In late July 2014, we got a call from Andy’s son living in London saying he was worried about a cat that had recently been seen in and around their student house. “Hog-ribs” (as they called her) was a skinny black female who found her way into the house through left open windows and was soon feeding on a range of student fayre, including pizza and kebabs. She crept though whatever window was open and had been generally making herself at home.
Unfortunately, the time had come for the students to leave the property hence the concern. It was not a surprise to anyone (who knows me) when I suggested that he bring the cat home. (Though I did suggest knocking on doors up and down road just in case she belonged to anyone)
So, a tiny, scrawny black cat arrived at our house on a Sunday morning in the summer of 2014. She was in a bad mood on arrival and sat on the couch growling. I gave her some cat food which she devoured and left her to settle in. We tried to think of a name, and Cleo was considered, but Buffy (the vampire slayer) seemed to suit her.
Day 2 and I thought it would be a good idea to introduce her to my two Burmese. They are friendly cats that I have had since my friend emigrated to Australia and left me with them. Dennis and Lili are pedigree Burmese who can trace their lines back through 5 generations and are both related to the IAMS cat. They are well mannered and wouldn’t dream of biting and scratching.
I took Lili to the room that Buffy was sitting in and chaos ensued. There was snarling, growling, biting, hissing and general mayhem as we tried to separate them. I have never seen anything like it, either before or since. The evidence is forever noted on a Facebook video which Buffy still laughs about now…
When Andy came home from work that evening and I had 2 cats corralled in one part of the house and Buffy in the the other, he suggested the idea of “The Wall of Friendship.” The Wall was a lattice wood portable door mishmash of pieces of bedpost, not unlike the barricades in Les Miserables. We put it up in the kitchen. The idea was that the cats could see each other, but not hurt each other. Some expert on the internet told me this was what was necessary to get them used to each other, but he also warned with foreboding that it could take up to 6 months for resident cats to accept a new member of the household. 6 months?
FOUR YEARS later and though the wall is long gone, relations have not improved very much. The cats have sorted out their own system of house dividing; The lounge, kitchen and conservatory are mainly Burmese domain, whilst Buffy has the run of our bedroom and my office.
After she had been with us a couple of weeks, I took her to the vet who pronounced her a healthy 18 month old cat and we booked her in to be spayed. She was taken in and sedated but having made the incision it was realised she had already been done! Apparently you can’t tell from the outside, so the poor mite had to wear the collar to stop her biting her stitches for an operation which she didn’t need. Poor Buffin!
I’m not sure she has ever forgiven us. Or the vet.
It was about six months later I got a reminder from the vet saying that she needed to get her first flu jab. I think Buffy remembered because although it was smiles on all sides as the vet invited us into the little surgery, the smiles had gone 10 minutes later. Buffy didn’t like the vet at ALL, and had jumped off the table and barricaded herself behind a plant in the corner where she was swiping with lethal claws anyone who came within range. The vet looked a bit harassed, “Is she usually this bad?” she said. I replied I didn’t know as she was still relatively new to us. Reinforcements arrived in the shape of another vet and 2 nurses. When they gave her back to me 15 minutes later everyone looked relieved and about 10 years older. Later that evening, Andy took this picture of her:
Butter would not melt.
….So that was four years ago. Buffy has not been to the vet since and I have no intention of taking her unless I absolutely have to. She still doesn’t get on with Denis or Lili – she either ignores them, or, if they have done something to irritate her, charges them, which results in a lot of hissing and bad language, though rarely are claws drawn.
I absolutely adore her. I can’t get across to you how much I love this cat and I don’t know what I would do without her now. Perhaps it’s because she had a tough start and the image of her having to scavenge in bins to eat breaks my heart. Perhaps it’s because when she is in a good mood, she is the friendliest most loving cat ever. She and I have cuddles and the purring is deafening. There is certainly something special about taking on a stray and making her part of your family.
I’ve already said I’m just a small lottery win away from starting my own cat sanctuary, and if all the rescues were like Buffy, I would be happy indeed.