Cats and how they can break your heart

Ernest Hemingway said that “a cat has absolute emotional honesty; human beings, for one reason or another may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.”  And as someone who has lived with cats all her life, I think our Ernest is right.  But I never really thought that cats were that fickle until I lost the love of two of my most beloved felines.  And yes, I live (or lived) with four of them.  Let me tell you my tragic tale.

We have a permanent population of four cats.  The older two are boys – Scooter and Diego and the younger two are girls – Mabel and Oprah.  Now Oprah was a feral young cat that we rescued from the back yard of a pub in Dalkey, one very cold December day about four years ago. We knew that she would never be a lap cat as she was always wary of people.  But we kept her indoors until she had all her vaccinations and was spayed and then she joined the others in using the cat flap to come and go.  Although not keen on people, Oprah got on well with our other cats and they with her.  And even though she spent most of her time outdoors, all was well.  All was calm.

About two years ago Oprah started to spend more and more time outside, only coming back to us maybe every two or three days.  These intervals increased, although every time she did return, she looked well and happy.  We figured that she had adopted another family who were also feeding her but it seemed to suit her so we were cool with that.  By last summer we figured that as Oprah was now only a part-time member of the family and so it appeared we had a vacancy.  And so as always happens our next kitten came into our lives a few weeks later.

We were visiting our local pet superstore where a local cat rescue group where ‘showcasing’ their wares so to speak. And yep, we all fell in love with a long-haired tortoiseshell kitten with, wait for it, only three feet!  The little mite had been born without the foot on the end of one of her back legs. As experienced cat owners who could afford to pay for the radical surgery she would need once old enough, we knew she was the cat for us.

And so, we were restored to four full time cats.  Now we have long experience of introducing a new kitten into the family. As usual we kept her in a room on her own till she relaxed and was comfortable and slowly introduced her to the rest of them and increased her access to the rest of the house.  As usual the others weren’t overly delighted at this new addition who we named Rio, but that was normal. It would just take time.  Except this time, it didn’t.

From the get go, the boys, Scooter and Diego hated her.  They were clearly very put out and so they went out, a lot.  But it was last summer with its glorious weather and I was sure they’d come around as soon as the days shortened and the temperature dropped. Except they didn’t.

Now let me be very clear, both Scooter and Diego were typical neutered male cats; affectionate, lazy and very laid back.  They were the cats who slept at the end of my bed, who joined me on the sofa to watch TV, who thought all my meals should be shared and who I know loved me.  Like, a lot.

As winter began to bite harder, Rio had her operation which involved the amputation of the footless leg and I hoped this might soften our lads’ hearts. Rio adapted well and hops around more like a rabbit than a cat. But the lads stayed away.  They came in to eat and if it was very cold, they would stay in and sleep – usually somewhere far away from the rest of us.  But they wouldn’t look at us and worst of all if we picked them up, they actually growled.

That was a year ago and nothing has changed, except we discovered Diego’s new family who live two doors away (he was always lazy). We have asked them not to feed him and they don’t but he still prefers their house to ours.  As for Scooter – we sadly haven’t seen him now for weeks. He seems to have found his new home a little further away.

This is not a funny story but a rather sad one which I hope doesn’t spoil your Sunday. But I share it because it underlines what being a cat companion is all about. They are the boss. Every day they make a choice to share their lives with you and when it’s over it is over. As Ernest said they are absolutely honest.

And yes, I guess we now have a vacancy, or maybe two.  But what we really want is our boys back at home where they belong.  So, if you have any suggestions (based on science or solid experience) please send them this way. And getting rid of Rio ain’t one.

Top left is Rio, right is me and Diego.  And bottom is me and Scooter who never really understood selfies.

THE SECRET LIFE OF THE CAT INDEED.

