Monday, 20 January 2014

Reindeer Dreams and Vagrant Cats!


     Today I'm spreading the net a bit wider than usual. A comment on my recent blog post Cats: A Touchy Subject raised my curiosity about a friend of mine, Debbie McEwan, and her attitude towards cats.

At first it seems that Debbie is more familiar with reindeer than cats!
     Debbie is a successful author and has written a few different titles now that either involve animals, such as Reindeer Dreams, or have an alien slant on things. Her latest duet of books about aliens looks at human life as if an alien was creating a wildlife documentary!

     What better person to get a new slant on a view of cats than someone who never intended to cozy up to them in the first place? So today I welcome Debbie McEwan as a guest writer on my blog.

Debbie has her cake and eats it...
     I've known Debbie for about 10 years now. I worked with her for about four of those. The one thing I do know about Debbie is she's incredibly dedicated to her dreams and she has a great fun way of going about achieving them.

     So here's Debbie's own unique experience of becoming an occasional cat person without ever really intending to! If you'd like to find out more about Debbie and her projects then you can visit her website to see what she's up to.

Debbie McEwan - Author and Accidental Cat Companion!

A Matter of Love and Death

     "I’ve shared a love/hate relationship with cats throughout my life. I was too young to remember our first cat, which I’m told used to run away from me because I was annoying it. I didn’t even know her name. I only knew that she died after being hit by a fire engine en route to the burning newsagents. Our family grieved the loss of the cat but the shop burnt to the ground. One person was hospitalised as a result of the fire. Not many people were bothered about the cat.

Cats weren't Debbie's priority in early life!
The next cat was Cindy.  She belonged to my aunt and uncle. I loved that animal so much that I’d suffer her painfully clawing me when she was sitting on my lap purring rather than disturb her. 

     She lived a long and happy life and died when she was about thirteen. I wasn’t even ten years old. I hated her for leaving me. For a while after she died I worried my relatives because I was convinced that she was rubbing up against my legs. I’d bend down to stroke her then remember that she wasn’t with us any more.

Paws for Thought

Paws was a cute little kitten. We always thought she was part Persian because she was so fluffy. Unfortunately she wasn’t with us for long. She ran into a neighbour’s garden after being struck by a car. 

We thought these neighbours were very posh on account of their colourful stone patio. They were  English and the lady of the house was tall and willowy. She smoked cigarettes in an elongated cigarette holder that I thought was very sophisticated. (This was the seventies.) These were the first English people I had met and I assumed that all English people were posh back then. 

Poor Paws breathed her last breath and made a bit of a mess over their colourful patio. My unfortunate brother had to go and scrape her up and she was buried in our garden after an appropriate ceremony. It was heart breaking.

A Bit of a Grey Area

Next I took a fancy to a fluffy grey wild cat that had one blue and one grey eye. After weeks of evading him, my father managed to catch it and told it how lucky it was to be chosen to come and live with our family. It was absolutely manky and he put it in the kitchen sink and gave it a wash – this is when we discovered that the cat was actually white and didn’t like water. The cat went berserk, scratched my father to bits and, despite his best efforts, escaped and broke all land-speed records when it ran out of the house, across the road and into the bushes. We never saw it again.

Enter the Man of the House

Fast forward to when I was living near York with my husband, Alan. Cats frequented the garden and often left us smelly presents. They also used to insult me quietly by looking at me with disdain when I threw a pebble or a stone – they just carried on cleaning themselves, knowing that my aim was so bad. As soon as Alan picked up an item and acted as if he was going to throw it the cats disappeared! This used to wind me up out of all proportion. I never intended to harm any cats, only to stop them using our garden as a toilet.

Married life with moggies!
On seeking advice a friend told me to go to a zoo and get some tiger poo. The cats would smell it, assume a tiger lived in our garden and beat a hasty retreat. I didn’t ask that friend for advice again. 

     Then we received notice to move to Cyprus with the Armed Forces. Before the move I got a call asking whether we'd like a cat. The person who was currently living in the house that we were moving into had adopted a stray cat. We politely declined. Cats weren’t our favourite animals due to ‘poo-gate’.

Enemy at the Gates

We’d been in Cyprus less than two weeks when I came home to find Alan stroking a ginger cat. I asked who the cat belonged to and he told me that a little boy had knocked on the door and said, ‘Hi Mister, here’s your cat.’ He’d taken the cat and said thanks very much. ‘Didn’t you think to say that we don’t like cats and don’t want one?’ I asked. Alan shook his head, telling me that the boy was just a young lad. He hadn’t wanted to upset him. Good Grief!

It was a case of animal magnetism for Alan.
We decided to keep her but she had to live in the garden. The cat, Jess, caught and killed a snake and soon became part of our family. Hornets used to bother her when she ate outside so she was allowed into the kitchen at first. Shortly after she had the run of the whole house. She had her own chair on the patio and in the winter I’d warm an old jumper in the airing cupboard before putting it on a chair near the fire for her to lie on.

The cat disapproved of drinking.
Whenever we came home after a good night out (and possibly one or two too many to drink) Jess would sneer and then ignore us like a wife whose husband has returned from the pub too late and too drunk. 

She had a good life with us though. The vet removed an abscess from her side and her teeth were in a horrendous state when she first came to us. We got that sorted and noticed that it made it easier for her to eat and drink. She hated the vet and the first time we took her we were able to bribe her into a little cat cage using some cheese. After that, she’d only need to see the cage and would disappear for a few days or until she was hungry.

A Lasting Impression

Debbie and Alan - not your average cat lovers!
Jess was getting on a bit when we left Cyprus and the neighbours agreed to adopt. We left knowing that she would be looked after and loved. It was a sad parting, for us anyway, and Jess probably missed us - until it was time for her next meal."