Guys, this is one of the best days of the whole year: International Cat Day! I couldn’t not make a post on this, I mean, it’s in the name of this blog TheVeganCATLibrarian.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a sponsored post: it is my personal story that happens to involve the Cats Protection because of fate.
Also, this is a long post, at times a bit sad (very sad if you are a cat person). So you are advised.
The Making Of A Crazy Cat Lady
This means that I have a particular affinity with these domestic felines. As I always say, I was raised by cats: my parents had a black cat before I was born and at some point, she got pregnant just months before my mom gave birth to me. This cat (her name was Stella) was never jealous of me and actually (from what my parents always told me) she was very affectionate: my mom attributed this to the fact that Stella was also pregnant and gave birth to her kittens just after I was born so there was some extra maternal instinct there. No wonder I love cats!
Unfortunately, Stella got lost a few years later: it is still unclear how that happened because we were living in a block of flats in a residential area. My parents think someone must have seen her wandering around and thought of taking her. I hope she found a good place, but my parents were really quite brokenhearted. This meant that we didn’t have other cats for 9 years. In the meantime we also moved from the city to a much smaller town, we had a garden and I was pestering my parents to get a pet. It happened that in the area there were a lot of stray cats, so my parents decided that while not taking in any cats, I could practice taking care of another life by feeding these stray cats. And I loved the fact that they thought me this, to take care of a non-human animal that was in need, I think it’s beautiful to instil this in a small and young mind. My parents saw that the feeding of the strays was going well, they were also coming closer, probably in search of some kind of protection? Who knows. Then a neighbour’s cat had some kittens (you’ll see this is sadly a recurrent situation, but will explain shortly) and gave us one: Sweety. A beautiful European cat, short-haired, with a white belly and his back all grey with black stripes. He was a gentle soul, particularly loved my dad and was very happy to eat plum cakes and boiled green beans. He lived with us for 7 years, then he started being ill and one day he went away. Again, this hit us (especially my dad) quite hard and again the decision of not taking in any more cats. But there were still plenty of strays around and we were happy to provide food for them.
Few years passed and a friend asked me if I knew anyone interested in a kitten because her aunt’s cat had a litter and wanted to give them away but to trusted people. My dad resisted a bit to the idea, but then he gave up. This brought Hercules another European cat, all dark brown, with a lighter belly and several small, oval, coffee patches on his belly. We called him like that because these patches seemed abs and he was very strong for a little cat! Since it was me who pressed to take him, my parents told me that I would have had to take care of him after he was weaned. So I was feeding him the homogenised food and kept him in my bedroom for a month. The bond that was created after that was so strong: he preferred sleeping on my bed and liked me best to pet him. He liked what I liked and disliked what I disliked: he didn’t mind when I was listening to loud music but was very annoyed at the crying of small children. He was also a bit of a rascal but didn’t mind having a collar. A bit after three years, he was found dead in the garden of a neighbour. Now, about this. The neighbour said he found him dead, he thinks a car hit him and he managed to drag himself in that garden. But all our gardens have gates with cast iron bars that are very close to each other, so how can a cat close to death manage to squeeze in between such bars and preferring another garden to his home’s one? We were never convinced about this story. My heart just sunk and this time it was me that didn’t want to take any more cats in: I got too close and this death was just tragic.
But my mom wanted another cat and this time a colleague of hers said that for few weeks she was seeing a cat with two kittens near her garden and asked my mom to take one. Bear in mind this is just a couple of months after Hercules’ death. I was very resistant to the idea, but she really wanted another cat. Understandably, as she didn’t have much feeling with Hercules. One day she comes back from work with a carrier and one of the smallest little kitten I have ever seen: all black with just half of the tail. He was hissing and looked so scared. This was Figaro. Obviously, since my mom was working long hours away from home while I was studying at home, the task of getting him settled in this new environment fell on me. It was a bit sad for me but also there was this little creature that needed help…I did the same as I did with Hercules: took him in my room, fed him homogenised food etc. But Figaro was never the cuddly type, he had his own personality, was an adventurer and liked to stay out for days (he too had a collar and microchip). He probably liked my dad best, like Sweety, and tolerated my mom and me. Although, when he wanted cuddles he would have taken them from any of us very gladly.
We were all living fairly happily when yet another neighbour came to live nearby with several babies, children, cats and dogs: it was a messy family (their condition was unclear and I don’t want to judge). Two of these cats came quite frequently in our garden and it seemed like Figaro wasn’t too bothered by this and was actually getting along with them. From now on, everything comes from what my mom tells me as it is after 2015 and I already moved from home. The family at some point went away, leaving these two cats behind. What did they do? They went to my parents’ home and basically installed themselves there where my mom was feeding them under the concerned eyes of Figaro. Short after they moved to my parent’s house, one of these cats turns out to be pregnant. My mom was ecstatic and prepared a box with an old woolly pullover to host the cat and the kittens. She gave birth to 4, all healthy and very cute. My mom brought everybody to the vet also so that she could give them away because Figaro was already very unhappy. 3 of the 4 kittens were given away as soon as it was possible (and my mom is still in touch with the people who took them) as well as the mom, that went to an old lady that lives very close to my parents. But what about the 4th kitten and the other adult cat? They stayed with my parents: the adult cat (which was renamed Cesare because he was a strategist as apparently, he was the one inspecting the situation at my parents’, scouting for a decent place for her to give birth) was FIV positive -probably that big family was never able to vaccinate him- and he died a few months ago. The other one, Bizet, is a beautiful and healthy cat that lives with my parents and is much loved. And what about Figaro? He never fully accepted the whole situation: he was a very territorial cat and barely tolerated the two adult cats and even less when everything got too crowded with the 4 kittens. He started keeping for himself, spending long times outdoor in summer and his hiding places in the home during the colder months, asking only for food (which had to be given to him at separate times from the others to avoid fights). Despite my mom trying all her best to make him feel loved, trying to making him understand that he was the favourite. It went on for other 4 years, when Figaro came back one day from another long time outdoor, when he was seeking all the attention and cuddles from my parents (which they duly and promptly gave him -as they were just waiting for that): this being an unusual behaviour, my mom took him to the vet where he was diagnosed with a urinary infection and I believe some cysts. They kept him under observation at the vet, but the cures weren’t working so my mom took him back home to have him stay with her and my dad for his last days. He died last year. And a year later, Cesare died from complications due to the FIV. Bizet is currently missing his pal and my parents are keeping me updated on all that they are doing for him. But at this point, my mom has already decided that he is the last cat they’ll have because there has been too much going on, they have always loved each and every one of the cats they kept and they brought them so much joy, but it is always excruciating having them leaving.
