Trixie and her brother Pepper, born to our matriarch Sammyjo, were the last two of her litter needing a new home, Pepper was a cute little all-black male and we had intended letting them go together. One day a lady turned up at the house, she had heard by word of mouth that we had kittens and she wanted one, just one. She came in and had a look at the kittens and decided that she liked Trixie, we tried but could not persuade her to take both.
Trixie and Kiska
It happened to be the middle of summer and she was wearing open toed sandals, no stockings, that is when Trixie made her big mistake, while the lady was drinking the cup of tea we had given her, Trixie settled down at her feet and started to wash them! When Trixie washed feet, she washed them really well, soles and uppers and special attention to toes, her soft little pink tongue worked its way between those toes and woe betide anyone who tried to move. She would pin that foot down with her paw and lick all the harder. This did not go down well at all with the lady, it wasn’t just that she was ticklish, she could not bear anyone or anything to touch her feet, poor woman! So Pepper went off to a new home and Trixie stayed with us and we decided to keep her.
All cats have their own individual personalities and Trixie was no exception. To a visitor she probably appeared a bit unfriendly, she wasn’t one to jump up on a stranger’s lap and start purring. She kept herself aloof and often appeared to be a bit of a grump. She could scowl and look daggers when she wanted to, and if she wasn’t in the mood to play or be picked up she would growl. She never scratched or bit however, it was all for show. She was, in fact, a real softie.
It soon became evident that she could not have kittens of her own and she was never spayed. Generally we let our cats have one litter at least before spaying. Trixie never produced a litter but she desperately wanted babies of her own, we didn’t realise just how much, until one of our other cats had a litter.
Walking up from the garden one day, I saw Trixie acting rather furtively, I watched her look both ways with head bent low before running off and crawling under a neighbours garden shed. I thought something had scared her but when I went into the house and looked in on the kittens, I found the mother, Temba, was missing and so were two of the babies. I knew instantly that somehow, Trixie was involved. I went to the shed and tried to look underneath, since one side was only six inches or so above the path beside it, I had great difficulty and could not see a thing. I got a torch and tried again, one pair of eyes caught in the beam! The other side of the shed was level with the ground, as it is on a slight slope, I went round to the front and listened, sure enough I could hear Trixie ‘talking’ and kittens answering with little squeaks. Now what!
I was worried, when Temba came back from answering her call of nature, she would be frantic, and the kittens need regular feeding, they were only days old. Jim was away that day so I went next door to get help from my neighbour’s husband Teb. Teb and three young sons came to the shed and listened, yes, definitely two kittens under there and no way of getting to them. Trixie had carried them to the other side of the shed, where it was closest to the ground and that was up against the fence! So the next step was informing the neighbour on the other side that she had two kit-napped kittens under her shed. She gave us permission to pull up the floorboards which Teb promptly did, the gap under the floor joists was deeper than we expected and the only one who could reach back into the gap was Teb’s youngest son. He managed to get to the kittens and gently pulled them out and gave them to me.
I took the kitten’s home with a furious Trixie following me and meowing piteously. Their basket was in the living room and I knew if I left them there Trixie would probably do it again, so I put the kittens back with their litter-mates and took the basket upstairs to my bedroom, locking Trixie downstairs. When I came down she tried to get upstairs but I shut the door to the hallway so she couldn’t. Then she really started to wail and clawed at the door, she showed no signs of giving up. Finally I decided to let her go up to the kittens and keep her locked up there with them.
From that moment she and Temba took it in turns to look after them, the mother had no objections to Trixie at all. The most amazing thing was that Trixie actually developed milk and fed them too. We told our veterinary surgeon about it and he said it was quite common for this to happen. We had no more problems with Trixie trying to remove them elsewhere so after a few days she was allowed to come and go as normal.
From that time on, whenever we had a new kitten come into the house we would present it to Trixie. The kitten would normally cringe a little, not knowing what to expect but that didn’t last long. Trixie would pin it down with one paw, pull it towards her with the other and start giving it a bath. She would give a soft growl, probably meaning "kid, you stink" if it protested and then she would wash it until it was sopping wet. By the time she had finished with it, the kitten was lucky to have any fur left, but by then it was usually quite happy for her to continue ‘mothering’ it. She developed a real bond of affection with several kittens that joined our family and it was a bond that did not break when they became adolescents, as would normally happen. The most notable one being Tiggy. Tiggy was one of Tiger Lily’s babies but he became Trixie’s instead. When he disappeared at the age of 15 months, we searched everywhere for him. He had been to the vet that day with an infected paw and had been given anti-biotics, he had gone out in the evening to answer a call of nature and never came back. The morning after he disappeared, a huge grain truck had left the farm opposite and I often wondered if he had somehow climbed into it in his confused state, he was a little groggy from the anti-biotics, I should never have let him go out. I was heart broken, he was my special friend. Just the day before, as I had been walking across the living room, Tiggy had walked towards me, I bent down to stroke him and as I spoke to him, he stood on his hind legs, reached up with his paws and put one either side of my face and ‘kissed’ me.
Trixie searched for him too, inside the house, every time we opened a cupboard or a drawer, she was there searching. I'm pretty sure she searched all their favourite haunts outside too. She would look at us accusingly, as if to say "Well, where is he, what have you done with him?" Finally she realised he was not coming back and she went into a serious decline, she moped and refused to eat, getting thinner and thinner. After a couple of months of this, in desperation, we got her another kitten. At first she growled and grumped, scaring the poor little thing half to death, then she pinned it down and started washing it. Slowly she recovered from her loss of Tiggy, but she never forgot him.
Trixie and Tiggi
One evening eighteen months later Jim and I heard the cat flap being moved very quietly, I went into the kitchen, no one there, so I opened the door. There was a big ginger cat on the footpath looking back at me nervously, he turned and ran. I knew it was Tiggy, he was much bigger now and looked a bit scruffy, it was obvious he was living rough. I told Jim, "I’m sure it is Tiggy." We set up a mirror in the kitchen so that if he came in again we would be able to see him without moving from our seats and scaring him. Sure enough, he came back. After a while he realised we were not going to hurt him and he would sit a short distance away from us. It was definitely him, we identified all his markings from a photo, but, he had a dent on one side of his head. We came to the conclusion that he had either been hit by a vehicle of some kind or had been kicked by a cow, he appeared to have suffered partial memory loss, maybe some brain damage. Anyway, he knew the house, he knew he could get food and most of all, he knew Trixie and she knew him. He followed her around like a little puppy, by this time she was not well, we didn’t realise at the time but she had Leukaemia. Tiggy’s reappearance lasted about three months. During the last three weeks of Trixie’s life, she spent most of her time lying in the shade in our lower garden, I would feed her on little bits of chicken, she was becoming very weak and we would have to carry her very gently home at night. She had a constant companion in Tiggy, he was always close to her, only moving away when we approached. She finally died in my arms and we buried her beside one of her ‘babies’ Kiska, who had been killed by a speeding car. From that day on we never saw Tiggy ever again. The complete story of Trixie can be found here:Trixie-The Kitnapper!