Our Furry Friends
"Snowy"

Female. Born at the beginning of June 1990. Died 11th June 2009.
Age 19.
      I was given Snowy as a birthday present on 1st August 1990. She was a very well behaved kitten, who grew into a very large cat weighing approximately 5 kilo’s, which, according to a vet is rather large for a female cat. In fact a couple of vets used to say, “put HIM on the table” when I first took Snowy to them !

     As I said at the start, she was a very well behaved kitten, and thus she was also a very well behaved cat throughout her 19 year life. In fact she was very laid back most of the time, and would always sit quietly by her food dish and wait patiently to be fed. She was so patient that she could sit and wait for half an hour if need be, without making a sound, in the knowledge that food would turn up sometime soon.

     The only times she did get a bit uneasy was if she had to have medicine, go to the vet, or travel in the car.  Giving her tablets was the biggest  problem. Hiding them in her food was a no go, she would smell the tablet and refuse to eat for days. She used all the tricks in the book to stop them from going down her throat, until the day I got a syringe style tablet dispenser, which held the tablet until the plunger was pressed thus releasing the tablet and shooting water down her throat, forcing her to swallow the water and tablet ! Oh how I loved that device, life became so easy ! Not that she would fight with me when I attempted to give her tablets, she would just try to push me hand away. Throughout her long life she never once scratched me !
     Taking her in the car was also a problem, she hated being put in a cat transporter, and I could never get the thing closed before she had fought her way out of it. Visits to the vet were made with her in a large and thick cardboard box, with observation slots cut in the sides. She didn’t like that box either, but it was slightly easier to put her in it and tie the lid down. Sometimes on arrival in the vets surgery, I would take the lid off the box and say “Ok Snowy you can come out now”...and she would hop out onto the table. Sometimes she would refuse and needed to be tipped out. She would hiss at the vet in disapproval, but apart from occasionally pushing the vet's hand away with her paw, she would accept the situation. When the vet was finished, I would hold the box near the table, and say “Ok Snowy, time to go home” and she would happily hop into the box. Although she hated going in the car for many years, she suddenly seemed to enjoy it, and would sit up on Ro’s knees and look out of the window, or put her front paws on the dashboard and lookout of the windscreen.
     She lived in two houses during her life, the first in a town and the second out in the country. Whilst at the house in the town, she had a game that she used to play every evening when I came home from work. The garden was small, with a central paved area, where there was a large cauldron style pot with plants. Each night when I finished the evening shift, I would cycle home, push the bike along the passage way between our house and the one next door, open the gate to the back garden, and as I walked up to the garage at the end of the garden, I would hear the cat flap open and shut. After depositing the bicycle in the garage and locking the door, I would proceed down the garden towards the house. There would be no sign of Snowy anywhere. As I walked past the cauldron, a white  furry object would erupt out of nowhere and jump at my legs, then she would rush down to the door and wait for me to open it. This happened every night without fail. When she pounced at me from behind the cauldron, I would raise my arms and cry out “Oh, Oh” in mock surprise. She really enjoyed that ! Unfortunately, one night, being what I thought was “smart”, I decided to give the game an extra twist, and instead of walking directly past the cauldron, I walked to one side of it, to where she was hiding... “I can see you” I cried triumphantly. She got up and walked to the house, and after that, never played the game again... I had unwittingly destroyed her fun. I have felt guilty and sad about that ever since:-(
     Have a look at the photo (above, right) , notice how that window sill is very cluttered with plants and stuff. Well I can honestly say that Snowy would often jump up onto that window sill, and weave her way carefully between the plant pots and such, then lay down, and curve herself around the objects and take a nap. Only once did she ever move and knock something over.

     OK, we have gone into detail about her patience, her carefulness and behaviour etc.She was also a very quiet cat, who would make a funny noise in her throat when she entered the living room, otherwise she hardly ever had much to say. Ro reckons that in the 8 years she lived with Snowy, she heard her say “miaouw” approximatley 10 times. There was one particular day when Snowy burst into the room, and “miaouwed” 6 times in a row.... so we knew that something monumental had happened !
     She would catch an average of 5-6 mice a year, and caught one bird early in her life. She tried to eat it, feathers and all, which made her extremely ill, and after that experience, totally lost interest in birds, which meant that the birds in our garden had a very nice life, with plenty of food to eat, and nothing to fear, even if they hopped close to Snowy.

