A heartwarming story of a rescued kitten and, er, love. Aaaaah.
I know this sounds unlikely considering my most well-known artwork is feline-centric, but I have been catless for four years (mainly due to me moving home a tiresome six times, which meant rehoming a ragdoll, tonkinese and maine coon for their own benefit in that period).
However, last week a cat named Blod came to live with us. Even though he's our 'new' cat, his history bears an important role in the making our household. In fact, Blod was the catalyst (no pun intended, although it's quite pleasing) for the union between me and my other half, Jake. This is our love story in brief: I had been following Jake's work as a comedy writer and broadcaster for some years when he wrote a blog post about a kitten he'd just rescued. Like any normal-hearted human I was charmed by the story, and shared it on my Facebook page and Twitter (I have since cut my twitty ties so please don't waste time trying to look me up on there). Jake noticed that I'd been helping to spread the story and, so he says, my artwork had caught his eye too. Quickly we turned from mutual admirers to tweeting each other, then phoning each other, then... Well, we got together, hit it off and made a baby. Yeah, that's really brief, but if you ever meet me for coffee I'll happily share the fuller story.
Back to Blod: Jake rehomed him with family friends named Max and Helen in east London. He lived there very happily and was later joined by a puppy, which we hear he wasn't too pleased about. Very sadly, Helen passed away in November 2015 after a short illness. After much contemplation and discussion, Max asked Jake if we'd like to take Blod as we're now in a stable family home and unlikely to move anywhere in the near future. Of course, we were initially anxious about how Blod would react to our two and a half-year old, but even our toddler doesn't pose as much harassment to a cat as a puppy does. Max was upset but relieved to see Blod go, and we don't live too far away so he can visit us any time. And Blod seems very happy here too: he gets a lot of company as I'm usually at home most of the day, he follows us around the house for cuddles, and sleeps fully stretched-out on our bed without being pushed off by a puppy (apparently this is what happened in his old house).
As I'm writing this on Christmas Eve, here is Blod looking suitably festive:
Yes, this was taken last winter by his previous owners. If I took a photo of him in our garden today you'd see him among sprouting daffodils which looks most oddly spring-like. If climate change goes on at this rate we'll take a photo of ourselves in a houseboat this time next year.
Anyway, if you're interested, below I have copied and pasted that first blog post written by Jake back in 2011 on his website, JakeYapp.com.
WARNING: the following content includes extremely cute imagery that may cause some readers to burst.
I have always maintained there is a direct correlation between the number of cats you have and how mad you are. Tom Baker has 27. I rest my case.
Having two cats, I have always accepted that I’m beyond normal, but I’ve comforted myself with the thought that it might make me an eccentric, or vaguely interesting somehow.
But any more than that would definitely land me in the fully-paid Unhinged category.
On Saturday I did some really pretty awful links on BBC Radio Leeds (new show starts September 24th! Oh, I already told you, sorry) and then drove to Wales to meet up with my parents for a couple of days of R ‘n’ R (Rum and more Rum) in a little cottage.
I arrived to find my parents out. With no mobile phone signal, I decided to take a little walk up the lane. Sheep eyed me suspiciously from the fields, and aside from a little chirrup from a barn I walked past, it was almost eerily quiet.
I stopped and looked at a field, and watched the sheep edging away, trying to act nonchalant in my presence.
As I passed the barn again, there was another little chirruppy sound. More insistent than before. Plaintive.
“Hello?” I called. The noise came some more, agitated, beseeching.
I walked to the mouth of the barn. It was dilapidated, and strewn with weeds. The noise rose to a feverish crescendo. I could hear where it was coming from, but I couldn’t see anything. Then, a tiny movement under a lattice of nettles caught my eye.
It was a tiny kitten, bravely trying to make its way to me, crying hysterically.
It made no attempt to resist me as I plucked it from the nettles and cradled it inside my jacket, but was shaking and obviously distressed.
I took it back to the farmhouse and rang on the doorbell. A surprisingly cockney accent floated down from an upstairs window.
“Hallo! Um, I just found this kitten!”
“Oh right. Well, don’t worry about it. You can just leave it if you like.”
“Or you can give it to the farmer up the road and he’ll drown it.”
