Another Caturday Post


This little furball was my first cat. I had lived with others, but he was the first one that was truly my own. Ferocious, huh?

He was called Moby and he was challenged: he had a twitchy leg from birth, which was resolved but might have meant he would possibly be difficult to home or may not have even been given the chance if I hadn‘t taken him. He became allergic to fleas, or flea poo, but also allergic to the available flea prevention treatments (yep, really), which meant he shed his fur in patches, so his beauty was somewhat impaired. But he was adorable, whatever.

He liked to play with water: a big bowl filled with soapy suds (also liked the bubbles) and a bobbing plastic bottle top or two would keep him amused for ages as a kitten. I have to confess, having realised this, I bought him a set of rubber ducks, which he happily played with….

He was intended to be an indoor cat. I had no experience of this, but had been told it was perfectly reasonable. Within a short time it became clear that, for Moby, it was not acceptable at all, and he needed outdoor access. Given the layout of my home, it didn’t seem it would be possible to do this safely.

Some background here, which you need for later. I lived in the top half of a Victorian house which had been divided in two. For those who don’t know UK architecture, this means large-ish rooms (by UK standards, probably nobody else’s!) and high ceilings (again, probably same caveat!), plus two extra floor levels, making the building overall much taller than a modern house. I had no way to let him out other than onto the street, which I didn’t want to do, and no obvious place for a cat flap.

I started taking him out the front and around the side of the house, through the garden of the downstairs flat and into mine whenever I could. It was OK, but less than ideal. Then one day whilst gardening with him watching, my sister suggested I go inside and call him from the house, which I did. Moby looked up, did the planning and the maths (you can see your cat doing this, right?) and worked out his route from the back garden to the kitchen window. Brilliant! Except I couldn’t leave the window open for him all day, could I? So my wonderful, wonderful dad with his equally wonderful trusty assistant (mum) arrived one weekend with a couple of bits of wood and a bag of tools. When they left I had a rebuilt kitchen window with a one-of-a-kind ‘floating’ cat flap entry. Floating because dad also had to build a landing pad and attach it to the outside wall at the corner to access the cat flap.

(cue Mission Impossible music….)

So, the route was – jump onto wall dividing my garden from my neighbour next door. Follow wall until you come to neighbour’s conservatory. Hop onto this and climb to the top and back. Jump onto neighbour’s roof at the two-storey level and climb to the top and back. Now jump over where the roofs meet (it has upright tiles with a patterned top so is irregular and can‘t just be climbed over) and scramble down a few feet, across a few feet, and hop onto a lower narrow window ledge. Now execute a precise jump onto a 15 x 15” platform which looks like it is floating in mid-air, making sure you don‘t overshoot or you are flying across the garden path, about 40 feet in the air and no hope of a safe landing. Make a sharp left turn and through the cat flap. You are now on the kitchen worktop and know that this is only allowed for entry and exit purposes. No wandering off track or meandering about. Head in a straight line and jump down immediately please. It was pretty impressive, and it worked well and made him a happy cat.

Unfortunately though Moby loved to hunt. So now imagine him scaling the above obstacles to entry with a mouse in his mouth. Umpteen times. The mice were always unharmed, so our mouse-catching skills got pretty good too. Maybe he just thought we needed the training….

One day I nearly lost my sense of humour over his predatory habits. Getting up to go to work I walked into the living room and switched the TV on to check the news. I seemed to have gained an ornament overnight. Eyeing me from the top of the TV was an undamaged very large, very grumpy blackbird. Probably about half the size of Moby. How on earth had he managed that route with that bird in tow?

Have you every tried to catch a blackbird? Or shepherd it off the premises via the window? Oh, and guess what, high ceilings are really, really useful for birds trying to evade ‘capture’…

Have you ever had to tell your boss that the reason you are late for work is that you were trying to catch a blackbird in your living room? It’s a difficult sell, I can tell you!



I have cast on! And then some….

Oh look, the ultimate accessory. A cat to match my scarf…

I posted a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to try knitting again. My mum and sister immediately leapt into action. Well, they leapt into their local haberdashery shop and bought me some yarn and a couple of project books. My sister has already placed an order for some beautiful, delicate long slipper sock thingies. Might take a while to get to that level!!

The yarn they chose is a super-chunky one – not right for the aforementioned socky things, so I am off the hook there for a now. After a bit of deliberation I decided to make something really simple and straightforward. I am pretty ring-rusty and didn’t want to fail dismally and lose interest or enthusiasm.

I found a (free) pattern at LoveKnitting for a rib scarf that was suitable for super-chunky yarn. I had already armed myself with a cheap set of needles from Amazon: I know there are much better quality ones available but I saw no point in spending lots of money given that I might only make one or two things. And actually I like these slippy metal needles – they are comfortingly familiar.

