• I'm Steve

    Software developer, analyst and cat lover
  • I'm experienced

    Technical, commercial and managerial experience with business empathy
  • Oh, yes

    Did I mention I like cats?

A brief history of the cats

The who and the when of being owned cats

Maisie was the first of our cats - she adopted us rather than us adopting her, so it was a bit of a privilege to have her. She was abused by her owners kids and decided enough was enough so moved in with us.

While we had her, we also adopted Fred, a rescue cat with an amazing personality and a truly soft nature. He loved to play, only went birding once (and got a live pigeon) and had some success fishing.

After Maisie died, we took on Gizzie and Gizzie took over our lives for the next 19 years. Having Gizzie for 19 years has meant that one or two jobs have gone undone for fear of upsetting her - stupid huh? Well, we needed new central heating installed, need a new carpet and the white paint in my bedroom wasn't that white any more. But you can't upset the cat...

Following Gizzie, we resolved to get all the odd jobs done in the house. That resolve fell through pretty quickly and on Sunday, June 22, 2008 we nipped over to Wales and picked up Sammy. He's had a bit of a strange start to life but seems to want to make it work in our house. To be fair, he's pretty much taken over and has trained us all well. We all do what he wants us to.

Sammy

Sammy

Sammy is a male cat who joined us on 22nd June, 2008. He's had a bit of a funny start to life as he started out being rescued, only to end up spending over a year in someone's bedroom because he was too boisterous for their other (elderly) cats. I can vouch for the amount of energy this cat has!

We went over to Wales to fetch him. It's a round trip of around 290 miles but, being Wales, there are only two major roads and they're not all that 'major', so the trip takes 3.5 hours. It can be real fun spending 3.5 hours in a car with a frightened cat that doesn't want to be there.

We got him home and let him out of the cage and he immediately dashed up stairs to my room (where Gizzie spent most of her life) and made himself at home. Have to say, I never expected to get another cat that wanted to spend time in the bedroom with me, so that was a nice surprise.

He's a very affectionate cat - especially at 4 in the morning - and very playful. He was two years old when we first had him, but I suspect that he hadn't really had a chance to be a kitten, so he made up for it once he had people to play with.

Strange thing... he's got a tabby cat tail. He's mostly white but has a perfect tabby cat tail. Its very strange to look at and a little disconcerting, given that Gizzie was a tabby.


Sammy on the bed

Sammy on the bed

Sammy playing with his stick

Sammy playing with his stick

Sammy relaxing by the radiator

Sammy relaxing by the radiator

Sammy on

Sammy on 'his' chair

Sammy on the sofa

Sammy on the sofa

Sammy after a hard day playing

Sammy after a hard day playing

Gizzie

Gizzie

Gizzie died in May, 2008. We'd had her for 19 years, having been given her as a rescue cat when she was far too young to leave her mother (She was about six weeks old). I struggle to write this because Gizzie was part of my life for every second of those 19 years.

As an indoor cat, Gizzie spent her days following me around the house and her nights sleeping on my bed. I miss her terribly.

We had a call from a friend called Colleen who had rescued a cat who had just given birth to kittens in a dark cupboard under the stairs of a house. The owners didn't want the kittens and were intent on 'disposing' of them as quickly as possible and by whatever means presented itself. Colleen couldn't allow that, so she ended up with mother and kittens.

We were asked to take a kitten and Gizzie was the one I picked out. Boy did I pick a good one! The first night we 'lost' her. In the early hours of the night I went to check on her in the box in my bedroom and she'd disappeared. I turned over the whole bedroom trying to find her and eventually found her fast asleep under a bureau - how should could have slept through the amount of noise I'd been creating, I cannot guess.

Then there was the eating issue. Being so young she wasn't really weaned off her mother, so feeding was likely to be an issue. As it was, she refused to eat anything including milk. After a coupe of days we ended up at the vets looking for help to get her to eat, especially as she was so young and in need of food.

We left the vet with a syringe. Using that, we were able to get her to take milk, but she still refused the mashed up kitten food we offered. Not sure how we arrived at the solution, but we found that she would, however, eat chopped up chicken roll. No problem with that!

Chicken roll may have been a mistake. She wouldn't go near cat food after that. Over the years we tried cat food, but she stuck with a cooked meat diet. When she tired of chicken roll, she switched to turkey. When she tired of turkey, it was the best beef. When she tired of beef, it was back to the chicken. Do you have any idea how idiotic you feel going round Tesco, bulk buying Bernard Matthews chicken roll for the cat!

She also liked prawns - just as Fred had.

When we had Gizzie, I was working from home - from my bedroom to be more exact. I was all set-up, nice computer table and comfortable office chair. The cat took one look at this set-up and immediately commandeered the chair! So while I stood and kneeled in front of the PC, she say comfortably, wrapped in a blanket, on the chair. I ended up with a stool... but she was a kitten and I couldn't bring myself to turn her off.

Circumstances were that I had to go out to work again and she took over the bed instead. Of a night she took over the bottom right corner and I got what was left. In the day, she had the top left - basically, my bed was covered with the cats' blankets and I was allowed to sit in any spare gaps she left me.

