Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bootstraps

Despite it not being a normal timing pause for grieving, we decided that, as this past weekend was the last completely free weekend until 9 October (and even then, we have a theatre excursion), we would have an outing -- or several -- to look for a kitty who needs a home. [Note: 9 October is exactly 1 month before the tea-leafed arrival of Squeak. Introducing a rescued creature into a home with a mere 4 weeks to 'settle', and followed by And Now For Something Completely Different seems a bit mean and thoughtless if it can be avoided.]

My attempt at being pragmatic allowed my planning skills to overshadow lingering sadness, which admittedly was (mostly) beyond the constant-reminders-of-Angus-leading-to-weeping stage by last Friday. The tinternet 'tis a v. good thing for coordinating spontaneous ventures such as this, to include the entire county of Norfolk -- although Eamonn had already had a bit of a peruse around and so She started with some Excellent Pointers in the right direction.

The RSPCA, the Cat's Protection League, and several animal sanctuaries. Looked at photo albums. Read bios (where available). Make initial choices for potential good matches (e.g., prefer no long hair; prefer no kittens; should not have been abused by children in previous habitat; etc.). Planned route. Called for appointments. Printed maps. Created agenda.

Cosmic; and Chilli & Pepper; Harley; Liquorice & Cappucino; India & Gem; and Jack were some of the named ones that we started with. We visited them and from that group (and a few others who just also needed to be petted), Chilli and Pepper, and India and Gem were our two (double) initial choices... Chilli and Pepper are a 1-year-old brother and sister pair, who are absolutely sweet and shiny and purry; Pepper also was born with only one eye -- making him a Pirate (!). India and Gem are 4-year-old sisters, who have only recently been neutered, and who are respectively shy and sassy. Personality is a must.

Our aim was NOT to try to replace Angus with another black (or partially black) cat. However, as I may have mentioned before: black and black&white cats are just 'not in fashion' now. Hence the reason that so many of them end up in shelters, according to our previous vet. I think this is utterly atrocious. 'Not in fashion', indeed. People with that mentality ought to be neutered AND banned.

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A couple of years ago, Richard and Clem took us along to a charity event at a cat sanctuary at Beeston Regis, on the North Norfolk coast. This place was actually my first thought of a must-go-to place, as it had seemed at the time such a caring environment with great support of volunteers who help with socialising the cats, helping those who need it to psychologically heal, and caring for those who are simply unhomeable. It is a no-kill shelter.

We didn't know the full story, though.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a protective gatekeeper lady who took us inside the main house, because 'Everybody has to meet Ms. Rees before you can go look at the cats.' We went into the kitchen, where Ms. Rees was sat next to the Aga with a cat on her lap, cats in various baskets around the kitchen and on chairs. At one point my conversational attention was distracted by the top of the cabinet next to the ceiling stretching its little kitty toes over the edge. These are part of the cats which are unhomeable.

Ms. Rees doesn't move very much, and she can no longer go out to the cattery with visitors, because she is recovering from paralysis as a result of a broken neck. Her neck was broken by a male personage who runs a scam on the North Norfolk coast -- maybe in Aylsham. His chapter in her tragic story began when some kind soul found a cat roaming around, very hungry, thin, scruffy and in danger of being run over. The cat was brought to her, and she recognised it as a Bengal -- quite valuable. Ads were posted in the newspaper and notices given on the radio.

After several weeks, no one had come forward. So preparing the cat for re-homing began. This involves vaccination, neutering, de-fleaing, worming -- basically providing basic care for the well-being of the animal. Shortly after this, a man called her one day claiming, ' You've got my cat.' To which she replied, 'Well, actually I have about 60 cats, so perhaps you might tell me which one you think is yours?' His cocky reply that it was a Bengal... 'not that [she] would know anything about that' and her response that she did in fact have a Bengal (and knew very well what it was) and that he should come out and see if it was his.

His arrival and discovery of his cat in healthy condition (although missing some bits) resulted in his utter rage that she had 'cut the balls off' what was purportedly his 'stud cat.' He threw things maniacally around the cattery and at her and raged off saying that she would pay him the £5000 for his ruined cat, and more. 'More' being quite threatening.

Legal battles ensued -- but to no effect to his benefit.

However, in 2004, after the incident had for all intents and purposes run its course, she was attacked one early morning in her flower garden, shot with a stun gun, her neck broken, and a 70-ish lady was left for dead. She was completely paralysed and lay there for 2 hours until volunteers arrived to the cattery and she was able to be airlifted out.

After 6 months in hospital, the police had still not even visited the suspected culprit. Only at the insistence of her son was he 'visited' and he (of course) said, 'No. I didn't do that.' And the capable police left. The police refused to pursue it any further, claiming that since she had had her back to the attacker, her evidence was not credible.

She is no longer paralysed, but she has such a diminished quality of life now, even though she continues to run the charity that she has run for more than 20 years. She built the cattery as it now is with her own hands, however it is now a struggle for her to even go outside to see the animals she is helping.

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Not for this reason -- I just wanted to share the brief story of the atrocity of one evil man and a corrupt culture which allows him to roam free and re-perpetrate (which apparently he does when people 'rescue' his set-up animals) and juxtapose that with the kindness and gentleness that people like Ms. Rees and her loyal helpers have to give -- but not for this reason at all, did we proceed to the Cat House (titter). Well, actually, we were 'Approved' to go to the Cat House.

And we met Jasmine and Patches and Lucky and Russett and LeAnn (she is very saucy) and Tiffany and Tessa and Blackey and the kittens and everyone.

And then we were led through this separate door (which looked like the entrance to a store room) off the main Cat Room. But no. This was no store room. This was the entrance to Inky's Annexe.

Inky is a funny cat, who does not approve of other cats. He has his own apartment, where he has lived for 2 years (and he is only 3 or 4 years old), complete with habitat room (with all amenities, such as bed, box and heater) and comfortable porch room overlooking both the garden and the Cat Room. Inky folds his tail over his back like he is a squirrel. He is quite talkative, very friendly, and I think he will be a cuddler. He allowed the Visiting Hoomins (well, the Lady Hoomin) to pick him up and hold him until her arms were tired and it was time to go. Inky is obviously black.

We had a good discussion on the way home, and were pretty much unanimous that Inky was Zee One. Chilli  Pepper were a very, very close second, but doubling all costs seemed a bit unwise.


But it really would have been fun to have a pirate cat...