Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Jetikins - Cats on Tuesday

Jetikins

Hello, my name is Jet, but mama often calls me Jetikins, or panther puss, especially when she gets soppy and starts cuddling me or blowing raspberries in my tummy fur.  I don't mind really cos I know she loves me, and so does papa.  I don't really like it when she starts following me around with that clickety thing she calls a camera though, she says she's trying to capture me in it, but wot happens then, it's too tiny to hold me?

                    This is my Papa, he showed me wot mama was cooking.

                                                 Get that clickety thing outa my face!

                         My rug on mama's desk, one of my favourite places.

We are late getting this up this week cos mama is not very well, and she ses the intinet is being hard to get along with, and it took her forever just to get her Our World blog to behave.  I asked her "wots a blog, does it have a tail?" and she said this is a blog and it's mine this week, so I said ..brrrup!

Oh, Rappy told me to tell you all that he caught another rat, not as big as the last one, just a young one.  He left it in the living room this time cos mama didn't like it by the bathroom door!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Temba - Gone but not Forgotten

Temba - Gone but not Forgotten
This is an account of the loss of our Temba, written in June 2003 

TEMBA

I stood gazing out of the window, lost in thought and not really seeing anything. My thoughts were of Temba, my beautiful Temba. Her name is the Zulu word for ‘Hope’. Temba was born in this house fourteen years ago, to our Matriarch Sammy Jo. At about five weeks old Temba and one of her siblings, Tombi (Zulu for ‘Girl’) had become quite ill, I nursed them both and Tombi, being the  stronger of the two, seemed to recover very quickly, but Temba’s condition worsened.  She was dehydrated and I fed her every 20 minutes with a saline solution from an eyedropper, plus I had to make up a special feeding formula for her.  She was so tiny and so weak, I was afraid to leave her for a moment in case she became chilled and gave up the fight.  I found one of Jim’s old woolly socks and turned it so the toe was level with the open end and I placed Temba inside it with her head cradled in the heel section, then I put her inside my jumper.  Wherever I went, she went too, it was the only way I could be sure she would not get cold.  Temba didn’t seem to be rallying at all and one day after giving her some of the saline she went limp and stopped breathing.  I sat with her in my hands and cried, then I started to massage her little chest and she started to breath again.  A few days later she slowly started to improve and eventually was restored to full health.
 
Temba grew into a big beautiful cat, she had long glossy black fur, white mittens, a white bib and white patches around her nose and mouth, long white whiskers and beautiful large amber coloured eyes. Her tail was thick and bushy and was always held upright when she walked. She and Tombi played together with our other cats and kittens, and the rabbits and guinea pigs that we had at the time.  She was such a gentle creature, not a hunter at all, although bees and butterflies intrigued her. When she was still quite young she came home one day with a butterfly she had caught, she was so proud of herself. She was carrying the soft body of the butterfly between her lips and the wings were fluttering all the time.  When we spoke to her softly and told her she was a clever puss she immediately let it go and off it fluttered, unharmed.

Temba loved to be in the garden whenever we were working there, she would go crazy, chasing around, pouncing on imaginary mice and patting at the bees and the butterflies on the flowers. She liked people and would befriend anyone who came to our house and would sit on their laps if they let her. She loved to be made a fuss of and have her tummy tickled or have her coat rubbed up the wrong way, that would send her into ecstasy and she would roll around making funny little chirping noises. Sometimes she would roll onto her back and grab the hand of whoever was tickling her tummy, she would kick with her back feet and pretend to bite our fingers but she never pulled a claw or used her teeth.

As she got older Temba became a home loving cat, she rarely wandered far from the house and could usually be found in our large lower garden when she did go out.  She liked to sit in the windows or sleep on the couch.  She wasn’t just an ornament and she knew she was loved.  All our cats talk to us and we talk to them and give them a lot of attention, they are members of our family.  Though we can’t speak their language, we know most of the time what they are trying to say, and they understand us perfectly.  I swear though that Sammy Jo has learned some of our words, being the Matriarch and now sixteen years old, she is in full control.  Jim is the Butler and I am the Housekeeper, if she wants to go out she will sit by the door and wait for one of us to open it. She is quite capable of using the see through cat flap but, if we are there, why should she! If one of us doesn’t take the hint, she becomes quite indignant and will sit there, glaring and saying 'out', ‘out!’  There is no doubt in my mind that she has learned how to say ‘out.’  Some of our younger cats have learned from her and are now following her example.

