I love cats

“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” – Jean Cocteau

Two cats doing cat politics

My third cat, who came to me via a friend who had taken her in after she was comprehensively rejected by her first owners: when I got her she was nervous (though never scared of me), bedraggled, flea-ridden, broken-toothed from an accident, and covered with scabs under her fur from nervous licking. She had also lost her tail. She became literally the most beautiful and friendliest cat I ever had: when she died, pretty much every single one of my neighbours told me how sad they were to lose her. (After I had to keep her in the house for two weeks after the vet removed half her thyroid, I came upon her sitting in the middle of a small group of neighbour’s children who were petting her and telling her how much they’d missed her.)

My first kitten I adopted from a friend who had decided that her two female cats ought to have the experience of having kittens (I disagreed, though I was absolutely delighted by my own tabby-torty kitten, who lived with me for fifteen years). (Her sire was a lovely friendly cat who had been thrown away with the rest of the litter in a plastic sack by the side of the road.) My second kitten was a rescue via a friend who took in and rehomed litters of kittens whose owners thought it was unnatural to spay female cats and preferred drowning. My fourth kitten is the only one I got by more-or-less conventional methods: I looked up kittens-in-need-of-homes on Gumtree. I was picked out of forty to get the kitten because I was the only one who asked to come round and see the mamacat before I adopted: I wanted to make sure I wasn’t contributing to a kitten mill.

Lothian Cat Rescue will be at the Meadows Festival 2nd/3rd June

Lothian Cat Rescue is a registered charity formed to help cats and kittens that have been abandoned, ill-treated, neglected or are unwanted for whatever reason. Rehoming the cats that are brought to the shelter is our number one priority and our policy is to never have a healthy cat put to sleep.

The most recent cat I adopted (we’re talking over 22 years – I’ve only ever had two at a time) I meant to get another kitten via gumtree, but I saw a woman looking to rehome a 10-month cat, who wasn’t getting on with her children. I went round to see the cat and found an adorable grey-and-white beastie who went for my hand when I petted her – bloody clawing and biting. But I didn’t think she was vicious – she just didn’t seem to know any other way of reacting to human touch. (I suspected the children had been treating her like a fluffy toy.)

Fifteen months later, she’s absolutely adorable. She still occasionally claws or goes to bite, but hasn’t drawn blood in nearly a year: I can pick her up, cuddle her, pet her, stroke her tummy – and the neighbours report their children love her. All she needed was patience, affection, and good handling. But if she had gone to a cat shelter, I’m afraid she would have gone with a reputation as a vicious cat – it took weeks before she settled down.

I’d planned to get a kitten because I wanted to have the new cat and the senior cat get along, but in fact after a couple of months during which they fought like cat and cat, they are now pretty much settled: of course they still play-fight, but it’s not serious. Next time I look for a new cat, I’ll be looking for a rescue kitty.

(Originally posted on the comment thread of Who Would Give This Up? about FiH’s rescue dog Bo.)

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