So after lots of hoopla and advance PR last night I sat down with my cuppa and bun, ready to be amazed and educated about ‘The Secret Life Of The Cat’ – a Horizon special on BBC2.
Regular readers will know that while I don’t consider that I am (yet) in the Crazy Cat Lady category (although there are some who know me who would disagree) I am the current slave to 3 moggies and have always shared my life and home with felines.  Suffice to say I love cats and I would never choose to live without at least one.
But like anyone else who lives with kitties will tell you, they are a bit of a law unto themselves and we all know that they do have a ‘secret life’ – whether that just goes on in their little cute heads or in reality remains to be seen. I was hoping that august broadcasting corporation that is the BBC was going to enlighten me last night.
The programme started well enough with ‘cat scientists’ (really?… and if so I want to be one.. where or what do I study?) arriving into a very pretty village in Surrey.  We got images of cutesy rose covered cottages, a village green, and the centre of operations, Cat HQ was the local village hall.  All very ‘Vicar of Dibley’. 
We then were introduced to some of the cast of 50 kitties who were going take part in the experiment.  50?  Yes.  In one village?  Yes.  The Brits love their pets.  I wouldn’t think you would find too many Irish villages where there were 50 (unrelated) cats.  In fact we were told there were 10 million cats in the UK.  That they know that is amazing in itself.  Needless to say we don’t know how many pussies there are in Ireland.
As the programme outlined the science behind this week long study we were also told that most cats only roam a short distance from their homes.  Male cats about 100m and females about half that.  Cats spend most of their time at home with only about 20% of their time outside.
By now my tea was drained and my bun polished off and I was getting a bit antsy.  This was all very nice…. but WHAT IS THE SECRET LIFE OF THE CAT? 
Well revelations were thin on the ground.  We learned that one cat, Claude leaves home every evening and heads down the road to another cat house where he lets himself in the catflap and helps himself to the neighbours’ cat’s food.  Wow ? No not really!
As any cat owner knows, cats retain a very high percentage of their wildness which is most evident in their ability to hunt and kill their prey.  I have been gifted with mice (dead and alive), spiders and once a baby rat.  The Surrey cats were far more exotic in their hunting endeavours with a rabbit, a mole and a shrew among the reasonably limited ‘kill’ over the week.  As I wrestled with the concept of loving cats while contemplating the wholesale murder of the entire cast of The Wind in the Willows, I heard one of the Cat Scientists work out that from 50 cats this haul was very modest and he concluded that cats don’t pose a serious threat to local wildlife.  Good
In fact this element of cat’s lives really produced the only interesting piece of information as far as I was concerned; although it wasn’t really a surprise.  Apparently cats are becoming more domesticated and less wild as they work at fine tuning their relationships with us, their families.  The exception of course are farm cats, who understand very clearly that they have work to do on the farm keeping down rats and mice around barns and animal housing. 
As the programme wound its convoluted way towards a subdued climax we were introduced to the Edwards family whose cats, we were told excitedly, provided the biggest surprise of all.  “Oh here we go” I poked the sleeping feline beside me on the couch.. “now we are going to find out about your secret life.”  He opened one eye lazily and then went back to sleep. 
Back to the Edwards family who have six cats.  “And the biggest surprise of all is that these six cats who are un-related all get along just fine.”  “Whaaat” I roared at the telly.  “I could have told you that.”  We have usually a permanent quota of four cats but sometimes when we foster for the DSPCA we can have up to 10 and we have never had a fight.
“Well that was all very underwhelming” I said to the sleeping mound of fur beside me.  He didn’t move but I thought I saw one side of his mouth curl into a wry smile.
“The Secret Life of the Cat” he seemed to say…. which bit of ‘secret’ don’t you get? 
As I tried to contain my disappointment I had a picture of the little village in Surrey now abandoned by TV Crews and Cat Scientists, its Village Hall returned to its original use.  In my mind’s eye I see a moonlit, midnight gathering of cats on the village green.  Tails up, purring contentedly… and just faintly I am sure I can hear something else.  Yes.. the cats are laughing.
Cat Scientists indeed….  I think TS Elliot had it right in his wonderful poem, The Naming of Cats.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.

Yep.. old TS knew what he was talking about.  The Secret Life of Cats is as deep a secret as the inner workings of a Masonic Lodge.  If you are not a cat – forget it – the cats ain’t confessing.

BE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Do you believe in the power of prayer? Or as it is more trendily called lately – cosmic ordering? Do you think that our thoughts carry power? Can our minds influence our future?

At the risk of losing any bit of street cred I may have, I do believe that we are powerful beyond our belief. I do believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe in the power of visualisation. I do believe that our thoughts carry power. And ergo as I believe there is a higher power I believe in the power of prayer or cosmic ordering.

