A while back I read a blog post by Isobel in which she remembered her long lost animals by lighting a candle.
I thought about doing the same.
I have lost many pets down the years. Recently I said goodbye to the gentle Lady Gouldian finch, Aura.
The purpose of this post will be to celebrate the life and 10 years I shared with my ‘boy’ Mac. I have had many cats during my lifetime but none were like Mac. He took a piece of my heart with him when he left me in 2007.
I can still remember the day, (like it was yesterday), when I first set eyes on Mac. It was a warm August day in 1997. My 20 year old self, had been to town to get a Sarah Brightman album. Unbeknown to me, my mum and brother, Stephen had been to a computer shop and on their way home had come across a house with kittens playing in the gated area. My mum being a cat lover too, commented how adorable the feisty kittens were and the owner, an elderly woman asked if she would like to take one home. So, come the time I came in through the front door, cassette in hand, a tuxedo kitten had been chosen and was waiting for me.
It was love at first sight! Then began a decade-long love affair!
It’s hard to put into words just what a loving cat Mac was. He was always by my side. He was ‘my’ cat, and would follow me about the house. We used to have fun, playing hide and seek together and he loved his roast dinners, of potatoes and peas. We were inseparable! Mac was there when I was lonely, and I poured my wishes and dreams into him while he sat purring patiently.
One anecdote was when Mac went missing for a week! Seven days of missing my ‘boy.’ It was hell! Of a day I walked about dazed, come the night I cried myself into a fitful sleep.
One Sunday, I was lounging in bed when a neighbour called. She said she thought Mac was in her house. Mum went to look and low and behold there he was! He had been holed up in the neighbour’s back bedroom scared and probably wondering where I was. Luckily the neighbour had a cat herself and of a night, Mac would tiptoe downstairs, help himself to the dried food on offer and relieve himself in the cat tray. He was such a good boy! I was amazed that the neighbour’s cat did not sniff Mac out, or if he did, he was equally scared! I was just thankful to have my Mac back. He seemed unfazed by his vacation. I never let him out the house again!
Sadly Mac never reached old age. He contracted bowel cancer and became a shadow of his former self. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… saying goodbye. So on the 10th of October 2007, I said farewell to my ‘boy.’ In Mac’s place I received a dark wooden box with a bag inside, tied with a blue ribbon, full of sharp bone fragments…
Well it’s half way through The Wildlife Trust‘s 30 Days Wild and I have to admit, I am loving it! The two weeks have gone so fast, though it really has made me look extra hard at the nature in my environ and made me value what’s there.
Monday and Tuesday:
As I made my ‘merry’ way to work I noticed that some wild poppy plants had seeded themselves between the cracks of flag stones in my road. I saw today that they had bloomed! They have huge, crimson heads! They grew in the same place last summer and Mum harvested their seeds. I now have some growing in my garden! 🙂
One of the 101 things ‘wild’ to do over the 30 Day’s of June was to plant Borage for bees. Two weeks ago I bought Borage seeds. I had tried looking in garden centres for the actual plant but none had any, so seeds had to do! While watering my garden, I discovered that the Borage seeds I had planted are now starting to grow! The plant seems to be a quick grower, so I have high hopes they will flourish, though perhaps I have one too many growing! :p
Many Borage seedlings
I also noticed tiny seedlings popping through the soil in the other planters where I planted Teasel seeds, I hope some mature! Fingers crossed!
We had another bee visitor to the garden to add to the numerous, Garden, Tree Bumblebees and Red Mason Bees already visiting. It was the first sighting of a Wool Carder Bee. To be honest I have never heard of one, until now! But I am amazed at how much diversity of species is found in just one small garden! My planting for wildlife has really been a great success!
Wool Carder Bee
I also spotted while in the garden the visiting Swallows. I was honoured to see one had finally settled and sat on a TV aerial! The footage isn’t great, I couldn’t keep my hand from shaking, but you can clearly hear his song!
Today was a grim day weather wise and while I stopped for lunch at work, it also became a dark day emotionally too. I always check my phone during lunch break and today noticed three text messages all from my Mum! I read them in ascending order and my stomach knotted after reading the last. My Mum was home on her own. Pearl, one of the three remaining of the 15 cats we once had, had a turn. It was not totally expected, Pearl had become frail over the passing weeks, she was 17 years old!
