Chapter 8 – Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

Chapter 8 – Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

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It has been a while since I have reported on our little cat’s adventures due to a temporary lack of routine caused by much needed refurbishment of the house amongst other things. It is worth noting that Jemima has been incredibly relaxed about the redecoration process. She has moved around the house and changed her daytime ‘bedroom’ with her usual easy going nature and good grace. Our decorator and friend Dympna has her own cat and she and Jemima have got on incredibly well. We have also done our best to accomodate Jemima’s needs by doing any work in the kitchen early in the day and leaving the back door open to minimise discomfort from paint fumes when she is sleeping in there at night and this has worked well too. Jemima has also taken advantage of the decorating routine during our recent brief spell of much welcome hot weather.  We have been decorating the spare bedroom and Dympna left some dust sheets covering the sofabed in order to protect the sofa and the bits and pieces we had placed there to allow room for the work to be carried out.  Jemima very quickly realised that these dustsheets were a great cool place to sleep under during the hottest part of the day.  I discovered this accidentally one afternoon when we were looking for her. Clare and I were sure that she wasn’t out because she had disappeared for much longer than usual but was nowhere to be seen in the house. Eventually, I entered the spare bedroom and leaned over the back of the sofabed in order to check behind it, resting my hand on the back as I did so.  I was greeted instantly with a yowl from Jemima as if to say:

“Oy, geroff me. I’m trying to sleep!”

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I mumbled my apologies and left the room so she could sleep in peace.

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During the past few weeks she has become more confident and playful around water. I may have posted previously how we had concerns over her drinking habits when she first arrived and whether she was drinking enough. We bought a drinking fountain which has proved to be a great success because she is able to drink water that is moving.  At that time we attempted to persuade her to drink from the running tap in the kitchen sink to which she took great displeasure, leaping off the worktop and miaowing loudly as she did so. In recent weeks however, she has become more and more curious about running water around the house, possibly because she likes the fountain. She has been caught drinking water from the bath after Clare has had a shower and frequently sits on the side of the bath while we wash our hands in the washbasin. She even plays with the water as it comes out of the tap. She has even become nosey about the water disappearing down the pan when I flush the toilet and sniffs and pokes the back of the toilet as she hears it draining way.  And, as if to show just how clever she is Jemima has learnt my toilet routine. A few days ago she jumped onto the side of the bath and gazed at the sink before I had flushed the toilet. This hopefully, says as much for my hygienic routine of always washing my hands as it does for her intelligence!

All in all Jemima’s wonderful character continues to emerge and as her personality develops we are grateful for every day that she lives with us.

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Chapter 7 – Dumb Animals?

Chapter 7 – Dumb Animals?

Jemima helping me to quality check a garden bench

It was Anna Sewell in her wonderful novel Black Beauty who wrote:

“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.”

She was only half right when she made this claim. Whilst they “do not suffer less because they have no words” they can tell us how they feel. Clare has read that cats are capable of making 100 vocal sounds which they tend to reserve for communication with their owners. And we can certainly testify to the validity of this assertion. In the relatively short space of time that Jemima has been with us we have heard her make a wide variety of sounds and there is a pattern to them.  We have so far learnt the sounds for:

  •  “I am hungry. Where’s my lunch?”
  • “Play with me dad (or mum).”
  • “Let me in” when she wanders out through the front door and can’t be bothered to go round to the back door
  • “Where is everybody?” usually made when she wakes up in a separate room to anybody else in the house
  • “Hello. Did you miss me?” made on her return from her wanders

And the other day she started making sounds that I had never heard before.  I eventually realised that her litter tray was full and once I had cleaned it out she used it shortly afterwards. We try to keep her tray clean so we don’t hear her complain about a dirty toilet very often which will make it harder to learn this particular miaoww.  But there is no doubt that she is more than capable of communicating her feelings and needs to us; we just have to listen and learn her langauge and I am looking forwarding to that in the years ahead.

I am also sure that animals understand us and it appears that Jemima is also learning our language in her own little way. The best example of this was a few days ago when I was dressing one morning.  I had laid out my clothes on the bed and while I was washing, Jemima took up her usual spot on the bed which just happened to be where I had placed my jeans and belt. My belt was in a loop on top of my jeans and Jemima was lying inside the belt. As I had a second pair of trousers to wear and I didn’t have the heart to move her I only needed the belt so I leaned in quietly and whispered in her ear:

“I know you’re comfortable Jemima but I am going to need my belt.”

To my amazement Jemima sat up and allowed me to slide the belt up her body and over her head without moving from the spot. She then lay down again before going back to sleep. It was obvious to me that Jemima knew what I was saying and assisted me in my endeavours. Evolutionists would struggle to find reasons for this apparent latent ability to communicate with animals but as a creationist it makes perfect sense to me. When Adam and Eve were first created man was given dominion over the whole animal kingdom. It was Adam who named the different kinds of animals and Noah spent a year on the Ark in confined quarters with every kind of creature. If, as Genesis tells us,  it is our responsibility to look after the animal kingdom then surely an ability to communicate with and understand the needs of the animals for whom we are caring would be an asset. I believe that what we and other pet owners are experiencing with their cats and dogs on a daily basis is just a small element of that lost ability.