    In the middle of May 2009, Snowy was eating like a horse, and despite her age, running about the garden like a streak of white lightning. In fact the vet had thought her to be approximately 8 to 10 years old when she was 17, and was very surprised to hear her real age. By the beginning of June, she suddenly lost interest in food, and became very lethargic. I tried giving her a daily dose pineapple juice in case she had a fur ball forming, but she still ate very little. The vet could not find anything obviously wrong, and reckoned it could be some organ failure due to her age. We attempted to take her out for a walk on a lead in a forest in the hope that exercise might bring back her appetite. It did liven her up a bit, but a couple of days later she was still not eating, and had moved herself to the top of the stairs, where she just lay for 3 days, loosing more weight and getting weaker. At this point we could not bear to see her wasting away, and after consultation with the vet, we reluctantly made the decision to have her put to sleep. An extremely difficult and emotional day to get through, to say the least. The following days were no easier. We had lost a very faithful pet, who had always slept on top of my stomach whilst I lay on the couch watching TV, and who had stayed by my side for many hours a day during the long period of recuperation after an accident. She had been part of my life for 19 years..... after that length of time it took a lot of adjustment... knowing that she was no longer around.
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     After Snowy's death, we swore that we would not have another cat, but the house felt very empty, except for the arrival of 2 mice in the kitchen in October. Having got rid of the new inhabitants, we decided that maybe it would be a good idea to have a cat after all.

On the first of November, we acquired a female kitten, who we named Amber. A couple of days later we went to the vets to get the vaccinations done, and the vet informed us that we had a healthy female kitten. A week or so later we had to go back to the vets for a booster injection, and the vet discovered that Amber was not a she after all ! So after a bit of head scratching, we hit on the name.. Toby.
Male.  Born :-  August / September 2009.   Died :-  Thursday 21st January 2010.
We weren't aware that ginger toms have a fiery temperament, and after a while we noticed that our cute little kitten seemed to have a split personality. He would be quiet and enjoying being petted, then the next second he would jump up, rush across the floor, turn and come at us sideways with his back arched, ears laid back, then spring closer, sit with his front paws raised and waving threateningly with claws extended. I am pretty sure it was all part of a game, and he was probably training himself for defense of his territory or something, but it was a bit unnerving ! After a few minutes of this behaviour, he would be calm and friendly again for a few minutes, then suddenly with no warning, as though a switch had been thrown in his brain, he would rush around the room like a maniac, knocking things over and creating bedlam ! In fact he possessed an incredible amount of energy, which was a bit of a problem, as he had to be kept in for the first 3 to 4 weeks of his time with us, while the vaccinations took effect.
After a couple of weeks, he drove us crazy with the constant rushing about all day. We had to constantly keep an eye on what he was getting up to. He was always trying to chew through electric cables, climb the  artificial Christmas tree, pull the books out of the bookcase, climb into a bucket of water that was standing under the gas boiler and many other antics.
The Christmas tree never got any decorations on it, as he managed to climb in it and bring it crashing down on a daily basis. It seemed that the more he was scolded, the more he did it ! The vet suggested squirting water at him when he misbehaved, it didn't work, he loved water and having a shower.

I hate to admit it, but he wore us out, we are sure we aged by approximately ten years in the first four weeks. During his period of being kept in, we got the idea of taking him out for walks on a lead, on a grass track that went up past the side of our property. After the first few minutes of hesitation and fighting with the harness and lead, he got the hang of it. After a couple of days he enjoyed it, and we then started taking him for walks in a forest every afternoon, walking approximately 5 kilometers / 3½ miles. He really enjoyed the walks and loved being driven in the car, although he was frightened of passing cars, when we were outside.
The walks did calm him down quite a bit. He would crash out on the sofa in the evening. Eventually in the middle of December 2009, the time came when he could go in and out through the cat flap whenever he wanted.
The cat flap provided him with a new toy, and he would rush out of it, run over to a flower bed, find a lump of soil, and carry it in his mouth through the flap, deposit it on the kitchen floor, whack it around until it fell apart, rush out outside, get another lump, bring it in... etc. He managed to get the kitchen in a terrible state in a very short period of time ! Dead leaves were another thing that he would bring in constantly !

