All change! (2)

After all the cats mentioned in part 1 had gone off to new homes or foster home we were without any rescue cats for a while.

When I say “a while” … it was the while it took to drive from Figgs’ foster home to the house where Tyga & Belle were living but unable to stay.  And then the while it took to get them home and settled into their new room before Mikey arrived.

They’re very different cats with different histories.  One thing they have (had!)  in common however was their unneutered status.  Mikey gently stank his room out with adolescent boy hormones, whilst the girls in their bedroom got all excited and sang him sweet love songs throughout the night.   I mention it because our bedroom is the one in between both of theirs … and most of us ended up downstairs sleeping on the sofa in an effort to escape it.

Tyga & Belle had lived in a home since being small kittens but both were very timid on arrival.

It was a few days until they would dare to come out of hiding when I went into their room, and longer until they’d actually eat whilst I was there.  Tyga then came into season and shamelessly pole danced around the chair legs whilst I watched.  She gained confidence that hasn’t been lost  since her hormones have settled.  Belle remains more wary but can be enticed out to play and to take treats from me.

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Mikey on the other had had been living rough and then camping in someone’s garden for a few months.  He’d spent some time on waiting lists at other rescues, but when kids started to kick him around the lovely people who were caring for him pulled out all the stops and tried rescues further away from them …. and fortunately we had space.

He was clearly also anxious.  Like a frightened dog he tucked his tail between his legs.   When he arrived he cowered close to the lovely people who had brought him to us, wondering what was going to happen next.    Very quickly though he decided it was ok here and was full of love and snuggles.  So much so that it was hard to get any decent photos of him – as he refused to stand far enough away to point the camera at him.

Even attempts at selfies were blurred as he’d head butt the camera.  Bless him.   I was heartbroken to find that when I raised my voice just a little “for goodness sake Michael … we need a decent photo for your adoption ad” …. he slunk away, tail between legs, and crouched under his cat tree.

It produced a good enough photo to get him a lovely new home that he’ll go to this weekend … but it hurt both of us.  Thankfully chicken and dreamies helped to restore him.   When his new family came to meet him he tucked his tail under again and stood close to me ……… but only for a while.  Then he decided they were the best thing .. and delighted in sitting on my lap being fussed by a family of four (soon to become five).   Hopefully he’ll never need to worry like that again.

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All change! (1)

Most of you will be aware of the adverts saying “a dog is for life … not just for christmas” … the same applies to cats of course.  I’m sure there are still people who get kittens for Christmas but thankfully we didn’t have to deal with anyone looking for a last minute ill-conceived Christmas present this year.  What we DID have was a collection of lovely people who were waiting until all the chaos of the festive period was over before they welcomed a new family member into their homes.

Lily was very quickly reserved …. and delighted to land a purrmanent home that complemented the colour of her jacket purrfectly.

The shy little F twins (Felix & Fritz) were reserved by a lovely young couple to go to their new home after their New Year celebrations.  They came several times to visit, bringing a large stash of chicken bribes.  The residents loved them!  When the little boys went to their new home they were scared and hid for a while, but after a few days started to realised they’d landed on their paws.

We’ve already told you about Merlot finding his furever home with Karis who came to stay over Xmas.


Figgs had a homecheck with a nice family .. but very close to a main road and we had to say no.  Then he had another homecheck  – a lovely couple in a good cat friendly location.  They came to meet him and it went well.  Figgs rolled around showing them his tummy and explained how gorgeous he is, whilst his room mate Mr Tiggs hid under the desk.   We thought the deal was done.  Figgs trundled off to sit on the windowsill, we talked about moving dates.  Just as we were about to leave, Mr Tiggs rushed out from under the desk and threw himself at them, proclaiming undying love.  It was an awkward moment.   A promise had been made to a confident “love anyone at the drop of a hat” Figgs, but a shy Mr Tiggs had sat and weighed it all up, thought about these people and decided he could trust them.

They went away to decide.   I thanked my lucky stars I didn’t have to make that decision.   We learned later that tears had been shed and “Sophie’s Choice” mentioned more than once.    Often where there’s a choice to be made I have a clear idea of which option I’m hoping for.  In this instance I didn’t.  Both cats quite different but either could have been happy in this home.  We weren’t left wondering for long.  A message came back that Mr Tiggs had won the home.   It kind of upholds our theory about shy cats …. they’re harder work, but there’s something very special and precious about winning their trust.

