cats

Of cats old and new

Today it is a year since I lost my devilcat. A whole year. Really hard to believe.

About a month ago, realising how time was simply slipping on by without me noticing, I earmarked last weekend as the time to adopt a new furry feline friend.

This is Lucia. She’s a three year old black tortoiseshell. Very cute. Very similar, in fact, to our old family cat, Moggie.

Lucia_day1

Miss Lucia, aged 3

Lucia and I have enjoyed hanging out this week. I’m not sure of her full history yet, but I do know she’s been moved around a few times this year, so I think she may see my house as a way station. But she’s pretty chilled out about it.

She’s figured out that Chenna’s old cushion on the sofa by the window is a pretty cool place to sleep — I have covered it with a fleece blanket that’s nice and soft. And she thinks sleeping on my bed overnight is a bit of all right. She also seems to like hanging out with a few soft toys lurking in the bomb site that is my study…

She is most polite in the mornings and actually waits for me to wake up before racing to the kitchen for food (more fool her!). The dead hours of night are her favourite for using her litter tray, because she can dig for five minutes without being interrupted.

So we’re doing all right! So far she’s keeping to herself most of the time, although she does enjoy the occasional “mad minute”, when she forgets she’s not a kitten and bolts around the house with toys, real and imaginary. And she has deigned to curl up on top of me a few times. She doesn’t seem to like being picked up and cuddled too much at this stage, but she hasn’t growled or hissed once… (Although she has drawn blood – heh.)

I’m still learning her habits and she’s getting used to mine. Anyway, it’s nice to have an animal companion again.


Let’s not forget about Chenna, though, my devilcat companion of 14 years, who passed away a year ago. I do still think about her often, and now Lucia reminds me of her as well. I daresay it’s a cat thing.

chenna

Chenna, once a devilcat

Several weeks back, a friend sent me to the following link as the anniversary of Chenna’s death was approaching. It’s a short webcomic by Akimiya Jun about the nine lives of a cat, and it kind of explains why some cats are a bit devilish.

It made me cry.

In fact, it still makes me cry.

It’s so beautiful, and I hope Akimiya will not mind me reproducing it here. (I have tried to ask permission of the artist, but her website keeps throwing errors at me.) It really reminds me of my experience with Chenna, whose eighth life I shared.

I leave you with Nine Lives, as I contemplate which of Lucia’s lives I have been blessed with…

9lives

Farewell, my devilcat

I collected Chenna’s ashes today, exactly three weeks after she signed out. Three weeks. Gosh.

Chenna with Mr Tickle December 2015

Chenna with Mr Tickle December 2015

I still think about her every day, because there is not one aspect of my life in this house that she wasn’t a part of. She arrived as a cute and cantankerous kitten within weeks of me moving in, and proceeded to make her presence felt each and every day.

She was the first thing I thought about every morning, as she sat on my pillow (or sprawled on me) and jabbed me awake.

She was the first thing I encountered every time I arrived home, as she waited for me, meowing, at the front door.

She was often the last thing I was aware of at night, as she snuggled against me in or on the bed.

This was her house, just as much as it is mine. From the beginning (for nearly 14 years), a whole end of the sofa was set aside for her use. During the day, she slept on a colourful cushion propped up for her comfort, positioned so she could see out the window. Sometimes she would squeeze half her body through the venetian blind, much to the amusement and joy of my neighbours (and the ruin of said blind) — presumably to catch a bit of extra sun.

(I’ve just removed the cushion and set the sofa to ‘rights’, after two and a half weeks of staring at her empty bed. Now my sofa seems too big.)

For most of her life she enjoyed complete run of the house and garden. I keep thinking I hear the distinctive clunking sound of her cat flap. That and her automatic cat feeder, which allowed me to program feed times and dispense measured doses of feed from a hopper, revolutionised my life. And hers too, I daresay; because she was much happier at home with no interruptions whenever I was away.

It’s no secret she wasn’t a particularly likeable cat — although I loved her. Even with me, she could get vicious, often without apparent reason. She was quick with her claws, unrestrained with her teeth. Some nights, she developed a fondness for attacking my bare feet — really painful! — and even though I could usually read the signs, it was often too late, and I’d be subjected to ninja foot attacks. My only recourse was to run and jump on my bed, but she was much quicker than me.

As for her relationships with other people… I cannot think of one person other than me that she liked (and I’m mostly sure she liked me). Some people she tolerated… barely. Most people she detested on sight.

