Now I am not a cat woman, but I kept the cats for the children and became a cat woman.
It was fascinating to watch the social activities and pecking order of our little cat troop.
The kittens of course had been born at home and treated kindly, so just viewed the adults and me as an extended family. A kind of aunties and uncles. But Tiffy and me were in a continual competition to see who was the Alpha female.
Mainly the competition came from Tiffy, as I knew I had the upper hand.
If I dared challenge her in any way, she would take the huff and stalk off and disappear for a few days. As if to show me she was not dependent. I discovered that she had “adopted a couple of other families where she would occasionally creep in and lie on their beds. She obviously sussed out cat friendly houses because these neighbours, not knowing she belonged to us, would regularly feed her. Resulting in Tiffy becoming rather fat!
When the kittens got to about four or five months old, ( teenagers in cat years,) Tiffy suddenly turned from Mother of the year to Grumpy old woman. Hissing, spitting, and attacking her kittens when they approached her. This really confused the kittens as she had been such a loving mother before. Always being there for a cuddle and a play.
When I asked the vet about this behavior she said that, now was the time for the kitties to leave home so she was instinctively rejecting them, to encourage them to go away. This made me feel so much better as the mother of two teenagers about my negative feelings towards them sometimes. Grrr!
It was perfectly normal for me to want them to go!
Amongst the three cats of course the pecking order had to be established. The male, Marbles, like all men, liked to think he was the boss and Tiffy would allow him to push forward to the feeding dishes when it suited. But all it took was a low growl from mum for him to hang back and let her go first.
Poor little Daisy of course was always at the back of the queue and Tiffy mostly ignored her, unless she brought home some trophy dead bird or mouse, then Tiffy would take over and eat or play with it as if Daisy was her personal servant. Daisy would occasionally lick Tiffys ears but never the other way around.
Marbles didn’t go as far as taking Daisy’s spoils, but she always hung back and let him go before her. He sometimes took delight in teasing and annoying her. Just like a big brother
With us the kitties were a delight, running and greeting us, tails in the air, when we arrived home, cuddling up to us when we sat to watch Tv at night and loving having their tummies tickled.
However as they got older, the white cat hairs became worse and I sometimes vacuumed twice a day!
Of course children leave the nest. my son Bloggerman off to University five yeas later and EVENTUALLY!!!!! 14 years later! (phew) aged 26 my daughter bought her first house and moved in with her boyfriend.
Tiffy, Marbles, Daisy and me continued to live together
I read that the average life of a cat is around 15 years I did not expect Tiffy to live much longer after Sunshine left. We had come to an uneasy peace over the years. I put food down twice a day and if she felt like it she would eat it. otherwise we just kept our distance and ignored each other.
Daisy was the first to go.
One Saturday afternoon we heard a bang on the road outside and a large white van driving fast up the hill. Daisy came flying in through the cat flap, dragging her back legs. and straight under the coffee table, making an awful noise.
A visit to the emergency vet , when Daisy screamed all the way there, confirmed that her spine was broken and in excruciating pain. I could not stand to see her in so much pain so the decision to put her to sleep was made much easier. She was around 15 years old.
The funny thing was that although Marbles and Tiffy had always ignored her or treated her as a nuisance and could have no idea what had happened, for several weeks afterwards they curled up to sleep together. Almost as if they were gaining comfort from each other.
A couple of years later. Marbles got mouth cancer and didn’t survive surgery.
So Tiffy , the mother, outlived her children and we were left together… and of course Michael, who doesn’t really like cats so just kept out of the way.
When my mum came to live with us, with Alzheimer’s. Tiffy was the one who always sat on her knee and allowed my mum to stroke her without any aggression, as if she knew!
One morning I heard a great banging from the kitchen door and Tiffy arrived to drop a large dead blackbird at my feet. she must have been around 17 or 18 by this time.
I know enough about cat behaviour to realise that this was a gift for me and a final acknowledgement of some affection for me and that I was someone special.
Our relationship changed a bit after that. Maybe age mellowed her. She would sneak up to me on the sofa and allow me to stroke her for a while, before half heartedly biting me to signal, the petting was at an end.
One day on 2009, 21 years after I first saw the frightened kitten, she came down the corridor, dragging one leg and falling over on one side. The vet confirmed she ‘d had a stroke.
He said that within 48 hours it would get better or worse. We discussed the situation and agreed that at 21 years old, I didn’t want any heroics.
48 hours later, Tiffy was no better, but I could not bring myself to take her to the vets and do what I knew I needed to do.
After 5 days I finally plucked up the courage and as the young vet gave her the final injection, I sobbed as Tiffy died peacefully in my arms.
Of all my cats, I grieved Tiffy the most. I missed her creeping up to me and snuggling under my hand. I missed her jumping on my bed to wake me ( I know it was just for food but it made me feel needed)
I think after so many years of hostility her acceptance made such a difference to me.
…and only recently when I bought a new vacuum cleaner, realised that I don’t have to vacuum every day anymore!
Ah! a year ago I was at the Vendange in Paris
Wish I was there now!