Posted in Family, Personal life

Enter The Snow Cat

The calico cat on a cushion
Making herself at home already

(New post about how a stray cat turned up in the first winter snow storm)

On the first day that the snow fell during this latest cold snap, snowbound at home and idly dabbling on my netbook, I spot a notice on a friend’s Facebook page:

Is anyone in Hawkesbury missing a cat? quite a small cat -white with patches of colour? He/she is very hungry (just devoured 2 tins of tuna), and sheltering in my next door neighbour’s open garage. Please ask around, the cat needs to go home xxx

Feeling skittish, as it’s my birthday, I post my reply without a moment’s hesitation:

 If no-one claims her, I could have a cat for my birthday! Just need to persuade Gordon….

I’ve been thinking for a long time that I’d like to have a cat again. It’s several years since my last one died, but I’ve made a deal with myself that I’ll only do so if one decides to acquire me – i.e. a stray turns up on my doorstep. Turning up on a neighbour’s doorstep (where there live two big dogs) is the next best thing.

The reason for my wavering is that one of my very best friends is allergic to cats. It was a consoling factor when my last cat died that this friend would be able to visit me at home without risking hospitalisation.

The calico cat and its new bed
The calico cat and the lesser-spotted little girl

A snowy day is a quiet day, even with my daughter home from school, which is closed due to the weather. I figure that temporarily hosting this cat while we track down its owner will produce a welcome source of entertainment for us both for the afternoon. With the SOS already doing the rounds on Facebook, it surely won’t be long before we’re able to witness a happy reunion for the cat and its owner.

Another neighbour, also on Facebook, calls to check whether I’m serious.

“It’s a lovely little white cat, Deb,” he says. “I’d have it, but my cat wouldn’t like it.”

I nod and my daughter beams. Moments later, he returns, bearing cat.

It is indeed a beautiful cat, and not just white. Its thick fur is a multitude of black and ginger blotches, against a white background. It looks as if it’s been made from leftover bits of other cats. Its black-rimmed amber eyes remind me of Cleopatra’s.  Google advises me that it’s a calico cat, which I’m pleased about. I’ve always wanted one of those, without actually knowing what that name meant.

Speaking of names – what to call it? There’s no collar , although the creature’s immaculate, dense fur and easy manner in our presence suggests that it’s domesticated.

“I think I’ll call it Dora, because it keeps Exploring,” decides Laura, as the cat flattens itself to creep beneath our kitchen counters.

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wond...

Dora later elongates to Dorothy, without us making a conscious decision. Perhaps the name has been subliminally suggested by the postcard, propped up on the dresser, of Judy Garland’s famous ruby slippers from the film of the Wizard of Oz. Or maybe, like the Cowardly Lion, it’s just got lots on its way along the Yellow Brick Road (a nickname given, incidentally, to the part of the Cotswold Way that runs behind our village).

I confine Dorothy to the back of the house (kitchen, utility room, bathroom), while we gauge its grasp of housetraining. Our neighbour returns with cat food, bound to be needed later, even though he’s just fed it two tins of tuna before he brought it down. Dorothy had apparently eaten them voraciously. No wonder she’s looking plump.

I put down on a dish on the floor the bacon rind left over from breakfast. Whoosh! With the speed of the dirt in a Cillit Bang advert, it’s gone. Dorothy looks up hopefully from the empty dish. Moments later, a sachet of cat food is inside her.

“Mummy, why does Dorothy’s tummy keep twitching?” Laura asks.

Gingerly, if you’ll forgive the pun, I encircle the cat’s tummy with my hands. It’s solid. And moving.

A new scenario pops into my mind.

“I hope she’s not been dumped because she’s pregnant.”

It’s happened round here before: city-dwellers abandoning unwanted pregnant cats in the village, assuming the poor creature will find a new berth catching mice on a farm. Call me cynical, but I don’t believe the cats make it out here on their own, Dick Whittington style, setting off from home to in search of streets paved with Whiskas. And certainly not in snow.

Teaching the calico cat to read
“Meet my new best friend”

We make the cat a bed in a cardboard box and turn an old washing-up bowl into a litter tray filled with dirt from a discarded plant pot in the conservatory (there’s no digging up the garden under snow).  Laura, ever the bountiful hostess, makes it toys to play with and reads it stories as they lie on their tummies together on the floor. She wonders how long it would take her to teach it to read.

Meanwhile, cleaning out the litter tray, I’m beginning to remember the disadvantages of cat ownership. I take a picture and put it on Facebook with the message:

If you recognise this cat, please notify its owners and put them in touch with me to reclaim it

One week on, and Dorothy must surely be thinking “There’s no place like home.”

Author:

Optimistic author, blogger, journalist, book reviewer and public speaker whose life revolves around books. Her first love is writing fiction, including the new Sophie Sayers Village Mystery novels (out 2017), short stories and essays inspired by her life in an English village. She also writes how-to books for authors and books about living with Type 1 diabetes. She is Author Advice Centre Editor and and UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) Advice Centre blog, an ambassador for the children's reading charity Readathon, and an official speaker for the diabetes research charity JDRF.

7 thoughts on “Enter The Snow Cat

  1. Well done for taking her in! She’s a calico cat, mainly white with patches of colour. She’s a beauty. Because she’s a stray you shouldn’t have to pay vet bills, just explain that you found and rescued her! Did the vet check to see if she was micro chipped? Glad she isn’t pregnant.
    I don’t believe that cats make it on there own around here, either. Especially in the snow and cold winter months. Every cat needs someone to love it (And feed it of course lol) xx

    mumx3x.blogspot.co.uk

    1. Hi Sarah
      The vet was really kind and didn’t charge us for checking her over – we didn’t think to ask for a discount, he just didn’t charge, which was a nice surprise! He scanned her for a chip, but no luck. If no owner is forthcoming, we’ll get her chipped and registered as our cat. We’re growing very fond of her now and she’s acting as if she’s lived here for ever. So perhaps her origin will remain for ever a mystery.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      Debbie

  2. I could tell that your resolve to be pet-free was about as strong as my resolve to be chocolate-free. Dorothy is a lucky little lady-cat.

  3. I can recommend the clumping, odour free type of cat litter from the big supermarkets if it’s any help! A cat is a great addition to any household and stroking one is a well known reliever of stress. Hope Dorothy – and possibly her soon-to-be offspring – are thriving – maybe you’ll have enough to name them after all the characters in ‘The Wizard of Oz….!’

    1. Thanks, Jude! Funnily enough, when I was workingin PR, one of my clients was Pettex cat litter, and I used to write articles for cat hobby and trade magazines about the virtues of clumping clay litter, which was their product! There’s not much that I don’t know about cat litter that’s worth knowing! At that point, I had 5 cats and could write about it with a clear conscience because it was my preferred product too!
      A trip to the vet has since shown that she isn’t pregnant – just a full tummy! She’d been eating a lot to make up for having been a hungry stray for a bit. Still eating lots too – just found her with her head in the bag of cat biscuits on the worktop!! Off now to buy a big storage jar with a screw top!
      Slightly disappointed about the lack of kittens as your naming idea is brilliant – though a kitten called Toto might be confusing!

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