Not the Cat for Me

The plan was to see a five-year-old ginger and white cat in need of a home, whose owners conveniently live near my route to Mother’s. He looked lovely, not unlike Cat, and I’d be able to see him on my way up and think about him for a few days. But after the initial contact, I had radio silence which I feared was due to the questions I’d asked about his medical history and so on. My friend Sue spotted another cat needing a home. He was all ginger. I have to admit to a lurking desire for an all ginger cat, and this one looked stunning. The reply to my enquiry was instantaneous. He was living with some students who had taken him in after finding him in the snow. Although his owner had been traced, he didn’t want him back. Now the students needed to move and reluctantly realised the time had come to part with the cat. I decided to take a look.
He was a distance away, so I went by train, taking the pet caddy in case. One of the owners met me at the station. He was very young and very worried about what was going to happen to his cat.
The flat was ghastly; the worst type of horrible student accommodation leased by unscrupulous landlords, exploiting a market of foreign students desperately trying to make a little go a very long way. The smell from the downstairs flat was worse. I was pretty sure I’d be going home empty handed. Anyway, the timing was awful. I needed to come to Mother’s today.
I saw the cat. Very pretty. But not the cat for me, I thought. Except that my next thought crashed into the heels of the first; I can’t leave him here. The deal was done in five minutes. He’s what my vet would call my Mother Teresa cat; the one who really needed rescuing.
It made me think of how friend-with-biscuits got her cat. She had only recently moved into her house and was fairly ignorant about swathes of south London. She saw an advertisement for a kitten, looked up the address on the A-Z and set off. It was on the North Peckham Estate. But at the time that meant nothing to her. Notorious now as the place where Damilola Taylor was stabbed to death in a stairwell. Locally, people would say you could find your way there just by following the police helicopters. She rang the doorbell. The door opened on a chain and a disembodied voice asked her what she wanted. Amazingly, she didn’t flee. She explained she’d come about the kitten. When she had set out, she’d intended to ask to see the mother cat and the conditions the kitten had been living in. A hand came out from behind the door, “Five pounds,” said the voice. Meekly she put her money in his palm, and the next moment a tiny bundle of tabby fur was passed through the door. All she knew was that if there was an animal living there she wanted to get it out. The kitten was far too young to leave his mother, but he has thrived.
Anyway, back to the student slum. The emotional owner took one more picture of the cat and into the pet caddy he went. I’d hardly looked at him. I asked some questions about his diet; only the best for this boy. “But,” said the owner, “he’s got some little brown flecks on him.”
Fleas.
If I’d been sensible, I’d have tipped him back out there and then. But of course I wasn’t.
He was the sweet little kitty I’ve been saying I don’t want and he had fleas. Hum.
Back home, it was straight into the bathroom, Frontline and fleacomb. He was infested. I have never seen so many fleas. I combed and combed him. The flea dirt fell from him like dandruff. His owners had described him as polite. I think he’s angelic. He obviously wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, yet not once did he hiss, attempt to bite or scratch. Cat would have had my arm off. He’s had to put up with this treatment every few hours since, though I think he’s now clear.
I was out yesterday morning, and surprised how anxious I was to get back to him. Less than twenty-four hours after bringing him home, he was rolling on his back, still quarantined in the bathroom where there’s no carpet or soft furnishings, purring when his chin was scratched and racking up two new admirers. By last night he seemed to have recovered some bounce. He watched me while I bathed, miaowed and plainly invited me to a game when I was getting dry. I had spoken to the vet earlier, to ask about how all these fleas would have affected him. After all, kittens can die from flea infestation, so I would imagine this boy would be under the weather.
Given the trauma of being removed from his home and people who love him – I’ve been inundated with messages asking how he is – being combed to within an inch of his life and confined to a fairly small bathroom, he’s doing extraordinarily well. Today he has had to travel East to Mother’s. After a few anguished miaows when I popped him back into the fumigated caddy, he travelled quietly, Feliwayed to the max in my equally fumigated car. I’m taking no chances. The guestroom has been fumigated in advance on the advice of the vet; he’s confined to the bathroom there until the fog in the bedroom clears, then I’ll do the bathroom. Mother’s flat has had the similar treatment in case he comes downstairs, and when we leave I’ll do it all again.
How his character is going to turn out I do not know, and it’s going to be interesting to find out.
He’s not Cat, that’s for sure, and I do know that Cat was one in a million, the carers were talking about him today, saying how wonderful he was, but I’m hoping this Not Cat’ll shape up to be a lovely boy in different ways.

20 thoughts on “Not the Cat for Me

  1. Welcome ‘Not Cat’

    You have a high standard to meet, but I have a feeling you’ll come up to the mark, but in a very different way – just as a child is different from a sibling. 🙂

  2. Hurrah Iso and PKA (boo fleas).
    He’s certainly had an unfortunate life, so far. It’s now a new journey for you both.
    He is a very, very lucky boy and I’m looking forward to learning his new name.
    Wishing a happy and flea-free Easter to you all.

    • He was very much loved though, Sue, and I think that shows in the way he loves to be cuddled, and how he purrs as soon as you scratch his ears. He could have had it much worse. But his environment was dire, his future perilous, and I dread to think what would have happened to him at the end of next week had I not taken him. I’m guessing he would have been passed from pillar to post and could well have ended up a stray.

    • Cheek! My bathroom is very salubrious. When I first changed it, a friend came round and sighed, “Oh lovely; just like a magazine” which may have had quite a lot to having a sporty husband and two v sporty musical boys.

    • No soft furnishings in my bathroom, and had there been, I’d have removed them. I left a towel down for him in the bathroom a little while ago, but he seems to want to lie on the floor. It’s probably cooler.

  3. It sounds like he must have settled sufficiently in the guest room (and be getting used to constantly moving around). It would help the process and mean you will be able to have him there instead of in the guest room when your Mother is home.

  4. Pingback: The Legacy | IsobelandCat's Blog

    • And what I now know about those kittens/puppies/small dogs/cats offered free to good homes is that they are often taken by people wanting bait for fighting dogs, and end up torn to shreds.

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