I’d be the first to admit that perhaps we didn’t know what we were taking on when we went on our first visit to the National Animal Welfare Trust at the end of August. I’d been searching the internet for animal rescue centres and had found quite a few dotted around Hertfordshire and London, including the Blue Cross, Battersea, RSPCA and the Mayhew Animal Home. Our local vet volunteers his services every Wednesday at the NAWT and they recommended going over there to have a look. I think we all felt that it was better to have rescue cats as it’s something we haven’t done before (our four previous cats came from litters from cats with friends and family).
Anyway, I’d been looking around and had already stumbled upon the NAWT and found two cats I was smitten with, but didn’t quite know why – there was just something about them, as much as I thought all the other cats were adorable too. They were called Gingernut (a ginger tabby boy) and Marmalade (a black, brown and ginger tortoiseshell lady).
It was overwhelming to go to the centre in Watford, because there are so many lovely cats and dogs there. They also re-home rabbits, guinea-pigs, horses and other animals. I found myself wishing we could take a few of them home – but some of them were single cat households only and we felt we wanted at least two. Simply because we’re used to two to three cats. There are five of us living in the house, so it may have been overwhelming for just one cat. At least two cats would feel less intimidated when they were exploring their new territory together.
We met these two cats (brother and sister), and I think we all simply fell head over heels. We’ve never had a ginger or tortoiseshell cat before, and they both have distinctive personalities. The boy is lacking in confidence and very shy, whilst the lady (I simply have to refer to her as a lady, because she is the definition of one!) is confident, vocal and although a little wary, she was happy to come out of her pen and have a look around and fuss. There was a lot of debate about their names, because my Mum couldn’t get her head around why they had called the boy Gingernut (gingernut biscuits are a dark brown colour) and the girl Marmalade – she felt it should be the other way around.
So each time we went to visit them (we had to visit at least three times with all the members of the household at least once each), we had debates in the car about names. Dan suggested Chocolate for the lady, keeping Marmalade for the boy. Eventually my Mum started thinking that the girl should be Chocolat, as she was such a lady. So that has stuck. We had a home visit quickly because my parents were going away on the Sunday, and we got the all-clear (cat friendly house!).
By the weekend, we had bought all the essentials (cat trays, litter, toys, beds, food etc) and we decided we’d do the ‘safe-room’ method of introduction, which is less intimidating. You set up one room in the house with everything they need, and keep them in that room until they start wanting to be let out of the room to explore and seem to trust you (coming to you and letting you stroke them and so on). It makes sense as cats are territorial and need to establish territory before being exposed to the rest of the house. It helps to have a room where they feel safe, that they can retreat to if it all gets too much.
They came home on Saturday 7th, and have been settling in well, although Marmalade is still lacking in some confidence. Chocolat is actually getting on well, although she has her moments when they both hide under the sofa because of a loud noise or someone coming downstairs. This past week they’ve both been confident enough to come up on the sofa and sit with me, but usually in the evenings. Chocolat is kind of temperamental, what you might call a bit of a madam – according to Google (!), Torties can be like this. She has a series of different meows – one that sounds disappointed, one that sounds chatty, and another that sounds like a warning, usually when she doesn’t want to be touched just now, thank you very much.
These meows are very visual – Dan told me about the disappointed sounding one, but it’s quite obvious when something has disappointed her (no more Dreamies, her treat of choice, or a room doesn’t live up to her expectations). She moves back and meows when she doesn’t want attention. Marmalade has more of a squeak, apparently. He loves belly rubs, and his purr is one of the loudest purrs the hearing members of our family have heard (it’s been described as a car engine or very loud snoring), and by touching him when he’s purring I can see what they mean. His whole body vibrates! Neither of them are vicious at all – Marmalade has nipped me but very gently when he didn’t want me to stroke him any longer.
Apart from that – they are both very loving and playful with each other. I mean – incredibly playful! They stalk and have wrestling matches and chase each other but are happy to curl up together. They spend the mornings running around and playing, and tend to sleep quite a lot of the day away, becoming more active again towards the evening. You can tell I’ve had a lot of time to observe them! It is a real joy to see them developing, they’re only around a year old and haven’t had a lot of socialization.
Previously they were in a house with too many cats so I have a feeling that they weren’t given much attention, especially as Marmalade is so lacking in confidence and jumps at all kinds of noises and movement. He’ll get there! It’s early days and it’s good that they’ve got a whole house to themselves. I never envisioned having a cat called Chocolat when I started this blog! Safe to say, we’re owned by cats again.
“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”
Death thought about it.
“CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.” – Terry Pratchett, Sourcery.
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