Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Ben and I had a nap this afternoon.

The wind had got up again and Julien was using the Karcher to blast clean the tiles on the terrace.

We were escaping the noise.

Ben is a rescue cat and gift from a kind cat person who–like Old Mother Hubbard with her children–had so many cats he didn’t know what to do!

Ben is a mover.


He comes into a room at the fast trot with a sense of purpose–not to stay long, though; often to snack briefly but intently on his favorite dry food, then off at a scamper and a skip to a siesta–like this afternoon.

He can also be perfectly still.

Stillness for an actor is an effective tool, it grabs the attention; Ben’s stillness is innate, no artifice involved, but it is stunning to witness.

When he sleeps he sleeps the sleep of centuries–he does not stir when stroked–asleep.

He got “stuck” on the roof a couple of nights ago–in truth he wasn’t stuck, just being a bit weedy.

The roof in question slopes down to family tombs in the graveyard–the friendly resting places of some of our late neighbors.

The cemetery is a favorite playground for the cats–plenty of places from which to say “BOO”.

Ben used the grandest tomb to leap onto the roof of the dependence, then decided to call the “fire brigade” rather than descend by the same route.

It took our newest arrival–Midnight–to shame him into taking the leap by showing him the way.


Midnight resting on his laurels

Midnight, or “Fluffernutter” as Meredith often calls him, is normally Ben’s shadow–in awe of him, one could say–following him everywhere much to Ben’s disdain; that night Midnight showed his mettle.


Ben (left) with his shadow

Young Midnight is long-haired, black and dark brown. He was left after dark (near midnight, in fact) in the courtyard–a small bundle of bones and fur with two anxious staring eyes.

He too was a “donation”–anonymous, this time.

We must be known as a “cat haven”– this is not the first time it’s happened.


Beau taking his role as Top Cat seriously

Our “Top Cat”, Beau, Meredith found in the garage. Someone had popped him through the catflap–well, better than drowning.

He sat in the palm of my hand, purring for dear life. How could he know then that he’d fallen in the butter dish?


Young Beau auditioning for doorstop replacement.

So our resident (indoor) three, all relative youngsters, are Beau, Ben and Midnight–in that order of their arrival.

We also have two outdoor cats–a mother and daughter and a piebald, Peanut–whom I have never liked.



(Is it allowed not to like a cat?)

Enough to put on a musical!


[A house full of cats Part Two to follow!]
















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There is an air of perfect calm today.

From where I’m sitting, reading, the back door–open to the terrace–frames the day.

A still life–cloudless blue sky with trees.


Young Ben…


comes in through the door, pauses, purrips a greeting, looks towards the food bowls, then strides passed them–apparently affording me preference.

His black coat is warm from the sun as I stroke him.

He continues on, jumps up on the table under the window to the courtyard–looks out briefly and exits through the grill.

Eating will keep and there are lizards to chase.


I go back to my book.

As I finish a chapter Ben appears again at the back door, pauses, sniffs the floor just inside the door, where a few pellets of dry food have fallen.

He cracks a couple with his teeth and moves off–no greeting this time.

He walks across the entrance hall into the dining room, stops suddenly, sits and throwing his right hind leg in the air starts cleaning the underside ferociously. He changes legs and licks the left one stretched out in front of him–paying special attention to the toes.

He moves off again and disappears in the direction of the garage.

Five minutes later he comes in through the front door with a loud greeting “meow” and pauses.

I get ready for a friendly approach; instead he turns away and mounts the staircase.

I write the last sentence and then hear “pad-pad-pad-pad” down the stairs and here he is again— head pointing towards the front door and out he goes–into the sunshine.

After a couple of minutes I become aware of a whirring sound–thrump, thrump–getting louder–THRUMP, THRUMP–begging investigation.

Some sort of flying machine? Helicopter? Ultra-light?

I go out through the courtyard to investigate just in time to see the rear end of a vast combine harvester disappearing down the field opposite–shattering the quiet calm of a perfect day.

No sign of Ben.






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Lucien (Lulu, Louby-lou, Lou), who died peacefully yesterday at the age of 15 plus, was a cat of many parts.