But she was a tricky one. She was good at looking all cute and cuddly and luring people in, before flipping into a ninja attack. So many people refused to heed my warnings, only to suffer the pain of her disdain.

She definitely earned her nickname Devilcat, and my Diary of a Devilcat series of posts on this blog and earlier on her own blog Feline in Therapy (mostly 2007-2009) — were a lot of fun to write. I am so glad now that I’ll have them as memories.

I was probably the only one who ever experienced her affectionate side. And she was affectionate far more often than she wasn’t. She didn’t start off as a lap cat, but she made up for it in her latter years, when she would appear beside me as soon as I sat down… her little face peering up at me, then she’d leap up and nudge any obstacles away. (FYI it is a challenge to negotiate a lap cat and a laptop computer simultaneously.)

She also liked stretching out on my chest when I was reading in bed — not necessarily convenient, but it was hard to shove away a purring, warm, cuddly feline, gazing up at me.

Having her around was always companionable — whether smooching on me, sitting outside in the sunshine, sleeping the day away, greeting me at the door. Even when she was being annoying — waking me too early, nagging me for food, prowling all over my workspace, or leaving dead moths (or worse) all over the floor.

Chenna had her share of medical issues as well. From early on she was prone to urinary tract infections, although this was controlled with a specially formulated diet. Then there was her left eye, which changed colour from green to brown when she was still quite young. This saw us visiting animal eye specialists and contemplating the prospect of having her eye removed due to the risk of melanoma of the iris. Thankfully we risked keeping her eye and nothing came of it.

Extra random memories of Chenna (to be updated as they come to me): her black fluff smeared over my chairs (and its subsequent removal with lint cloth)… the sound of her jumping off furniture… the sound of her simply walking across the floor… her enjoyment of tuna juice… her love of escaping out the front door and scampering around the driveway… the fact I always walked around with scratches over my wrists (they have, alas, all healed now)…

The myriad tiny adjustments I would make to accommodate her: turning my toothbrush to the wall so she wouldn’t brush against it… putting my devices out of the way so she wouldn’t sit on them… never leaving food uncovered on the bench unless I actually wanted her to lick it up…


When I received the news about Chenna’s condition three weeks ago, after several weeks of knowing there was something wrong, I wept and wept. (I had no inkling it was something so serious.) Then I sat down and wrote her final devilcat post. Then I curled up beside her in my bed until it was time for her final appointment at the vet.

She purred and let me stroke her. That was our farewell.

I made the decision to end it straight away, as she was so sick there was a good chance she’d simply die in my bed at any time. That, I wasn’t prepared to deal with. And I didn’t think she should have to either.

I spent a lot of time crying (well, bawling) in the days that followed — when I rang the vet to arrange for her to be cremated, when I received a card from the vet with Chenna’s paw print on it, when I packed up her stuff strewn about the house.

When some amazing friends presented me with the following bespoke graphic illustration of Chenna in a frame. (Designed by Rachel Rule, The British Rule (etsy shop).)

Chenna

Graphic illustration of Chenna

And I wept today, when I collected her ashes from the vet and donated her leftover food. (And, of course, while writing this post.)

After three weeks, the intensity of the grief has ebbed. Most of the time I can think about Chenna without weeping, or only weeping a little. Most of the time her absence seems almost a quizzical thing, something just a bit wrong, a bit weird.

But I’m still sad. A bit flat. I miss my little devilcat animal companion terribly.

Farewell Chenna

Farewell Chenna

Diary of a DevilCat: This is Chenna, signing out

I got a bit of a shock today. Turns out I’m not so indestructible as I liked to believe.

Bone marrow cancer. That’s what I’ve got. The prognosis is “guarded” (which means “not good” is a helluva understatement).

No options for treatment. Barely any options for management.

I’m so anemic I could keel over at any second.

I haven’t been feeling great for the past six weeks or so, truth be told. It’s just been so hard to rouse myself to get out of bed. (Ellen’s bed, under the doona, where it’s nice and warm.) Even eating has been too much effort. (Yes, I know. Who’d’ve thought?)

The upside? I’ve lost a kilogram in weight. (I’ve been trying to lose weight for a while, now… Maybe that much in six weeks is not such a great idea.)

The downside? This will be my final post on this blog. I wish I could make it more devilish in nature, go out with a last hurrah; but I’m just not feeling it. It’s been a while since I’ve had the energy to attack anyone’s ankles — although I did get in a couple of awesome swipes at the vet last week.

Hey, at least I’ll go out with a manicure! The vets did a fine job on my claws yesterday, when I went in for the full workover.