I later found out that Pearl was found unconscious and Mum hastily took her to the vets. On arrival the vets checked Pearl out and could have attempted resuscitation. However the decision was made that resuscitating Pearl wouldn’t be beneficial after the vets found that she had a tumour in her stomach and shrunken kidneys. Mum bravely went in to be with Pearl, though Pearl was unconscious and oblivious. Due to Pearl’s lungs shutting down she had a gas mask over her mouth. The vet said that Mum had done the correct thing in bringing Pearl to the vets, as if she had left her at home, she would have died there! Mum said Pearl passed away peacefully. The vets at Adams veterinary Centre were fantastic and cared both for Mum and Pearl. Whenever we have been to Adams vets, we have had immaculate service, it’s just a shame that most of the time we go because one of our cats is ill!
On a lighter note, once David and I were home from our respective employment, after dinner we noticed a lethargic bee sitting on the Cat Mint. I noticed she hadn’t moved for over half an hour! We decided to pop out into the garden and see what was wrong!
As soon as David placed his hand by the bee it sauntered towards him and sat contently on his hand.
Buff Tailed Bumblebee on David’s hand
I rushed inside to make a spoonful of sugar, (as the Disney song goes) and water. With the solution, David placed a droplet before the bee. The bee walked about his hand and then it smelled the sugar. It was almost as if the bee sat up! Her proboscis shot out and she started lapping up the solution. It was indeed fascinating to watch as inside her proboscis it looked like the bee had a little tongue also! After a few droplets of solution the bee seemed to get more energised and she eventually started to fly, a little laboured to start with. David described the bee as flying a circle around us as a ‘thank you’ before she flew over the wall! I hope she was just tired after foraging and that there was nothing more serious, she indeed had a full basket of pollen!
On a mid week shopping spree I bought some lard as I had run out of fat balls and did not know when the next time I could get to B&M. I decided to do another suggestion from the 30 Day’s Wild challenge and make some food for the birds!
I used a 250g pack of lard (I warmed this up in the microwave for 2 minutes). I sprinkled some bird seed, dried meal-worms, and plain flour into the mix. I then found the mixture was too runny so I added some dried oats and then spooned the concoction into plastic cups (I bought 50 for £1) with string fitted so I could hang them on branches. I also put an A4 piece of paper into a fat ball feeder and spooned the mixture inside to make a fat block! I left them to one side to solidify! Once hardened, I hung in the garden. It didn’t take the Starlings long to notice the new food!
Fat cake I made for the birds
In the evening I attempted to watch the setting sun, however the clouds (I couldn’t tell what type even after half an hour trawling through the internet,) were not best placed and all I got was a slight tinge. I will have to keep trying to capture a good sunset!
The setting sun
David is becoming a real Dr. Bee-little. Again he saved a bee from being tired and cold! This time after the sugar/water solution did not do wonders, David brought the bee into the house for a warm! It soon revived and David said once he had taken the bee back outside it orientated itself and flew off.
Another Buff Tailed Bumblebee
Can I say ‘phew’ what an epic Saturday? I haven’t stopped, nor had time to do any house work! In the morning we spent hours shopping and in the afternoon, after lunch, we visited David’s parent’s and spent a lovely few hours with them! We got home just before 5pm and the rain that had blighted the day had cleared to leave a lovely sunny, and warm afternoon!
I rushed out to sit in the garden for a few minutes before making a start on the evenings dinner.
The Cat Mint was full with bees! I counted at lest seven on it at one time!
The numerous bees have become a food source for the visiting Swallows who I saw swoop over our garden! It was a joy to behold. I really need to get a life. I get excited at such small things of late! 😀 I said to David that to think the Swallows had come all the way from Africa to summer here! What sights they must have seen and to summer vacate in Liverpool!?! We are so blessed to have them here! 😀
I saw what I thought were Honeybees on the Cat Mint, but apparently they were just tired Mason Bees. Poor little fellas!
Tired Mason Bee
For dinner I made a Spicy Vegetable and Barley Soup, but it ended up more like a stew than a soup! So I tweaked the recipe for here.
Tbsp Olive Oil
Cloves Garlic, Minced
Large Onion, Chopped
Medium Carrot, Chopped
Pepper de-seeded and chopped
Celery Stalks, Chopped
Chilli de-seeded and chopped
1L Reduced Salt Vegetable stock
1 Can Diced Plum Tomatoes
50g-100g Pearl Barley
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil over a medium heat then add the onion and sauté until the onion is soft (about 3-4 minutes).
Then add the chilli, the Carrots, Celery and Leeks and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Lastly add the garlic and sauté for a minute.
Stir in the vegetable stock, tomatoes and barley.
Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring the soup occasionally.
Add the cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately with bread…
The bread I decided to make was a wholemeal Turkish flat bread. However I don’t think it was very flat nor very Turkish, though it was the best thing in the meal!
Wholemeal Turkish Flatbread!