Grumplestiltskin, sleep-a-lot, loner, lounger, sybarite, guardian.

He was not a cat who easily showed affection like Marmalade or Ben. He was not a big greeter like Butterscotch who would roll over in the courtyard whenever we returned from an outing. Nor was he a cat that cared, in the sense that Pippa seems to care, when either of us are confined to bed and she decides it’s her duty to be with us.

He was a solitary cat, a cat apart, a cat set in his ways, a loner by choice–happy it seemed to spend hours curled up in favorite familiar places where he wouldn’t be bothered.


He wasn’t a tolerant cat either and could be the scourge of newcomers–prowling round the kitchen at feeding time like Bill Sykes in a black mood

He was a “found” cat, who’d been separated from his mother too early–a rough start for anyone. After such a trauma, likely it was hard for him to trust anyone–one reason perhaps for all those years he spent in the garage with one sleepy eye on the cat-flap, guarding us from unwelcome guests!

It took him practically a lifetime to start cosying up on the sofa for a bit of telly watching in the evening rather than clambering arthritically onto the back of the sofa opposite, where his favorite folded blanket awaited him. For years no amount of cajoling would persuade him to change; he was a stubborn cat.

Meredith thinks that missing out on his mother’s milk for the vital first few days contributed to his physical difficulties later in life.


He arrived at the front door in a cardboard box. He sat nervously in the palm of one hand–he was so small–not understanding that he’d fallen in the butter dish, as a friend used to put it.

He’d been found in her garden by the sister of a friend who knew we loved cats and that Pippa had just had a litter. Perhaps, our friend thought, Pippa could be persuaded to accept a small addition.

Meredith tried adding him to the line of tiny mites who were suckling at Pippa’s teats–but she was having none of it at first and quickly shook him off.

Meredith tried again, but no go. A little while later she watched Pippa walk over to Lucien, pause, then step forward to clean his face–as if he were one of hers.


Lucien, Butterscotch and Marmalade.

Pippa had had a change of heart and accepted him into her litter.


It was a significant bonding for both of them. They remained friends for life.


Pippa was Lucien’s only close relationship, though he spent years pursuing Butterscotch, apparently the love of his life, with no success.

She was disdainful of him, clearly regarding him as a parvenu and beneath her!

All this doesn’t make him sound much fun but he did have a playful side most often brought on when the sun shone.

Even last week when he was clearly fading fast–the vet on a home visit had told us to our relief that we was not in pain–he spent part of an afternoon outside, following the sun round the front of the house.

Lucien loved to lounge in the open air, albeit often behind a tree and close to the garage and sometimes, very occasionally, he’d forget himself, throw care to the winds and simply let it all hang out!


So why did we love him so?

We loved him for his difference, for his curmudgeonliness, for his contrarinessfor his independent spirit, we loved him to be precise– for being Lucien and unlike any cat we knew.



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Five cats at the trough this morning.

Head cat, Pippa– (no messing!)


Beau (always first in)…


Ben (politely patient, knowing his place in the pecking order (low), tip-toes round the bowls.)


and Lucien, who stomps around like a grumpy member of a fusty old London Men’s club finding his favourite chair is occupied by someone he’s never seen before and worse–a female.

On a dark night he does a good impression of “Bill Sykes“.


Bill Sykes was never so cosy!

The “newcomer” is Blackie, who is gradually becoming an in-door cat after years of nervous coming and going pit stops–mostly out-doors.


Blackie’s a cat with no tail but a lot of oomph.


She has survived six or seven years in the relative wild–too nervous to put her head down indoors for longer than an hour or two.

Something is changing though–perhaps with age, sleeping rough every night through the seasons is losing its charm.

In summer she’d arrive for a quick snack with insect bites all round her eyes.


It has been slow progress, but close encounters in the tomato patch have helped.

There’s a small bench there, perfect for an early morning cogitation/rumination, after a bit of weeding and watering.

This summer Blackie and I have spent some serious time together.

She appears from nowhere, entwines me in elaborate leg embraces, chatting away anxiously about something.

These early morning approaches have gradually calmed into more of a companiable, “Hi, how’s it going?” greeting, as she jumps lightly onto the bench beside me and nudges my arm.