It therefore goes without saying that my children think I am bats.. well except for the eldest one, now living in Perth, Western Australia where she is making her dreams come true. But my 13year old and my 11 year old definitely do not value my wisdom at all and much to my delight consider me an awful embarrassment. Although recently the universe (or God or whatever) decided to show my 13 year old how visualisation and prayer or cosmic ordering works with amazing results. And I think it might have changed her mind.

Regular readers will remember that over the summer and autumn we fostered kittens for the DSPCA. It was hard work and great fun. The last fostering we did was a mammy cat and her 4 black kittens. 13 year old fell in love with one who she was convinced loved her. “He sits on my lap and he loves me” she reported regularly, followed by “can we keep him, pleeeeease”. Now we already have four resident cats – which is loads, so my standard response to her plaintiff cries was “no, we are not going to be a five cat household”.

But she went on and on and on… for weeks, for months. Her argument was that none of our resident cats loved her specifically. Kitty (our youngest cat) loves the 11 year old, basically sharing her bedroom day and night. I stood my ground.

But one evening at dinner, when I must have been in a particularly mellow mood, she quietly once again made her case for getting her own cat. She described how he would be a gentle, playful cat, black and white and he would love her. She had that distant look in her eyes as she daydreamed about her imaginary cat.

“Listen” I said, putting down my knife and fork, “if this is really important to you and something you really want, just carry on visualising it. In your mind see exactly what your cat looks like, see him sleeping on your bed and sitting on your knee.”

“But Mom, you said that we can’t have more than four cats so how would we get this new cat?”

“You don’t worry about that at all. Leave all the details to God. You just put your wish to have a cat to call your own out there and then forget about it.”

She looked at me dubiously but she did shut up. We had about ten days free of her moaning about getting a new cat.

Then one afternoon I was coming home town when my phone rang. It was the girls excitedly telling me that a stray cat had appeared in the front garden and wouldn’t go away. This happens occasionally with dogs and cats but usually an owner is found pretty quickly. “Can we let him in the house, it’s really cold out” they implored. “No way” was my answer, with visions of how quickly our house could be destroyed by fighting cats and our dog thrown into the mix for good measure. I told them they could give him some food in the garden but that was it.

When I pulled up in the driveway about half an hour later, there he was. A black and white young cat sitting on the window sill as if waiting for me to arrive. I addressed him immediately “you needn’t get any ideas buster… you are going home”. He looked very like a neighbour’s cat. Girls were dispatched to check that out. But no, he wasn’t theirs. By now it was dark and it was very cold and cat had stubbornly stayed by our front door. “Ok, I said we will let him in carefully and see what happens.”

Amazingly nothing much happened. The other cats were mildly curious but not that bothered. Dylan our daft dog got madly over excited like he does about everything but even that was short lived. So cat was allowed to stay the night. He found one of our cat beds under a radiator and slept for hours.

Next morning common sense was again employed. “We must find his owners” I lectured the girls. “We will drive around to see if there are any notices up on nearby estates and then we will take him to the vet to see if he is micro chipped.” There were no notices and there was no micro chip. The vet confirmed that he was about a year old, intact (not been spayed) and in good condition.

“What am I going to do?” I asked, “I have already have 4 cats… I don’t want another.”

“He belongs to someone,” the vet said “I think you should let him out and he may just go home.”

This seemed like sage advice which we followed. Cat immediately set off at a stately pace down the road. “See”, I said to 13 year old “he has remembered where he lives and he has gone home. Somewhere his family will be very happy to see him.”

That was Saturday.

On Monday in the early afternoon I got a call from the vets.

“You don’t still have that black and white cat do you” she asked.

“No”, I said proudly “we took your advice, let him out and off he went. I presume he’s gone home.”

“Em, no he didn’t. He was picked up yesterday by a lady who found him on the central reservation of the N11. She couldn’t keep him, he’s back here.”

At 4pm that day I picked up 13 year old from school and instead of driving home, headed for the vets. When we pulled up outside, she looked at me quizzically.

“There is someone here waiting for you,” I said.

Sometimes I can be a bit slow on the uptake, even with my own wisdom. The universe had sent my 13 year old her cat, exactly as she had visualised; black and white and full of personality and affection. And yes, he does love her. He sits on her knee and sleeps on her bed. Most of all though he knows that he is where he is meant to be.