Wholemeal Turkish Bread
500g of wholemeal flour
1, 7g sachet of dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
350ml of warm water
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 egg yolk
1 tbs olive oil
Combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and then add the water. Use hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside place for 1-1 1/2 hours or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 230°C.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half to make two pides. Flatten slightly with hands. Place each pride on separate pieces of floured, non-stick baking paper/baking tray. Cover with a towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 minutes.
With floured hands, stretch each piece of dough into desired shapes. Leave on non-stick baking paper/baking tray. Cover with a towel and set aside again for 10 minutes.
With egg yolk in a bowl. Brush the top of each pide with egg mixture. Use floured fingers to make indentations on top and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Cook pides for 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
Over the weekend our bird feeders have welcomed:
Starlings and their babies
House Sparrows and their young!
Sparrows only visit our feeders for a short period of time before moving to better gardens with more variety! I managed to get footage of both Starling and House Sparrow fledglings. The Starling was eating the fat balls I had bought while the House Sparrow was enjoying a nice bath!
David also saved two bumblebees today! One he found in his rockery being pinched by an insect. He couldn’t identify what it was, though did manage to get the bug off the bee’s leg. David then placed the bee on the Cat Mint and watched as the bee happily started collecting nectar.
Minutes later Artie had caught a bumblebee in his mouth and had taken it through the house, with David and myself following after! David managed to rescue the bee from the jaws of Artie and released it outside where it flew off, lucky to have escaped!
As I said at the beginning of the post I am thoroughly enjoying my 30 Days Wild! I am loving the wildlife that frequent my garden and look forward to week four and many more ‘wild’ sightings! 😀
January is notoriously the most depressing month of the year. During this month, I have had to fight stress and depression. I then hurt my back and was out for a few days last week and then this Monday I had a death in the family to contend with.
I had to say farewell to one of our oldest cats. Dee! She had been with us since 1996 and looked fantastic for her age. Recently Mum had noticed that Dee was having trouble with her balance. I told her to monitor it but by Monday things had gone progressively worse, so much so that Dee could hardly stand up!
Mum and I took her to the vets. We waited ages to be seen in a reception area that was filled with other cat patients. Dee was very vocal and cried to be let out, and when another cat started crying the room was filled with meows!
We were introduced to a kind vet called Sarah, who on seeing Dee (trying to get out of the carry case) said, ‘oh little one, something has happened in your brain!’ We coaxed Dee out of the carrier and she stumbled around the table, with her head constantly shaking and a vacant look to her eyes. The vet subsequently said that Dee could have had a bleed or a tumour in her brain which explained the loss of motor control. They at present don’t treat brain diseases in animals and with Dee’s age, it was ultimately humane to put her to sleep.
With many of my cats in their twilight years, this ‘last journey’ is becoming more frequent. Mum and I stayed with Dee as we said our goodbyes. The vet informed us that Dee probably didn’t know what was happening. I held Dee in my arms as the vet administered the drug and she quickly drifted away. The vet said that she had given Dee a dose of 500mg but she had gone by 200mg, she was that poorly!
It’s come as a shock actually. Dee was the most healthy looking out of the four that lived with Mum. It has to be a blessing that it was a short illness.
Back to Dry January and there is only three days left! I may have moaned and groaned my way through it, but I was up for the challenge! I knew I had the willpower to go without alcohol for a whole month, but I wanted other people to see that I could achieve this too! You can still donate to my Just Giving page.
Here’s to February and that long awaited glass of wine! 😀
The newest member of the Connor-Evans family is Artie a nine week old kitten!
And this is his story!
Since the 11th of August I have been following the plight of two little kittens who had been discovered by a volunteer of Liverpool based pet rescue charity Rescue Me Animal Sanctuary. Their facebook wall posts first alerted me of the ‘Country Road’ kittens and their story.
They had been picked up on Country Road, Liverpool as two little girls were trying to give them away. Heather saw the two kittens were very young and poorly. She managed to take them from the children. In her enquires she found out that the kittens were from a litter of five and the task then was to track down the other three kittens and the mother cat.
They managed to track the remainder of the litter but only took another kitten into their care. The owners decided to keep the other two!
Then on the 9th of September the rescue posted that the two kittens who had survived from the three, were ready for adoption! I in half jest commented that I wanted one!
I then posted the picture on David’s Facebook page joking that it was fated that we should get Arthur as we had just come back from Edinburgh and my favourite place to visit is Arthur’s Seat! Add that to the fact that Arthur is David’s middle name, then it must be destined?
David seemed nonplussed. All he said was that Arthur looked ‘mischievous!’ So I never argued the case further.
