky was bay, with four white feet and a wide blaze. She had one blue eye, and one brown eye. These were the days before digital cameras, and to get her image on here I would have to scan an old photo. I have no scanner, but one day I will do just that, probably at the library.
Anyway.....during the fifteen years I shared with Becky (a sharing of time and energy like no other domestic animal demands), I grazed her in many rented fields, starting in Leicestershire and ending in a small and sheltered patch just up the road from my house on the Isle of Wight.

Her last home on the neighbouring farm was shared with other ponies, and a family of feral cats. Being a responsible owner, the farmer had called in Cats Protection and got all the ferals neutered. He fed them a bowl of biscuits daily, following advice by Cats Protection, so they wouldn't stray if the rodent population fell. However, one of the cats could not be caught, and being a tom he wandered off to find a mate. He was a grey and white cat.
Each day I spent time in the field with Becky, removing droppings, checking her over, grooming her and such. A grey and white cat always sat at a distance and watched. Although I got closer to him than the other ferals, he hesitated when I approached, like he wanted something but didn't have the nerve. He always retreated in a hedge until I had turned my back again.
The farmer didn't know if he was the tom, or the second grey and white. They both looked exactly the same.

One day a grey and white cat appeared in my garden, which is about half a mile down the road from the farm. I knew it was one of the two from up the road, and after several days it became obvious that he was the tom. He was nervous and flea-ridden, and his pungent scent markings frightened my cats. He came and went, always staring accusingly and never seeking attention. I left food out for him, half thinking I should just let him live his life as he was, a wild feral tom. Sometimes he caught my gaze, and he looked so sad that I was determined to catch him. Weeks passed into months. He went away. My friend three miles further up the lane saw him. He turned up again, just as wild.
It looked like a hopeless case, then one evening I walked round the house with a bowl of cat food, and he ran up to me, rubbing round my legs!

"Oh my God! Look!" I said to MOH. "Come and look at Puss!" (Ridiculous name, I was hoping it would be a temp until I had him)

Amazing! What a transformation! All my efforts rewarded! I was so happy!

....Spoke too soon. The next day he came across for more food. Watching the whole thing, staring enviously and bitterly from the brambles was Puss, the tom. The cat rubbing round my feet was his brother, the neutered boy from up the road.

Well, the story goes on over sereval months.Both cats stayed in my garden, which is an orchard, very large and overgrown. They fought viciously. The neutered one I named Rolly, as he quickly became rather fat!
I had to catch Puss, as he was making the others life a misery. Eventually I set up a trap, and got him. He was like a caged tiger, spitting and clawing, but it was for his own good, I convinced myself.
Cats Protection neutered him but would not release him back in my garden as he was found to have feline HIV. They said he was truly wild, but could not be allowed to roam and spread the disease.
Puss is the one cat that I failed. I really wanted to give him a home, but as Rolly slowly established his place in my home with my two others, it was not possible. I visited him in the shelter once, but it was heart-breaking. He looked so sad. His coat was still dirty, they had not been able to touch him. At least he was warm and well fed. His photo was in the Cats Protection newspaper advert a few times,above the silly, temporary name I gave him. Then I didn't see it. He had been re-homed as the only cat in a stable somewhere remote. I hope he settled in.

As for Rolly, he has been with me for eight years now.I'm convinced he is the cat that used to sit and watch me in the field up the road. He can't climb trees (or anything else for that matter). He likes boxes and rolling on his back. He doesn't like Whiskers much, but he quite likes Kitty. He's always been a fussy eater until recently, when he lost weight and could not stop eating.
A blood test revealed a thyroid problem, and he now has two tablets a day until he can have his thyroid removed.

"Thats going to cost hundreds....just for a stray cat!" said my landlady.

