Thursday, March 29, 2007

Surprise By Name, Surprise By Nature

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the wonderful birthday present my garden gave me; sweet, adorable Kadootje. But that was not the whole story, because quite soon after Kadootje and I had met, she introduced me to a friend of hers, a very pretty blue tabby and white female cat.

During the time that Kadootje was still an outdoor kitten, she would pop around a few times a day for a cuddle and some food. After about a week, she brought this feline friend with her, who was also very much interested in cuddles and food. The way those two acted around each other, made it clear that this was no ordinary (if such a word could ever be applied to a cat) friend, but Kadootje's mother. What a wonderful surprise and that was also a fine name to call this pretty lady of the feline persuasion.

So there I was with two outdoor kitties. As Kadootje was still a kitten, it would not be difficult to introduce her to my cat family (it wasn't), but to introduce an adult cat into your cat family is a whole different ball game/kettle of fish all together. What to do with Surprise? If I would take her in, my other cats would surely fight with her, so that was no option.

Again, like I did with Kadootje before her, I put a collar on Surprise with a little note saying; if this cat has a home, please give me a ring. But alas, nobody called. Phoned Amivedi (lost and found pets organisation) and the vet, but no, there was no one missing this beautiful and oh so friendly cat.

In the end I decided on a compromise, all my cats are indoor cats, but Surprise would be my first outdoor one. I bought a nice and warm basket for her and put it on the porch near my front door, where at least she would be sheltered, warm and dry. Winters can be cold around here. And in the meantime I would try to find a loving home for this sweet cat so that she could be a much loved indoor pet too.

Like her daughter before her, Surprise would stay close to my house and garden. To make Surprise appear, I would only have to pop my head out of a window or door and hey presto, there she would be, like magic! The weeks passed and I asked a lot of people if they were in desperate need of a very sweet, cuddly and terribly pretty cat to have and to hold in their homes and hearts. Surprisingly, they all said no. Very strange that!

My house is in a very quiet area of the village I live in, with very little traffic. I like to go for long walks and very soon Surprise decided that she would accompany me on my walks and she did. This was not a good idea, as my path would often lead me into other, less cat friendly parts of my village and surrounding areas, with lots of traffic and other dangers to cats. And because Surprise wanted to be with me for as long as she possibly could, she would follow me everywhere, even into (for her) dangerous places. This I could not allow, but what to do?

So for weeks and weeks this is what I did: before I left my house I would look left, right and center to make sure that Surprise was not close by, check and double check, and then quietly sneak out of my own house like a thief in the night and be very quick about too, before she would spot me. Many a time I had to turn back (bummer!) because surprise!!!! Yes, I did give her the right name, but you don't know the half of it, yet.

One day I noticed that Surprise was calling and unfortunately I was not the only one who did. To make a long story short, Surprise got pregnant. I gave her lots of good food, dewormed her and gave her several baskets to choose from in which she would like to give birth. She rejected them all, unfortunately, and found herself a better kitten nursery, but where oh where did she find it?

One fine morning she appeared and she was quite slim again, so I knew that she had given birth. But where were the babies? Surprise usually had her food in my back garden and then quickly vanished through the hedge, back to her babies. And all though she could go through the hedge, I could not and I had to walk around. By the time I got to the front, Surprise was gone. This went on for weeks and I got quite worried, as there is only a short time frame, from 1 to 7 weeks of age, in which you can socialise kittens properly. After that it becomes problematic, to put it mildly.

As the weeks passed, I became more and more frantic, but she had hidden her babies very well and I could not find them until it was too late. One day, quite by chance, I saw Surprise walking down the road and I followed her and it was then that I found her kittens. She had hidden them here. Quite clever, don't you think, to have the kittens in an abandoned old boat? Click on picture to enlarge.

But alas, they were already 8 weeks old and I couldn't get at them anyway so that was, unfortunately, that. The next day hubby and I were going on a holiday, so there wasn't much that I could do at that point in time. I had asked a dear friend, who would look after the cats for me, to feed Surprise too, and he did.