So now – I want a weekly newspaper column; one where I can write about anything that tickles my fancy or moves me or annoys me. I also want a regular radio gig….reviewing the morning’s newspapers where I could focus on the positive and off beat stories to help cheer us all up?

Right – got that Universe? Watch this space!!!

Photo of Felix relaxing (yep, he does sleep that way sometimes) by 11year old!

OUR WORK IS DONE…. MAGGIE UPDATE



On Saturday we will be packing our Maggie’s bags and baggage and dropping her back up to the wonderful people in the DSPCA, from where we hope she will be adopted quickly to her new forever home. Our work is almost done.

As you know from my previous post Maggie was one of the wildest and most frightened little cats I have ever encountered. It took us 2 days to coax her out from under our sofa. Then another day or two to get her to start (very gingerly) to play with some feathers on the end of a stick.
It’s been one small step at a time and has been a team effort in this house, to finally gain Maggie’s trust. We have taught her that humans can be her friends and I hope that none of our species undoes that lesson. We had a secret weapon in our ‘taming’ of Maggie and that was Simba (fatcat).
I don’t want to take from the great credit due to Simba for playing his part but we all know that he was highly motivated by sharing Maggie’s dinner which came in jelly and is clearly a lot tastier than the cat biscuits he usually has. But it was amazing to watch Maggie relax almost immediately Simba arrived into the room. Animals never cease to fascinate me.
The first week we had Maggie was difficult. It required huge patience and I did worry that perhaps some cats are just wild and not tameable. But the joy in watching this little scaredy cat slowly make friends with us and learn the joy of being petted and sit on a knee is sublime! Really.
The DSPCA is snowed under in kittens and cats who are looking for homes – permanent and foster. Check out their website http://www.dspca.ie




MAGGIE


The August Bank Holiday weekend is the last hurrah of summer – next stop Halloween and sure then it’s Christmas. According to the Celtic calendar we are now in autumn and the August Bank Holiday roughly coincides with the ancient festival of Lughnasa, which marked the end of summer and beginning of the harvest. So how was it for you? Were you away? Did you have fun?

What’s that? Me? Did I enjoy my bank holiday weekend? Em, well, em…. it was busy and eh, different!

It is not the first time I have wondered what personality defect I have that insists on throwing complications into my life when things are chugging along just fine.

Regular readers of my blog will know that just over a week ago we fostered Hector from the DSPCA. Hector was only with us for 4 days and unfortunately was very unwell and had to be put down last Tuesday. So we were in mourning for him for a week but as we love animals and like to do our bit for their welfare, we offered our services again for fostering another kitten!

So having welcomed a new student to our home on Sunday, on Monday off we went to Mount Venus Road to collect our latest project. We were told that this kitten was in need of socialisation for two weeks and was approximately 12 weeks old. Maggie was clearly a nervous kitty but seemed OK in her crate as we gingerly carried her to the car for the journey home.

We set Maggie up in the kids TV Room which is bright and has a view of the road. We thought that she might like to watch out (cats love looking out windows – did you know that?). I took the lid off her cat box and braved her spitting at me to pet her very gently on her back. She spat and hissed and I gently continued, trying to reassure her in a low soothing voice. Meanwhile Dylan da Dog was exploding with excitement in the hall and started banging the door down. I got up slowly and went out of the room leaving Mia with Maggie. As soon as I was gone, Maggie apparently darted out of her box and under the sofa. And that is where she spent her bank holiday weekend.

So me, where did I spend my bank holiday weekend? Well most of Monday I spent feeling like a failed foster mammy, as I lay on the floor with my bum in the air as trying to understand why I could not see Maggie under the sofa. We then worked out that as the sofa was a recliner, she had climbed up into the innards where she was perched on one of the bars. So we were all afraid to sit on the sofa in case we inadvertently decapitated her.

Hours passed as I tried to talk her out. In the end my eyes hurt from the dust (you should never look under the sofa) and I had a sneezing fit which did nothing to ease kitty anxiety. Our poor bewildered student who speaks very little English arrived home to find dinner late and her host covered in dust with a red nose from all the sneezing. I did my best to explain about the kitten in the sitting room and how she was welcome to go into the room but to make sure doors were left closed and to not sit on the sofa! A look passed over her face as I am sure she fought the urge to phone Mama in Lyons to report that her Mammy in Dublin was a nutter with delusions of kittens in the sitting room!

