Cats: how they have changed my world!
I have always loved cats. My first cat was called P.C. because I was only little at the time and "puddy cat" was the best I could do so the folks shortened the name to P.C. he was a lovely grey moggie who I used to dress in my doll's clothes and push around in my doll's pram. When he got old and was unable to move so easily I made him a ramp so he could walk up onto my bed as jumping had become a little challenging for him. I was devastated when he had to out to sleep when I was about 13 years old. That is one of the only times I have ever seen my Dad cry for he loved that cat too.
With his passing the only way to console us was to invest in a new cat. We wanted another grey cat and the only way to guarantee one was to go pedigree. This was rather exciting for I had wanted a British Blue for some time. So Mum found a breeder in Jersey and we signed up for a kitten. The kitten was born on Christmas Day and while we had to wait a few months before it was able to come over to us in Guernsey, Dad and I went to Jersey twice to see her when she was little.
We had actually asked for a boy, but she turned out to be a girl and the breeder was quite keen to breed her. We sent her over to Jersey when she was of the right age but she went ballistic when the male cat was put into her cage. We regretted very much sending her over as that whole experience, not least the male cat, but also another inter-Island flight, didn't do much to help soothe her nerves. She was always a little bit highly strung but wonderful with the immediate family and we loved her very much. She was called Ashe and she was my best friend during my teen age years.
Going to University was upsetting for both of us. Mum had stripped my bed and she went into mourning thinking I had died. I missed her hugely while I was away and was always so excited to see her again when I came home in the holidays. And of course from then on, we always made sure to leave my bedding, and therefore my smell, in the house when I had gone. These days you can Skype your pets when you are at Uni, you can even put them on facebook and receive regular updates, how times have changed!!
When I was about 26 I bought a house with my brother and we moved in together leaving Ashe with my parents. Life was very different back then. I was a professional working my way up the career ladder in the fiduciary world. I smoked and drank wine regularly to ease the stress of it all (or so I thought, of course it is counter productive!). I spent most of my spare time playing sport. I was a county and regional netball player as well as playing local club. I also played club and Island level volleyball, as well as enjoying regular swimming and squash. Despite all this I was deeply insecure, hormonally imbalanced, and a bit of a lost soul.
It is difficult to remember the sequence of events but I took a sabbatical and went off travelling around the world when I was 27. I only lasted 5 months as I finally left a dark and destructive relationship while I was living and working in New Zealand and fled back home to Guernsey. That was a really dark time in my life and I lived with my parents for a few months as I tried to gain a grip on myself again. I started running with a friend (amazing how healing running can be and how it moves you literally from A to B in your life) and that was really a turning point, not least the opportunity to run away from what I had left behind, but also the time to think and reflect and work out all that anger and frustration, let alone the healing benefits of exercise and being outside in nature.
We ended up signing up for the London Marathon and so that winter was spent running! I had moved back into my house by then and met a wonderful man who was really my knight in shining armour and I shall always be indebted to him for his kindness. Work was going well, I had thrown myself into it, and when I was given a bonus I decided it was time to bring some cats into my life. Not sure why, I just had one of those feelings. So I researched and found a breeder in Kent and ordered myself two male British Blue kittens.
Now this was the strangest thing - or not, as these things are never as strange as you think - I decided to call them Alfie and Bertie after my grandfathers. My brother came with me to collect them from the airport, these two balls of grey fluff meowing in their box, and we discovered that their pedigree names were Alfius and Bertius. Now how weird is that! So they were meant to be, a gift from above there is no doubt.
One of them, Bertie, had a beard. I jest not. He had this pointy beard and as a result he was £50 cheaper than Alfie, who could have been a full on show cat as he is so typically "British Blue". They were just such lovely cats each with very different personalities. Bertie, our wizard cat, the one with the beard, was so friendly and giving and incredibly hapless too. It was nerve wracking at times, once he got his back paw caught in the top of the radiator and was hanging from it when I rescued him. Then another time he jumped into the bath by accident, full of water as it was. Another time he got a plastic bag caught around his head and was running around the house like a lunatic. He was definitely using up his 9 lives very quickly that first year!