She's never owned a cat.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


I am going to write a bit about each cat, starting with Whiskers. He appeared in my garden about four years ago. I noticed straight away his dazzling white whiskers and smart bib, with matching paws. His coat was glossy, and he wasn't thin. I thought there might be a chance he belonged to someone, but at the back of my mind I doubted this, simply because I have so few neighbours and am surrounded by so many farms. If a cat turns up, it's usually a feral farm cat.
Whiskers wasn't tame at all, but he kept appearing every night, sitting on an old log and staring at the house. I had three other cats at the time, Rolly, Max and Candy. Max and Candy were very old, but Rolly went on guard duty and prowled around trying to look threatening.
There were quite a few aggressive spats, but poor Rolly was no match for the young tom. He was determined to get his paw through the door.
I began feeding him deep in the woods, the same place every night. He came to the bowl, ate, then left always in the same direction. One day I managed to touch his head as he was eating. He shrank from my touch, but didn't run away.
By this time a few months had passed, and winter was on the way. I knew I would not get him accepted in the house anytime soon, so I made him a cosy blanket bed in the shed, with a window left open for access. He took to it straight away. By this time I could stroke him, but he easily became too excited and wanted to play roughly.
I spent a good hour each dark evening with him in his shed-home while the others dozed by the fire indoors. I felt guilty to leave him alone, in the dark.
Finally, I was able to get him in a carrier and take him to the vets to be done. I hoped his aggressive streak would lessen, and it has to a certain extent. He still has a wild side to him, though.
I had to let him go back out into the garden after his op. I gambled that he wouldn't run off, and he didn't. A few weeks later he was in the house, sleeping in a separate room from the others.

Now,some four years later, he prefers to stay out most nights but he's always back in the morning. If he catches a mouse, there's no playing. It's caught and eaten in seconds. Things still excite him and his reaction is usually to attack, like when another cat runs past him.
But he also has moments of complete affection. He's my wild boy, more than capable of surviving without humans, but choosing to stay nevertheless.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Three Cats

Sometimes I think I should have named this blog something else, as so little is about the cats these days! Well, here's some pics taken in the sunny garden of all three.

First up is Whiskers. Just one shot before he had to dash off on important business, as usual. He's busy busy busy all day long, and can be a bit of a handful when he spots Kitty having a gentle, girly-cat game. He bounds up and scares her, so she has learnt to be still when he's dashing around.

Next is Rolly, cooling himself beneath the rose bush. He also has problems with Whiskers, but he can give as good as he gets, albeit with more sneaky, ambush-style tactics.

Then there is my lovely, gentle little girl Kitty. She is so small and dainty. She absolutely loves her tummy tickled, and will flop over on her back as soon as she spots anyone coming her way. She tries to play with the boys, jumping out at them now and again, but they are too busy sparring up to each other and she tends to get ignored. When I am at home she follows me round, spending many hours with me in my shed. She was there today, sleeping while I finished a bird pyrograph for a display I'm attending later in the week.

Finally, three lovely lilies bloomed and I had to take a photo. I don't know what they're called, and come to think about it I don't know how they got to be in my garden. I can't remember planting them.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Little Birds

Despite living with three ex-feral cats, my garden is alive with baby birds! The usual high numbers of baby blackbirds are being fed the old cat food I throw out every morning. I have never seen so many young robins. Baby sparrows flutter in, shaking their wings amongst a mad chorus of cheeps, but the best entertainment has come from a family of five baby blue tits. They are being fed by one adult, and line up on a branch above my fat ball holder while the parent darts from one greedy mouth to another trying to satisfy their hunger. She (or he) visits with the brood several times a day. After just a few days the babies could feed themselves, but still follow the adult bird around.

As we walked along the old railway track by the side of the estuary, this mother duck and her babies swam towards us as we watched from the bridge. Even more ducklings appeared from the reeds and followed. They swam under the bridge and out the other side, where I managed to take some close up shots before mother duck cautiously guided them to cover beneath the bridge until we had gone.

Back to the garden.

At last, rain fell after none at all since Easter. Rolly immediately went out to get his paws suitably muddy, then jumped up on the table to show them off.

