Sunday, 24 April 2011

Mummy's little prawn

Sometimes it is a hard life being a cat, and then again sometimes it isnt...!

To absent friends

I wanted to write a little memorial to a cat who has recently died but in doing so I need also to mention the rest of his fur family. This fur family belonged to Serena, a friend of mine whom I've know for almost all my adult life. Serena is not her real name but it does describe her as a person and as a very calm, capable mother of two. Or at least she was until her daughter Serenity was born. Serenity is not her daugher's real name either but is a good pseudonym for the child with a name signifying calmness and gentleness who is a holy wrecking ball of a child who certainly knows her own mind and woe betide anyone who disagrees. I've only ever seen Serenity's charming side but know there is more to her. Serena once famously wailed that she thought with her first child she was a good mother but didnt realise till Serenity came along that actually she was a good mother only because her first child was a good baby! She underestimates herself hugely as she is a brilliant Mum but it is occasionally funny when she and her equally stubborn daughter lock horns with both determined not to blink first!

Anyway to the furry ones. Barney was a Birman and quite the most beautiful cat you could come across. He was a perfect pedigree and didn't he know it! His only flaw was that he had the eyes and temperament of a serial killer which was such a pity as he was utterly stunning cat who I'd have loved to cuddle. He was gracious enough to allow you one chance to stroke him before the second resulted in the 'death stare' which clearly communicated that if you kept annoying him when he was big enough he'd hunt you down and kill you...! I was shocked the first time Barney gave me the 'look' and Serena just laughed as he sometimes did this to the family too. Even as a kitten he was like this but it was thought that once he was neutered he'd 'calm down'. Nope, no chance, this was his default setting. He was more loving with Serena and her family but there were still boundaries. Unfortunately, just a few weeks ago he passed away at a very grand age and was the last cat the family had.

All of Serena's fur family have outlived their normal lifespan, probably due to the very good care they received during their life. The first was Magical who was a lovely timid little boy who was devoted to Serena. He had FIV but was a delicate, friendly loving little cat who was happy to nestle in my arms but each time Serena left the room his eyes never left the door and he listened for her every move. He died early but was very well loved and cared for by Serena and the vet and probably exceeded his lifespan under any other circumstances.

The next was Magical's sister, Tiny, a feisty jet black female who knew no fear. She was an elegant, no nonsense cat who took no messing from the boy cats Magical and Pudge but she wasnt above collaborating with them to get what she wanted. I watched one night as the three of them worked away to get a box of crunchies out of a cupboard with her directing, Magical casting fearful glances at Serena to make sure it was ok and Pudge taking the brute force option. She too lived a long and very pampered life.

Pudge was a huge black and white boy for whom the words gentle giant were coined. Just like pedigrees have breed standards so Pudge is my benchmark for a great cat. I have the utmost fondness for him and his sweet, gentle nature and I see a lot of his style in how Red behaves which delights me. Sadly on one occasion this was his undoing as he was badly battered, most likely by a vicious and violent neighbour who'd also assaulted Serena's partner. Pudge bore his injuries and treatment with absolute dignity and never lost his inherent trust in the kindness of humans. His only flaw, if it can be called that, was the nuclear strength smell of his poop. One night Serena and I were in her kitchen making dinner and chatting easily when one of the cats went into the hooded litter box. When she realised it was Pudge she started yelling grab your stuff, get out and throwing plates and food at me. I was quite taken aback and didnt quite grasp the gravity of the situation but once the smell exploded from the litter box I started scrambling for the lifeboats too! Pudge was in his 20's when he died and is sorely missed.

Back again with more tales of the monsters

Once gain I've fallen into the blogging void. Lots of things have happened and as a non-essential recreation the blog falls off the priority list. So, slowly no doubt, I will try to recall some of the cat related trivia which has happened and jot it down for posterity and a giggle of reminiscence. I'm glad I started this blog because when I re-read some of the postings it was nice to spend some time down the cats' memory lane and remember the other memories they evoke which are written only in my head.

So what's new? Red is slowly getting bigger which is unsurprising as he is still a one man food processing factory. I still hope he will keep growning as he suits his gentle giant-ness and apparently some of the longhaired cats dont reach full size till 3yrs old. The vet might be right after all about him being a 'biggie'.

He has had his first real winter coat as last year he was too tiny and only had 'bum fluff'. He's also been having furballs which I'll add in a category all of its own later and has recently had two very little mats that needed cut off from the side of his neck. He refuses any attempt at coat grooming...little wonder I suppose after my impromptu coat styling last year! Furminator, rubber mitt, Zoom Groom, hairbrush, comb - no chance! I've even tried doing it while he is sleepy and warm to no avail. I give him till May to change his mind or it is the Billy Connolly 'pet bag' or an allover crew cut is on the cards.

Recently, I was reading a description of Turkish Van cats and I've always thought he does have some similarity to either them or the Norwegian forest cat. I also found out hairy paws are quite common in these breeds too. So in the absence of any DNA testing I've decided he is probably predominantly a Norwegian as unlike the Van cats he is only moderately fond of water and the Norwegian Forest Cat name is often shortened to 'wegie'. So now it all fits, he is clearly a Weegie given his dislike of water and general grooming. This would delight an ex-colleague of mine (I didnt kill him, he just moved jobs) who used to taunt me for being a 'soap dodger' because of living in the west of the country.

Magic is doing just ok. She is still the very lovely intense little cat who is now the smallest in the house but her dodgy knees are becoming problematic. She is still on her palatable tablet but you can see when she walks more often than not the leg bends outwards as it is unstable. She seems pain free but the vet commented that she is obviously taking the weight on her front paws as she is "bullet shaped". Indeed she is bulkier at the front which makes the poor skinny little cocktail stick back legs even more obvious.

None of this stops her doing anything she fancies. Just last night, at 5am I might add, she was on top of the storage box on top of the wardrobe playing with a bell before chucking it over the edge and debating whether she could jump down and follow it. My snarled "dont even THINK about it" seemed to decide the issue. Coming down usually involves jumping off the box onto the wardrobe, then onto the tv and then the chest of drawers which is still about a metre or so high. From there is it onto the bed and then the floor. However, when coming down she decided just to leap straight off the chest of drawers, either in defiance or because Red was blocking the end of the bed. This suggests for a cat who sounds like they should have an emergency ortho consultation she isnt doing too badly. Some time ago the vet told me she wouldnt be able to climb because of the arthritis and instability in her legs - hmmm!

So all in all they are surviving ok.