Yes, she’s adorable personified – catonified, felinified? – and a proper integral part of our little family of three (she makes up the third) now that our Girl’s graduated and deserted us for pastures new: actually, she’s staying in Bath – and who wouldn’t? – secured the Dream Job she’d worked so hard at Uni for 3 years to achieve and so we don’t begrudge her a little desertion. In fact we’re the proudest we could ever be and she’s the brightest star in our firmament.
We adopted the little Piddles (see above: actual name ‘Panda’) 2 years ago. You might know the story: we lost our last cat Ant in 2014 (brother of Dec who passed – so much nicer than saying ‘euthanised’ I find – in 2012) the ageing Ginger Tosser – don’t worry, he actually enjoyed being called this – and a fortnight later discovered it wasn’t much fun being in each other’s company (that’s the husband and I, not the ancient – now deceased – Ginger Tosser) without something cute and furry squashed between us on the sofa. I think this might be true of a lot of couples. At least that’s the story I tell myself.
And so, after many trawls of t’internet and rescue centres, we eventually spotted Panda on the RSPCA Bedfordshire *Facebook page, fell in love with her scratched and dented little face, and made our intentions known. And the rest, as they say, is… well ongoing actually, because every day we’re writing new pages of the history book.
Whenever we’ve gone away – not generally longer than 5-6 days at the most, we’ve always turned to our wonderful neighbours for assistance. We’re like that along this row of houses – we’ve all got animals and we’re all very happy mucking in and helping each other out with – well, anything really. We even share baked goods, barbeques, bottles of Prosecco and days out. We all even have keys to the others’ houses in case of emergencies and/or cat/dog/fish sitting. It’s like a cheekier, younger version of warden-controlled living.
This year, though, we thought we’d try a cattery/cat hotel/cat lodgings/w’evs. Because, and don’t get me wrong, we LOVE our neighbours *see above* we just don’t like the obligation that comes with having to go next door twice a day, clean the bowls, refresh the food and water (no disposal of poop required as Piddles is very much an ‘outdoor girl’) and try and ignore the mounting piles of voles under the kitchen table who may or may not have been relieved of their heads. And who would?
Yes, she’s getting to the stage now where she’s bringing larger and larger creatures in from the fields next to our house. She’s evolved from baby ‘gifts’ like voles, and lately we’ve had a couple of birds and full-grown mice – so it’s only a matter of time before I return home one day to find a Crow/Raven/Hawk of some description sitting with paws like King Kong’s fists clinging evilly to the kitchen sink drainer and giving me proper malevolent evils as I cheerfully walk through the door, only to gasp, slam it back shut and run screaming for help to aforementioned neighbours (yes, this actually happened – it is not the product of an overactive imagination – said neighbour had to use my husband’s netting rod to put over the enormous creature and assist its removal and I spent the rest of the day cleaning sh*t off of every high surface in the kitchen).
And so yesterday we paid a visit to a Cattery in the area with space available for the time that we need. And, relief upon relief, it was very, very lovely. I’m not sure what I was expecting – Prisoner Cell Block C I think – and , yes, the ‘runs’ are little more than elaborate cat holding pens, but there is of course every reason for this. In fact when I read the word ‘runs’ on their website, I had visions of extended rabbit runs whereby there is a massive – 20metres at least – grassy, wire-meshed wooden-framed ‘run’ where the cats can get the daily exercise they need in order to sleep for 36 hours a day – but of course there is no such thing. Because what sane person (Cattery owner included) wants to scour such a length of grassy run every day looking for piles of catty doodagh – even if they are getting £11/night for doing so?
When we were relaying details to the nice gentleman who, along with his nice wife, will become Panda’s in locum parentis for 8 days, I found myself stepping out of my body and watching a lady not dissimilar to Hyacinth Bouquet telling him things like: “she only answers to Piddles. It’s a nickname – you know – like you give to your cats/friends/family” (and the out-of-body-me was hiding one eye with a hand,thinking: “Do you, though? Do normal, sane human beings seriously give their pets nicknames and insist they prefer this to their Given Name – and not only this but tell complete strangers this?
And I needed to know: “can we bring her scratchpost/food bowls/bedding/favourite toys/an item of my own clothing that smells of me so that she doesn’t believe we’ve completely deserted her?” (the out-of-body-me had given up and curled into a corner by this time. Seriously woman? Are you seriously asking these questions? This is an animal we’re talking about here, not your own flesh and blood. In fact I don’t remember giving My Girl an item of my clothing that smelled of me when she went to France for her first school trip, so why on earth are you making yourself look like some kind of nutter here? Oh, and don’t forget there’s a husband right beside you who’d also like to climb under a rock with the o-o-b-me).
‘Of course’, the nice man said. And why wouldn’t he? He’s probably (I tell myself on a constant loop) heard it all before. This is how any normal pet owner is when faced with 8 days away from the animal who, daily, whenever I come into a room, leaves it. Who, when I lean over to stroke her furry little head, paws me away indignantly, and, whenever I’ve returned from wherever I’ve been for an hour or so, greets me with a full-on arse lick.
I have images of her sitting on the ‘ledge/seat’ in her wire meshed home that week, staring plaintively out at the roaming chickens and other 8 cats in their own hotel rooms beyond and wondering what happened to those other humans who used to feed her and pet her and let her roam and shit freely throughout their gardens, but I’m probably way off the feline mark.
I’m just very glad that I was encouraged away by my husband before I’d said: “she likes to lie between my legs during the One Show and have her belly rubbed – can you confirm you can do this?”
Because it was on the tip of my tongue, along with “can we leave a spare mobile phone so we can call and say goodnight to her every evening?”
More than likely she’ll have forgotten who we are the second she’s handed a treat by a new pair of hands.
*Other Social Networking sites are available