I’m almost 14 years old, and I’ve had a great life. Even if I haven’t had all that many friends… I know Ellen loves me.

Thanks for reading my Diary of a Devilcat posts on this blog. And my Feline in Therapy blog was pretty good too, while it lasted.

This is Chenna, signing out. I’m off to hang out with the cat gods.

 

Diary of a Devilcat: Worst Christmas ever

Instead of dreamy days in the sunshine, my Christmas involved pain and blood and terror.

There is this Bullycat, you see, who is trying to take over my garden. He’s mostly white, with bits of grey and black, and shaggy ears. Every day he can be found in my garden, mostly just passing through, his horrid bell jingling; but he has been known to curl up in the weeds and sleep (in my garden).

That Bullycat has got to go.

Every time I see him, I growl and hiss and try to drive him off. But he’s bigger and younger and fearless and I’ve been coming out second best.

He bit me a couple of days before Christmas. BIT me! OOWW.

I’ve never been bitten by another cat before. It’s really not fun. Aside from the fact it cursed well HURT, it got infected and swelled into an abscess. There was this great pussy lump on my rump, near my tail. Not that I could see it; but I could feel it aching and swelling. Then it burst.

Ellen noticed it on the day after Christmas and packed me off to the vet. We couldn’t go to our usual vet, it being a public holiday, so we went to 24/7 emergency instead. Bad enough to be in pain. Bad enough to be dragged to the vet, without going somewhere unfamiliar.

I did not behave well and they had to sedate me.

When I came to myself, I was home again. I dragged myself out of my carrier, but my legs wouldn’t work. I felt like an idiot lolling all over the floor with a shaved spot near my tail. And, blessed catgods, that thing still HURT. It throbbed and ached and I felt entirely miserable.

Then, after all the drama, Ellen wouldn’t let me outside for almost TWO WEEKS unless she supervised me. Out came the litter tray — disgusting — and she locked my cat-door. Can you imagine how boring and suffocating it is to be locked inside for that amount of time? No fresh air? No sunshine? No moths to chase or skinks to play with?

Every five minutes she was looking at the horrid wound, kept telling me how red and raw and gross it looked. (Like I needed to know that!)

Four days after we went to emergency, she took me to our local vet to get the revolting thing checked, make sure it was healing properly. Fortunately Dr Caroline said it was looking ‘good’ and she gave me a painkiller injection.

I pride myself in thinking I behaved pretty well at the vet this time. I might have growled a little, but I didn’t swipe Dr Caroline once.

It took ages, but finally yesterday Ellen decided the thing was healed enough and I was ready to venture outside again. It’s such a relief to have my freedom back, although I can’t help but be very wary about the Bullycat, who still keeps trespassing in my garden.

I’m ashamed to say I keep running away when I see the Bullycat. It’s pathetic, but I really don’t want to get bitten again.

So that was my crap Christmas period. How was yours?

Diary of a devilcat: Eat. Sleep. Scratch. Growl.

chennaIt’s been ages since I got to write a blog post. By the cat gods, Ellen can be so mean. You’ve all missed me, right?

But I suppose life has been same old same old… Eat. Sleep. Scratch. Growl.

Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of growling. Ellen’s developed this incredibly annoying habit of inviting people over on Tuesday evenings to sing with her.

Late. Like, 10pm. At that time I AM ASLEEP. The LAST thing I want is a few women howling singing as though they actually thought they sounded good.

And they wonder why I growl and hiss at them.

Anyway, today I’m bringing you some highlights of my most excellent blog, Feline in Therapy, which is now (alas) lying dormant. Such a shame.

Let me take you back to January 2007, when I was youthful cat of five, all full of energy and devilry…


1 January – Morning sickness

Chucked up my breakfast again this morning. I wish Ellen would remember not to give me a whole scoop of food in one go! I forget to eat it slowly and I make myself sick.

It’s much better if she feeds me less food, but more often. After all, she eats at least five times a day. Why can’t I?

14 January – Butterfly effect

Last night I captured a butterfly and left it on the rug for Ellen to see. She thinks I meant it for a present, but that’s a common misconception. Cats don’t give presents. In truth, I left it there for a laugh to see what she’d do. It was quite disappointing really. She just picked it up by the wing and dropped it in the rubbish.

It certainly wasn’t as good as when I left a dead rodent there last year. I will never forget her reaction that time!

But perhaps she’s becoming immune to butterflies? The thing is, they’re so much fun to catch. And this time of year, they’re everywhere. Ah well, maybe I’d better see whether I can find another rodent . . .