The scarf is going well. I have only spent a few hours and it is already nearly 3 feet long. The stitch is simple, so it doesn’t require too much brain power, and I think it suits the variegated yarn pretty well.

Looks like I have rediscovered another hobby!




My mum’s cat

This is Poppy. She is beautiful and she has a lovely disposition. Like her owner, really! She is 14 years old. She is tiny in stature and weighs almost nothing. She seems a little frail. She has always had a heart murmur and a ‘dodgy hip’. Because of this, sometimes, when she sits down, especially to wash, she looks like an exhausted contortionist. Everything is in the wrong place, as if she is filled with beans instead of bones. Poppy likes to head-butt, and will stand on her hind legs and grab your hand if she requires attention. She is social and can chat for England. There are no awkward pawses (sorry, I just had to!) when Poppy is in the room.

This week Poppy and my mum had a major life change and have relocated from the house mum has lived in for 50 years to the south coast to live with my sister and her partner.

Apart from all of the usual concerns about such a venture and personal emotions to deal with, my mum was terribly worried about Poppy. The long journey was the first issue, but longer term she stressed about how Poppy would adapt to a new home, having also lived in the same house since we took her and her brother as rescue kittens. Then there was the fact that my sister and her partner already have two felines, both considerably younger, and Poppy has been an ‘only cat’ for a few years now. How would they get along? Would there be hissing and spitting (cats, not family feuding), bodily injury (still cats), would they hide (could be cats or humans), run away (again, cats or humans) or would it (fingers crossed real tight) in time, just work out? Somehow?

Monday was moving day. Imagine all the usual stresses and practicalities of a move to deal with rather than me having to type them; we all know what it is like. And anyway, this is about Poppy! She spent the first night in my mum’s new bedroom and the following morning she stepped out and explored a bit. She ate, drank, christened the litter tray (in every manner) and then explored some more, without cajoling or an escort. Poppy just got on with it. She has adapted, in astonishing time. Today she and Sossage (another rescue cat) have made friends enough to lie on a rug in the sun together. The princess in the high tower (Sandi, cat number 3) is yet to be won over but it’s early days.

Aren’t animals amazing? They give us so much. I know we look after them, pay the vet bills and open the tuna tin, but they reward us much more. By adapting so well, and being so completely just plain super, my mum’s cat has lifted a worry and helped to make a major transition so very much easier. I would like to give Poppy a round of applaws!!!

P.S. I will also be reading this to Riley, my cat, who spent the best part of a week in the wardrobe when we had to stay at my mum’s for a while last year. He has much to learn!


A not-quite photobombing cat…

I was trying to take a picture of a clean and simple card I had made, but the cat had other ideas. As I sat there with camera in hand he positioned himself on the photo plinth (OK, box in the window) and behaved like a total diva: twisting, rolling, upside down and downside up, barely still for a moment, pawing at the lens, watching a non-existent bird and, finally, flumping out, but with eyes directly at camera. What a pro!

So, ladies and gents, here is Riley making a bid for fame:

All quickly snapped, he was moving so fast! The card will have to wait for its 15 minutes. The paws have claws!

Cat + BBC = birdbrain

This morning, as usual before work the TV is switched on for BBC Breakfast news. I’d like to say it is so I can keep abreast of current affairs, sharpen my intellect and develop informed opinions on all the topics of the day. And of course (!) it is but it is also in case there are any road works, failed traffic lights (or phantom bus stops) that will affect my journey.  So, telly on, jump under the shower and….what the ‘bleep’ is that noise? TV volume is up to the maximum and now people three houses along can save electricity by turning off their TV and listen to mind instead.

I guess maybe the cat must have jumped/sat on the remote? But I’m not sure, and he is giving nothing away, sitting across the room and washing lazily. I remedy the situation, have a quick chuckle, scratch cat fondly on the head and get on. Local news coming up. Great. Except instead of a London accent the presenter clearly comes from Northern Ireland, and I am being told about bomb-making equipment being found near Larne. I am pretty sure Larne is nowhere around here. It sounds far too pretty. “Tee hee,” I think, “the BBC have made a mistake and everyone in the UK (or at least the South East) is getting the wrong local news!!” It switches back to the main presenters and nothing is said. THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW I think. Another chuckle.

30 minutes later the next local news bulletin is due. They announce it “now for the news where you are this morning” or something like that. But I appear to be transported, Dorothy-like, back to Northern Ireland again!  Shoddy workmanship by the BBC, I am thinking. Once, forgivable, but twice would get a ‘must try harder’ on their report.