Having related all the frustrating things about him, I must say that he was a real character,  adorable, very trusting, highly inquisitive and had a very mechanical mind. He was always very calm at the vet's surgery, and let her do whatever was necessary without any reaction. Even with injections, he would just stand calmly, and didn't bat an eyelid when the needle went in. He had an ear mite infection when we first got him, and he would lay passively in our arms whilst we cleaned out his ears, no matter how long it took.
Unfortunately on the morning of December the 31st, 2009, there were some hunters in the field next to our house. Toby went out of his cat flap and was viciously attacked by one of the hunter's dogs that was out of control in our garden. Toby's stomach was punctured by the dogs teeth, and it took a lot of effort to make the dog let go of him. It was a big shock to Ro and I. We got Toby to the vets, she kept him at the surgery for 2 days, to make sure that he was ok. Thankfully after X-rays were taken, it seemed that nothing was broken, We kept him in for following 3 weeks, and his injuries improved, but something was wrong with his hind leg, and he limped badly. The bad hind leg did not stop him climbing up the window frames of our entrance door however ! I found him halfway up the door, pulling down on the door handle in an attempt to get outside.... See I said he was very mechanically minded, and he was only 4½ months old at the time !

Eventually in the middle of January 2010, we had to take him to the vets again, to see how the leg was progressing. More X-rays showed that his pelvis was cracked, and that the hind leg was very "loose". The vet told us that arthritis would develop very quickly and that Toby would never be able to defend himself. He had also become incontinent, and we were advised to have him put to sleep. We hate being put in this situation, and after a great deal of humming and haa-ing we reluctantly decided that it would be for the best :-(
We swore that we would never have another pet !
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    The month was February, the year 2010, we had now lost 2 cats in the course of 7 months. We had once again said "never again" after Toby was put to sleep. After a few weeks, we felt cheated and again the house seemed so empty without a cat in it, so we started looking again. This time we decided to have a look at cats at the local rescue centre. There were many to choose from, and over a week we looked at the website trying to choose the ones we found the most attractive. We mostly looked at the kittens that were approximately 8 months old, thinking that by that time they may have got through the electric cable chewing stage !

     We found 4 possibilities, so on Saturday the 19th of February, we paid the rescue centre a visit. 2 of the kittens we had on the list were already spoken for, so we had a look at a slightly older male cat called "Olsen". We were allowed to pick the cats up to see how they reacted to us. "Olsen" scratched  Ro badly on her finger, so he was removed from the list ! Next was a female cat called "Fleur"  whose photo on the website really stood out, as the photo had been taken when she miaowed so she looked like she was laughing.  Nobody knew how old she was, but she was not young, so we removed her from the list, because we wanted to have a cat for a long time, and not once again suffer the sorrow and trauma that we had gone through twice in the space of a short time.

     Having no more possibilities on the list, we then spent approximately 1½ to 2 hours, looking at, and picking up cats and kittens. There were about 30 cats and kittens looking for a home, so it was quite a task to make a decision ! Of course most of them wanted to have a home, so they were all trying to get our attention and be as friendly as they could. At one point we had met a 12 month old jet black male cat, who seemed to enjoy lying in our arms, and seemed very calm, so we noted him down as a definite possibility. We then went over to another building and looked at more cats. There was one cat there, that seemed totally disinterested in our presence, she was 2½ years old, and called "Isabella". We opened her cage, and picked her up, and she lay quietly in our arms and seemed friendly enough. After putting her back in her cage, she sat bolt upright, intensely watching as we looked at the other cats. We then decided to go back to the jet black cat and see him again as he was still the one that had scored the most points with us. As we made our way to the door, Isabella was still watching us intently.
     When we returned to the other building where the black cat was, we opened his cage to hold him one more time, but he just lay at the back of the cage, glaring at us, and no amount of sweet talk could make him budge, so we decided that he was no longer a possibility, and headed back to the building where Isabella was. I can honestly say that looking for a pet is not an easy job !

