Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A Year In The Life Of A Rehabilitated Stray Cat

March 2014
I move from Norfolk to Devon. Within a matter of days, I realise that a stray ginger and white cat is living somewhere behind this bush in my new garden. I name him Darren.

April 2014
Darren begins to spend a lot of time in the area immediately surrounding the house, meowing and staring in through the windows. Realising that he's a different character than I first took him for, and that his meow sounds like he's saying "Geeeeooorge", I name him George. My four cats seem mostly okay with him, except my elderly, lifelong pacifist cat The Bear, who, in a wildly uncharacteristic freak out, goes a bit "kung fu" on George.

May 2014
After much perseverance, and leaving a lot of snacks out for him, George and I become friends, at a distance.

May 2014
I lure George into the house. His guard immediately drops and he begins to purr. We go to see the vet, who removes George's balls, attends to his cuts, ear mites and scratches and tests him for FIV. Admirably, George seems to hold none of this against me.

June 2014
George begins to sleep on me every evening and follow me around all day. We also try to recreate 1967 San Francisco together in our spare time.

July 2014
George puts on weight and develops a glossier coat. He climbs trees, sleeps on sofas, listens to stoner rock and drinks wine but, despite his neutered status, continually tries to have sex with my female cat, Roscoe. Roscoe begins to spend a lot of time at the pub.

August 2014
George and The Bear put their previous differences aside and become friends.

September 2014
George and I start to go on country walks together.

October 2014
After my mum and dad's cat Floyd is killed by a car, George - whose differences with Roscoe have proved to be irreconcilable - goes to live with them in Nottinghamshire. He is a bit down and scared at first, and my mum reports that he is "missing me terribly" (I want to believe this but cannot be sure), but he soon settles in.

December 2014
I visit George (and my mum and dad) for Christmas. He seems to be very happy, but also, quite possibly, stoned.

March 2015
George, now truly settled at my mum and dad's house, falls in love with their neighbour's cat, Casper.


You can read more about George in this Guardian column I wrote and in this follow-up column. I've also written George's full story in my new book, Close Encounters Of The Furred Kind, which is published in October and is the follow-up to my previous book The Good, The Bad & The Furry.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Guest Reader's Cat Of The Month: Sammy




Sammy Boo, Fat Sammy, Crack Bitch

Theme Tune? 

Every Breath You Take by The Police (for reasons which will hopefully become apparent!)




Jo ( and Phil. Jo is a freelance writer and photographer and Phil works for the Buckinghamshire Music service. I also live with Mai (who was a previous star of this page). Sadly, Smoke the other cat was run over a few months before I arrived. Mai is nearly 18 and, for some reason, is not my biggest fan. 

Brief biography? 

I used to live with a nice older lady, who was very indulgent and treated me as the god-like creature I clearly am. Very sadly, she became ill and had to go to somewhere called a ‘home’. I went to some lovely fosterers at Cats Protection and was there for four months before Jo and Phil saw my photo and came to collect me. I must say that I know how to pose appealingly!

Jo and Phil are shaping up nicely as my new slaves, although after nearly a year of living with them, they still attempt to bend me to their will occasionally. The sooner they realise that all human food needs to be offered to me first, the better.


Is that for me? Is that for me? Is that for me? (Repeat ad nauseam) 

Favourite Habits? 

Staring at people without blinking. Ever. Sleeping on Phil’s lap. Sleeping on Phil’s pillow. Sleeping on Phil’s head. Sleeping on the back of the sofa behind Jo when she’s trying to work, so that she gets a crick in her neck trying to avoid squashing me. Pawing people repeatedly if they don’t give me the fuss I richly deserve. Stealing crisps out of Phil’s hands…the list is fairly endless.

What constitutes a perfect evening for you? 

I like to start the evening with a small offering of catnip. I may choose to roll in this deliriously, or I may ignore it completely and look affronted. This keeps the slaves on their toes. Then a good few hours nap on Phil’s lap, complete with somewhat effeminate yowling should I get moved. Throughout the evening my sustenance levels should be kept topped up with a constant supply of Dreamies and tastes of the human food. Finally, at bedtime, a good half an hour of prowling round the bed and trying to lie in completely the wrong place before curling up on Phil’s pillow. Preferably on his head if possible.

Favourite food? 

Pizza, Monster Munch pickled onion crisps and Dreamies. When I hear the rattle of the dreamies packet, I do come running and yowl loudly if they aren’t forthcoming quickly enough. I might also raise a paw for maximum piteous effect. The slaves find it very humorous to call me ‘Crack Bitch’ and ask if I want my crack…I have no idea what they’re on about, but it’s best to allow them their little amusements. They are simple creatures, after all.

Defining moment of your life? 

Meeting Phil. I’d never lived with a man before and when I first arrived, I was a bit unsure of him and spent all my time cuddled up to Jo. But then I changed my mind and now I can’t get enough of sitting or sleeping on him. Apparently this makes me a little ‘clingy’, but frankly I feel that Phil should be honoured I spend so much time with him.

Any enemies? 

Mai and I tolerate each other, as we’re both too old to really get into a fight. I’m not a massive fan of Denny, the big ginger who lives next door to me. He’s enormous. Fortunately, his slaves have recently purchased him a big girly collar with a bell on, so I can hear him coming and scuttle back inside without losing face.

If you could do one thing to make the world a better place for felines what would it be? 