15 January – Bloodquest

This evening I attacked Ellen and drew blood. Mainly on her hands, but some on her ankles as well.

She cried.

She’s such a sook.

18 January – Jeckle and Hyde

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Just gave Ellen a big cuddle, then sunk my teeth into her wrist. I couldn’t help it!

Maybe I really do need therapy.

21 January – An apology

I was very ungracious yesterday. Ellen’s little niece Hannah came to visit, bringing me toys she’d made herself out of coloured pipecleaners. They were beautiful, and I couldn’t help watching as she rolled them across the floor. But I was sleeping and sulking, fed up with the rain that was keeping me indoors and out of my garden. So I didn’t get up to play with them.

Hannah is really rather adorable, and she always comes to say hello to me. But I just don’t know how to act with other people! They always want to stroke me and touch me and talk to me. Usually, I just want them to leave me alone.

I lashed out at Hannah when she came to say goodbye. I wish I hadn’t done that. Now she’ll really be scared of me. I’m glad I didn’t actually get her. She looked very sombre. Do you think she’ll still be my friend?

24 January – Chenna before keyboard

I long ago worked out that if I sit on top of Ellen’s keyboard, she can’t do anything about it. It makes her do one of two things:

  • she either shoves the keyboard away under her computer (there’s a drawer) and allows me to smooch her;
  • or she sits back and allows me to sit on her lap while she tries to type.

Either way, I can chew on her wrist. This evening, I sit on her lap as she types this, chewing her wrist. It’s a sign of love and endearment, don’t you know?

28 January – Five star kitty

I’ve been very good recently. Only the occasional wrist-gnawing and breakfast-chucking (can cats be bullemic?) episode.

This morning, I was very kind to Ellen. She was reading in bed and I crawled in under the quilt and snuggled into her side. Like a little hot water bottle.

I have attacked her feet a few times though. I can’t be good all the time.

And I think I chased Oscar out of the garden as well.

But I have spent a lot of time on Ellen’s lap. Surely that makes up for everything?


Holy cat gods, just reading through this makes me realise how mellow I’ve become in my middle years.

Must. Put. In. More. Of. An. Effort.

If you’d like more Diary of a Devilcat, please lobby Ellen to let me have the floor more often!

Diary of a Devilcat: One Buddy I do NOT want in my bed

Worst. Week. Ever.

Last week, that is. Or, rather, the last three weeks.

dog and cat2

We were invaded again by a dog. (Buddy — Smelly, yappy, panting thing.) And this time he was not content with stealing my food… this time he STOLE MY BED!

Unbelievable.

Just because I get to sleep in Ellen’s bed whenever I want… all warm and snug and cozy where he is not… It’s my privilege, you know? I’ve been here much longer than him.

So Buddy realises I’m not in my usual day bed, my cushion in front of the window. And he decides that if I get to sleep in the human bed, then he’ll have MY bed!

He slept there all night. Yeah, okay, he didn’t actually sleep on my cushion, which would have made it stink, but that was only because Ellen took it away. (You’d think she’d have more control over a mere puppy, wouldn’t you? Sheesh.)

Buddy in devilcat's bed

Buddy stole my bed!

It’s been the longest three weeks of my life. Way worse than when Ellen goes away and leaves me here all alone.

Three weeks of beady eyes watching every move I make, his big fat head popping up over the edge of my cushion to stare at me — even though he’s not supposed to. Getting yelled at doesn’t seem to make any difference.

Three weeks of getting chased around the house. Three weeks of having to creep out after midnight to eat, so I don’t have to suffer the little monster watching me.

Three weeks of Ellen paying more attention to him than me. (She takes him for walks twice a day, and picks up his poo, and cuddles him all evening on the couch…) That dog completely takes over.

He made a total mess of the garden, ripped sheets off the line, broke Ellen’s spectacles into pieces… and still she seems to like him.

She ought to be thankful I’m so much better behaved AND I completely look after myself. I’m so much less work. And she calls ME the devilcat. Hurrumph.

chenna

Well, now — thanks to all the catgods — he’s finally gone. And everything is back to normal.

I did get a few good swipes in, though.

Dog and cat shenanigans – dinnertime

7pm. I get up and hover in the kitchen, eye the two sleeping animals (one cat, one dog) on the sofa.

dog and cat

Who’s hungry? I say.

Two little heads lift, ears twitching, eyes lighting up. Meow, says the devilcat. The puppy (visiting) just looks excited.

The devilcat is off the sofa first… Meow! Yes! Feed meeee!