Figgs took it reasonably well … disappointed of course and worrying a bit about being black & white and his chances in the rehoming stakes in view of that, but we reassured him that he’s adorable and the right opportunity would come along.

It did!  Though it happened in the most surprising way!  Our cleaner (a previous 8 Lives adopter) came in the following week and it seems he poured out his sorry tail to her.  We came home from work to a message from the cleaner and the extraordinary sight of Fig hastily packing his bags.  After some discussion we all agreed that Fig would go to stay with said cleaner on a foster care basis … pending the agreement of resident cat and husband 😉   We advised slow and cautious introductions.  However the resident cat invited him to dinner on the first evening (bless him)

and Figgs seems to have been pleased to accept.  It kind of went from there really.

The adoption papers will be signed this weekend 🙂

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one tail … two tails

People who know our rescue will know that we have a pretty firm policy of only rehoming kittens in pairs. It’s less daunting to go with a play mate, and more fun, and more cats find safe loving homes that way. We’ve made a couple of rare exceptions last year for specific reasons. One of them was Karis. She came into rescue on her own, found as a stray at only a few weeks old. We hoped to pair her up with another kitten in rescue and rehome them together.


You may remember over the summer that she struck up a lovely bond with little Sparkle, our disabled kitten. In our dreams we hoped they’d find a new home together. In reality, sadly, Sparkle became more poorly and went to Rainbow Bridge. We’d have tried again to find a buddy to go with Karis had the infamous tummy bug not struck.  On balance it was best for Karis to get away from cross infection and have time to recover. So off she went to a lovely new home who understood about her tummy and loved her none the less. Time went by, her tummy settled and her mummy needed to go abroad for several weeks to visit family. Not wanting to leave Karis all alone during this time we agreed that she would come back here for Xmas/ New Year.

It so happened that we had another single kitten here .. Merlot. He arrived at the end of kitten season and although we tried to find another single kitten to come into rescue and pair up with him .. we failed.

You might guess what we were thinking … especially in the season of goodwill. They met on the day we put the Christmas tree up:

The friendship was a little hesitant at first. Merlot had playmates already with the little F twins, and Karis is a little older and not sure she wanted to play with silly little boys. However Felix & Fritz, although friends with Merlot, could as twins be a little excluding of others and Karis knew a good game when she saw one …. so ….

It was possibly the magic of Christmas Eve, all sitting together watching for Santa that cast its spell on them and soon after they were playing happily together.

Happily Karis had already been told that if there was someone she liked here and they liked her, she could take them home with her, and that’s just what happened.

Here he is on Karis’ kitchen table (which of course is now also his) delighted to find that mummy’s favourite drink has been named after him!

And here he is finding Karis’ tail irresistible as a toy … and learning that on balance its safer to play with the rug.

Absolutely delighted for both of these kits that they’ve found a playmate at last.

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Merry Xmas Eve

Have you ever wondered what its like in cat rescue on Christmas Eve?  Every family is different I guess .. but we thought we’d share a few photos and stories of the preparations around here.

It’s the first Xmas ever for Felix&Fritz, Merlot and Karis.  They’ve been plotting Santa’s journey on the lap top, watching out the window and getting very excited.

Although the F twins are excited about Santa, they had their really special visitors last night. Two lovely people who are calm and patient and loving and who’s family they they will be joining in the New Year. We’re delighted for them. Karis was adopted in the summer but has come back to rescue while mummy is busy (I’ll not go into details save to say that its a completely valid reason and was thought about at the time of adoption). Karis was never intended to be an only child .. so if Merlot manages to get on well with her he’ll be going home with her in the New Year.

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Meanwhile the residents have largely been grumbling about all the cleaning and tidying. My suggestion that the bed should be changed was met by a group lie-in. I went to deliver last minute Xmas cards while they dispersed. On the whole they appear to be pleased to have me home for a few days but rather aggrieved that their rigorous nap schedule has been disrupted.

We’ve tried to keep Flipper out the way .. its her 6th Xmas here … we don’t want her to spoil the Santa magic for the little ones … though she’s clearly had a word with Rufus (2nd Xmas here) about Santa and what he does to naughty kittens. Here he is hiding in a litter sack

I do get where Flipper is coming from, Ru can be a little horror, especially to Henderson (lots of Xmas experience .. hate to think what .. but first one here) …. but not sure its right to respond to bullying with bullying. Meanwhile Henderson announced that he’s always enjoyed the odd mince pie at Xmas … and we reluctantly and probably ill advisedly agreed to him having a very small piece. Watch that litter tray 😦

Then there are the rescue cats who are in separate accommodation. They’ve had cuddles and chicken treats. Lilly enjoyed and felt confident that someone would be along to adopt her in the New Year .. after all she’s very pretty, very loving … what more could you want.

