From my cousin: Good to hear from you and that you are well. Unfortunately coming over to visit would be a bit problematic at the moment. You see we have been adopted by a family of cats. Well a bit more than one family. I will attempt to explain.
Two years ago Anne and I were enjoying a delightful sunny day in our back garden. The food and wine was great and the sun shone down making the day superb. Then out of the blue or more precisely out of the shrubbery popped the cutest little kitten, it was a long haired black kitten about eight weeks old. We later found out it had all the attributes of a Maine Coon Smoke kitten.
On closer inspection its fur was matted and was full of plant burrs and to boot was starving. As you know we live on the edge of a 250 acre country park and woods, I can only assume it had wandered off from its family and got lost. We cleaned it up and removed all the burrs gave it a feed - salmon was all we had to hand at the time and then started to ask our neighbours if they knew the kitten. Needless to say we drew a blank.
That night we made it comfortable in one of our out houses and hoped by the morning it would have gone home, but no in the morning it was at the back door crying to be fed. So we thought we had better give it a name at least pro-tem. It was so furry we couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl so we reasoned Tinks would be a good name, because it could be Tinkerbelle if it was a girl and Tinker if it was a boy.
We took it to the local vets and ascertained its gender; we had a Tinkerbelle, but still call her Tinks. Next we had her scanned for a microchip and her details posted on the web. You know the sort of thing “Black Kitten cute as a button” found wandering, etc etc. That drew a blank, no takers for our now orphaned kitten.
Dean happened to pop round and played with her for a while then went out and bought a kitten comb and brush plus some kitty food. So ok she was now a member of the family. I went out and bought all the paraphernalia associated with kitten care and when the time was right had her spayed.
Now fast forward one year. We started to get local ferals coming in through Tink’s cat flap and stealing her food. So we invested in a magnetic key cat flap. That sort of worked, but only if Tink’s remembered to close the door behind her.
Then one morning another kitten appeared at the back door crying. He was about 6 to 8 weeks old and clearly distressed. I picked him up, gave him a cuddle and some of Tink’s food, which I put outside with the kitten.
I was horrified when I saw a much older version of the kitten, about six years old, just push him out of the way and hungrily gobble the food down. I have since found out the big cat is the kittens father, we have called him Fagin! Well it seemed appropriate. Anyway I picked up the little one and fed him inside the house, (Fatal move).
The kitten looks just like the one used for advertising on all Felix cat food adverts, (including the photo shopped smile). Naming him was easy, the patterning in his fur clearly spelled out the letters R – I – O on both of his flanks, so unsurprisingly we called him “RIO”.
RIO has turned out to be the most intelligent cat I have ever met; he is more like a dog and follows me around like a puppy. He’s very vocal and tells me what he wants. If you try to ignore him the sort of thing he will do is to grab his favourite toy - a mouse tease on an elasticated cord attached to a stick. He will play with this for ages unless he’s hungry, in which case he will drop the stick at your feet for you to pick up. He then takes the mouse end in his teeth and walking backwards pulls you with his mouse on a stick to his feeding bowl where he drops it and starts vocalising in the cutest way. His feed me song.!!
Long story short he moved in and started to make friends with Tinks, but Tinks was not overly happy about the new arrival and would often attack him. This eventually abated and they seemed to become friends. Until RIO reached sexually maturity, he would then take every opportunity to try to bone Tinks, who was having none of it.
One of our neighbours, Elias asked if RIO was with us as they hadn’t seen him for a while. I told him what had happened and he said he was pleased that RIO had found a new home, because he was just one of a family of about twelve feral cats that were living in his garden.
Apparently a family of Eastern Europeans renting in the next street started it all off with the three un-neutered cats they kept. They decided to return to Poland or Romania, who knows? and just left the cats to fend for themselves as ferals.
The original cat family are known locally as the Hitler tribe; because they are all black and white, (Tuxedo look) and have little Adolf Hitler moustache’s and their hair couldn’t be more like Hitler’s if it had been photo shopped on.
Anyway all was ok until just before winter last year. Elias the guy looking after the twelve cats had a clumsy neighbour, John who lopped a bough off of his tree which then fell onto Elias’s green house and totalled it. The clumsy neighbour then had a stroke and was rushed to hospital. This left the ferals homeless again although Elias continues to feed them.
Next up a clone of RIO, who turned out to be RIO’s mum, (Patches) decided to take up residence in one of our outhouses with her best friend, (Honey) a four your old tabby. Then Honey’s mum turned up, (Cindy) she is a tabby like Honey, but with a bushy tail. They all lived happily in our outhouse until winter started to bite. They then all took to living on our back door mat huddled together in a bunch for warmth. They looked like and insane collection of Davey Crocket hats, don’t know if you remember those, (1950’s).
Well her who must be obeyed… said my next project was to build an insulated kennel for the cats. So after rummaging around the nearest industrial estate I returned home with several wooden pallets and a sheet of ply wood. Two weeks –later I had built them a shelter based on a Swiss ski lodge, (You have to use your imagination here) with a small patio, insulated to UK building regs standards with timed central heating. I finished it off with two entry and exit doors. Several of them moved in and were clearly very grateful.
Spring at last arrived and we noticed Patches was taking on the appearance of a furry rugby ball….arrgggh!! she was pregnant. I went to see Elias and asked him why he had told me they were spayed. He said, he was only referring to Honey and Cindy.
We decide to let Patches have her brood, but arranged with the Mayhew cat clinic to have the rest trapped neutered and returned.
Patches gave birth on the 9th of April to two very different kittens, one a boy, (Smudge) was clearly a copy of RIO and the other a girl, (Phoebe) was a carbon copy of (Fagin). We thought the births were all over, but on the morning of the 10th she gave birth to one more, a boy (Loki) Smudge’s twin.
Patches stopped the other cats from using her ski lodge and prevented the kittens from exploring outside. Mainly because of a fox about the size of and Alsatian that kept coming in the small hours looking for a kitten sized snack.
One night at about 03:30am we were awoken by what sounded like a woman screaming in our back garden. The PIR light had triggered so we could see what was going on. It was the Fox which had been cornered by Honey, Cindy, Fagin, Rio and Patches. It eventually made a run for it and escaped his feline assailants.
That morning Patches communicated to us what she wanted to happen, by barging through our kitchen with one of her kittens by the scruff, in her teeth. She un-ceremoniously dumped (Loki) at the door to our lounge and went back out only to return with Phoebe. We took the hint and went and got Smudge too, making them comfortable in a shallow carpeted tray affair that I put together in our lounge with a small kitten igloo as their sleeping quarters. They are now 12 weeks old and have taken over our lounge. Tinks has had to relinquish control of the house, because they don’t get on and now settles for the upstairs rooms for her accommodation.
The other cats come and go generally using the outhouse’s as their preferred sleeping place. The Ski lodge is now un-used. It’s probably too hot in the summer for them in there.
The feeding bill was becoming onerous, so we decided to buy whole chickens, lambs hearts and chicken livers, ground the lot up in our Kenwood Chef and are feeding them a raw cat food diet. They appear to be thriving on it and are no longer interested in processed food.
I have now had them all neutered and micro chipped and not sure what to do next.
Needless to say for the time being they have put paid to our travels. No one it seems wants to look after eight cats while we swan off.
So I was wondering, how many do you want???