Chapter 4 – Schrodinger’s Cat?

Chapter 4 – Schrodinger’s Cat?

With Jemima here to stay it was time to make it official. This was the good news. The bad news was that it meant another trip to the vets. After our previous adventure with the cardboard carrier we decided that it was wise to procure the right equipment for her latest trip so Clare purchased a solid plastic pet carrier. This proved to be a great idea in theory, but the practice turned out to be very different. A certain scientist named Erwin Schrodinger formulated a quantum theory thought experiment in the 1930s that involved a cat in a box. This man may have been a clever physicist but he had obviously never attempted to place a cat in a pet carrier. On the morning of her appointment Clare picked Jemima up gently and attempted to ease her carefully into the green and grey container To say that she was not in agreement with this plan would be an understatement. She struggled and wriggled until Clare was forced to let her go. Now it was my turn, but it soon became clear, that without hurting her, this little cat was not going in. Her clever ploy was to make herself larger than the entrance by curling into a big ball. It wasn’t very long before she had had enough and she pushed herself off and away from me. But, instead of hiding she simply stretched herself out on the floor a few feet away from us with a look that said:

“You know I don’t like boxes. Now I’m going to sleep while you think about what I’ve told you”

She was incredibly chilled and if we hadn’t had an appointment to keep we would have been quite happy for her to enjoy a nap. Once again I picked her up and carried her to the car in my arms and once again she was at complete ease with the whole situation. This time, she was thoroughly relaxed while we were in the waiting room and she just cuddled in to me while we waited to be called in by the vet. During the consultation Jemima made us proud with her calm and gentle response to the poking and prodding she received at the hands of the vet who even commented on her lack of reaction when the microchip was implanted. It turns out that Jemima may be older than we first thought. The vet informed us that some minor dental fractures indicated that she may be as much as three years old.

During the visit she received the first of her two sets of vaccinations. We decided to have her vaccinated because we had no way of knowing what vaccines she had been given in the past. She was also examined more fully to discover whether she had been neutered. Unfortunately, for Jemima this has meant a certain level of indignity and it was the only stage of the process to which she objected. I entirely empathised with her objections because it was necessary to shave a portion of her flank to look for a scar. After all the shaving I endured during my hosptilisation last Summer I know just how undignified it can be and Jemima has been with a bald patch which will take some months to regrow. I was lucky that my shaved areas weren’t visible to all and sundry but this poor little cat’s lack of hair can’t be hidden. This was the only time Jemima struggled and even then with the nurse holding her and me whispering reassuringly in her ear she reluctantly accepted her fate. On a positive note, she has been spayed (the scar we found can only have been there for that operation) which means that once the vaccinations have taken effect I can teach her how to use the catflaps as she will be free to go outside. Our final task before leaving the vets was to have our details recorded on the database against Jemima’s chip number before bringing her home and rewarding her with her favourite treats. It is now official, JEMIMA IS OURS!

Next time I will let you know all about how she takes to her new found freedom

Chapter 3 – A Dog Lover Converted

Chapter 3 – A Dog Lover Converted

Queen Jemima Surveys Her Subjects

Home Sweet Home (Changing Habits)

Little Jemima has been with us for a few weeks now and with no-one having claimed her she is definitely here to stay. Although, to be fair, she has never really behaved as if this wasn’t her home. It is as if she knew that she wouldn’t be going anywhere. Right from the start she selected and claimed her favourite armchair, the one next to me.  In the early days she seemed to sleep and eat more than anything else with occasional bursts of energy and ate double the usual meals for a cat of her size. But as Jemima has recovered from her ordeal her habits have gradually changed and her confidence has grown in leaps and bounds and she has now claimed a new armchair further away from me. Nine times out of ten she still follows me to the bathroom, which is apparently typical of the breed, but now instead of coming back downstairs straight away she will remain upstairs on her own. She also relaxes in a few different spots around the house indicating that she feels completely comfortable anywhere in the building.

Food and Drink

She eats less now because she doesn’t have to worry about when she will eat again. I have noticed however, that she asks for food even when she isn’t hungry. It appears that she still needs to know that food is available because she is happy to leave food in the bowl but doesn’t like having an empty dish. Another funny foible with dishes and, so far, her only real sign of fussiness, is over which bowl she eats from.  When she first arrived Clare bought two bowls, a pink one for her water and a blue one for her food. We then stopped using her water bowl because it was too small. One morning Clare used the clean pink bowl for Jemima’s breakfast and she refused to eat from it.  I recalled a family story about Ginger, my Aunty and Uncle’s cat who had once wailed in great offence because my Grandmother had inadvertently got his food and water bowls mixed up. My poor Gran couldn’t believe that this was the problem as the dishes were identical to look at and was gobsmacked when he was as happy as Larry once this grave injustice had been corrected.  Bearing this is in mind I transferred her food into the blue bowl and, as predicted, she tucked in merrily.