     As we got to the door we could see Isabella still sitting upright, intently looking at the door. When we walked in, she stood up and rubbed against the bars of the cage, and then looked up at us again, this may sound stupid, but it is as though she chose us !!! The decision was made for us, we signed the papers and took her home. She sat on Ro's lap in the car (no box or transporter cage), and was very calm. The drive home was ½ an hour in a snow storm, but she was very good. At one point in the journey, she frightened me to death when she miaowed. It was a very loud miaow !

    On arrival at the house, she spent about ½ an hour examining her new home, miaowing most of the time. In fact as Ro stated, she miaowed more times in 10 minutes, than Snowy had during the 8 years Ro had known her. After the ½ hour examination was over, Isabella lay down on the living room floor and had a nap. She was a very calm and careful cat. It took a few hours for us to convince her that she was allowed to lie in the arm chair or on the sofa, I guess that this was not allowed in her original home.
It didn't take long for us to realise that we had a cat that liked communicating. She had an awful lot of things to tell us.
The very first morning, we were woken up, by a faint miaowing sound, which got louder and louder as she walked through the house towards our bedroom. Eventually she came into the room, and stood by the bed, miaowing at us. So I got up and gave her some food. Every morning, she would come into the bedroom, and miaow, always at 45 minutes to the hour, give or take 5 minutes. It could be at 7:45 am, 8:45 am or 9:45 am, but it happened every day.

     She was the first cat that we have been able to converse with, that is to say, she would miaow at us, we would say "what?" then she would reply with a miaow in a different tone, we would say "really !" and she would reply with another sound and so it carried on. This sometimes went on for 5 minutes or more. Every day she would walk with us up the grass track by the side of our garden, in fact as soon as I had finished eating breakfast she would sit in the doorway to the living room and miaow at me, until I asked if she wanted to go for a walk, then she would walk over to the door, and wait for me / us. She really was an ideal cat, so well behaved and very friendly.
     Unlike Toby, she was not very mechanically minded, and could never open a door if it opened inwards. However she was a great communicator, and on several occasions when we were talking about doing something, she would suddenly go ahead and do it ! We swear that she understood us !

     On one occasion Ro had bought a solar light in the shape of a turtle which we had placed in a flower bed opposite the entrance door, with the light pointing away from the house. One evening Ro said she didn't think it was working, as she could not see it lighting up the plants where it was pointing. I could see that it was working, so we stood in the doorway looking in the direction of the flower bed, discussing whether it was lit or not. Isabella came along, sat in the doorway looking out in the same direction whilst we continued our argu..... Uhm discussion. Suddenly Isabella got up, walked out of the door, straight over to the flower bed and sat right behind the solar light so that she was lit up. It was really weird, and hard to believe it to be a mere coincidence !

     During her first 14 weeks with us, Isabella managed to catch exactly 40 mice and shrews. The first day that she was allowed out she brought in 4 mice within 3 hours ! We were upstairs on this occasion, and we heard Isabella excitedly miaowing downstairs. I went to the top of the stairs and looked down to see what all the fuss was about. There she sat in the hall, with a dead mouse laid out on the floor, she looked so proud, that I didn't have the heart to scold her for bringing it in !

     And now, here's the part of the story I hate to relate. Just when everything was going well, and we had had Isabella for 14 weeks, one evening Isabella went out of her cat flap (she was allowed out at night, as we live in the country) just as I was going to bed. The next morning, 27th May 2010, Isabella was strangely absent from the kitchen when I was getting my breakfast. With breakfast finished, I was going to drive to a course I was attending, and on reaching the car, I saw Isabella lying in the grass on the other side of the road. She was totally stiff, so she must have been killed quite a few hours before. Thankfully she was not in a mess, but we heard a few days later she had originally been lying in the middle of the road before a neighbour found her and laid her on the grass verge. This was a tremendous shock and loss for us, and again we had to deal with the sorrow for a third time in one year. Oddly each cat died on a Thursday. I have begun to dread Thursdays !
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And so the story progresses !
     I must say that after Isabella's death, we were utterly devastated, and the swearing that we would never get another cat again was soon forgotten when we saw a  kitten advertised on a website devoted to sales of all sorts of things. They had a section for pets.