Eventually, I changed jobs again and ended up working from home again. She took a dislike to PCs and showed it by leaving the room whenever I turned one on, so at least I got to sit on the chair, even if I did feel like a heel.

As she got older, she got used to the fact that I needed to work and that meant the PC so she returned to the bed during the day.

I could go on like this for a long time, but I'm sure you have no interest in my memories.

Last few years, she started to show her age. It became obvious that she was struggling to jump on the bed so, naturally, I bought her a box - that went down well once she worked out what it was for! Sadly, her back legs were weak and eventually, the box wasn't helping as much as it used to. So I did what you would expect - I had steps custom made for her - well you have to don't you.

For the last 12 months she was constantly at my side. During the day she came in to my home office and turned me off the chair (so I was back to sitting on a stool) and during the evening she was back to the bedroom and sitting on my chair. I was allowed to sit on the bed.

Towards the end of April, she started having problems with eating and on May 4, 2008 was finally put to sleep by the vets after diagnosing severe liver problems. She was my best friend for 19 years and I'm lost without her.


Gizzie when we first got her

Gizzie when we first got her

Sleeping - Do not disturb

Sleeping - Do not disturb

Gizzie being cute

Gizzie being cute

Sun worshiping

Sun worshiping

Keeping a cool head

Keeping a cool head

Cat napping

Cat napping

My office chair - yeah, right!

My office chair - yeah, right!

It

It's a hard life for a cat

Hard at work

Hard at work

Fred

Fred

Fred was a rescue cat that we got as a kitten. Always full of life, he had a bit of a struggle when we first had him. Maisie just didn't like this new upstart! However, he stuck with it and refused to be put in his place.

Fred had a split personality. Outside the house, where he spent a great deal of his time, he was a 'real' cat. He loved the outdoors and loved prowling round the gardens. It wasn't entirely unusual to 'lose' him for the day and, just as we were getting really worried, he's pop round the corner with one of those 'what's the problem?' looks that gets seem to be able to do so well.

Unlike many cats, however, he only went birding once and even then, his softer side came out in that he didn't kill the bird, but just brought it home... through the cat flap... and let it go in the living room. Pity it was a full grown pigeon. We still have no idea how he managed to get it through the cat flap.

His biggest vice was fishing. One of the neighbours installed a fish pond and stocked it with gold fish, which Fred liked to fish out and bring home to us. Strange thing is, he never came home wet, so he couldn't have gone in the water - he must have been some fisher-cat. Even stranger, the fish he brought home were alive and well. He's drop them on the mat and go off for another. We put them in a bowl of water and return them later.

At home, he loved being fussed. He particularly liked being picked up and cradled (on his back) like a baby. He's just lie there, perfectly content to be nursed for as long as he could get away with it.

Mind you, he's want prawns afterwards. He'd kill for prawns... fresh ones though, not frozen.

He was a little lost after Maisie went so we got another cat; Gizzie. Fair to say, he gave her a hard time when she first arrived - nothing nasty - just establishing his dominance in the household. As she grew, they slowly came to tolerate each other, though I don't think they really became friends. I guess it was just different personalities, Fred being the outside cat and Gizzie being such a young kitten who preferred the house.

Still, they were company for each other and, being so different, weren't really rivals for our affection.

Fred was a great cat - couldn't ask for a better personality in an outdoor cat. He didn't have a long life - he was only seven when we developed a tumour - but he had a good life and he enjoyed it to the full.


Fred and his chair

Fred and his chair

Fred relaxing as only he can

Fred relaxing as only he can

Fred and Gizzie getting on together

Fred and Gizzie getting on together

Maisie

Maisie

Maisie came to us as a stray. Well, that's what we thought anyway.

This was back in the day when we didn't have a patio window but had ordinary windows with a window sill. One day we were looking out through the windows and saw this tabby head looking in at us. Kind of floating in space.

Being animal lovers anyway, we went to the window to get a better look and see if the cat was friendly or not - she dived off the stool and ran! Maybe no so friendly after all.

A little later, she popped up again and, over a period of weeks, we progressed to the point where she was happily strolling in and out of the house through the window (good job it was summer).

As a rule, she was ravenous, so we came to the conclusion that she was a stray and in need of a good home with an unlimited supply of food. So, we adopted her and she adopted us. And, somewhere along the way, I lost the bottom corner of my bed.

Turned out later that she actually belonged to some people just down the road from us, not that they were interested in getting her back. Seems their kids weren't interested in the cat other than as a play thing and had been abusing her - which explains why she legged it to another home. Apparently, the last straw was when they 'trimmed' her whiskers - never a good idea.

Fair to say, she wasn't the most friendly of cats and was fiercely independent, but we loved her for what she was and we got a lot of love in return.

Sadly, she developed mouth ulcers and had to be put to sleep when she couldn't eat any more. We only had about five years with her, but I think she enjoyed that time to the full.


Sadly there were no digital cameras in Masie's day, so this is the only photo we have of her.

Contact Me

Share your thoughts or just drop by for a chat.


CAPTCHA refresh

copy the digits from the image into this box

Steve Barnett
Birmingham,
United Kingdom