One week later we came home and we were literally 5 minutes in the door and who appeared? That's right, Surprise! It was past midnight, I was tired so I decided to feed her and then go to sleep. I opened the door, gave Surprise her food and then, then ....................... I saw a gorgeous brown tabby and white kitten. I couldn't believe my eyes. Surprise started to eat and so did the little one. I thought I'd better get some more food and when I returned with more food I saw another kitten, a black one, walking up the garden path. Two kittens!! And they looked healthy and all though wary, they did not appear to be all that scared of me. And while Surprise and her two kittens were chomping away, I saw another kitten. This time a very beautiful blue tabby and white one. Three kittens, now that's what I call a surprise!

After they had finished their meal, Surprise led the kittens back to the boat and I went to sleep as I was very tired from the long trip home. The next day was a lovely sunny day and guess who came for a spot of breakfast, bright eyed and bushy tailed? Yes, they were all there in my back garden. And after their breakfast they stayed the whole day and the kittens played and frolicked to their hearts content and it was utter bliss.

Much to my surprise (grin) the kittens were not all that frightened of me and they allowed me to stroke them while they were eating. But as soon as they had finished their meal, they became wary of me and would only tolerate me at a 3 feet distance.

I couldn't let the kittens roam the streets, that was really far too dangerous for them, so there was nothing for it, they had to come and live with me for a while. So, that's what I did. While the boys were eating (yes, they were all boys), one by one I picked them up and put them in the spare room. There I gave them some more food and then I put Surprise with them as well.

The next five weeks I spend socializing the kittens, feeding them, getting rid of worms, fleas and ear mites. Going to the vet with them and their mother for their vaccinations and health check. All kittens were pronounced bouncing babies and healthy as could be. They were much admired by the vet and rightly so, as they are all very handsome chaps. Surprise was neutered so that we wouldn't have to worry about unwanted kittens.

Of course, I also had to find good homes for my darling boys and I did. The black kitten, Basil, went to live with a dear friend of mine. And for the other two, Teuntje (blue tabby and white) and August (brown tabby and white) I also found good homes. All the new carers were informed that these were special needs kittens and were asked if they felt up to it. The boys were now used to humans but still needed lots and lots of TLC to become proper cuddly pets. They had a lot of catching up to do in kitten nursery/kindergarten school.

It took me a long time to earn the trust of my baby boys and I knew that the people with whom they were going to live eventually, would also have to go the extra mile. And they all did, no problem. So I'm glad to say that instead of ending up as yet 3 more unwanted strays, all my boys are now much loved and well taken care of indoor pets.
This picture of August putting his little paw in my hand is very dear to me. This was the moment that he decided to put his trust in me. Of the three boys, he was the last to do so. It took a lot out of me, getting these kittens accustomed to humans so that they could live in the lap of luxury and be pampered pets, but it was well worth it.

And Surprise? Does she still live up to her name? Oh yes indeed, but that story will have to wait till another time.

Rich Cat, Poor Cat

Rich cat, poor cat
Beggar cat, tramp
House cat, alley cat
Store cat, champ.
The rich cat eats from a porcelain dish
Cream and chicken and lobster and fish
Poor cat sups from a dirty old tin
Scraps and bones and bits of skin
If you look at it, it's fair to neither
There ain't no justice in our world either.
Paul Gallico, The Honourable Cat


Libbys Blog said...

Fantastic, you lovely lady. They are such beautiful cats their colouring is amazing. I do so love cats and sadly only have 2 now, I would love some more but my 2 are so settled it would be unfair to add to them!! So I shall enjoy other peoples cats as well!

Rebsie Fairholm said...

What a lovely story! They are all such beautiful cats.

We have a 10-month-old kitten who was born on a farm and not handled by humans at all until he was a few months old. He was very shy and nervous when we got him (he would just hide under the bed and I had to lean down the back and sing to him) but now he's such a loving and affectionate kitty you'd never believe he'd ever been semi-wild. He has huge paws and likes to sit there and hold the tip of my finger! It's amazing how well they respond to a loving home even when it's "too late" to socialise them.

Kate said...

Yolanda, you weave a beautiful story - Surprise is an amazing feline. I was happy to find out that the kittens found good home. You are a lovely, caring soul.

Now I am looking forward to the next instalment about Surprise!!

firefly said...

Yolanda Elizabet, you are my heroine. I have taken in strays, both adults and kittens, and I know how hard you must try to make the accommodations for the adult work (we wound up keeping ours in a separate room for the rest of her life because she just could not get along with the four indoor kitties, and could not adopt her out because she had a kidney condition requiring special food).

What a large, warm heart you have! I wish there were more people in the world like you. Thank you so much for saving Surprise's sons!

Birgit said...

Oh Yolanda, leider habe ich nicht alles Wort für Wort verstanden, aber doch so viel, dass mir ganz warm ums Herz wird. Du bist sooo lieb zu den Tieren. Es ist gut zu wissen, wie Du Dich kümmerst. So süße Kitten und die Mama. Es ist immer kaum zu glauben, dass sie keiner haben will. So zauberhafte Geschöpfe. Das können aber nur Menschen verstehen, die selbst Tiere lieben und mit ihnen zusammen leben. Das abschließende Gedicht von Paul Gallico lässt einem ebenfalls nach dieser wunderschönen Geschichte von Dir eine Träne in die Augen drücken. Ganz liebe Grüße, Birgit

OldRoses said...

What a beautiful story! I'm feeding a stray in my backyard also but he/she isn't as neat and clean and Surprise and her family. My stray is has filthy, matted hair and is very shy. But not too shy to eat the food I put out every day!

I can't wait to hear more about Surprise.

Priscilla said...

I really enjoyed the story. Glad it had a happy ending!

Carol said...

I'm not usually one to swoon over cats, but this is a lovely story with a happy ending. Those cats were so lucky to have adopted YOU!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all,

Thank you all for visiting my blog and for your very kind comments. Some of them made me blush!

Libby: you are welcome to enjoy my kitties any time you like!

Rebsie: thank you for sharing the story about your little rescue kitten. I'm very glad that it has all worked out so well and that you have a very happy pet. A loving home can do a world of good to all living beings, don't you think? Your kitten and mine are proof of that.

Kate: thanks for your compliments and I promise not to let you wait too long for the next instalment about Surprise.

Firefly: thank you very much for your kind words. I'm so very glad to read that you have helped stray kittens and cats too. Thank you for sharing! There's a lot of pain and suffering in this world and when we come across it we should try to lessen it, don't you think?

SchneiderHein said...

Wenn Birgit in Deutsch schreibt, dann "breche ich mir auch keinen ab"! Eine schönere Katzengeschichte hätte ich mir an diesem Morgen nicht vorstellen können. Leider hat Wolfgang eben keine Zeit, aber am Wochenende werde ich sie ihm sofort vorführen. So eine liebevolle und ausführliche Story kann man leider nicht in Katzenzeitschriften lesen. Schön, dass es diesen Blog dafür gibt - gib uns mehr davon!
Liebe Grüße Silke

RUTH said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I love the title of yours...just how I feel when I'm in the garden. Love all your photos too; shall be visiting again.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all,

Liebe Birgit: thank you for your kind words. I know I'm not the only one who looks after cats. You have also taken 2 kitties into your home when they didn't have a home.

Paul Gallico has written many books and poems about cats. He is someone who understands cats very well. That is why his poems are so moving. Perhaps you can find some of his books in German?

His book of cat poems is called The Honourable Cat, another lovely book (one of my favorite cat books) is The Silent Miaow, written by a cat and translated by Paul Gallico. ;-)

Old Roses: how wonderful that you are looking after a stray cat too. I know how you love cats and you understand them very well too. Loved your kittyblogs!!!! Both your moggie and Maine Coon are adorable.

Priscilla: welcome to my blog. Most people love happy endings, you and I are no exceptions. ;-)

Carol: perhaps both the cats and I were lucky? That's how I feel about it anyway. :-) Glad you popped by!

Silke: on the news and in the newspapers it is mostly bad news we read. Not something to make us happy. Stories like Surprise's and Kadootje's show the other side of life: the good side. Sometimes there really is a happy ending and we (humans) need that.
And yes, I will write more of those stories, I still have a few positive tales to tell about my kitties and my garden. :-)

Ruth: welcome to my blog. I'm glad that your garden gives you the same feeling that I get from mine: bliss.

marl1 said...

Wow: great cat story and they are so beautiful!!! Come again to visit you- I'm very busy in the garden right now...( Our taste in books/movies is 'scary'identical...)

Thalia said...

Dear Yolanda, what a beauuuutiful story! I loved it, I loved it, i loved it! Thank you so much for sharing it....I had tears in my eyes reading it because it reminded me so much of the cats and the kittens I had. There was a cat called Rani (meaning Queen in Indian) who would bring her kittens from her basket to my bed at night before going out, wake me up to tell me she's leaving them in my charge and disappear till morning. That was one of the most touching moments of my relationship with cats....and I have had several of these heart-warming moments, which all came back to me reading your story! I felt happy remembering them and sad that I dont have the cats with me anymore!

I shall share those stories with you on my blog some day [you have inspired me to do that :-)] and thanks once again for the lovely pictures of the adorable cats and kittens and the moving story.

Thalia said...

And oh....I completely agree with you that we need to share happy stories with each other, we need to spread more happiness and positivity and again as you very rightly said we see a lot bad stories in the newspapers anyway.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all,

Marleen: welcome to my blog. Glad you liked the story. How amusing that we have similar taste in books and movies. I wonder if our taste in gardens is similar too?

Dear Thalia: I knew you would love this story and I'm glad that it brought back many happy memories for you. Apart from that, I'm very much looking forward to those stories!!!!

lucy said...

What a wonderful story! I can't wait to hear the rest.

I just recently found your blog and am enjoying your mooi tuintje :o)

LostRoses said...

This post just made me smile, what adorable kittens and how lucky they were to be taken care of by you!

ladyluz said...

Such lovely cats and kitties and weren't they clever to choose you to bring some comfort and love into their lives.

iwan said...

wij komen hier via het tuintjesweblog van het vrouwtje waar u bent geweest.
Wat een lieve een mooie katten zijn dat.

Lis said...

Das ist wirklich eine nette Katzengeschichte, auch wenn ich nicht alles genau lesen konnte.
LG Lis

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi all,

Lucy, Lostroses and Iwan, welcome to my blog.

Ladyluz: we both know how clever cats are, don't we? ;-)

Lis: if only all people could speak the same language. How much easier life would be. But it's still Babel, I'm afraid. Glad you understood most of it and enjoyed it!

Bert said...

Well done Yolanda. Saving these eadorable little cats. And finding them a nice home. These sailors star in a story with a true happy ending!!

Gotta Garden said...

Oh, what a kind heart you have! I had wondered about introducing other kittens would work? Not that I need any more with two! My Leo walks with me when I take the dogs...not quite as dangerous as your walk, but still makes me nervous. Sometimes I do the same thing...sneak out when I know he is upstairs asleep!

I do love your kitty stories!

gerti said...

dit verhaal is net een sprookje met goede afloop. Het Kadootje is echter niet van je tuin, maar volgens mij van iemand die zijn leeg achtergebleven gouden mandje door een minder gelukkig katje gevuld wilde zien.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Hi Bert, GG and Gerti,

Bert: you are right, these 3 little sailors sailed on the good ship hope and found wonderful loving homes. I'm glad I could sail along with them for a bit until we found a safe harbour for all of them.

Gerti: ik denk dat Kadootje een gezamelijk geschenk van Bebop en de tuin is.

Molly said...

I enjoyed reading your cat story. What adorable kittens. What a great mama cat. said...

Lovely lovely pictures. Makes me want to go work in my garden.