By Tuesday we had decided to adopt a patient approach. My girls asked me endlessly what if she never came out? “Em, I replied” I guess we would have to phone the DSPCA for help.” I had visions of my sofa being ripped apart in order to retrieve Maggie from its bowels. I will admit that I was slightly worried. I will admit that I did call on St Francis for some help.

That evening I had a small brainwave. We are the slaves to four cats already. The largest of these moggies is called Simba (or more usually FatCat) and he has brought disgrace on our family on more than one occasion. He has attacked Granny when she was calling in to feed him while we were away. The blood stained trousers were kept as a souvenir of his occasional lapse in how to be a good domestic cat behaviour.

When the girls were younger their parties were fraught with danger. Simba generally had to be locked in the utility room for the duration from where he howled the house down – scaring the life out of the little girls of a more delicate disposition.

We tried behavioural therapy under the supervision of the vet who suggested feline valium in order to teach him to relax. I was instructed to give him quarter of a tablet once a day for three weeks leading up to a particular party by which time his behaviour should have been adequately modified. I don’t know if you have every tried to quarter a valium but it’s well nigh impossible. Having festooned the kitchen floor in valium shards and having nearly sliced my finger off in the process, I gave up. We decided to give Simba a valium on the day of the party. It worked a treat.

He slept through all the festivities, albeit snoring loudly and with his tongue hanging out.

He remains a cat I love dearly but whom I cannot trust especially with older people or small children. I have been known to sprint out the front door because he has wandered in the garden and is ‘making friends’ with an elderly couple or a young family with toddlers. “Sorry” I mutter under my breath “he is not allowed talk to people” as I struggle to lift his bulk and transport him back indoors. His teeth haven been filed and his nails kept short in order to reduce any possible damage!!!

However Simba is the only one of my four kitties who welcomes stranger cats into the house. So – back to the original story here (keep up) – I decided on Tuesday that I would bring Simba into the sitting room in an attempt to show Maggie how (nearly) domesticated cats behave.

Simba understood the brief exactly. He identified the sofa as being Maggies hiding place and lay on the floor emitting “it’s so relaxing here” vibes. It worked. After about 15 minutes a little black and white head poked out from the edge of the sofa.

It took about an hour for her to come out fully and then she was always alert and would race back to the sofa at any movement or sound. But this was progress.

So Maggie has started her rehabilitation from wildcat to domestic moggie!

We have a long way to go …. I will keep you updated!

ONLY A CAT?

In this part of the world, cats were big news last week. Yep, domestic moggies made the headlines. For the benefit of the Americans, let me explain. The first story came from the UK where a woman put a cat in a wheelie bin. She was caught on CCTV and later apologised. However she qualified her apology by saying “it was only a cat”. The second story concerned a moggie from Malahide in North Dublin who decided to board the DART (rapid transit system) at her local station and travelled into the city. There was taken into the care of the DART staff who tweeted her story and her family were located and a renunion was arranged.

But back to our lady in the UK – “only a cat” she said. As if there was such a thing as “only a cat.” Cats are sublime creatures. I know. I have shared my life with cats since the day I was born, quiet some time ago. The cat heritage comes down my maternal line. My mother always lived with cats; I must find out if my maternal grandmother did too.

Anyway the point is, I know cats. I understand them. And they are magnificent creatures. I don’t know who it was that said “I have lived with many Zen Masters, all of them cats” but he was bang on the money. I currently share my home with four felines, some more Zen than others. But each one of them contributes to a laid back, informal, comfy energy in my home, that I could not achieve alone. Sure they also contribute to cat hairs everywhere but so what. If they could talk, they would say “chill out, its hair. It don’t stain”

My cats desport themselves all over my house. Each has their own favourite spot. In the morning they find puddles of sunlight to recline in and as the sun dissappears they seek out the heat of radiators and hidden pipes. One in particular likes the Hot Press. The lend the whole house an air of languid uselessness in a way that no scented candle or soft music could ever do.

Often I explode in the front door, laden down with bags, harrassed and mithered, only to be met by the sight of Fat Cat stretched out on the hall chair, catching the sunlight. He opens just one eye to acknowledge my presence. Above his head is a giant thought bubble which says “what’s the fuss? Chill woman!” in a voice reminiscent of the old Caramel Bunny. Then he drifts off back to cat dreamland and I arrive into the kitchen wondering which of us is the more evolved species.