Then we went to the lads. They loved the chicken. We had a serious talk about photos and adoption adverts. Mr Tiggs had a go … but he’s struggling to keep himself from running lovingly at anyone who is interested in him, or simply cringing in the limelight. He did his best

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His pal Figgs went to some lengths to show how it should be done .. he may have missed a vocation as a pole dancer.

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We’re hoping for the best for these guys to get a new home after Xmas. They’re all adorable … despite how they come across on camera.

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Winter Newsletter 2017

Oh my goodness … is it really almost Christmas?   It’s been a strange year here.   Quite quiet on the rescue front for the first 6 months or so due to building work, and then ridiculously busy after that.   So much so that we didn’t even notice until a couple of weeks ago that we completely forgot the Autumn Newsletter!

Summer turning into Autumn was chaotic.  The kits we wrote about in the the Summer Newsletter brought in a tummy bug that affected the whole house.  I’ll spare you the details other than to say that much washing was done, disinfectant was used in abundance, vet bills soared and tensions ran high.  Thankfully those kits are happily settled in lovely new homes now … all but one.  We gave little Sparkle as much love and care as we possibly could but in the end it wasn’t enough and her casket sits in the hearth with our other lost babies.

Sparkle   xxx


With illness comes vet bills, and our chief fundraiser Jenny has been working amazingly hard this year.   Jenny has written the following section for us describing some of the amazing work she’s been doing:

It’s been a very busy few months for the fundraising team at 8 Lives .. lots of money raised thanks to our brilliant supporters . 😺
Huge thanks to Victoria Butterell , her “Chat Noir “ and the more recent “Chat Orange “ cards continue to be very popular. Several local shops sell them and also “The Walkley Press” on South Rd .

The 8 Lives Bags and pens are also selling well and have been posted to various parts of the country and Florida !! Yes we’ve gone transatlantic 😺

As for our fundraising events .. the highlight of October was our fantastic fundraising evening at Rileys & co , featuring vintage singer Hattie Bee . Quite simply , she was brilliant !! What a lovely evening we all had 😺 As ever the food , cooked by Mr and Mrs Riley was delicious , we had a fun quiz , stand up-sit down bingo ( an 8 Lives favourite ) bottle tombola .. Thank you Julia and Tesco’s for the generous donations ,and a good old fashioned singalong with Hattie rounded of the successful evening. Thank you to everyone who came and also for the lovely feedback.. we really appreciate it .

Another big thank you goes to Sure Technologies Ltd who very kindly paid for us to have a stall at Norton Church Autumn Market. We had a great afternoon and made a fair few pounds for the furries ..We also met a wonderful lady -Zhany Hughes who I am delighted to say is now helping with fundraising .. watch this space for an exciting event in the new year .. hosted by Zhany !

As Christmas approaches we’ve had 4 Saturdays , doing what we do best … selling cards , reindeer poop , reindeer noses , lucky lollipop etc etc and having lots of fun and meeting people . It’s been well worth it and it means that the cats can be given the very best care before they go to their fur ever homes .

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Next year brings more fundraising events .. A new one for us is a “ non valentines “ Italian taster meal at Rileys on February 10th .. tickets for the 5 course meal cost £25 .. but wait for it … we’ve actually sold out before it was even advertised 🙀, so apologies to people who missed out on this but as I said earlier … Zhany has big plans for a Bulgarian Meal .. details will be published in the new year .. we’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile …. for those last minute presents: Bags (£4) / pens (£2) can be bought from Pet Company Cards (£2) from .. Rileys , Rounds News,  Pet Company , Walkley Press.  Or you can contact us directly on our facebook fundraising page

This just leaves me to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful 2018.