     Who could resist such a cute little kitten such as the one in the photo on the right ? We couldn't, and luckily she was on a farm approximately 45 minutes drive from our house. So in the middle of June, we rang to the farm and were told that they hadn't found a home for the kitten yet. So we took a trip over and after a short time decided to try yet again. The kitten was only 8 weeks old, and the law here states that kittens must not be taken from their mother until they are 3 months old. So on the 28th of July 2010, after what had seemed a long waiting time, we drove over to the farm and picked up the kitten, who we had decided to call Misti. It was a stinking hot day, and the poor little kitten was really suffering from the heat. She miaowed sorrowfully a few times on the way home.
     On arrival at the house, she immediately disappeared under the bench in the kitchen, and stayed there for a few hours. Eventually we picked her up and managed to get her to eat and drink. Then she hid under the sofa for a long while. She appeared later in the evening, and then began to have a cautious look around her new surroundings. We were pleasantly surprised to find that she had managed to figure out how to use a litter tray, there hadn't been one at the farm, just a pile of sand. When we went to bed, she miaowed so sorrowfully, that we allowed her to curl up on the bed to sleep. She must have been pleased for the company, because the next morning she was pouncing all over us. The rest of the day she followed us around, taking an interest in everything we did.
     In the evenings, she would follow us up stairs to the room where our computers are situated, and she would curl up on a chair next to John and have a snooze, until we went to bed. In fact at the time of writing (Jan. 15th 2011) she is curled up on the chair as usual.... YES she has survived so far !!!

     After keeping her in for 2 weeks after she had been vaccinated, we let her out, and immediately she climbed right to the top of a large old apple tree in our garden, then couldn't work out how to get down. After a lot of coaxing and help, she eventually got down although we had to lift her out of the tree approximately 9 ft from the ground. She really enjoys going for a daily walk with us up the grass track and back again. During the summer and early autumn, whenever we were working in the garden, she would  join in with everything we did.  One day we were planting some bushes, and needed to dig a few, quite deep holes. She just had to do her bit too, because every time we dug out a shovel full of earth, she would jump in the hole and dig with her paws. It was quite a job not to accidentally hit her with the shovel, because she would get in the way most of the time.... But it was fun.

     I also discovered that my hobby of garden railways interested her too. The first time I got one of my steam locomotives out and rolling stock, she was sniffing around, and examining everything. When I lit the locomotives gas burner, the loud "pop" as the gas ignited, did not frighten her and once the steam pressure was raised to the point of the safety valve spurting steam into the air, I was surprised to see that she took it all in her stride, in fact she walked right over to the locomotive and sniffed at the steam hissing from the safety valve, and then sat beside the locomotive. When I started the loco, she just followed along behind it. It will be interesting to see how she will react this year, now that she is soon 1 year old, maybe she will have lost interest !

       AH, FOOD.... I have never had a cat or known a cat who enjoys eating such strange things as she does. All our other cats would eat Whiskas tinned food a couple of times a day, and the dry food too, which was always left in a bowl and readily available. Misti eats a bowl full of dry food each day, and will only have tinned food once a day when we have our evening meal. She will only eat the tinned Whiskas, if little bits of lettuce is mixed in with it. She positively gobbles it down if a few shrimp and lettuce are mixed in it.
What I do find strange, is that she will also eat pieces of lettuce on their own. And now this is where it gets a bit stranger, she eats pieces of raw potato, apple, onion, chili taco's, in fact most spicy things, pieces of carrot, tomato and Marmite (you either love it or hate it !).

Well I think that's about all for now. Hopefully she will have a long and happy life with us. I am crossing my fingers ! She has become a part of the family and we are so glad we didn't give up having a cat after our unbelievable run of bad luck.