But it only an inexperienced cat woman who thinks that cats sleep all day. Sure they sleep a lot but cats have another habit which occupies many hours in the day. That’s looking out the window. They ponder the weather and also take huge interest in the neighbours movements. What are they thinking about as they gaze out the window, I wonder.

Cats are mysterious creatures. They live in two worlds. This one and the other world -the unseen world whose energies they pick up regularly. Ever seen a cat staring at a stop high up on a wall or on the ceiling. They are in touch with things we only imagine. They are endlessly curious, as demonstrated by the Malahide Moggie on the DART. We also had an adventurer. Tiger, our matriarch cat, took off when she was in her teenage years and was gone for 3 months. We had her dead and buried when one day she wandered back into the kitchen, not much the worse for wear for her expedition.

But the very best thing about living with cats is that point when you gain their affection. Unlike dogs, whose love can easily be bought, cats are aloof and independent. So that when they decide they like you, it is the most precious and wonderful gift. Once you obtain the love of your cat, you have a friend for life. A soft, warm, wise and comforting cat. “Only a cat” indeed, as if there was such a thing!

BANG BANG UPDATE

I believe in Karma – otherwise known as what goes around comes around.

The Mrs Blackbird – v- Kitty saga has continued apace since I posted ‘Bang Bang Birdie’ last week. Although I wouldn’t have thought it possible, Mrs Blackbird has upped her game. Kitty now only has to pass a downstairs window and Mrs Blackbird zooms up the garden, screeching bloody murder. She then lands on the patio and continues hurling abuse at a very bemused Kitty.

Kitty’s favourite daytime haunt is Mia’s bedroom, where she either curls up on the bed or sits on the window still surveying the garden. No more. Mrs Blackbird (who clearly has a powerful set of binoculars in her nest) spots her immediately and takes up position on the outside sill, yip yipping for all she’s worth.

Kitty is now terrified of going into the back garden and has taken to exiting and entering the house through windows at the front of the house. Needless to say we all think this is hilarious and have been regaling neighbours, friends and family with stories of Kitty being totally intimidated by a blackbird. “Kitty is a scaredy cat” and “Kitty’s afraid of a blackbird” echoes through the house regularly and guess who laughs loudest – yep, yours truly. What I had missed however, was the gimlet eye Kitty was throwing my way in the last day or two.

Last night, Kitty clearly decided to take matters into her own paws in order to restore her feline credibility. And so she did was Kitty does best and caught a mouse. A little field mouse, which she (brace yourselves ladies) brought into my bedroom, through an open window, at 1.30am this morning. Needless to say she had chosen her moment cleverly as my other half was away. So I woke up, alone in my bed, aware that Kitty was making odd sounds in the bedroom. I sat up and turned on the light. And there she was staring straight at me, saying “scaredy cat? Lets see who is scared now?” At her feet was the little mouse. As the implications of this situation seeped into my sleep fuzzed brain, I prayed “please God in heaven may this mouse (who was not moving) be dead”. With that the mouse took off under my chest of drawers. And Kitty decided to leave him there as she vanished under the bed. By now I was up and out of bed and lifting anything off the floor that I thought a mouse might climb into (shoes, bags etc), I then opened the curtains so that the open window was clearly visible and accessible, on the off chance that Kitty might think enough was enough and remove the mouse from whence it came. Wishful thinking all. Mouse stayed put and so did Kitty.

There was nothing for it but to leave them to it and hope that by morning Kitty would have done her worst and I could then remove dead mouse from the room. I decided to sleep in the spare bed in Mia’s room. But as soon as I lay down, my mind was full of what could transpire during the night. Mouse caught up in my duvet, taking refuge in my pillow, my dressing table being thrashed as Kitty pursued him across it, Tom and Gerry style. No, I decided I had to be grown up about this and go in and get rid of mouse. So I took a deep breath and woke up Mia.

Mia, I should explain is my youngest. She is 9 years old and she (like us all) loves animals. But Mia loves animals in a different way to the rest of us. When she was a toddler I would regularly find her barefoot in the garden with ants crawling over the legs. She loved wood lice and made homes and cities for them. She collected snails. And lately she has been bugging me to get her a pet mouse!