Alfie on the other hand was a very nervous cat and I had to work really hard to try and get him to come out of his shell. He very much lived in the shadow of Bertie and was very selective about who he allowed to touch him, I guess he is shy really. Still, he was also lots of fun, just not quite as hapless as Bertie!!
There is no doubt those cats came into my life for a reason, into my brother's life too actually. Cats have this ability to help heal, not least by their very nature, but just stroking them can have such a calming effect and they can really touch the heart and reveal it again. Combined with all the running and the knight in shining armour, the guardian angels were indeed working hard using all these earth angels to move my life on, get me back on my real path. It is perhaps therefore, no surprise, that a few months after getting the cats and a few months after running the marathon, that my brother and I started attending Vanessa Lasenby's yoga classes. And as soon as we started we were both fairly hooked. Little did we know how much our lives were about to change.
It was about this time that I also discovered Carol Champion and nutrition, and Alyssa Burns-Hill and Reiki. The combined effect of good nutrition, Reiki sessions and the Yoga certainly helped to change my perspective on life(and heal) and within the year I had left my full time job, sold the house and bought a ticket to go - strangely as I didn't know it was such a Yoga mecca - to Byron Bay Australia, which I had visited about 5 years previously and felt drawn to visit again. My brother had also gone through some change and was also off travelling before moving to the UK to live with his girlfriend back then.
As for the cats, well my parents were happy to have them move in with them. So that is exactly what happened, the cats settled with Ashe (who sadly never quite got over having her house invaded by two younger male cats) and Ross and I went off travelling. Strangely, or not, as these things never are, within a month of us travelling and the day before Ross joined me in Byron Bay, Bertie was killed by a car in our quiet clos near Vazon. It was the most unfortunate of things because we had lived in town with the cats previously and the traffic there as far worse than the slow moving cars in ur clos, but it was obviously meant to be. My parents were devastated, my Dad particularly as he had established a relationship with Bertie at that stage and was there when it happened.
The folks felt really responsible but there really was no need. I have no doubt that that wonderfully giving and magical wizard cat came into our lives to move us from A to B. And here we were both of us now in Byron Bay and his work was done. of course we didn't realise back then how much Byron was going to shape our lives. For me it was the beginning of many trips to the town, undertaking my Yoga teacher training course as well as attending an enormous amount of classes and doing a brief apprenticeship of sorts with an experienced teacher based in the town. My brother also ended up doing his teaching training there and met his Australian girlfriend with whom he now has a little girl and they all live together just a little bit out of town. So of course my folks have now also travelled to Byron a number of times and E and I will no doubt continue to return over the years.
Back here in Guernsey the folks contacted the breeder and they bought the sister of Alfie and Bertie who the breeder had kept to breed. So when I returned to Guernsey from that first trip, I met Bumble Bee, the incredibly giving and happy go lucky sister of Alfie and Bertie. Alfie has changed over the years, adjusting to being the centre of attention after Bertie's demise and also terrorising his sister when he is bored! As for Bumble, she is such a cute cat, sadly has an eye problem and we have flown in a private plane to the UK with her to get her eye treated properly at a specialist cat eye clinic outside of London. The things we do for our pets!!!
Anyhow, over 3 years ago now I moved in with E in St Andrews leaving my cats with my parents - my parents are besotted and would be bereft without those cats! And not long after I moved in a black and white fluffy cat started coming into the house. E discouraged her initially but over time he got used to her coming in and started stroking her and making friends with her. And then to cut a long story short we started looking after her. She had lots of ticks and was scrawny and flea ridden, so we fed her, de-ticked her, de-flead her and de-worked her. Three years on and Flufster, as we call her, basically lives with us. She does have an owner, the son of one of our neighbours who no long lives at home, and over the years she has moved from house to house, so that she actually has 3 names - Rocco, Sweep and Flufster. rather funny really!! We live near the Baliff and rumour has it she has been caught sleeping on his bed!!