Toys and Wrapping

It is well understood by parents and close relatives of young children that the more expensive the present given to them the greater their propensity to discard the gift and play instead with the package it came in. In my experience this truism is equally applicable to little cats. That is not to say that Jemima doesn’t like any shop bought toys and of these her favourite is an orange rod to which a little carrot and rattle are attached by a length of elastic. In fact she loves this toy so much it has broken after a just a couple of weeks, partly because of her tendency to chew the elastic.  We have now replaced it with a similar toy, which she has taken to just as quickly.  The replacement (pictured above) has a frog instead of a carrot and they are both toys which require us to join in allowing us the opportunity and pleasure of playing with her.

There is however, a toy which she favours above all others and is played with every night. Around 11:30 every evening she wakes up with a vengeance and looks for a ball of foil which Clare made for her just after she came to live with us. She takes great delight in batting this silver ball from one side of the house to the other. She begins at the front door, belts it in and out through the dining-room table legs, around the book-shelves and into the kitchen. Once she reaches the kichen she picks the ball up in her mouth and carries it back to the front door where she starts the whole game again. We have yet to work out why she doesn’t hit it from the kitchen to the front door, but it provides her with a great deal of fun and we get a lot of pleasure watching her go mad with it. It is safe to say that I am now convinced, through experience, of the joys of being a cat-owner. The video below doesn’t really do this ritual justice because it was taken before she had fully invented her little game and she has a habit of stopping if she realises that she is being filmed. But I hope you enjoy seeing her at play as much as we do.

In the next instalment I will recount our second trip to the vets where she became ours officially

Chapter 2 – Who Are You?

Chapter 2

Who Are You?

The responsible and fair first step was to ensure that he/she wasn’t simply lost and I have to point out that at this stage we didn’t even know whether this little cat was male or female. What is more we didn’t own a suitable container in which to transport her to the vet so Clare went off and bought a cardboard pet carrier while I kept our guest company. Putting her in the pet carrier wasn’t too much of a problem although she was understandably more than a little perturbed at being suddenly confined in such a small, dark space before being bounced around as I carried to her to the car. This unhappiness manifested itself in loud wailings and vigorous clawing at the sides of the box so I placed the box on my lap and talked to her in soothing tones but was unable to calm her. We were less than five minutes into our journey when her escape attempts proved to be spectacularly successful as first a front paw and then the whole creature emerged from the box and she landed in the footwell in front of me. I managed to move the pet carrier onto the back seat of the car and picked her up in my arms at which point she became much less distressed.

When we arrived at the vets we went straight to the reception desk where the veterinary nurse carefully examined her and scanned her for a microchip. We were informed that she was female, probably about a year old, hadn’t been spayed and was not chipped. In the midst of this alien situation for all of us her it was touchingly obvious that a bond was already forming between Jemima and me. As the nurse scanned her for a chip she cuddled in closer and tried to climb onto my shoulder. Rather than trying to run away she was clinging more tightly to me for protection. She managed to work her way around my body until I ended up wearing her like a fur collar. There was also another sign that she may well have come to stay. Another couple, who were in the waiting area with their dog, were watching the proceedings with barely suppressed amusement. Eventually the wife spoke; “I hate to say this, but she looks like she’s yours already!”

Examination completed we brought her home and Clare purchased some essentials for her, a bed, food, litter and litter tray (which she used straight away), and a few toys. Over the course of the next week we settled into a routine. Jemima, who had yet to be named, learned to fit in with our daily lives while we adjusted our lifestyle to looking after our new friend. For the first week or ten days she slept and ate for England as she recovered from her time on the streets. She also, confusingly, displayed signs at different times of being either pregnant or in heat confirming the initial assessment that she hadn’t been neutered.

After a more than a week of living with us no-one had called to claim this little cat, even though we had left our details with the vet. With each passing day it became increasingly certain that she was going to become a permanent fixture in our lives and I for one would have been very sad if she had been claimed as I was already attached to her. She was proving to be great company for me while Clare was teaching at the Centre and I was working from home alone. Her little body clock that dictated eating and cuddle times also meant that I was forced to take regular breaks and improved my routine too. By now we had named her Jemima in anticipation of keeping her. Why Jemima? The first reason but not the primary one was to name her after Jemima the cat that sings Memory in the famous musical Cats. Both Clare and I decided instantly that it was the right name for her and then we discovered that Jemima was also a daughter of Job. Job was a Biblical character, an extremely wealthy man who lost everything, (family and fortune) but never lost his faith in or love of God. God restored his fortunes by making him even wealthier than before and gave him a new family. His first born daughter of this second family, a woman of great beauty was called Jemima and all those who have heard our testimony will understand why we see this beautiful little cat as a gift from God and a symbol of His work of restoration in our lives.

In Chapter 3 – A Dog Lover Converted, I will tell you more about her emerging character and her favourite toys as she makes herself at home. Please come back on 24th March for the next instalment.

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