But all the puppy sees is a furry little target. He leaps off the sofa towards the devilcat. The devilcat, recognising her peril, tears off through the kitchen, across the hall, back into the living room.

She’s a blur of black and white, speeding in a perfect circle, seeking the refuge of the sofa. He’s a fuzz of grey, claws clicking on the floorboards, scrambling for purchase, sliding around the corners in eager pursuit.

She springs onto the sofa, belying her flabby tummy and advancing years.

In all the excitement, puppy somehow finds himself on the sofa too. He jumps up and down with excitement, cowering only a little at the terrible deep growl coming from the devilcat.

“Bad dog, get down! Baaaaad dog. Grrr.” (Devilcat is allowed on the sofa without invitation. Puppy is not.)

Within minutes, the devilcat is back on her cushion in the exact same position, as if she’d never so much as flirted with the idea of eating dinner.

Puppy is on the floor, gazing up at her, then wanders off to get his dinner.

Me? I’m in hysterics.

8:30pm. Devilcat still has not eaten dinner.

Diary of a Devilcat: Canine invasion

Chenna

Bah! Dog. At least I think it’s a dog. Smelly, yappy, panting thing.

Buddy

Here. In my house. On my couch. Polluting my garden. Drinking my water. EATING MY FOOD.

It came on Tuesday. Its name is Buddy. It — oh, all right, he — has completely taken over the house. His stuff is everywhere, all over the floor. A silly green sock. A silly soft football. A silly squeaking pig.

I can’t do anything, go anywhere, without being reminded of his presence. He’s put me completely off my food.

Speaking of food: He actually stole some of mine! It’s not like he needs any extra food. I’ve seen him get bones and breakfast and dinner and treats. Nope. Definitely not lacking in sustenance. And still he must need steal mine. Off the table.

I’m starving.

I cannot be expected to eat when he’s watching me. My food bowl has been moved onto the counter in the bathroom now, and I nibbled at it this afternoon. But after a few mouthfuls I looked up and there he was, standing at the bathroom door, staring, staring, with his beady brown velvet eyes. My stomach flipped with revulsion and I couldn’t eat any more.

But he is scared of me a little, I think. I haven’t yet needed to swipe his nose, although I am itching to do it. At the moment he’ll back down if I growl and hiss.

But I have been sharpening my claws, just in case.

And now I put to you a question: If you were cat (devilish or otherwise), how would YOU like it if your house got invaded by a dog?

Diary of a Devilcat: I’ll sleep where I damn well want

Says Chenna the devilcat:

Capricious. That’s what she called me! Recalcitrant too. Like there are rules I’m supposed to be following.

Where, may I ask, does it say I have to sleep in the same place all the time? Is there some lodging contract I signed? (No!) Is there a notice on the wall? (No!)

Devilcat-chair2

All right, so after more than a decade of sleeping on my stripy cushion by the window, I’ve decided to sleep somewhere else for a change. It’s comfortable. It’s still comfortable after nearly two weeks and I like it.

Get over it.

Do you think I care about leaving my fur all over the velvet upholstery? Do you think I care about the dirt and cobwebs I’m leaving? (Those were rhetorical questions, by the way…)

By all the cat gods, stop trying to clean it off with that stupid Enjo lint glove. Honestly — you’re deluded if you think that’s going to work. You can’t even wash the stupid glove. Do you know how pathetic you look rubbing my fur off the glove in your fingers? Gross.

More fool you if that’s why you bought such a frivolous item. Just GET OUT THE VACUUM for the cat gods’ sake!

And, just so you know, I am going to continue sleeping wherever I damn well want for as long as I want. And that includes this chair and your bed and even all the other chairs if I feel like it. So there.

Ho there, catfriends… Do you think I’m being unreasonable?

 

Are you an ailurophile?

Here’s a cool word

AILUROPHILE

Sounds like… I don’t know what it sounds like.

What it means though is

A CAT LOVER

Yep. It’s from the ancient Greek ailouros (cat) and philos (dear, beloved). And I’m guessing quite a few readers of this blog qualify as ailurophiles. Am I right?

Here’s my claim to fame — Chenna, otherwise known as the devilcat. And despite her antisocial behaviour and destructive tendencies, she’s very lovable really.

chenna

Aw, how could you not love a face like that? (This is actually, ahem, her begging for food face.)

So, fellow ailurophiles, it’s time to ‘fess up! Tell me about your favourite feline friends.

Today’s post is in response to this week’s wanafriday theme, which was to share interesting word. Check out these other posts: