maggiealderson

The Nobility of Cats

In Cats on May 18, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I’m sure most of you have seen this amazing bit of CCTV footage by now – if not, have a look. It’s extraordinary.

It shows Tara the cat, saving the four year old boy of her human family from an attack by a ferocious dog, much bigger than her.

The response to the clip – it was on every news channel in the UK – seems a good opportunity to celebrate the unappreciated nobility of cats.

Of course, it’s all their own fault they don’t get nearly as good a press as dogs in the loyal pet stakes. They’re snobby, they’re moody, they’re tricky, they sit just outside the door you are about to close and won’t make their mind up. But they are just as fiercely loyal and attached to their humans as dogs. They just don’t show it so much.

I’m not partisan in the dog person/cat person debate, as I adore both species, but the happy-go-lucky waggy tail nature of dogs, who permanently seem to be saying YOU ARE JUST SOOOOO GREAT with all their body language, does give them the edge in the popularity stakes.

So I would like to share a story about my late beloved puss, Matchki.

Picture 029

I adopted her as a full-grown unwanted moggy from a vet in Woollahra, Sydney. I’d rung up to see if they had any kittens and the receptionist said these words:
‘We don’t have any kittens, but we’ve got an adult cat here who doesn’t have a home…’

I nearly broke the land speed record in my haste to get there and rescue her. She was a big girl, a tabby, sitting in a cage in the waiting room. I went over to say hello and she licked my hand. Love.

At this time I was trying and failing to get pregnant and after a year of trying and finding out the facts about IVF for my age group (poor odds) I had started to accept I would never have children and Matchki was a great comfort. So there was no question that when we moved to the UK a few years later, she would come with us.

We moved into my sister’s beautiful house in the country (she was living in Florida, at the time) and Matchki was in bliss with a big garden and an orchard to roam in.

After a few months in this bucolic sanctuary nature/the gods/insert-your-belief-system-here, pulled one of their tricks and I found I was pregnant.

I will never forget the moment I first carried the newly-born Peggy into the house. Matchki was lying on the sofa and she looked up at me holding the bundle in my arms with an expression on her face, which said, so clearly: ‘What the fuck is that?’

She then made herself absent for a couple of day, as cats do.

A few days later we were awoken in the middle of the night by her mewing outside the bedroom door. This was odd because we always left the door open, so she could come and sleep on my feet, which she did every night (except when sulking).

I got up to see what was going on and she was sitting, looking up at me, with a dead shrew at her feet. Before I could start shrieking, she picked it up and walked, with a very stately gait, into the bedroom, where she placed the dead creature at the foot of the cot.

Then she sat down and looked up at me again, her message clear:
‘I accept it as one of the family. I have brought it food.’

From that night onwards she was fiercely loyal to the baby. Peggy would take her afternoon nap outside in her old-fashioned pram. The chickens would all gather round it for a look, in that busy way they go. Matchki would then sit near the pram, just to give them the message: don’t even think of trying anything.

But while her statement was clear, she would always sit with her back to the idiotic chickens, in a position we came to call, Ignoring Hen.

I loved that cat and was very sad when she died five years ago.

Now we have Gonzo and he’s a law unto himself…

Captain Gonzo

 

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  1. Thank you, Maggie, for that lovely story about Matchki. All my pussy cats have been welfare animals and they have been so very loving. Daisy May(hem) is my only cat now. She is 18 which is 120 in human terms. She’s a ginger cross Burmese who was one of 13 kittens dumped at the vet. When I cuddle her she strokes my face with her paw. I also adopted three adult male cats who were lovely pets. They seemed so grateful to have been rescued. I find cats to be incredibly affectionate. They love being around their humans. They especially love being in the garden with you.

    • It’s funny that garden thing isn’t it? It’s like they’re saying- hey! you’re in my world now, how cool is that? Gonzo also seems to like it when we sing to him…

  2. Oh the animals – don’t they get into our hearts and life is never the same without them. I haven’t watched the footage of the child rescue by moggy yet – will head there now. BX

  3. I love to hear about the wonderful pets people rescue – it always brings a lump to my throat to think of how much love these previously unwanted animals give and receive. Your story of Matchki made me well up.

    We adopted our first rescued animal ( a six year old German Shepherd Cross that had been neglected and was about to be euthanised because she was too big, too old and too arthritic to stand much chance of being homed) three years ago and I can honestly say she is the nicest animal I’ve ever lived with. She is so gentle and loving and (I agree with annelouise) so grateful for everything we do for her.

    I’ve been privileged enough to have been surrounded by animals all my life and they have all had distinct personalities. I can’t say any of the cats have been very loyal ( especially the tabby called Dennis who decided not to move house with us after nine years and had to be adopted by our former neighbour after many months of buttering feet, keeping him in etc..after which he would make his way across town to his old stamping ground and hang around his old home looking pitiful ) but they have all made my life so much richer.

    • It’s amazing how animals really seem to know they’ve been rescued, isn’t it? Good for you adopting an older dog. I haunt a UK site called Oldies which is dedicated to finding homes for old dogs. I really want to get one, but my husband doesn’t want a dog, so that’s that. x

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    • Hi Dana, thanks for your message. I wish you all the very best with your start up and hope it will be a great success for you. I appreciate your offer, but at this stage all my blog posts are unsponsored. It’s just for fun. best Maggie

  5. Hi Maggie,
    Loved hearing your cat story and more on Gonzo please, especially now, as my beloved puss Charlie Brown is battling renal disease, with an uncertain outcome. I am heartbroken because I, unknowingly, brought Oriental Lilies into the house and the stamen is lethal to cat’s kidneys. So the more people I can reach, the less heartache for the cat loving world.
    All lilies, Oriental, Xmas, Tiger, Asian etc with a stamen are a death sentence.
    So please pass this on.

    • OMIGOD. I can’t thank you enough for telling me about this!!!!!!!!! Your poor darling puss, I so hope he makes a full recovery. As soon as I read your comment I got on the phone to my husband (I was away) telling him to get the big vase of oriental lilies out of the hall. I will never buy them again xxx

      • Thanks so much Maggie for your sympathy and good wishes, but Charlie’s future is probably only a matter of weeks as he has lost over 80pct of his kidney function and he refuses all the medication no matter how we hide it in food and as his kidneys can no longer process protein or salt, the awful renal food stays in his bowl uneaten. We try mixing it (which the vet discourages) but he’d starve if we didn’t and when he’s crying for his old protein food it is heartbreaking. I am taking him to a pet homeopath on Thursday to see if there is anything she can provide which might help him.

        Do check it out on Google as there is a lot of information.
        I was also sent another link to renal disease in cats which said the annual vaccinations were damaging to their kidneys too. What a minefield for our beloved friends.

        We’ll have to find some other glorious flowers for the house!

        Sue xx

  6. Lovely story Maggie. Got a bit teary reading about Matchki. My 90 y-o widowed mother has two cats and they are such good company for her. She even puts up with the cheekiest of the two sharpening his claws on her lounge suite! Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, here’s a lovely vid about an owl and a pussycat. Oh yes, wait for the leapfrogging – monumental! http://dailypicksandflicks.com/2011/05/14/cat-and-owl-playing-video/

  7. Thanks for sharing your beautiful memories of Matchki (great name – origin, please?).What delightful images of her and Peggy. Cats do indignation and self-righteousness so well, don’t they.

    You are right about their fierce loyalty, too. Many years ago I was quietly jubilant that I had won over our Russian Blue – feeding her and petting her every day whilst Mum and Dad were on a long holiday. But, bugger me, the bloody cat shot me a look of absolute disdain and stalked off to cuddle up to Mum when she walked through the door…, never to return to my lap.

    Your adoption tale of Matchki reminded me of the place we rented in Woollahra, back in the late 80s. The previous tenant was (delightfully) obsessed with her cats, past and present. As she was moving back to England, she made arrangements with us for her coven of friends to come and (I kid you not) dig up her deceased cats to replant in a pet cemetery. It was dusk when they arrived and because THEY WEREN’T QUITE SURE WHERE THEY WERE BURIED , my husband decide to help out. Never bury things in bin liners, is the moral to the story…

    PS I do like the toile quilt Matchki is reposing on. Ditto the fetching pirate hat on little Gonzo.

    • Matchki is the diminuitive form of the Serbian word for cat – matchka. Darling old girl. That story about the cat corpses has made me feel quite unwell! xxx

  8. PPS Just realised it’s a toile hot water bottle cover. You are my type of pet owner. As we speak little 10 year old, Puppet, who is Chloe’s Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is hoovering down thinly sliced steak and gravy. True love.

  9. I love cats and I love Rome, which in a weird way I wonder if it is connected, given that cats rule Rome.

    Anyway, nothing like the company of a good cat and nothing worse than a cat gone bad (don’t ask, a friend had one and even to this day we are never to talk of it!).

    Thank you for sharing your memories of Matchki. Love to hear why Gonzo is a law unto himself!

  10. Absolutely loved this post. I have a cat who looks just like Matchki.

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