Tristan the Terror

I was volunteering for a rescue centre when I first met Tristan. He was crammed in a temporary cage with his four siblings at the back of the dog kennels. The cattery had been condemned & knocked down and a new state of the art one was being built. But in the meantime, no new cats could be taken in and the ones we already had were stuck sharing a building with the dogs.

Tristan and his siblings had been born on the streets and at some point after their birth, their mother had been hit by a car. She was rescued and then someone found her kittens and rescued them too. Unfortunately, kittens and mother were never reunited since her leg had to be amputated. So, at two weeks old, Tristan lost his mother and was put in a tiny cubicle.

One look at him and I just knew he was a Tristan. He and his siblings were crazy hyperactive and they didn’t look like normal moggies. Unfortunately, most of the staff at this rescue centre were dog people and had little knowledge about cats, so no one knew what to do.

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At the time, I was also looking in on another litter of kittens. One was smoky black and I called him Midnight. I was torn between Tristan & Midnight. I knew I wanted another cat, maybe two more, since Isabel was home alone and missing out on a cat family.

Tristan was the smallest of his litter and getting bullied by the others. They were all male except one and she was the worst bully of all. I hated seeing them going at each other in that tiny cubicle and no one playing with them or spending time with them.

Midnight got adopted by someone else the next day. So, Tristan was ours.

My husband came to pick me up from work and I had Tristan with me in a carrier. Hubby said “oh how cute” and now we can laugh about that moment. Tristan was just under six weeks old. Yes, he was tiny, cute, slightly fluffy like a kitten BUT… We had no idea what TERROR we were in for!

We set up the guest bedroom for Tristan so he and Isabel (who by this time was 2 years old) would stay separated the first couple months. I had already kitten-proofed the bedroom: only the bed was still there along with his cat tower, toys, and handmade cat house. Oh and the curtains. But they didn’t survive the first week of Tristan.

We placed his carrier on the floor and soon little Tristan tentatively peered out from inside the box.

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Within minutes he was exploring his room, running around, scaling his tower and climbing all over me! I innocently assumed Tristan was just expending all his pent up energy from being in a shelter cubicle and that he would soon collapse and have kitten naps. How wrong I was.

Tristan did not sleep. At all. He was so hyperactive, insanely playful, and somewhat aggressive. After 48 hours at his new home, he still had not slept a wink which meant I had not slept a wink. Even when he ate, he was a psycho. He would hear me open the pouch of kitten food and open his mouth WIDE like a baby bird and SCREAM feed me MEOW!!!

By the 49th hour, I decided to phone the vet. Surely, something was wrong with this kitten? This could not be normal. I was so exhausted I couldn’t think straight.

The main thing I remember from this first visit with little Tristan at the vet was the sound of laughter. The nurse laughing and the vet laughing at the precocious, cute, tiny kitten that was causing all this mayhem. Then the vet explained: this kitten is half-Bengal and half domestic. The smart, crazy, energetic Bengal side was definitely in control of my Tristan.

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The laughter continued all the way into the waiting room. They could not believe that this little kitten had kept me up for two days straight: wasn’t sick or requiring bottle feeding so why not just sleep in another room they asked? Why? Because if I left the room Tristan would scream bloody murder and NOT STOP meow-screaming. So, no, I could not leave him alone. More laughter. Oh dear, the nurse said, so I guess we’ll nickname him Tristan the Terror!

Yep….Tristan the Terror.

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This nickname holds meaning to this day. Tristan is now six years old. Although he is not as hyperactive as he was as a kitten, he sleeps the least of my four cats.

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Tristan is the most intelligent cat I’ve ever had. He can open any sort of door in our house. He knows just how to alter the pitch of his meow to let me know what he wants. He (and Fernando will copy him!) often sits at the dining room table with us when we eat or sits there when he’s hungry.

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He is extremely talented in the art of destruction. Sofas, curtains, window blinds, stair banisters, etc are no match for my Tristan! Luckily, he now has a big garden to spend time in and explore!

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And…Tristan is a tiny bit of a sexual deviant. (Yes, he is spayed just like my other three cats). He has a favourite stuffed animal toy that he humps every so often and has a bit of a love obsession for Bridget! Honestly, I’ve never met a cat like him. It’s a good thing I mainly work from home. I dread to think what apocalyptic actions Tristan could undertake if left alone to his own devices too long!

But…Tristan is also affectionate, inquisitive, brave and loyal. We love him and that love is returned. If hubby is working in the garage, Tristan will be the cat who sits there and watches carefully. If he suddenly realises he’s on his own, he’ll seek one of the other cats or us out and sit close by…he hates to be alone. But, oh my, that love exhibits itself in serious bouts of jealousy at times. Tristan will literally push one of the other cats out of his way to get our undivided attention or lap time. He’s a dapper fellow and he knows it!

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Tristan never ceases to amaze me. Yes, he is hard work to this day. Definitely not a low maintenance cat but I wouldn’t change a thing. No matter how much he deprives us of sleep or drives us crazy, we’ll love him forever…we just might need a drink or two every so often.

 

Fernando and Bridget: Part Two

Did you know that the patron saint of cats (or at least one of them) is St. Gertrude? Many ancient and current religions consider cats to be sacred. Let’s not forget Bastet of ancient Egypt or Muezza who was a favoured cat of The Prophet.

Well, some cat god or Saint must have looked favourably down upon us (probably a reward for surviving a year of Tristan the terror and still willing to adopt more cats!) because within one day of bringing our tuxie kittens home we knew we we’re blessed by the cat gods.