I love the Flufster cat, she is her own person, does her own thing, not scared of other cats and can be very giving. There is no doubt that she came into our lives for a reason as so much has changed during the last 3 years and E loves having animals back in his life after years without them. One should never underestimate the positive influence of pets in people's lives.
All was well and good, we were all settled, baby on the way, nice calm house, lovely. And then E's brother and sister-in-law moved to Australia with Specsavers about 3 weeks ago now for a 2 year contract, and prior to leaving they were desperate to find someone to take in their cat, a 6 year old Bengal cat called Bazza. We didn't like to think of him being left on his own to go feral so E agreed that we would take him in. Oh what a decision that was!
Bazza did not like moving in with us. He is half Asian leopard and a hunting cat and being locked in my Yoga room with all those crystals and incense was not doing it for him. Those first few days were awful. He could smell Flufster and he roared and hissed and was really rather scary. We let him into our main living space and on the occasions that Flufster was also there he became inconsolable so that E actually had to wear gloves to move him back into the Yoga room. Upon reflection the poor thing was super confused, he didn't know that his family had gone to live the other side of the world.
Five days into having him it was a full moon and he was beside himself to get out and I was beside myself to let him out as he was disrupting the whole calmness of the house so we put butter on his paws as you are told to do and let him into the garden. Big mistake! We didn't see him again for 5 days. He only managed to find his way back to his old house a good couple of miles away. How do cats do this, it is incredible!! We had a feeling that was where he was headed so we left some flyers around the area and a kind neighbour called to say how sorry they were to hear that he was missing and that they missed him for he kept the vermin population under control in the area. She seemed to think he would be better living feral in the area. In fact I had decided I also thought he would be better living feral in the area, especially if he was that territorial.
Still it was not meant and while he did go back to his old house and the new residents gave him some tuna, he didn't stick around and 5 days after leaving us E got a call from the animal shelter saying he had been found in Torteval, what a wander indeed!!! So E had to go and collect him and I came home that night almost a little disappointed to find him back in the Yoga room again! This time though, things would be different. We were no longer scared of him nor going to put up with his roaring and hissing, which is essentially a front for the fact that he is a bit of a scaredy cat underneath it all. He had to fit in with us and not us with him - good training for the change of parenthood perhaps!!
Nine days in and he is really getting quite irritated that he cannot go outside. But progress has been made, he purrs a lot and enjoys being stroked and fussed over. Both he and Flufster can now be in the same room, although she does tease him a little and he still hisses at her, and I wouldn't like to leave them alone unaccompanied just yet. He is really rather entertaining, although I must admit it took me a while to find the entertaining side to his actions last night.
I came home from an 8 hour day in the office and had half an hour before I had to head to teach again and was looking forward to sitting on my mat for 10 minutes. But alas it was not meant to be for Bazza had managed to push the wicker basket off the top of the washing machine, spilling its contents all over the floor, shredding a toilet roll, slicing open the bags of dried cat food and spreading their contents all over the floor. Sigh. I left E to clear it all up and went off to Yoga instead, which of course helped me to realise the funny side to it all by the time I returned home again!!
The animal shelter have told us we have to keep him in for 5 weeks. However I suspect he will have done quite a bit of claw related damage by then so we may have a bash this weekend and accompany him into the garden this time. I'll let you know how we get on!!
It does make me laugh how cats come in and out of our lives and what they bring to it with their timing. A year ago we were footloose and fancy free and now here we are, E and I, two cats and a baby on the way. Life will indeed never be the same again - and that is the point isn't it, change is always a good thing, even better when it happens and we just have to get on and deal with it.
Happy Halloween - the night of cats on broomsticks, happy flying this evening!