Jenny xx

And back to the cats

We’ve taken in a fair few since the summer, mostly stray / abandoned cats – all of them adorable to the extent you wonder how on earth anyone could leave them.   People who follow us on our facebook page  (non facebook people …. I think you can still follow the link to see them ) will have seen our Catdvent calendar.  Each day during December we’ve featured a different cat (or cat family) that we’ve rescued this year.   Most are already in their furever homes and we’ve had some lovely comments and updates from adoptive families in response to the posts.  Hearing from furever families and seeing photos of our cats enjoying their new lives is what helps us keep going.  People often imagine that cat rescue is all about cuddling sweet kittens … some of it is … about 2% of it maybe.  Mostly its about scooping shit out of litter trays, cleaning up vomit, fitting vet appointments around the day job, worrying about funds, dealing with difficult people (NOT adopters!) and their ever shifting plans, stressing about sad and anxious cats and trying to make a difficult confusing time as good as it can be for them.  Weeks and months of stress over a cat dissolve when an adopter messages to say that Fluffy (or whoever) is settling well in their new home, and generally running rings around them to get exactly what he or she wants. Often the photo they attach says it all!  Here’s some of them:


We’ve listed them more or less in order of arrival so the ones featured in the last days before Xmas are still looking for their happy ever after tails.   Lilly’s family moved abroad and left her in the garden, cold and alone and wondering what on earth she’d done wrong.  Mr Tiggs & Figgs had tough starts in life some years ago but found themselves a nice home.  Then circumstances changed, their family had to move and the new landlord wouldn’t accept pets.   The F twins had either been bred for profit or picked up off the street and sold at a ridiculous price to a lady with special needs.  Either way, they’d not been handled and the poor woman couldn’t manage two terrified kittens.  Weeks/months of hard work later, they’re  affectionate happy young cats.

It just remains to wish you all a Very Merry Xmas … and every good wish for 2018.

May it be filled with tasty treats and comfy warm spots to snooze in x

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There and back again (3)

I said I was looking forward to missing the cats here whilst away .. and I did!  Oddly enough it put me in mind of people who give up smoking and say part of the problem is just not knowing what to do with their hands if they don’t have a cigarette.   What DO you do if there aren’t any ears to scratch or toys to wave? and when you don’t have to protect your food / drink / keyboard / pen from being messed around with?

 Jess our cat sitter was really good at keeping in touch.  I think she pitched it just about right.  If there’s too little communication its easy to worry what’s happening, too much communication and it doesn’t feel like a break.   I loved that each message started with “all is well” or some variation on that theme, so I could enjoy reading the message without worrying.  There were a few messages just checking out the best way to do something which gave the reassurance that things were getting done and she was thinking about and caring about what she was doing.   Most messages were just day to day sort of updates about what the cats were up to.  I loved them!  They were so obviously from someone who was taking her time with the cats and making a point of getting to know them.  About Honey grooming Flipper, and Flipper barging in on a snuggle session with Honey.   About Henderson and methods for giving him his thyroid tablets.   About Amber and her wariness of strangers, and of course the crazy kittens and their antics.

We heard about who had been sick … its strange what you miss when you’re away from home.   And who had stolen a packet of treats and ripped the plastic packet all over the floor (no mystery who that was … Flipper!).   Jango had staged a battle with his usual opening tactic … sitting on the stairs and not allowing anyone past.  Well done for managing that one Jess!  it takes a brave and gentle soul to diffuse that situation.

Jango spoiling for a fight

What made me giggle was the little Fs.  Much as I’d tried to plan things around the holiday it was only after I’d booked Felix & Fritz in for their first vaccination that I realised their second would be due while I was away.   Aunty Jenny volunteered to come over and take them for that.   They were very timid at that point so I wondered how she’d manage with catching them.  I logged into kitty cam at some point and their bed was on the floor and the cat carrier gone.   It doesn’t take much imagination to picture the scuffle in the scenario.

Well done aunty Jenny! Not the easiest task to have delegated to you x Delighted to arrive home to find little Fs had grown in confidence and although still a bit hand shy now love it when they’re stroked and purr like little helicopters (ok ok helicopters don’t purr .. you know what I mean!)

Sadly (and perhaps just a little happily) the day came to return home. Another long long flight in the direction of multiple breakfasts, a stressy drive home over the snake in quite thick fog and we were back! Jet lagged and exhausted we prepared ourselves for the mess that would await us. …… and ……….. well …. it wasn’t there! No dirty dishes in the sink, no grubby litter trays … not even the ever present carpet of cat litter on the floor.  Just a collection of happy cats waiting for cuddles and to help unpack.