Then on Sunday, the 14th of September I read their latest post in which they stated that Arthur’s sister was reserved but he was still looking for a home. My mind was made up there and then! The following day, without really consulting David I made a call to the rescue about adopting Arthur. I was anxiously nervous all day, indeed all week really! I was not really thinking I would get a call back and then in the afternoon while at work my phone rang out in the small office! There was no number displayed so I answered and it was my ‘call back’ regarding Arthur! 😀
I arranged a house visit from one of their volunteers, it would be Heather who found Arthur along with his sister! So hurrying back home later that afternoon, all excited and stressed, David and I waited for 7pm and our visit! Unfortunately as is usually the case with us, things did not go according to plan! Heather was sick and could not come. So we arranged another visit for the next day.
So Tuesday came and again with sweaty palms we waited for our visit. Heather, though still not 100% came to visit and told us about Arthur and how he was into ‘everything,’ and the procedure of adopting.
I think David had some reservations but he never voiced them. I don’t think he wanted an energetic kitten, but all kittens are energetic!
Later that evening I got a text off Trisha who was Arthur’s foster carer. He was over on the Wirral! We arranged a 7pm viewing for Wednesday and I was so exited I could hardly sleep!
Wednesday could not come quick enough. In work I was willing the time when I could leave and then when the time came to make our way through the ‘Mersey tunnel,’ my nerves were at breaking point!
It was a trial to find the foster home, as a twenty minute drive turned into forty! But we finally found the street! With cat carrier in hand we nervously knocked on the door and was warmly welcomed into the home.
Arthur was asleep when we arrived but after introductions, he seemed to be receptive to us! We signed the relevant paperwork and handed over the adoption fee. Arthur was then placed into the carrier and was ‘ours’! I was so eager to take him home!
On arriving, we showed Arthur to our living room first. We showed him his new toys, played with him and fed him. We took him with us to our bedroom and he slept between David and I all night. He did have fits of crying but once he saw us lying down for the night he settled down too.
I have had kittens before and I know from experience that they usually want to start to explore come the turning off of the lamplight, but Arthur probably stressed from the move did not wake us until I woke up at 7am! I was amazed!
He has been with us now for two days and has settled in nicely. He has his mad fits of playing and then quiet times when he snuggles up with his dad or me. I love when he follows me from room to room to see what I am doing.
I know he is going to be a treasured member of the family. Even David is happy I pushed to get Artie, as he has been buying him scratching posts and cat boxes!
I have always said a house is not a home without a cat, and Artie certainly makes our ‘new’ house a home! 😀
…but sometimes they just have to be made. I had postponed the inevitable for two weeks over Easter as when I broached the subject with David, he fell to pieces!
David has never really known what it is like to be a pet owner and animal lover. I have lived with animals all my life and though the end decision is difficult, it is one that every loving owner must face. You have to put aside your own heartache and the sadness and think of the animal. Are they in pain? Are they suffering?
I think Muzzy was!
RIP 6/2000 to 4/2014
She had been ailing for some time, had grown thin and her breathing had become erratic. As we don’t see Muzzy every day (my cats live with mum next door as they are too old to move into the new house), seeing Muzzy and her condition startled me! So today I knew I had to put my foot down and say ‘no’ to sentimentality! Enough was enough! ‘The cat comes first!’
We were booked in for 5pm at Adams Vets. We have been there many times before and they have always been kind and considerate. Today was no different.
David after work, drove us through a waterfall of his own tears. Mum and I went in and were given our own room to be with Muzzy before the vet came to see her. The vet was calm and listened to Muzzy’s heart. She said that there was fluid on the lungs and in her tummy, indicative of a failing heart! I had thought as much as we have seen it before in another one of our cats. His name was Jo and his death was horrific! It was something I did not want to see again!
The vet took Muzzy away for a catheter and when she came back, Muzzy was all wrapped up in a green blanket. I stroked Muzzy and kissed her head, whispering ‘she will be at peace soon.’ The vet injected the anaesthetic and in half a minute Muzzy’s head had slumped onto my arm and her chest had stopped rising. Mum was upset and I put on the ‘stiff upper lip’.
Home now and David is asleep on the couch, all the crying has spent his energy. I’ll probably have a cry later after a drink and a shower. I find that in these situations, it is always me that has to be the strong one and my emotions never come out as easily as they should.
I know Muzzy is at peace now, no more struggling for air. I think she has had a good innings with us. She was not a kitten when we got her. I was in another vets with a hamster in the summer of 2000 and someone brought Muzzy into the surgery saying ‘she was a stray and had been crying all day.’ I knew then that she would be part of my family. We asked the vet at the time if we could have her, and after a quick check up. I came home hamster-less but with a new addition to my ever growing cat family. Muzzy was with us for 14 years and I think she had a better life than if she was still a stray!