There is one object in our house that none of the cats like, they react in varying degrees, Sammy Jo tolerates it but the others take off, into another room or upstairs but Temba would bolt for the cat flap as soon as she saw it emerge from its den.  The vacuum cleaner is a menacing machine that threatens to gobble up their bodies if they allow it to get too close to them.

Last Easter Monday I brought the vacuum cleaner out of the cupboard and Temba made a mad dash for the door.  Normally she would have been back within the hour, usually hiding under the old rabbit hutch outside until she knew it was safe to come back in again.  This time she didn’t come back in, but it was a really nice warm day so she probably went to lie in the shade of a bush down in the big garden.  She didn’t come back at all, she didn’t come in for breakfast next day or the day after.  We searched the gardens, the village and the two roads leading out of the village, nothing. Once, several years ago she had gone ‘walkabout’ and had come back after a ten day absence, maybe she has taken off for a while. Two weeks later she was still missing, I made up posters with her photo on them and we posted them through every door in the village, even the milkman helped.  Still nothing.

It is seven weeks now, just a few days ago I was working in the garden and heard a soft little cry beside me, my heart leapt, for a split second I thought it was Temba.  It was Tosh from next door, he is a very large, sleek and well muscled black cat and he is a softie just like Temba, he loves attention and, like her, he loves being around us in the garden.  He chases the hoe or the rake as we use it or dives into the pile of dried grasses I have just pulled out and tries to bury himself in it.  Tosh’s house doesn’t have a cat flap and if his people don’t see him, he can’t get in, and he has to go out for the night when they go to bed.  He has a cat flap and a box in their shed, but what self-respecting cat wants to share a cold, musty old shed with a bunch of smelly motorcycles and lawnmowers and various other bits of machinery that the boys have brought home from the latest Boot Sale!

So Tosh spends a large part of his time in our house, he comes in for breakfast and then settles down on our bed to sleep, with Calli, our youngest cat.  She is about six years old now, a beautiful Calico, longhaired with a big bushy tail.  Tosh loves her but she likes to tease and give him a bad time.  Tosh had a sister and they were inseparable and very playful, but one day she was hit by a car and killed.   We believe Tosh was with her when it happened and he saw her die, he was traumatised for a long time and seemed to withdraw into himself, becoming a bit of a loner for a while. Also he didn’t make a sound for well over six months, we paid him a lot of attention whenever he came around to see us but he would disappear for days on end.  One day he came home with an extremely swollen paw so he was taken to the vet and eventually had to have one of his toes amputated.  When Calli came along he wanted to befriend her, but she was tiny, and to her he must have looked like a huge black monster, panther like. So she was a little afraid of him at first and would hiss and spit at him if he so much as looked in her direction.    One day Tosh came into the kitchen and walked up to me to be petted and he spoke his first words since Tish had died.  Not the usual meow but little chirps and brrrp’s, which is the way all our cats talk.  He is very talkative now and although he belongs next door, he spends most of his time with our cats and us.  A lot of people believe that cats are solitary animals, but ours like the company of their own kind and they are very close and affectionate with each other.

One of my last memories of Temba is from a couple of days before she disappeared.  She often had ‘mad moments’ and she had been lounging on the sofa when she suddenly started to pounce on some imaginary creature that was obviously hiding between the arm and the cushion of the sofa.  She was leaping about all over the place, her whiskers almost curled around to meet each other and ears pointed forward.  Then she jumped down and promptly ‘killed’ my shoes, after that she dashed around the room, into the kitchen, back into the room and up the stairs.  We could hear her paws pounding around the bedroom, then she charged back down the stairs, breathless and wide-eyed, to settle back down on the sofa!

I believe something bad has happened to Temba and that we have lost her.  She was fit and healthy when she went out that day, and still a playful 14 year old kitten. The worst part is not knowing what happened to her or where she is, was she hurt, did she try to come home? Did she lie injured somewhere, hoping we would come and find her?  It breaks my heart when I think about it.  It also makes me think of the parents who have missing children, how terrible it must be for them.  Some people would say “well, it’s only a cat,” but whether it is a cat, a dog or a human being, if you love it the pain is the same.  We miss her very much and I believe our other cats miss her too, they seemed a little subdued, maybe they know something we don’t.