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I’ve always been fortunate to have cats who are pleased to see me come home rather than ones who sulk that I’ve been away. Not sure who I thought would be first on my lap for a cuddle (I kind of hoped it would be Jango no no no I didn’t say that …. I don’t have favourites) but wasn’t quite expecting it to be Flipper. She makes out she’s big and tough most of the time. Rufus thought about fighting her for first place but then opted to exchanging scents with his penfriend Mr T on the suitcase. Honey and Henderson piled on for hugs. Amber waved shyly from a distance. Jango firmly planted himself on top of the case and announced that the human would not be going anyway again for a long time.

Very grateful to Jess for caring for them and keeping them in order and for not running away with Raffles or Henderson who both fell in love with her. Once we were safely home and she’d had chance to get over the shock of them all she posted on her 3 Strings page about having cared for the 10 cats in our household. A lovely post about getting to know their different purrsonalities and the joy of caring for kittens. But also something that made me think:

So that’s been 208 litter trays de-lumped; 130 bowls of water changed, and 130 packets of cat food opened, 26 tablets administered and 1 litter tray washed out due to a ‘pebble-dashing’ incident…. Phew!

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There and back again (2)

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has complicated feelings about holidays.   On a superficial level of course we think of them as whole heartedly positive; they’re the cure for feeling tired, fed up, stressed, and conjure images of sunshine, relaxation and fun.   They also occasion chasing around tying ends up at work, preparation and packing, airport car parking options and a mild obsession regarding the whereabouts of one’s passport.   We stockpiled so much cat food it will keep us going until Xmas, sent poor Jess our cat sitter so many notes she must have rued the day she met us, and labelled half the house showing where there was spare bedding, litter trays, medication, batteries for the cat flap.


Rufus helping to pack

On balance we concluded that we were looking forward to missing the felines for a while. A break from cleaning litter trays, vet runs, medication, playing silly kitten games (yes .. really … you can have enough of this)

Finally the day came. Did the short hop from Manchester to Zurich and got reassuring message from Jess saying she there for first visit. Then the long joint aching flight to Singapore. Arrived shattered and all movied-out … there’s time to watch at least 5 films. So lovely to be met by my friend at the other end and go home with her. Her feline residents are the purrfect hosts. Mr T met me at the door and checked over my luggage.

Ms F meanwhile was putting the final furry touches to my bed

Ms F

Oddly enough I don’t think we saw any other cats during the time in Singapore, though spotted several once in Bangkok. These guys were hanging out near the flower market and looked like they’d dropped lucky with finding someone to care for them.

While these has opted for a more spiritual life at Wat Pho.

However a rather more earthly drama seemed to unfold as what I assume to be mum assertively discussed the lack of child support payments from dad and explained in very plain language that there would be no more children until he’d got his act together.

The photo I was disappointed to miss was the puss who moments ago walked along this row of Buddhas and stopped to sharpen his claws on one of the pedestals. No disrespect intended towards the Buddha …. I just love the way cats have no sense of what is significant to us and do their own thing regardless.

These guys demonstrated another way of getting by, living close to a small street market. There were several more cats hanging around. No one seemed to making a great fuss of them, but no one pushing them away either.

It made me go to google to try to find out more about cats in Thailand and what the situation is with rescue there.  I was interested to read a comment that said that whilst in many countries the stray cats and dogs would be rounded up and if not claimed or adopted would be euthanased, the Buddhist culture in Thailand forbids killing of any living creature, so they’re left to roam and breed.    It’s between a rock and a hard place I guess.   Sobering to think that however tough rescue is here it’s nothing compared to what rescues in some other countries face.

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There and back again (1)

Yay! In spite of all the odds we’ve had a holiday! Those of you who have known us for a while will know that we are blessed to have friends in Singapore whom we visit every year or two.

Ms F & Mr T our friends in Singapore

We booked a flight back in June this year for October and then every twist and turn has threatened to scupper it. It’s painful now to think back on some of the causes of our anxiety. The first concern was little Sparkle who arrived days after we booked. So vulnerable and needy. Deep down I think I knew she wouldn’t still be with us in October but at the same time we still stressed about who would care for her and how we could manage things when she was needing round the clock care.

What we missed in the turmoil of caring for Spark was an outbreak of tummy upsets. I think it probably came in through her and her siblings as it affected both the upstairs cats (where her siblings were) and the downstairs ones (where we were caring for Sparkle). At the height of it we were barrier nursing 4 different groups of cats, hand washing, clothes changing, disinfecting +++++ between every contact with every cat.  My eczema still hasn’t quite got over it 😦 It persisted for weeks and weeks despite worming, probiotics, special diets, poo samples, antibiotics, blood samples – the works!  No way could we ask any cat sitter to deal with it and I could see the holiday being cancelled. Finally it started to resolve though Karis, Charlie and Henderson were still affected. Thankfully Karis and Charlie found lovely adoptive parents who are helping them through this.