Then, and only then, does my poor wee brain go, “hold on, wait just a second…did Riley (the cat) interfere with (sit on) more than one remote??”  Grab cable TV zapper, punch in the usual BBC One number and voila, I am back in South London. How did he do that??

Note to self: get caffeine inside you before all else. Otherwise you are an idiot!

So here, fittingly for today, we have a bird house, for my bird brain. I made this some time ago, and so as to  be honest and fair I need to say I think it was pretty much copied from an example or demo by the suppliers Crafter’s Companion. But sometimes if you are thinking about buying a product it is nice to see if it really works for us mortals!

This is from the Sweet Treats range and it was the first one I made. I used the embossing board and the accompanying CD for the flowery paper. Everything else was just scraps or stash. It does take a little while to do if you want to make the whole ’tiled’ roof effect but if you are in a hurry you could leave that out or maybe use dies cut strips to achieve the effect. I definitely wanted colour inside the box – it makes a massive difference to the end result. I know this because I printed one side only, got it all cut out, had a trial run holding it together and you could see that it lacked a bit of definition. So, print both sides of your card or do as I did and cut panels to glue inside. I really enjoyed making this box and they do have a bit of a wow factor!

Oh Blimey, Riley!

Riley is my cat. He came from a pet shop. I know, I know, I know it should have been a rescue kitty, but I, and others I knew, had been refused by a rescue centre and charity as it was not their policy to home a cat with people who work for a living. Bizarre, really, considering that one of the great things about cats is that they don’t require your attention 24/7. I wasn’t working on an oil rig, for goodness sake, just a local job. And, if you don’t work, how on earth can you afford vets fees?

Aaaaaanyway. It looked like the rescue option was not open to me. It was winter, and for many reasons I badly needed a kitten. I chose him, then had to wait a week ’til he was old enough. During that week I found out that the pet shop had possibly got a reputation for ’dodgy’ pets. I stressed. I already had pet-shop-purchase guilt as it was (Catholic school training, it never leaves you). And now I might have purchased a flawed feline. Don’t get me wrong – flawed was not a problem, but suffering/ailing/life-limited was. I’d had enough of that kind of thing both from pusscats and people in the recent past to just not have to do it again right then. But having chosen him I would take him no matter what. So, a stressy, have-I-done-the right-thing kind of week ensued, followed by a collection day trip to the pet shop in the most miserable mid-November rain.

There he was, in a nice spacious cage with, presumably, other siblings. I hope they were family because they were being way too familiar otherwise. At least three of them were sitting on him, one on top of the other. No casual slumping or leaning on a small amount of body surface like paw on paw, or head on belly, oh no. This was full on one on one on one…like a kitty layer cake. Or the princess and the pea mattresses. Either my boy was smart and keeping nice and cosy, right? Or, was he was the lowest in the pecking order and in imminent danger of crush injury? If the former, how smart and lucky was I?? If the latter, clearly I had arrived just in time. To be honest, I’m still not sure which it was…as I type this he has just sat with his tail immersed in his water bowl and failed to even notice.

Aaaaaanyway, we got him home. His adoptive sister took one look at him, hissed loudly, and took herself off upstairs. She stayed there for EXACTLY one week. Can cats count? And sulk? And count whilst sulking? Such skills! So, she was set up in the lovely Hotel du Chat. En suite facilities (litter tray) and all meals delivered. For A WEEK. Actually she evaluated the situation completely accurately. The boy was gonna plague her, treat her as a plaything and show absolutely no respect for her seniority or generous girth. But they did become friends, eventually.

So the boy settled himself in. He was a little bit wary, obviously, but then had a good explore, found the litter tray so we knew he was trained, and just generally did all the things a kitten does on day one in a new home. He wrecked stuff. But he did it cute.

And so to bed. As the Princess was staying in her upstairs retreat, I decided to spend the night on the sofa to prevent any wee small hours confrontations. The Boy huddled into the corner at my feet. He spent the whole night there, so by morning I was soooooo proud of him, having stayed quiet and good. My feeling of wellbeing was short-lived. Once I was up and about it became clear that he took those wee small hours literally and just wee’d where he was. Ah well, it was an old sofa and he was way too cute to be cross with. Ever!

Riley kitty pics 2

Regarding the pet shop, I do not know if it was the one people had mentioned as having had problems. The shop is several miles away from where I live. In my opinion they seemed to be very responsible. I am not a first-time cat owner and have had previous rescue cats. My kitten had been vet checked, was litter trained, socialised to people and seemed happy and healthy. He is now much older, has had no health problems and is a total delight.

I still firmly support rescue centres and charities and all the fantastic work they do and would always first try to take a rescue pet if I could. But, once on the planet, they all need a home, no matter where or how they started out.