SCOOTER’S INCREDIBLE JOURNEY

Fostering kittens for the DSPCA is always interesting but the kitten we took delivery of on last Wednesday has a particularly special story.

Last Monday (13th August), a woman left Edenderry, Co Offaly and drove (without stopping) to Dublin.  On arrival and when she got out of her car she was very surprised to hear a cat’s cries seeming to come from inside the engine.  She lifted the bonnet and sure enough there was a white and black, quite terrified kitten looking back at her.  The kitten had hung on and survived the journey the entire way.  Thankfully the driver contacted the DSPCA who took the kitten back to their HQ in Rathfarnham where they checked him out.

This is Scooter when he arrived at the DSPCA after his epic journey in a car engine

Miraculously the three month old kitty survived without injury.  When we met him on Wednesday, he was still a bit dishevelled and grimy looking.  We took him home for some rest and recuperation.

Although the DSPCA had called him Eden, he was immediately rechristened Scooter in our house and we think this name suits him perfectly. He didn’t take too long to relax and soon was relishing the comforts of a cosy blanket and a safe place to sleep. In the last few days he is regaining his looks as he grooms away the dirt and grime from his engine journey.

Scooter at home!

Scooter brings with him such a great story of survival, of the kindness of strangers and of hope in the face of the seemingly insurmountable odds.  And the amazing thing is that he seems to know how lucky he is and he is so grateful for a second chance.  He is the most affectionate cat you could meet.

We are due to return him to the DSPCA for rehoming on Friday!  Mmmmmmm… I think this is one kitty foster we may just fail on!

Kittens and adult cats can have a dangerous habit of climbing onto car engines because they (foolishly) consider them warm and safe places to sleep.  Most cats would not be as lucky as Scooter was.  If you have cats in the vicinity of where your car is parked it is a good habit just to bang the bonnet with your hand before you get into the car.  This should help dislodge a sleeping cat.  Cats in car engines can be a particular habit of farmyard cats!

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!

A LESSON IN MOTHERING – FROM A CAT!

Consider this post a third instalment in our ‘Adventures in Kitty Fostering’ series. After the stories of Hector and Maggie, we took a break in order to facilitate a smooth transition back into school routine etc. But once October arrived, I knew in my heart that it was time to check out if our friends in the DSPCA had need of foster families again. Not surprisingly they did and when I phoned them last Friday, I made a spur of the moment decision to provide a temporary home for a little family…. Moma cat and four 10 day old kittens. It should be said that poor Moma is only a kitten herself – not yet a year old.

So we now have a total of ten 4 leggeds sharing our lives and our home. The latest arrivals, like their predecessors are installed in the kid’s sitting room which is a bright sunny room in the front of the house. The nice people in the DSPCA provided us with a crate in order to coral the kitties as they get older. So inside we have made up a comfy bed with plenty of space for Moma to recline and feed her babies. I should point out that I am calling her Moma because after a couple of try outs we have yet to find a name that suits this magnificent feline. I am not happy about that.. I would far prefer that kitties in my care all have suitable names. But as TS Elliot famously said “the naming of cats is a difficult matter, it isn’t just one of your holiday games”. Her kittens however have all been given monikers appropriate to the season. So we have Samhain, Salem, Gandolf and Merlin. However the problem with their names is that they are totally interchangeable as each kitten is identical – jet black and so we have no idea who is who.

Anyway last night I was given a lesson in how magnificent cats are by Moma cat which left me feeling very silly altogether.

As they seemed to be all well settled into their new environment and as we had handled the kittens a wee bit without any difficulty, I thought it was time to attempt to get a photo of the four little bundles of blackness which I could post on Twitter and Facebook. (The online community love cats).

So I took each kitty and placed it carefully on the sofa, with cushions strategically placed so that they couldn’t fall off the edge. I went to grab my phone for the picture. As I did so, in arrived Moma cat who took one look at the set up on the sofa, shot me a filthy look and immediately jumped up and retrieved nearest kitty. Grabbing her by her scruff, she expertly jumped off the sofa and transported her swinging bundle back to her bed. By the time she returned to the sofa I was a gibbering eejit. Picking up all three kitties I placed them back in their bed, muttering “sorry Moma cat, …… look they are all back,……. they are fine”.

She delivered me another withering look and I went back to the sofa alone, feeling scolded, stupid and shallow. Moma cat was still scowling at me from her crate. Her expression seemed to say “they are only 12 days old, far too young to have their image posted on social media”.

I apologised again.

PS – If you have a suggestion for a name for a beautiful, balletic, sleek, jet black female cat please let me know.

There is no photo with this post for obvious reasons!

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!

HECTOR


What will we call him?

The girls chirruped happily in the back of the car.

“Meooowww” said the little ginger bundle in the cat carrier.

“Dewey”?

“Ginger”?

Negotiating the slip road onto the motorway,

I indicated into the traffic.

“ His name is Hector” I announced

“He has the same colour hair and he will be great craic.”

Hector it was.


That was Friday afternoon.

He fitted right in.

He felt part of the family.

I could see trouble ahead.

How will we ever let him go?

“We are not having 5 cats” I announced,

“He goes back to the DSPCA in 3 weeks and on to his forever home.

Let’s just give him a great start.”


So began ‘Hector’ weekend.

We all wasted hours with this feline joy machine.

He played – a bit,

He ate – a bit,

He loved – a lot.

On Sunday evening he was sick.

He was not very interested in eating.

But he still liked to wander about

Greeting and trying to make friends with the other felines

I could hear the faint ringing of alarm bells rang in my head.


On Monday he was up and down.

But he didn’t eat.

Not one scrap.

I found him once or twice just sitting on the sofa,

He looked so sad.

Monday night I spend the entire evening watching rubbish on the TV

Hector slept on my chest,

Happily.

He purred.

Every so often he stretched out his paw,

And looked up into my eyes

We connected.

I willed him well

I said goodnight.


Tuesday morning, Hector was still very sad.

I phoned the DSPCA

Bring him they said,

The vet will have a look at him


This time it was just me and him on the motorway

The car was very quiet.

His temperature is low the vet said

We will keep him in and see how he gets on.

We will phone you tomorrow.

I never said goodbye.


I went home,

Cleaned his litter tray and food dishes

Ready for his return.

I got no call.

My husband phoned – ‘any news of Hector?’

I phoned at lunchtime.

I phoned again.

At 5pm the nurse phoned me back.

Hector didn’t make it.

He had some deadly kitten virus,

There was nothing they could do.


I held my girls as we all cried.

Hector was one of those special creatures,

Somehow he touched all our hearts.

We only knew him for four days

But everyone knows it only takes a moment to fall in love


Hector – we are so sad your life was so short

But we feel so lucky to have been your family just for that time.

It was a privilege to share your last weekend.

Who knew your forever home would be beyond this world.











The DSPCA do wonderful work for unloved and abandoned animals. They always need help. If you can foster an animal or adopt one check out their website. They also need your donations.

Sharing your life with a four legged can bring tears, can be hard work but despite all that, for many of us it is one of the greatest joys of life.