Update Febuary 2012.

Well, she is still with us after approximately 1½ years. During the first 9 months with us, she managed to fall in a large open tank filled to the brim with a couple of thousand liters of of liquid natural fertilizer ( a polite way of describing it ) that is situated in a field opposite our house. The first we knew about it was when she arrived in our kitchen creating an awful stink. The whole back half of her body was dripping with it. It is a miracle that she didn't drown. A few weeks later she somehow managed to break a toe on her right front paw. We think she had been climbing in a tree and a bough broke off and landed on her paw. A few weeks later it healed. Shortly after that, she got her paw trapped inside the door to the dish washer. A short time after that episode she arrived in the kitchen crying and limping badly on her rear right leg. Examination by the vet suggested that she might have been hit by a car. We were beginning to think that we had a rather accident prone cat !

I am glad to report that since the last accident mentioned above, she has had nearly a year without any accidents, so maybe she has learned from her experiences.
Food has become a slight problem, as she prefers eating dry food from Whiskas. We have tried to vary her diet, supplementing it with Whiskas canned food, but she will only eat one type which is some sort of fish done to the original recipe, any of the other types with gravy and jelly, she will not go near. I find it odd, as one of the Whiskas canned products smells so delicious that I get hungry whenever I open the can, I have been tempted to try it myself, but have so far resisted the urge. We have tried so many different cat foods without success, which is a shame as I believe it is not good for a cat to just have one type of food.. Apart from the dry food, her favourite food is a bowl of shrimp mixed with a large amount of shedded lettuce ! She gets this every evening and it is gone in a matter of minutes !.
     Thankfully she seems to keep away from the road. She seems to be quite intelligent, and certainly understands the word "walk". When it is mentioned she is out and running over to the grass track by the side of our property. She doesn't communicate quite so much as Isabella, but I think she miaows more than Snowy ever did. She loves attacking shadows. When we are preparing our supper, she spends ages jumping up and attacking our shadows on the freezer door, or the cupboard doors. She has nearly managed to figure out how to open the food cupboard door !
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Cats do sleep in the oddest positions ! But she certainly looks contented.
These two photos, were taken during the summer of 2011.

Misti still loves to follow the steam trains around the garden railway, and has now worked out which route they will take, thus allowing her to sit on top of the tunnel looking down on the train as it disappears into the tunnel. Her favourite locomotive is my " Lumber Jack" as it is geared down, so moves relatively slowly, allowing her time to run to the end of the tunnel and stick her head into the tunnel mouth to watch its progress, she really does enjoy watching it pop out again under her very nose !
( Left )...Does she think she's a "Mercat" ?
We were out for a walk on the grass track by our garden one afternoon, and a neighbour was walking his dog on the otherside of the field, she sat in this position for over 5 minutes, intently watching their progress. Unfortunatel the photo is not too clear as it was taken on my mobile phone.

We have seen her sitting like this for long periods watching birds. On one ocassion recently she actually stood up on her hind legs for a few minutes watching a bird that was at the top of a fir tree in our garden, unfortunately I was unable to find the camera in time to get a photo.

February 2012.
The motley crew.
From left to right... Toby, Snowy, Misti and Isabella.
OK, we admit it, we love cats !

      Many people claim cats to be mainly indifferent to their owners, except at feeding times, and of an independent nature. We have not found that to be the case. Yes they do go off on excursions of their own in the garden and beyond and lie around sleeping, but they do also enjoy the company of their owners immensely if their owners let them know that their company is also appreciated. Cats have very interesting, exciting and differing personalities. One thing is certain, they are far from being dumb animals.

     Ro was not particularly crazy about cats when she first came to Denmark, but after meeting Snowy, the first cat John had in Denmark, she changed her opinion. Snowy had nearly impeccable manners, and generally very calm and collected.
   
     The stories of our cats are not all rosy and have caused us a great deal of grief on occasions, but one thing is certain, the house feels very empty without a cat living in it.
The sections below are dedicated to each of the cats we have had the pleasure of sharing a part of our life with.