Ask everyone who wants a cat to adopt rather than buy. And please consider older cats – we have so much love and affection to give.

If you could meet a celebrity who would it be and why? 

I’d quite like to meet the actor David Tennant, as we both have big staring eyes. We could gaze at each other intently, and perhaps have a competition to see who blinks first.

Which one of the cats in Under The Paw, Talk To The Tail and The Good, The Bad & The Furry would you like to be stuck in a lift with? 

I would love to meet any of the stars, but I think Shipley and I would get on very well. He could teach me some new swear words, and I could teach him how to be even more intense with his greetings. A match made in heaven, surely!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Guest Reader's Cat Of The Month: Peaches


Perfect Purry Peaches Pink Nosed Pussy Cat, Cheesey Peas, Peachey or Pea. 

Theme tune:
Beethoven’s Pastoral, especially if it is whistled by Jane.  I also get excited if she whistles the theme from The Great Escape. 

13 ½ 

I have lived with Jane and Richard and their two daughters since I was a kitten.  I don’t consider them as ‘owners’, they are my dedicated staff.  

Brief biography:
I am a pure Bristol cat.  Jane rescued my mummy Jenny-fur-purr, when she went to collect some ducks for the Community Farm she worked at.  Jenny-fur-purr was meant to go to another home but the person adopting her changed their mind.  I was born onto a towel in a cat basket under the dining table whilst Jane was out running a course on willow sculpture.  Unfortunately I was born with a virus that caused my eye problems.  Jane and Rich kept my sister Apricot-Echo and I. We moved to Buckinghamshire when I was 6 months old to a house with an enormous garden.  Sadly Apricot-Echo died suddenly 4 years ago, we think she ate something poisonous. 

Purrriiip! This translates as ‘look at me, feed me, cuddle me and GET UP AND FEED ME’ I also use it to demand that the fire is lit for me on cold nights.

Favourite habits:
Sleeping, eating, looking really cute, washing my beautiful fur, playing with my Plague rat, chasing Katy Kitty Beans around the bedroom as if we were participating in an old style Wall of Death motorbike show.  I also enjoy cuddling up on Jane, duvets, cushions or in front of the log fire. I like sitting on the third stair up to wait for Jane when she comes home from work.  Giving Rich nose rubs is fun too. Sitting on Jane’s pillow and waking her up in the small hours of the morning by batting her on the face or occasionally sitting on her head, this is the best fun a cat can have! I also like to leave my stinky fish toy lined up equidistant to other objects, such as the edge of stairs, doorways and furniture.  Given my virtual blindness, I am millimetre perfect at this.  The dumb humans thought that each other were responsible for this until I was observed leaving it pointing directly at the bedroom door.  Jane has even got the tape measure out to check up on my perfection!  

Perfect evening:
Once I have full belly, I like nothing better than to sit on Jane, especially if she has a woolly jumper on.  If I am really lucky she will be watching rugby or reading a good book which means that she sits still for more than 10 minutes and I can really slob out.

Favourite food:
Any meat or fish, cheese, gravy and marmite.

Defining moment:
When I was 4 months old, I was wandering along a wall near a footpath when some idiot scooped me up and took me to the RSPCA shelter.  The idiot thought I was unloved because of my eyes.  My eyesight is terrible and I had been booked into have the really bad eye removed by a vet but it had been postponed due to a death in my staff’s family.  Thankfully Jane called all the right people and I was quickly traced to the RSPCA shelter.  Rich came to collect me and the nice RSPCA staff did not have to ask for proof of ownership because I heard Rich’s voice and when he picked me up I rubbed his nose, cranked up my best purr and would not let go!  Until this time I had only ever followed the sound of Jane’s voice or her finger clicking.  Afterwards I learnt to trust Rich, he is my saviour but I do not trust other people at all.

Gonads and the ducks.  Gonads is a young bully cat who lives in one of the houses nearby.  He jumps on me when I go out to use the garden ‘facilities’.  Jane calls him Gonads and says she’ll have them if she catches the (Bleep bleep) git.  I am not sure what that means but it doesn’t sound very nice!  The ducks were cute at first and I spent a few months watching over them, they quickly grew up and now they chase me through the cat flap and nip my tail!  Jane says it is because I am fox coloured, they don’t do it to Katy who is a tortoiseshell.
If you could make the world a better place for felines, what would it be?
I would like all cats to have good food, lots of love and a warm open fire to curl up in front of.  Jane says I should also want all boy cats to have their gonads removed, I think she is very rude!

Which celebrity would you most like to meet?
According to Jane, we do not ‘do’ celebrities. I would pick someone intelligent and kind to cats. I’d like to meet Tom Cox.  Even if Tom’s books made Jane laugh so hard I fell of off her lap several times whilst she was reading them! If not Eddie Izzard, he does some excellent stand-up cat comedy.

Which of the cats in Under The PawTalk To The Tail or The Good, The Bad And The Furry would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?

I’d like to meet them all. I am most torn between The Bear, Janet and the gorgeous Shipley! I love the description of Janet making friends with a senile fox, I think Janet could introduce me to some foxes so that I can get revenge on the ducks!  I have never sworn in my life, I spat at Katy Kitty Beans when she arrived 2 years ago but it would be great if Shipley could teach me to say some really bad swears like fucklecopter or spunkferret. If I met The Bear I would lick his ears and give him lots of cat kisses.