Henderson is still here of course as he’s a purrmanent resident.  His thyroid issues have been up and down making me anxious about leaving him … right up to a blood test result arriving the day before I left.

Then our regular cat sitter said she’d not been well and was reducing her work and we had to find someone else.   We were so lucky with this.  Just as we heard she wouldn’t be able to do it, a friend announced her new business .   We know Jess through local community stuff and through her incredible work with Cinnamon Trust.  She took on walking a dog for an elderly person locally a few years ago.  We got involved in a small way when the dog developed health issues and needed twice a day injections and then other medications.  Jess recruited volunteers and organised a rota of people to help him and kept everyone up to date with exactly what he needed.  It was an administrative feat and a labour of love.  She was clearly the person to manage the rabble of cats we had here!!

We’d absolutely and wholeheartedly recommend this woman.   She arrived with her forms and had made plenty of time to make sure she had all the relevant info about them.  She spent time getting to know them.   She accepted our weakness when we said we wouldn’t take in any more cats before going away, and then caved in and took Relish … and then Raffles.

She came over again and took up to date info just prior to our leaving.   In the end we left her with 6 purrmanent residents: 0ne of whom had a tummy upset and was on twice a day meds, another is semi feral, another is elderly but fancies himself as a guard cat and in his time has pinned workmen against the wall.  Two very timid kittens who needed ongoing support with being socialised, and two older kittens who are adorable but just little bit crazy.

If she was anxious about all that she didn’t show it and just reassured us that all would be well …

to see if it was ….  check out episode 2 🙂

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a brief tail of revenge

We love our little Rufus to bits … of course we do.   Hand reared from just over a week old  and recently had his first birthday.  He’s just a little spoiled, very much loved and a serious pain in the hind quarters.  Typical teenager … wearing his ears according to the latest fashion which he thinks is cool …….. the rest of us just glance and smirk.



Obviously he’s still just a kitten and wants to play but he’s  been a nightmare with the more nervous resident adults.  Poor Amber our semi feral just hides away/stays outside, but I have some very distressing mental images of old Uncle Henderson cowering in front of him.   No photographic images … standing photographing an old man being mugged rather than running to his aid just isn’t acceptable.

When little Karis was at her worst with her tummy bug and had to be in a crate to stop spread of infection he was a little horror! Sticking his hands through the bars to steal the digestive support food that he’d previously point blank refused to eat when he’d got an upset tum.

Thankfully people like Flipper will turn on him and put him in his place, and the normally mild mannered Honey has found it in herself to swear loudly at him.  Honey’s disapproval of the way I’ve brought him up is very evident some nights when he’s being a brat.


Now the nights are drawing in and its getting colder its a less acceptable option to sit down the bottom of the garden to avoid him, so for Amber and Hendo’s sake, after a few ‘incidents’ we put him in the ‘time out’ crate for a little while the other night.

Ru having time out

It’s not an awful space …there’s a comfy bed, litter tray, water, food and toys. The serious revenge though was when Flipper did exactly what he’d done to Karis and stole his food through the bars.

It meant that for once Henderson could settle himself on the back of the sofa and not worry about being ambushed.

Hendo safe & settled

Serious followers of our blog may be wondering where the other purrmanent resident is in this story. Really serious followers will know that the only place Jango would be is IN BED. Somehow he appears to have cut a line between being bullied and slapping Rufus around the head. Perhaps Jag has beaten him up whilst I’ve not been watching .. but my theory is that Ru sees his Uncle Jag as a role model and has simply agreed to lay down and sleep.

Ru learning to do mega sleeps

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adopting kittens – one family’s experience

This weekend I’m having a rest from blogging and am delighted to introduce our guest blogger – Simon & Minnie’s mum.  For our less avid readers, a little background:  Last Spring we took in two heavily pregnant semi feral / farm cats who were closely bonded to each other – Tabbytha & Mowse.  They gave birth within a week of each other and brought up their 7 kittens as one big family group.  A few weeks later a 5 (ish) week old Simon was found alone in a garden.  Long story short, Tabbytha & Mowse adopted him as part of their big family.