Well, now I am crying thinking of them all (I know that people who have never lived with an animal will have some difficulties understanding this, but as human animals we have our own personalities, so do non-human animals and it is similar to having a friend).
Anyway, I was saying. When I moved here, I had to look for a job, look for a place, learn how to live in another Country. All this translated in me living for three years in flats shared with other people, being also quite skint, making it impossible to adopt a cat and being able to provide food, toys, scratching posts and so on. I was struggling without a feline friend, I felt something was missing. But as my mom always says: “If you want a pet you have to keep him properly. Don’t take a pet to then leave him in poor conditions.”
Similarly, even when I finally moved to a flat all by myself, the conditions were not right: it was very shabby (but not chic), badly insulated, with the carpets coming off and was above a pub, and despite having a bit of outside space it wasn’t protected so that a cat could have fallen. Obviously, this was preventing me from taking a cat.
A couple of years later, my working conditions became much better and was able to move to another flat: this time a lovely place in a residential area, very quiet, double glazing, new carpet and floorings and with a garden! Plus, I saw at least 5 cats in the same street as the new flat, which says a lot. As soon as I settled in my new job, I contacted three organisations to adopt a cat: two deemed the street being too unsafe for a cat and wouldn’t even consider coming to see the place; the third agreed to come and give a look (Cats Protection). Oh, the excitement! The person from the organisation came to see and meet me: he was quite happy with the conditions, mostly because he knows quite well the area as he is a local and felt positive that he could find the right match for me as there were 2 new cats just arrived at one of the Cats Protection foster homes. Not even a week after the visit, he suggests I go see Violet, one of the two new cats. A colleague offered to give me a lift because I don’t have a car and the foster home was a bit far away: on our way we also stopped to get all the essential stuff like litter box, wet and dry food, bowls, toys and all. Everybody was saying to just give a look, no commitment to take the cat home and to do so only if I felt it was right. But how can you do something like that?! I mean, you tell me “here is a cat, but you don’t have to take him”. How would you manage? Probably someone else could have just turned around and say goodbye. Not me. I saw this beautiful black cat, Violet: she was perched on a cat tree and wasn’t bothered by my arrival. There was the other cat too, but he seemed a bit shyer. Violet seemed docile and at the same time self-contained. I already liked her. Then I agreed with the foster-parent that I would take her home: signed all the papers and done all that needed to be done and then he got her in the carrier. Violet was so good during the whole trip back home: my colleague was very impressed because she never mewed! As soon as we were home, I let Violet out…and she wanted so many cuddles! I had tears in my eyes from happiness. And this is one of her traits: she is extremely cuddly. I timed things so that I went to work and left her settling in and getting to know the new environment. After few months I decided to let her go outside (with quite a heavy heart) and she was very happy with that: but I must say that she’s keeping her outdoor visits very short and when I call her she comes back in a matter of minutes (so probably she keeps at a hearing distance, which I appreciate greatly). We are in deeply in tune and I couldn’t have asked for a better feline friend.
Lessons To Be Taken From This Lengthy Post
VACCINATE: It is crucial to vaccinate cats as there are some scary diseases out there. FIV and FeLV are two of the worst, but at least there is some sort of prevention. Letting your cat without the proper vaccination will just make them ill and with a death sentence (see, Cesare). It doesn’t matter if you’re keeping your cat indoors: they can always run away and if they eat from the same place as an infected cat or they get into a fight with an infected cat, there are great chances they too will get infected.
STERILISE/NEUTER: I don’t care what you’re saying about “but they should be able to give birth once in their lives”. NO. There are enough kittens and cats around the globe, that you don’t need to add another 5. Even because if you let your female cat going around without being neutered, she can get pregnant from a cat that is affected by the above-mentioned diseases and the kittens will contract them. And what are you going to do at that point?
ADOPT-DON’T-SHOP: As said above, many cats in the world are without a home: apparently there is something like 480,000,000 stray cats in the whole world. You read it right: 480 MILLION cats. True, I am the first one to say that there is nothing like too many cats. But this number is for those strays, those that have no place to stay and even if it including those living in a shelter, you have to consider that they will be killed if they will not be adopted. So, why buying a cat from a breeder? Do you think they’ll love you more? Or is it just for the likes on Instagram? Because they are the same as a cat from a shelter. Funny enough, you can found pedigree cats in shelters because their humans can’t keep them anymore for a reason or another. There are no excuses for getting a cat impregnated just for the sake of having a pedigree cat. And shelters have something for everyone (sadly, mostly because people keep abandoning their pets).
So, adopt don’t shop and you’ll find the best cat for you.
If you have been brave enough to get till the end of this post, thank you for your patience and I hope you’ll have a fantastic day. (This goes for the others, but they will never know!)