We've lived here now for about fifteen years, and with us came my white cat called Tim. He had reached the grand old age of seventeen, and sadly had to be put to sleep because of a massive tumour. A loyal friend who would always follow me around the whole of Compton Acres Gardens every evening as I locked up.
Amanda had also grown very fond of him, and we both missed having a feline companion around, and so some months later we went to take a look at this little white 'lady'. She was a rescue persian, who was giving the foster owners some serious problems. Probably badly mistreated before, she was vicious and crazy, and was violently attacking the people, and all of their pets, including their large labrador, who was cowering under a table when we arrived. For some reason, we took an instant liking to her, and amid the howling, scratching and hissing, we bundled her into a cat basket and took her home.
We called her 'Blanche'. Now, when I say vicious, don't think that I exaggerate. Although later in life she did indeed calm down, during the first year she would attack at every opportunity and draw blood on most. My answer, as with most animals, was to become the dominant cat in the house, and to the great amusement of Amanda and Celia, when met with the cat demon hissing from beneath a table and ready to pounce, would bravely drop onto all fours and hiss and howl back while staring straight into those eyes from hell.
Did she still strike? You bet.....often! But as quick as a flash she would be very firmly but carefully held flat against the ground, slowly getting more and more tired as she tried to bite, and I tried to dodge.
The attacks grew less and less, and eventually completely stopped, although she could still be evil if provoked.
Being a persian, she had an incredibly thick and beautiful white coat. And also being our cat would also spend most of her time in the garden, and as a result regularly got big knots in her fur. The usual thing with this breed is to regularly comb through, and most love this attention, but hey, we have the cat from hell and you can imagine what she thought of THAT little treat. So, leather gloves on, she would have to be bathed beforehand (great fun!), and the knots gently cut out before a quick brushing. For some strange reason she would then have to lay on the kitchen table, and so 'her' mat became a regular bathtime feature.
She accepted the arrival of Hobie and Misty gracefully, and with only a few hisses. She had turned into a lovely cat who would like to lay on your lap and be stroked, but a year later a blood clot in her spine meant that she too had to leave us.
Hobie came to us with Misty when they were both still young, as a family members circumstances changed, and they were no longer able to look after them. Hobie is very much a man's cat, and comes when called by name. Every morning, on leaving our bedroom, he is there eagerly leading me down the stairs, talking a strange kind of language as he reminds me where the food bowl is.
He's always liked to think that he is the cat boss of the estate, regularly nipping Misty's ears for no reason, and having stand off's with other intruder cats in the area, although it was usually him that ran away and left me to do the chasing in the end. Over the last six months or so though, he has finally understood what tasks have to go with being the man of the house, and has been going at them 'like a Blanche', although he is starting to become a little battle scarred as he's no spring chicken any more.
Of course, all of the eating and guarding take their toll, and he does need to take a nap from time to time.
In fact most of the time, and takes up some quite un-catlike positions!
A very sociable fellow, he enjoys it when we get a chance to go out in the garden, and will spend the whole time resting and strolling idly by us as we go about our business. And very comfortable just laying there while we re-pot things.
Family barbecues are his favourite, as he knows that there is likely to be company, little treats to eat, and a long and warm evening spent in front of the mexican oven. There's always plenty of laps to curl up on (as the shingle hurts his feet poor thing!)
As far as being a nuisance to the bird life of the garden, well, he is simply just too slow and dim. He has never caught one, and instead frustratedly watches them flying around him as he makes strange cackling sounds.
Both cats have independent drinking habits. Hobie prefers nothing else but this old metal bucket that's put underneath the hose reel to collect the drips. On the odd occasion that it's run dry, he will sit patiently by it every time someone passes, until it's filled up again. The water that's put by their food is never touched, but we keep putting it there anyway....hmmm!
Misty is the lady of the house. Petit, pretty, she has a rat like tail and always smells of old straw, not sure why. Unlike Hobie, who can be man handled this way and that quite roughly, she demands nothing but respect. Try to gently ease her anywhere that she hadn't planned to be and she meows loudly and takes flight. She is shy, and so photos are quite rare, as she seems to sense when you want her to stay put, and subsequently wanders off.
She eats like a thing possessed, and will think nothing of starting on Hobies food when hers is rapidly devoured. In fact, she eats so quickly that she has the horrible habit of chucking it back up again on a regular basis, nobody is sure why, but she's always done it. Everything seems to spell mealtime for her. Wake her up and she goes to the bowl. Let her through the front door and she goes to the bowl. She comes through the catflap and straight to the bowl. Whenever someone enters the kitchen she is there again. No wonder she needs to sleep all the time as well!
Hobie will find a place to sleep and drop. Misty on the other hand takes a long time to settle, but when she does, all life stops for the duration. This is one of our favourite pictures of her, and she settled here herself.
Make no mistake with Misty, she is a bird killer, or, thank goodness was. She still tries to get them, but instead of having the agility to jump skywards as they fly overhead, she now makes a concerted effort by climbing the trees to get to them....not very effective.
She doesn't seem to have the same need for outside companionship that Hobie does. More often than not, she will be outside when we are in, and vice versa. And again, as soon as I lined this shot up, she turned and took flight. See the uncertainty in her eyes!
Both of them get on really quite well. Most mornings, on passing each other, a gentle nose rub with each other is their way of greeting one another. As long as one or the other is sleeping first, they can even lay together. The weather outside is attrocious, with storm force winds and lashing rain. They get to spend the day in warmth and comfort, oblivious to the world outside. Amanda and me have got to go and try to get some sort of work done, as things are stacking up to a ridiculous level. Which is the intelligent species?