The lavender is alive with bumble bees. It definately seems to be the most popular bee flower in my garden at the moment.

Friday, 13 May 2011

My Little House

My house is small. Very small. It was built as a holiday home in the 1950's, and as such was built for summer living only. Without our wood burning stove, the winters would be unbearably cold and damp. With the stove, however, we kept warm and cosy through all that winter challenged us with.
I have lived here for nearly twenty years. I am used to the lack of space.....most of the time! Another cupboard in the bedroom would be nice, but impossible.
The best thing about living here is the garden. To one side of the house is an ancient and abandoned apple orchard. Beyond this....woods....fields....cliffs and the sea.
A couple of years after I moved here, I created a small strip of garden from a mass of cow parsley and nettles. Years later, my plants have grown but the weeds still infiltrate and try to claim it back. This year I have had an abundance of Campion, but it's such a lovely flower, hardly a weed, so I have let it take a bit of a hold.

Further storage solutions in the form of sheds. There are three. This one is general storage, and D and myself have our own sheds each for our art and craft hobbies.

Tucked away in a corner is a small water feature. Water runs down the pots and into a water barrel. A little stone frog I found in a charity shop patiently watches the waterfall.

Wonder if he's a prince in disguise?

Monday, 9 May 2011

Flowers from Seeds

Last year I planted some aquilegia seeds. They are one of my favourite flowers, and I have had to wait a whole year to see them flower. This is one of the first.

I love them! What a shame they don't last very long. Meanwhile the laburnum is flowering, like a yellow waterfall draped over the roof of the shed. Perfect cover for Whiskers to spy on me.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Crazy Day!

Not really, apart from having Tuesday as my day due to bank holiday. Sitting on the garden bench in the sun, contemplating how to spend my day. The next door neighbour leaves at about 10.30. He doesn't usually wake up before midday, let alone leave the house. He doesn't see me, and I absently watch him walk down the path to his car, get in, sit for a bit, get out and walk back up the path. He's on his phone. If anyone asks what he does, his answer is some sort of band promoter, whatever that is. I think it means he sits in the pub all evening listening to groups. As he got back to his door I heard him say "Hey, man, I'm running late....having a crazy morning!" It made me giggle. So he got up early, washed his hair and left the house before it was dry. Crazy! He got up in the morning and not the afternoon. Crazy!
We decided to do our Sunday walk on a Tuesday. Crazy, I know! Good move, though! Not the usual hoards of walkers and cyclists, and the weather was perfect.
Watched the two resident swans doing a crazy mating ritual. I wasn't going to take my camera, as it's been months since we've seen any squirrels.
On the way back we passed the robin. We always see him in the same place and he loves posing for photos. Then a lovely bird song drew my attention. It was like no other I had heard before!
We found the bird, a male black cap. As I tried to take his picture my attention was distracted by a squirrel climbing up a nearby tree, so off I went to photo it and pleased with the result.
All in all we saw much more than we do when we walk down here on a Sunday.
When we got home, Rolly was getting attacked by a crazy Red Admiral butterfly! It would have made a great photo, but the crazy insect's dive bombs were just too fast.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

More spring things......

...that should have uploaded on the previous post but there was some technical hitch and a long wait......

To grow a Kitty, just push the bottoms in compost, water sparingly and put in direct sunlight,

The daffs are on the grave of my lovely tabby cat, Biscuit, who died from a seizure several years ago. Each year I buy some tiny daffodils for indoor pots, and when they have finished I go out into the woods and dig them into the soil over Biscuits grave.

Spring Things

Yesterday was my day off. It was cold, wet and windy. Early this morning I opened the curtains, and was welcomed by the early morning sun casting long shadows across the fields and along the side of the house. How I wish I could have stayed at home, and pottered about in the garden with the cats!
Instead I took a few photos of the sunlit pansies. They always remind me of smiley faces! As is to say "We will still be here when you get back!"
Now hurry up and get to work!