“Mia I need your help” Mia readily agreed to be the one to remove the mouse. I equipped her with my industrial workman gloves and got a torch and we re-entered the room. All was as before and Mia on hands and knees reported that “ahh, he’s cute and yeah he is there, under the chest of drawers”. We discussed tactics which broadly speaking involved me moving the furniture and shouting instructions while Mia calmly and swiftly cornered little mouse, cupped him in her gloved hands and headed for the window from where he was launched into the night.

Mia also intervened when I attempted to grab Kitty and launch her after the mouse! And so it was that at 3am this morning Mia and I were in the kitchen having a celebratory glass of juice and me handing over the €5 bribe reward to my darling, brave, heroic, animal loving daughter. As we retired back to bed, we passed Kitty on the stairs and I swear she was grinning from ear to ear! I don’t think I will slag her anymore!

p.s. Mia’s version of events is now up on her blog, Mia’s Room

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other…..

Many thanks to my online pals, Ann at Inkpots and Quills and Hot Cross Mum herself Hazel, for passing this challenge on to me! The deal is that I have to list 6 untruths and 1 half truth about myself. So here goes: which of these things is not like the other?

I am a fish lover. I love to eat anything that comes from the sea (well except Dolphins I suppose). I cook fish many times per week and everyone in this house has a huge IQ as a result!

My husband has a mistress – one whom he openly flaunts and massages in the front garden with alarming regularity.

World renowned author, Alexander McCall Smith, of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency fame is an honorary member of our Laid Back Literary Ladies Society.

I have the most wonderful long and sexy legs and like nothing better than tottering about on vertiginous high heels – especially my black FMB’s.

I am a sports fanatic. I love all football – rugby and GAA especially. I play for my local GAA team and have season ticket to Croke Park. I run 4 miles every day, before the kids get up.

I hate cats. I especially hate it when I go into someone’s home and there is a big cat sitting on their dining table. How awful. And dangerous – don’t they carry all kinds of diseases?

So – which is half true? It’s over to you.

What 5 things would you hate to have to live without?

What are the things in your life that you really could not bear to be without? What are the little pleasures that you indulge in regularly? The things that make your day or week complete. Kids and partners/family don’t count. But list just 5!

Here are mine (in no particular order).

Red Wine – have I a problem? Don’t think so, but am big enough to admit that as the week rolls on and as Thursday and Friday afternoon heads towards 5pm, I like nothing better than the pop sound of the cork being wrenched out of the bottle, followed by the glug, glug of the red nectar splashing into a suitably large glass!! And the first sip of red wine.. mmm.. What time is it?

Books – what’s to explain? I always have at least one novel on the go and possibly have another one for dipping in and out of being read also. I get very antsy if I don’t have another 3 or 4 lined up waiting for my attention.

Baths – really cannot understand how some people get rid of their baths in order to make way some huge, fancy, jets coming from all angles shower. Showers are OK for waking you up and revitalising you. But for relaxation and the sensual pleasure of sinking your weary bones into warm, perfumed, bubbly water – YOU HAVE TO HAVE A BATH. Most of my days finish with a lovely, lazy soak…

Cats – As regular readers of my blog will know I have a dog I adore and who adores me. But I also have 4 cats who treat me with differing attitudes but none of whom adore me. All like (and probably love) me, but they balance their affection with occasional sympathy (like they know it all and I am more than a little daft), contempt (try moving a cat off your place on the sofa) and sometimes they just like to ignore me – no doubt ‘cos they think that I am getting ideas above my station. Even though I spend my life getting rid of cat hairs from everywhere, I love the way my four cats decorate various corners of my home and garden. And cats always know how to look terrific!

Chinese Take Out – I can’t wax lyrical about Chinese food cos I know it’s full of msg and stuff that makes you fall asleep about an hour after eating it! But Friday nights in front of the telly in my PJs (having had an early bath), book at the ready in case the telly is crap, cat beside me (and hubby beside cat!), glass of wine in hand is complete when the ‘chinky’ arrives!

M&S €12.50 dinners for two are a newcomer to my list and may replace the Chinese in time.

Anyway there are mine! Now what are yours?

Oh… and the classy photo is by that hot shot Sherwood guy again…. check out http://www.sherwood.ie