“Are its eyes open?” I looked down into my jacket and saw a beady eye looking up at me.
“Yes” I said.
“Oh, well, it’s probably too late for drowning then.”
I wanted to say ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND but instead I sort of apologetically mumbled something about how I’m such a Townie and I didn’t think I wanted to do that...
“Oh, what, you want to keep it?”
“Well, um... Could I trouble you for a saucer of milk or something?”
“Yes, alright, course you can keep it. Hang on.”
A couple of minutes later, Barbara opened the door with a saucer of milk and some roast chicken. The little cat seemed vaguely interested in the milk, but obviously hadn’t been weaned and didn’t know how to drink it. But it was going crazy for the chicken, so I overcame my pathetic vegetarian squeamishness and broke up some little morsels for it. It could only manage the tiniest fragments, having a mouth about the size of a 5p coin, if that.
And so when my parents got back, I had to say “Mum, Dad... there’s something I have to tell you.”
They looked after the kitten while I frantically drove to Llandrindod Wells and bought cat milk, kitten food, cat litter, and, optimistically, a lot of kitchen roll and all-purpose cleaner. The kind lady behind the checkout got me a cardboard tray from the back to use for litter.
I bought little cartons of apple juice, hoping I could use the attached straws as a little dropper to feed it with.
I was a bit worried about that.
Getting back though, my fears were allayed as the kitten managed a half-lapping, half-drowning technique that finally got some fluid into its shaking frame.
And so to bed. The first half of the night was spent with the kitten in a padded cardboard box beside the bed with my hand trailing into it, until neither of us could bear it anymore. We spent the second half with me lying on my back and the kitten lying on my shoulder, its muzzle jammed into my ear, purring like a Triumph motorbike.
This little cat is phenomenal. After some more milk for breakfast, I set up the coca-cola litter tray, and plonked her (I think it’s a her) in it. After a bit of scratching about, she did a little pee like she’d read the textbook.
I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a kitten less than a month old to a coffee shop before. I recommend it, if you’re in Rhayader, particularly if you like talking to people. The punk waitress with piercings and blonde dreadlocks fussed over her, as did the little old ladies.
I told them I wanted a nice Welsh name for her. “Cariad” suggested one little old lady. “Darling”. I did quite like that.
We went on to Devil’s Bridge for lunch, and the little cat slept on inside my jacket. The three of us, possibly the four of us, were a little tired and emotional. So when a man called Ian Honeyman sat down at the piano and played Le Tombeau de Couperin by Ravel, a piece my parents introduced me to and I have always loved, the three of us burst into an appalling display of middle-class tears. They flowed again when a three-generation Welsh family came in and began singing Land of my Fathers and Danny Boy.
My parents urged me to sing a song I wrote called Sanctuary (hear it here), and I steadfastly refused. It would have been appropriate. I wrote it about 8 years ago when I was living in Washington DC, and was longing to see Cwmystwyth, just a few miles down the road, and where the kitten had peed on mum an hour earlier.
The kitten effected introductions for us in the Hotel dining room and Louisa, a proud grandmother who had led her grandsons in a medley of Welsh lullabyes...
...eventually suggested a name for the kitten:
Blodyn. It means Flower. Blod for short. I love it.
And so we are growing together. It’s going to be a hell of an adjustment, and a bumpy road, but it is glorious. She likes biting and licking my nose. On the first day she could barely walk and couldn’t feed (which serves to make me realise just what a huge effort her struggle in the barn had been). On day two she tried her first pounce and ate solid food. On day three she did her first poo (yes, in her tray), and ran, briefly. Today she is climbing and jumping. She still has crazy eyes, although her depth of vision increases every day. Her development is exponential. I am such a proud father.
After a huge drive to South East London, we’re back, and the introductions between her and my other two cats haven’t been as disastrous as they might.
Which leads me to my conclusion. I am one man, now living with three cats. There’s a big difference between the mental images created by the phrase “Cat Woman” (Halle Berry) and “Cat Lady” (shouty old woman in a grubby smock). And sitting here in jeans covered in cat milk and kitten food jelly, I realise I am now firmly in the latter part of the Venn diagram. I have three cats. I am a Crazy Person.
I couldn’t be happier.
What's that, you say? You want some more pictures?
GO ON THEN: