I know its “Just a cat”. But also …. it’s not.
My cat was run over and killed on Thursday. I know its “Just a cat”. But also …. it’s not.
I can only talk for myself on this, others may or may not be able to relate, but growing up the way I did, pets have always played a big part in my life.
My childhood home was always full of pets. Not always in a homely nice way, if you get what I mean. Our flat was too small for so many pets. At one point we had 12 cats and 2 dogs. It was normal for me growing up to live like that. The house was always covered in pet hair and you would always find a cat sleeping somewhere. We started out with 2 cats when we moved into the flat when I was 3 years old. And one of those cats had kittens…and that kitten had kittens…and……well you get the story. Each time one of the cats had kittens we would give them away to friend’s and family and we would always keep one. Hence why we ended up with 12.
I can not tell you how many times as a kid I would lay sobbing into the fur of my border collie named Mandy. Hugging her so hard as I listened to what was going on in the next room. The amount of times I would pick up one of my cats and take them to bed with me because I did not want to be alone.
I didn’t have much family around me growing up. Neither did my mum. So, I guess, in some crazy kind of way, I made them pets my family.
They brought me a lot of comfort. Like I said, I can’t talk for other survivors of child abuse, but for me, those pets were my saving grace.
I could just be…. me. Even if my pets witnessed some of the horrific things that happened to me or around me, they would still approach me after like nothing happened. It was like always having a go to.
When my mum’s mental health was at its lowest, I would spend days with only the pets for company. I remember being about 6 maybe, mum had not got up for a few days. So, I went off down the local shop and bought cat and dog food, come home, and looked after the pets. I swear I could not be much older than 6. Sometimes when we didn’t have heating, I would make all these poor cats and dogs get int my bed to keep warm. I would spend ages chasing them all back into my room.
But, like I said, too many pets.
When I left home I didn’t really have pets. I had a couple of dogs and then I got a cat. When I moved to Kent, I lost all my pets and didn’t really have any pets for years. And I can honestly say now, looking back, it had an impact on my mental health. I mean a ton load of shit had an impact, I had lost my mum, was in an abusive relationship in a place where I knew no one. We got rabbits once and tried a dog, but it didn’t work out.
A few years back I was working as an intensive family support worker. We had a young boy who was eastern European and lived here with his Nan since his mum passed away. The Nan sadly died, and we had to place the boy in foster care. He was going missing from the home most nights. Other professionals were saying he was out all night because he was involved drugs or exploitation, but I had spent a lot of time with the boy and I thought no way. One morning I and a PCSO were driving past the foster home of this boy. We saw him come out of the foster placement, hood up, and walked off down the road. So…. We followed him. After about 10 minutes I said, “He Is walking back to his Nans house”. She had died about 6 days earlier. Yep…I was right…he was going back to Nans house. Which was empty but not boarded up or anything. We watched him go around the back of the house. We waited a minute and we followed. As we entered the back gate, we caught him climbing through an open window. He looked so shocked when he saw us. I asked him what was going on. He said to follow him. So, me, the PCSO and the boy all climbed through this window. Honestly so dangerous thinking back now. He walks through the house, which is all empty and cold and goes upstairs. We follow. Into a room that would be a bedroom with built in cupboards. He walks over and opens the cupboard door. I stand there…waiting for someone to be there. A family relative or something. Nothing. I hear the PCSO take a sharp breath when we release the cupboard is empty apart from like an old blanket on the floor. The boy then bent down and pulled out a rat. I screamed a girl scream…and then realised that it was a kitten. No…. 2 kittens.
The boy becomes tearful. Said that when Nan died the RSPCA had come and removed nans cat (I made that call). The man had said the cat was nursing but they looked and couldn’t find he kittens. The boy said he had hidden them and had been coming back here each night to fed them, He had been using bits of bread dipped in milk.
These Kittens were so ill. They were just laying there. The boy was distraught. Made us promise we would look after the kittens for him. We said we would as long as he promised not to come back here anymore. One was a little black kitten and one was a tabby kitten. We took the boy home and after he went in myself and this PCSO just sat there for a moment. It was a freezing cold February morning. And inside my coat I had these to tiny kittens. We drove to the local PDSA (vets) and, a after about an hour, went into the vets with these two kittens (still inside my coat). The vet smiled when we told her the story. She checked the kittens over. 4 weeks old. She said they were dehydrated and not very well. She said that they may survive. But it was not likely. She then gave them an injection each and started getting bits together. Said they would need to be fed every few hours with this little bottle/ syringe thing. That they would need heat and not be left alone. She asked if we would be taking them together or separating them.
Me…I was just nodding and listening. I was thinking that I needed to get this sorted to go to my next appointment. That it was lovely she was telling us all this info, and that we would tell the boy. Then I realised she was addressing us. The PCSO said something and scooped up the black kitten. Placing it inside his coat. “Oh no sorry” I said. “I don’t have time for a pet”. The vet looked at me and then down at the tabby kitten. That was curled up in my hands. And had been the whole time. She frowned and said. “Ok, give me the kitten then” and put her hands out.
So, here’s me 30 minutes later, cat back inside my coat, on the bus back to my house, cussing about how can I feed this kitten every 4 hours. It better not shit in the house. After 10 minutes this conversation was addressed to the kitten “You better be good” and “No climbing”.
The family were shocked, of course, when I arrived home with this very sick kitten. She was so small. I mean …tiny. I regretted it instantly because within minutes my 2 youngest were in love. And I had to tell them that actually she was very poorly and may not even make it through the night.
What a rocky few weeks we had. My older son who at the time had love for no one stated on day one that he would not be involved the kitten. That it was silly to get attached.
I got up on the first night to fed it at 4. My alarm buzzing, I fell over, I cam downstairs to find this bloody kitten. I looked in the box…gone! No…shit…shiiiiit. Where is it. I turn around and my oldest son is on the sofa, shirt off, kitten on his chest. Both fast asleep. I wake him and say, “what are you doing” and he says, “Its better if they sleep on your skin”!!!
Her name was Catty (If you know my daughter you will know that Catty got of lightly on the name front). Catty grew into one of the most lovable cats you will ever find. I adored this cat. When my relationship ended and everything that came with that after, I would often be found moaning away to the cat lol. She was my shadow. And I realised that not having a cat in your life is rubbish. She started to get very fat. And I realised she was pregnant. Nooooooo. No way are we keeping one. I made that clear to the kids. No way.
Catty had her kittens on Mother’s Day!!! That show much my cat loved me, gave me bloody kittens lol. I couldn’t hack her crying, so my sons stayed with her when she had them.
The kittens were stunning. All big and strong. Except one. There was this one who was different. Who didn’t grow like the others. It was the runt of the litter. One day my daughter was playing with the kittens and she accidentally jumped back and onto this kitten. The scream from that kitten made me go cold. The kitten tried to walk away and just sort of stumbled and screeched. I don’t drive, but I grabbed this kitten and ran to my local vets. I don’t run. I don’t like even thinking about running. But boy…I shifted. The kitten had t stay in for a few days, the vest said it was a weak kitten and would need extra time with its mum.
A week later Catty was run over and killed. So…. here we go again…having to tend to this little kitten. The others were strong enough to be homed but this one needed to stay for a bit.
Bear…her name was Bear and of course she never left. She was not like catty. She was…. different. Like…. she reminded me of that character from Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood. I liked Bear, but she was no replacement for my Catty. Not in a horrible way. She was more the kids’ cat. I went and rescued another cat. So now we had two.
I went to get Bear spayed. The vet said…. I can but just so you know she is pregnant. I can terminate whilst I spay her. …. So, here was my thinking as he said that …. these are the Grandfur babies of the almighty Catty…. hell no…let’s do this.
Bear…. because she was so special…gave birth to said kittens outside the back door on a Sunday morning. Bu the time I had worked out where they were, they were stone cold and not moving. My daughter who was 7 a the the time sat with me rubbing these kittens for an hour. they all survived.
I didn’t even bother saying we couldn’t keep one. I thought …let’s just see.
3 boy kittens. Two of them normal …the other…. Pumpkin.
This kitten watched EVERYTHING. Whilst the other 2 were rolling around, he would just sit and watch and then imitate. The other two were homed and a week later…you guessed it…bear was bloody run over.
So, you see, Pumpkin was not from a pet shop. He never had another owner. He was our cat.
When my daughters (Still undiagnosed) ASD started to really show, Pumpkin was a big part of her learning to cope. I watched her sob into his fur many times. I would come upstairs, and she would be dressing him up in dolls clothes and she would be telling him about school. She struggled to communicate. She started to stop showing emotion. It was as if she felt overwhelmed with the world. But not with the cat.
He was so naughty. This cat…Jesus…. the whole road knows who he is. Because daily you will hear me shout his name. All my friends laugh at the stories of him. In the picture at the start of this blog he is wearing a tie. He run out the house 40 seconds after that was taken and I had to spend ages looking for him because…well… he can’t go running around with a tie on.
When my son moved out a few weeks ago it was sad, but it was ok. Because me, my daughter and the cats just carried on our routine.
Like…. having to feed the cats at 6:30 every day because Pumpkin bites my face. Or rushing to get home even when my daughter is at her dads because if I feed them too late, he will bring another bloody mouse in.
Every day (Most days) for he past 3 years this cat is there when I get home. Meowing for food. Ripping my tights, Sleeping with me. A source of comfort for the house. A big personality.
This morning I didn’t get up until 9. My other 2 cats just slept until I got up. Pumpkin would never have tolerated such things lol
I put in a lot of time and effort with my pets. But more so with Pumpkin. I don’t know…. just like people…you meet an animal and you just love each other.
And on Thursday he got run over. The dick that did not even stop. Just by chance a woman walking past saw him lying in a bush and took him to the vet, she carried him there, but he died in her arms on the way. He was a clever cat, so he would have been so fucking scared. You can say na…. but he would of. The women who picked him up, she didn’t know it was my cat. The women was one of the first people to ever speak to me when I moved to Kent. Funny old world. She said he died in her arms, and that he was not alone. That made me cry like a bitch. Because he hated being alone. Emma (That’s her name) picked up my dying cat and run to the vets with him. Not because it was her pet, because she knew that he was someone’s pet and that they loved him, and they would want him to get help.
When I told my daughter…. She screamed and screamed. She begged me to get him. She opulent make sense of it. It will have a massive impact on her.
So..I know “It’s just a cat”. But .it is also not. It’s something that I loved and found comfort in. Something that since a chid I have been able to trust and put all my emotions into. To take away loneliness. To give a purpose when My daughter is at her dads and I can’t face the world.
I’m not mad. I know much worse things are happening to people. But love is love and loss is loss. I have also realised that along my journey from childhood to adulthood, I have made a deeply embedded connection between feeling safe and having a cat. Years of traumatic events. Yet…. I would be able to shut myself away with my pets.
100% gonna turn into the crazy cat lady when I am old……