These two kittens simply radiated joy and playfulness. They were so easy to care for. It was obvious they were ecstatic to be out of their cattery pen and have an entire bedroom to themselves to run around and play in. They revelled in tumbling over each other and climbing their tower! From day one, they cuddled and slept together in bed. And, yes, to our relief, unlike Tristan, these kittens actually slept! We enjoyed the constant bom-ba-bom-ba-bom ba-bom-ba-bom-ba-ba-BOM of little paws running up and down the bedroom floor above our heads as we watched television downstairs. They were so happy.

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Soon, they were ready for their first vet visit. They happily fit in one carrier together and were so very patient waiting for their appointment. I walked in the examining room and introduced our new family additions as Bridget and Willow, two female tuxies. The vet examined Bridget and stated everything was fine.

As soon as he picked up Willow he laughed “your other girl is in fact a boy! Yet again, I provided the laugh of the day for the entire staff at the vet’s office.image

The vet nurse, when I checked out, chuckled “you’ll have to keep an eye on those two.” Oh sure, now I would be guardian of my cats’ chastity! Certainly didn’t want anymore little black and white fur balls running around my house.

The nurse and I looked at the newly proclaimed boy kitten. I noticed the little half moustache near his nose and thought of the Abba song. “I think he’s a Fernando.” And so it was….Fernando.
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I never realised that adopting two kittens would be easier than one at a time! I suppose it’s obvious…they entertain themselves & keep each other busy, having each other to play with. Fernando and Bridget were inseparable, occupying their own little world. I’d never seen such loving pals.
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Did I mention earlier that they radiated joy? Well, they did. And there’s something very poignant about Fernando and Bridget entering my life when they did. It was a time in my life when I really needed an injection of joy. Tristan and Isabel were already fab companions don’t get me wrong, but there’s something about a little new life (or lives in this case) occupying your house…whether human or animal…it changes the whole feel of your house and for the better.
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No matter how challenging life can get, all four of my cats remind me what life is really all about: just get on with it, have fun, play, and just be. That’s the cat way. And that’s why I love them.
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Isabel – The Cat With No Name

Hugo and his Friends

Here we go, our second guest post: Cutie Isabel by by our twitta friend @myfourcats1  !

————————————————————————————— Myfourcats - 2 of 7 All four of our cats were rescued by the RSPCA in UK. They all have different stories and traumas. Isabel was almost 3 months old by the time we adopted her (in Autumn 2008) so there’s not much we know about her early weeks of life. Sadly, we learned nothing about her from the RSPCA volunteer who was keeping kittens in her makeshift cattery (really a glorified shed) in her back garden. Isabel had no name, as I recall, when we went to see her for the first time. She was in a small cubicle with a chicken wire door with two other siblings. The other kittens had already been put on hold by someone else. Isabel was the only one with no home. She had stunted legs and tail compared to her sisters…

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Fernando and Bridget: Part One

I was volunteering at a rescue centre in 2011 when a pregnant long haired, mostly white, tuxie cat named Lucy was found on the street and placed in the cattery. The next night she gave birth. It was early April so still quite chilly in Britain and the cattery was not heated. There were no staff or volunteers on duty that night. Luckily, someone came to work earlier than usual the following morning and checked on the cattery first. One of Lucy’s kittens was found lying in their litter box and appeared dead. Quickly, the staff member wrapped the kitten in a towel and cleaned and warmed it up. Lucy seemed oblivious to all the fuss. She happily began nursing the wayward kitten along with the others. I would later find out that the kitten who almost died was my Fernando (who at first was named Willow, for a girl, but I’ll explain all that in Part Two).

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Within a couple of weeks, the strange naked looking creatures turned into cutesy black and white furballs tumbling around their pen causing mayhem. Whenever I checked on them, the kittens looked like a massive pile of squirming fluff. But soon little individual characters began to emerge. I secretly named them. There was one poor kitten that had very unfortunate markings on his face. There just wasn’t any other name for him except Adolf. He seemed shy but he was always hoarding the food. Then there was Mouse who, I don’t know, just looked more mouse than cat. She hid a lot in the corner. Then there was Num-Num who just looked yummy handsome but like a runway model he didn’t have much personality. “Willow” seemed to always be crying. Sometimes laying in the litter box. Always following the others around. Jeez, talk about early childhood problems. This was a kitten with issues. But “Willow” seemed the most sweet of the bunch, always licking and cuddling the others, always watching out for them, and had particularly bonded with Bridget. Yep, then there was Bridget.

Bridget

Bridget. Well, I don’t know why but as soon as I saw this kitten she just instantly struck me as a Bridget. And I knew I had to adopt her. She was the smallest of the litter but had the biggest head in proportion to her body. She was the boss of them all. Right from the beginning Bridget made it clear she was a princess diva. Whenever Lucy nursed the kittens, Bridget consistently pushed her way to the front of the queue. She particularly monopolised Lucy when it came to grooming & cleaning (a princess has to look good right?). If one of her siblings annoyed her, she’d put up her paw, shove it in their face and push them (ever so politely though) away. And to this day, Bridget still does the “talk to the paw” move. I must admit, it was her little black nose that got me (the rest had pink noses) and of course her kitten princess moxie!

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Lucy was adopted first. Within a few more days, Adolf and Num-Num went to their human family. Mouse, “Willow” and Bridget were still in the cattery when I arrived for my next volunteering shift. I spent that day performing my usual duties blissfully unaware of certain forces at work. Now, fate? Hm, stupidity more like….stepped in next. The woman who was meant to adopt both “Willow” and Mouse phoned the centre. She’d decided to take only one kitten. Well, you can surmise (partly) what happened next. At the end of my shift, my husband arrived to pick me up. I got in the car with the cat carrier and casually informed him it contained not one but two kittens. His cute sarcastic reaction? “Only two?” Haha. He figured we had survived a year of Tristan the Terror (see earlier blog) so he figured….bring it on!!

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