There are a few things that I shall have to explain if Friday’s happy beginning is to make any sort of sense. First of all, I am not as daft as the beginning of the beginning makes me sound. I do, however, get up at about 5-00 so I can get a couple of hours quiet to work and be me before the family get up and organised chaos breaks out. (Well, it is organised on a good day and the less said about the less good ones the better.)
So I come downstairs and open the windows and back door to give the house a good airing because I’m one of the people who has no resistance to Covid so I need to be extra careful, and our cats come in after going out when my husband comes to bed a little before midnight. They have a snack, have a bit of a cuddle and then either find a chair to curl up on or go and do important cat things, which seem to involve visiting a surprising number of very nice people. In fact, they have far more of a social life than I do!
First comes Catling, Queen of the Night the matriarch. Small and sleek and black and beautiful. She came to us after living wild after her owner died and when she came she was lame and the vet thought that she’d always be that way. Fine, I said, she’ll fit in fine with my slightly wonky family! My daughter, who prefers animals to humans, spent a happy winter keeping her quiet as she watched cat video channels on You Tube (and who knew that was a thing?) And now, apart from a bouncing run that’s a little like a rabbit’s, she’s as good as new.
She’d been neutered. They assured us she’d been neutered. The vet kept telling me that even when I was sure she’d come into heat, so maybe it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise when we came back from a trip to Wales that first January and the following day she gave birth to 3 beautiful kittens. Black and white Willow, who fell out of the basket and into my hand before he was an hour old and has been the Clown Prince ever since, Ninja, the stealth black kitten, and Lucky. Ninja and Lucky went to the best homes imaginable and brought happy endings with them. Willow stayed with us and our furry family was complete.
So, Willow comes in second, because he knows his place. He should do, because his mother reminds him of it regularly, and she has a good hiss and a mean right paw. He’s a big boy, (part Maine Coon) but Catling is very dainty so feeding her up is a passion of mine. (My family would say I feed anyone who stands still long enough. And they’d be right!) I buy high protein cat food by the sack and fill one of those gravity feed dispensers twice a week. Only suddenly, I wasn’t. I was filling it three times a week, and Catling was starting to come in twice.
I was just starting to wonder if we had a guest when Sarah, one of the dog walkers we know from our daily walks, said how good it was of me to adopt that little stray black cat. Oh, I said, trying not to sound too surprised, I think the cats decided on it, but I’d like to do it properly. Because, you see, Sarah is one of the wonderful people who knows everyone and how to get things done. She had a friend with a chip scanner so we borrowed it and the next morning I sat oh so quietly in the kitchen and waited. In came Catling. In came Willow. Out went Catling and Willow, and then, while they stood guard outside the back door, in came a little black cat, dainty and small and beautiful, with greeny gold eyes and no white hairs on her chest. She ate, and then to my intense joy, she came to where I was sitting, jumped onto my lap, and head butted my hand with that ‘mrrp’ sound that means ‘come on then, human, know your place, stop whatever you're doing and fuss me for as long as I want to be fussed and not a second more.’
“Aren’t you gorgeous,” I said, and all the stuff you do say to animals (or at least I do anyway) while I scanned her chip and wrote down the details. And then Sarah and I went visiting and my blood started to boil. Because Demon, which is an awful name for a cat, had been left behind when her owners had moved. They moved in March. By then it was July. She’d been adopted from a local animal sanctuary, which Sarah volunteers for and does the rehoming inspections after being dumped as a kitten, and it was very clear that she had come home so we agreed to foster her while they tried to contact the original owners, and if they couldn't, then she'd become ours.
One thing was for sure, she wasn’t staying ‘Demon’ and I love a series of books by Kim M Watts and belong to the Toot Hansell Auxiliary WI Facebook group so onto there I went to ask for advice and naming. And the ladies came up trumps, and now the wait is over. As we'd always expected, her owners weren't contactable so as of Friday LucyFurr Morningstar Brown has officially become part of the family. For now, she comes in in the early morning and sleeps in the garden during the day, all curled up with Catling, whom she worships, and who is so much more confident these days. Sometimes, she sleeps two houses down on a sunny conservatory roof. Sometimes, which breaks my heart, she goes and waits where her previous… well, I won’t say what I think of them, used to park, at the time she expects them to come home. Catling waits with her, and I am gradually, gradually, persuading her to come home and I hope someday she'll realise that it's third time lucky.
She’s been checked over by a lovely vet who lives in our road, because all of us who came to know her story agreed that she’s had enough of being messed around. She DEFINITELY has been neutered and she’s put on weight beautifully. I don’t know how much of an indoor cat she’ll become, but our next door neighbour has a tumble drier in her old garage so she leaves the window ajar for ventilations and there’s a box lined with towels on top because she had a mouse infestation until she encouraged our cats to visit regularly. (After living wild, Catling is an incredible mouser and she taught Willow too) So she’s safe, warm, welcomed, well fed, and home.
And there you are. One happy beginning. And here is Lucy, which is her everyday name. Isn’t she gorgeous? She’s been drinking from the little fountain, just as Catling always has, so instead of an indoor water bowl I empty and refill the fountain every day. The birds and insects like it too. Just obviously not at the same time!