Now over to Minnie & Simon’s mum: 

It’s been a year since Minnie and Simon came to their forever home here and so much has happened. We first approached 8 lives in July last year asking advice about adopting. We’d finished building work on our house and were keen to share it with a couple of cats. However I had visited bigger rescues in the past and was dreading walking down corridors of doors with felines begging us to pick them. We were also trying for a family and I wasn’t sure how that was going to work with adopting cats.

mowse & tabbytha: minnie’s mum and aunty and simon’s adoptive feline parents

From my first tentative email explaining our situation I received a lovely message explaining that kittens adopted now would have time to settle before any baby arrived and linking me to more information about introducing babies to cats. There were also links to the up for adoption pages for the current litters of kittens.

simon adopted by minnie’s family

By the next Saturday we were having our home visit! Despite our nerves beforehand this was a positive experience where we felt able to ask advice on kittens and had a chance to talk about the previous felines in our lives before arranging a time to come and meet the kittens and see who we clicked with.

a very young minnie with her family

Driving to the house we weren’t sure what to expect but sure enough it was the one with a cat at the window and another on the step. We were ushered into the ‘airlock’ of the hall and heard the patter of small paws behind the door to the stairs and then we were on the landing surrounded by a positive sea of kittens. I’d never even seen that many kittens together before never mind had them scampering around me. The two mother cats were more cautious; Mowse stayed safely in her box but Tabs had a look at us from a shelf as the kittens decided whether to approach.


We were given tips on how to tell the different black and white kittens apart, I know the black fur round the noses was often important but I never entirely got the hang of it. However when it came to the two black kittens we were told ‘stroke him, if he purrs its Simon! Simon certainly knew how to make a good first impression carefully pulling his claws playing with my husband and purring his huge purr.

We were introduced to the important art of ‘waving a feather’ which is even more exciting when there are at least six kittens hunting it and the string on the other end of the rod at any one time. Eventually a small black and white lady got tired of the ruckus and hid behind me for a break. Knowing her now I suspect Minnie needed to check we could wave a feather properly before considering coming to live with us. It is her very favourite thing in the world.

So that was it, I was set on Minnie and my husband on Simon and since we had been the first to pick the pairings got rearranged to place them together. It was hard to leave them but it had been agreed that they would come home when we were back from our holiday so they had plenty of time to settle. We visited another couple of times getting to know them better and playing with the whole rabble of kittens and in between we had messages about how they were getting on.

rabble of kittens

By the time they were due to arrive we had had our best shot at kitten proofing the house, bought a number of toys, a water fountain, a scratching post and a cat tree and tried them all out and my husband had built a castle out of two big cardboard boxes. This got well used through into this summer with a few modifications!

The day Simon and Minnie were coming was also the day when I could do a pregnancy test. We got up early planning to get it done so we’d know I wasn’t pregnant this month and could put it aside and focus on the cats. Sure enough there I was staring at a test strip going ‘er that isn’t actually negative…’ It was an exciting day all round!

Minnie and Simon arrived snuggled up together in the carrier having spent the journey looking around. Minnie began her explorations by climbing the scratching post and batting the cat nip ball my husband had balanced off the top. She also had some fun chasing feather although we soon used our voucher to get her favourite kind of feather and rod. Simon also had a look round and a sit on the lap of the person who looked after him when he was tiny and then tried getting back in the carrier. When it was explained that he couldn’t come back further exploration prooved that he could hide in the sofa. For several weeks after when people asked how the cats were I’d reply that the sofa was purring.

When they arrived Simon would respond to his name (or Mimon or Mimey his honoury M names to fit in with the rest of the litter) while Minnie would respond to the tinkling of bells that meant we were waving a feather. Feeling something like a snake charmer I would come into the apparently empty living room, kneel on the rug and begin swinging the feather until rustling began in the sofa. Then I’d call and Minnie would emerge and pounce followed by Simon. After an energetic game they would be ready for something to eat.

feather then food

To my delight after a few days they also took to snuggling on my lap. Simon prefferred to be up at chest level as he had while watching candy crush as a tiny kitten while Minnie liked to squeeze between my legs especially if I was wearing a long skirt for her to sit on. They still like to snuggle like this though they are much bigger now.

Kitten cuddles

Minnie discovered she liked watching TV and took up residence in the toddler chair I’d made while Simon built a den in the cat castle and popped out of different entrances.