This morning she “knocks” on the back door and enters at a pace, ate a little, jumps into her chair of choice and watches, unconcerned, as the others arrive.


An indoor cat with rights like theirs.

We’ll see. The arrival of winter may settle it.

Later in the morning, I open the backdoor for Pippa; she’s off for her post-breakfast constitutional.

There below the step is Blackie, tucking into elevensies.


Pippa looks at Blackie for a long beat. She decides to lean forward and give her a nudging nose kiss. She then steps aside and down and saunters away.

Blackie enters and hops onto her favored chair and hunkers down again.

“Wow!” No Pippy hissy-fitting–things are changing round here.

A five cat household–oh my!

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Our beloveds have grown a little–though Ben–the all-black–stays slight and slim, perhaps by exerting more energy per metre than Usain Bolt winning the Olympic 100 meter dash this summer.

Beau pretends that he’s grown out of his crazy games stage–but fails to convince!

He needs the exercise–after hoovering up food from any spare plate.

(Echoes of Marmalade there….)

They appear unfairly matched–a heavyweight against a flyweight.

Nevertheless, young Ben is usually the attacker and Beau the only too-eager receiver.

More paws than claws; no biting either (as far as we can see) in the melées (happy about that!).

Younger brother vs. older brother more like.

Late evening, a sequence can run something like this:

Leaprollpush offpause(paws!)walk awaywalk backlanguid lounge–yawn–waitquick lick/scratchpausesmall haunchcrouchcouple of tail swisheslean back and leaprepeat, repeat, repeat–retire.

They swagger back to their separate “corners”  to catch their breaths before the bell rings for the next round and they hurl themselves at each other anew.

We are the exhausted ones at the finish.

Meredith caught them at full frolic–watched over at one point by disdainful a Pippa.

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Little Ben, our new arrival, just trotted into the kitchen.

What’s up?

We were anxious–hadn’t see him since mid-morning.

It’s a sunny autumn day in the Tarn and the doors have been open to welcome October.

Ben–little Ben?

I looked high and low–no sign.

I turned to come downstairs again and a small figure, stretching and yawning, sidled out of the bedroom. Must have been under our bed.

He arrived last week–word-of-mouth job.

Our friend Flo knew we were on the lookout for a companion for Beau.

A ginger female would be perfect–an echo of dear departed Butterscotch (little Mother).

Flo saw an advert in the organic shop she goes to regularly.

“Household overwhelmed with animals–has to let go delightful found kitten–about five weeks old”.

Meredith rang the number and picked up little Ben–already well named–the next day.

Jet black–and male!


Beau’s nose was quickly out-of-joint.

More–he even seemed afraid of Ben–backing off when the youngster came towards him.

We’d been used to the Little Prince always confronting perceived danger; challenging–cat and dog alike.

Now our boy seemed cowed.

Our plans appeared to be in ruins.

A couple of days later and I’m about to go to bed when two figures streak across the bedroom.

One–Ben–hides behind the hanging bed cover and the other–Beau–crouches, head well forward, ready to pounce.


I watch, enchanted, as the chase continues.

At one point Ben shocks Beau into a four pawed take-off into mid-air, by shooting out from under a chair.

We have lift-off– it seems!

Ben’s size shows us how much Beau has grown.

He’s doing the things Beau used to do but is doing less–like fighting a mat to the death.

He’s keen to see more of the world.

Fascinated by life on the outside!

Too busy checking things out to pose for a portrait.

Beau has a younger “brother” and our time marveling at kitten spectaculars is extended.

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'Where did she go?...'

A friend in New York City sent us a book about a Japanese cat called Wabi Sabi…


When a Japanese cat met a French cat

Wabi Sabi asked

Marmalade about his name

which was puzzling her


Marmalade never

Thinks much about his name– more

About the next meal


But he’s a kind cat

And polite to strangers–so

He humours Wabi


“Yes my name is odd,

But to tell you the truth, I’m

Rather proud of it.


You see for me it

Evokes early morning–

The start of a new day.


That’s all I will say;

Never fully explain–that’s

The secret of life”



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