8th June 2003

Postscript:

The night that Temba disappeared we heard dogs barking in the field opposite our back door, and I heard a scream.  A farmer used to cut across the field very late at night with his dogs, which are vicious little terriers.  We now believe that the dogs caught and killed Temba, and that he disposed of her body, everyone in the village knew we were looking for her. 

That farmer has since been charged with deliberately shooting, wounding and blinding a show dog, he claimed she was worrying his sheep, known to be a lie because the sheep were several fields away, and she had just popped through a hole in the fences he never fixes to the field which was empty of any stock, and he shot her immediately, straight in the face, chest and flanks then left her to die.  Her owner was with her when she darted through the fence from her own garden, and he went to retrieve her.  The Vet disproved the farmers lies in court and he was fined heavily and has had to pay for her ongoing Veterinary fees.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Cats on Tuesday - A Hectic Week

A Hectic Week


It has been a hectic week for me.  An almost last minute request for a Roman costume, tunic, armour and helmet, to be made by Monday night and to be worn first thing Tuesday morning by an adult Roman Centurion at a school assembly.
After shopping around in Malton and York I finally found what I needed, the fabric for the armour being most difficult, but I found some silver oilskin eventually and then got to work.  Yesterday I was in panic mode for a while, not sure if I was going to get it finished in time, but I did.

Jet relaxing on my unmade bed, they always look so comfortable I hate to disturb them.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

He found the red feather boa I had bought to use in the Centurion's helmet, lying on the table and promptly sat on it, unfortunately I didn't have my camera handy to take a photo of him.
Rappy also on my bed attending to his grooming, I caught him sitting in this funny position. 

He has continued to nag me whenever I run off down the road to take photo's.  Trying to sneak out when he is not looking is not as easy as I thought, he is ever watchful of his mama.                                                   
Rappy brought us a special present this week, a rather large rat, he was very proud of himself.  I just wish he had not dragged it through the cat flap and brought it all the way upstairs to leave it right in front of the bathroom door on the landing. 
We told him he is a very clever boy and a very good hunter, so I am sure it won't be the last one.
Calli is also a very good hunter, a real mouser. She regularly brings a mouse home, and in spite of the fact she is very well fed, she insists on eating her mice.  Mouse meat must be very tasty.  They never eat the rats though thank goodness.  She has been elusive this week, I think she is rather camera shy.

And below, the cause of my recent panic.

The costume will be worn by an adult during the presentation of a Bible story in a school assembly.

'Open The Book' is popular in a number of schools here and the children really enjoy it, especially when they sometimes get to take part and dress up too.
P.S.  To see some pics of Western Scotland and hear my daughter sing 'Farewell to Tarwathie' - an old whaling folk song - click on the video near top right.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Heat-Wave - Cats on Tuesday

Heat Wave
This week the predicted Indian Summer arrived, we had record temperatures for October in the UK, 29.9 Celsius in several places.  It takes some getting used to after several weeks of rain, wind and chilly weather.

Calli likes to go out and find herself a hideaway under a shrub, or down in the long grass of the lower garden.  Rappy spent most of his time during the day sleeping in our bedroom, and poor Jet didn't like the heat at all, he was quite listless and stayed out of the sun most of the day, he complained a few times and I think he would have liked to be able to take his thick black coat off if he could.

For the past few weeks we have had visitors to our front and back garden every day, one of our neighbours keeps chickens and she has one that has a brood of eight chicks, they seem to enjoy scratching around in our garden, under the bird feeder and in a weedy border were the hedge has been cut back hard.  Rappy and Jet like to watch them from the window, but never bother them.

We had some beautiful sunsets and I would run off down the village road to a good spot to take photo's, neither Rappy nor Jet were happy about that, one evening Rappy followed me to the gate to the road and sat watching me walk away, he kept calling me to come back, and when I finally did, he led me down the garden path, continually looking over his shoulder to make sure I was still following, and chuntering at me all the way.

Two evenings ago Jet actually followed me down the road, which worried me a little, whenever a car came down the other side of the road he would dash through the hedge then reappear when it was gone; but one came on the nearside and instead of nipping through the hedge he panicked and ran into the road in front of it, fortunately the driver who had just come round a bend was going fairly slow and she was able to stop.  Then I picked him up, calmed him and carried him home.  In future I will have to sneak out when they are not looking!

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