Minnie in toddler chair

Unfortunately my body responded to pregnancy by developing hyperemesis gravida. Both kittens tried to comfort me when I was sick often snuggling up with me on the bathroom floor in the early hours of the morning. Simon tried to pack himself in my suitcase the first time I was admitted to hospital with it. Unfortunately I was soon unable to be in the same half of the house as the litter tray without vomiting and poor Simon had to be shut out of the bedroom a few times after his farts set of waves of sickness. It was around then that he figured out how to knock on doors and we decided to get on with installing a cat flap.

In October Simon fell in the bath. He had been walking round the edge for a while reaching down to try and pat the water so it wasn’t a huge suprise. He overbalanced with a squawk bounced out off the bottom off the bath and proceeded to tear out of the bath room and shake himself all over the house. It was even less of a suprise a few days later when he repeated the performance! The next week it was Minnie’s turn altough she took it in her stride, jumping neatly out and sitting on a towel to wash the water off herself.

The two cats have very different personalities. Minnie is always the one to take the lead when new humans visit while Simon runs for cover. This was especially so when my one year old nephew came visiting. Simon retired to the attic and could only be coaxed down late at night. Minnie however was in the thick of the action including curling up round his feet during a tantrum moving her tail out of the way of his stamping when needed.

During his visit both kittens went to the vets for a check up. They were complete stars snuggling up together in the carrier and seeming totally unphased by their trip out in the car. They repeated this last month for their vaccine boosters much to my husbands surprise. The next day we found Simon asleep in the carrier and Minnie sitting hopefully by the car. As my husband said it feels too easy to be true but they actually do take it in their stride.

My husband has an office at the end of the garden and both cats enjoy joining him for parts of the work day. Simon likes to have dreamies thrown for him to chase and minnie loves the automatic lazer pointer while the underfloor heating with a carpet on top is a hit with both of them. Soon after they started going over there I had that sinking feeling that I hadn’t seen the kittens in a while just as we were leaving for the cinema. On our return they were still missing but since my husband had not worked that day it took a whie to find them. They had shot in when he went to collect a book. The next day he put a cat flap in that door too so now they visit when they want.

Simon then had a bit of a run of getting shut in places including overnight in the garage. I woke to find a very agitated Minnie and no Simon. As soon as my husband went outside he heard plaintive mewing and Simon ran out and had a wee in a flowerpot.

Early snuggles together

Our first trip away was hard. Despite knowing our friends were going in regularly I worried that something would happen. However we came back to find them snuggling up together although the chair was not as roomy as it once was!

cuddles on chair

Just before they moved in I had a message from the rescue saying that Simon had plans to be a panther as he was growing so fast. At a year old he had become a big cat and Minnie has grown too.

My bump was also growing and Simon loved snuggling up on it. He was fascinated when the baby started kicking and would purrmore as the kicking increased. We’ve wondered since if Simon’s cat senses let him learn more about the baby in there than we could. Our son certainly seemed to respond to Minnie’s ‘silent mews’ so we think they are just too high for our adult human ears.

To this day Simon runs and hides at the first sign of a visiting child yet somehow our baby is different. We brought him home from hospital expecting to have to coax him out from hiding but as soon as I sat on the sofa to feed our baby Simon tried to jump into my lap as he had through pregnancy. After some adjustments I ended up with a purring cat on my lap and a baby sitting on top.


It quickly became apparent that Simon wanted to sit with the baby whoever they were sitting on.

Simon goes with baby

Minnie is also very attentive and if the baby cries and we are not both there already she will herd us to him. They both spent a lot of time snuggled up around us as I was recovering.

recovery snuggles

Minnie finally learned to mew a month ago after getting shut in the cellar overnight. She followed up the next night by getting trapped in a cupboard with Simon sitting in solidarity outside. She made the best of it building a litter tray from some paper she found (including our marriage certificate and made a bed on the top shelf. Fotunately she seems none the worse though some of the damage to the paperwork was terminal.

She will still try any human food she can find just in case, Pepper covered smoked herring went down unexpectedly well as did fresh chilli pepper. Simon is more conservative in his food choices but is a big hunter of fies and moths. He’s even realised that triggering next door’s security light brings the moths to him. Minnie also catches insects but doesn’t often eat them and when she doesn’t get to hunt toys enough small birds and mamals have been hunted.

recent snuggles

I can’t imagine life without our two wonderul cats. They still snuggle up together and groom each other big as they are and there are rumers that Simon may soon be reading this blog!

Simon Reading

Thank you 8 lives for bringing them into our family.

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