Hi Sue. Thanks for the welcome. Sharing nights with cats. LOL. Six in the summer can be a nightmare! But in the winter six hot cat bottles a welcome addition to cold nights. The cat garden I paid a fencing firm to do. I could never have made it properly cat safe myself. It seemed expensive. But ten years later is just as good. Below is a photo of Thierry with my moggy Grace. I have hopefully included Gracie's story as an attachment as well.
An error occurred and I am unable to attach Gracie's story. So have copied and now pasting it.
When I saw the picture of Grace and the write up about her in the July 2005 edition of Your Cat magazine, I knew I had to have her. The magazine had been out for a couple of weeks, so my chances of her still needing a home were slim. I didn’t need another cat anyway. I would be stupid to try to introduce an adult cat to my gang. They were gentle cats; this cat might be a monster. I was not going to travel across the other side of the country just to fetch a tortie moggy that needed a safe home. Was I mad? I had said after I had travelled five hundred and seventy miles to fetch my rescue Siamese, I would never attempt it again. Hadn’t I spent most of that journey lost, or crying, or both. No, I would close the magazine and forget about her. But I knew I had to have her. The moment I had looked into her honey coloured eyes I knew I was lost.
She was at the cats protection in Sussex. I was in Somerset. Well I had retrieved Solly the Siamese from Lincolnshire, Sussex surely would be a doddle after that. I had to ring up about her of course.They didn’t know what I was talking about. I couldn’t believe it. I rang the number given in the magazine and they had never heard of Grace. She was the cat with a broken back that needed a safe home with an enclosed garden. They must know what I was talking about. I could give her a safe quiet home. They must know. But they didn’t. They had never heard of my Grace. They didn’t deal with any publicity. I was shell shocked. They agreed to look on their records stored on the computer. They had many cats and didn’t know them all individually. They had a Grace. My heart rose. But this was a ten year old with a wonky hip. Did I want her? I didn’t like to say no. Was I totally mad? Oh what had I agreed to. They would ring me back.
Thank goodness they didn’t. I didn’t want any old cat. I wanted Grace, my Grace in the magazine. I knew she would fit in, I knew she was right. But it wasn’t to be. She had gone.
I started to look at other cats. I needed to rescue someone. I needed to look after someone that had suffered. I wanted to give them a life that was free from all suffering. A life where love, warmth, food and safety were the norm. One week later I was ready to ring up about a three legged moggy and his wild mate that couldn’t be homed. I had the number ready to ring, it was a toss up between these two, and a couple of Siamese brothers at the R.S.P.C.A. Which should I pick? Then the phone rang. It was the Cats Protection in Sussex. Was I still interested in homing a cat. “Yes” I said. Though I meant no. But perhaps this poor old cat would be alright with my lot. Perhaps it would work out alright. But they were telling me they thought this wonky hipped old cat might be the one in the magazine, and that she might not be as old as ten. My heart lept skywards. Could it be her? They thought it might be. They would send pictures of her. I didn’t care, I wanted this old cat now whoever she was. I would arrange a home visit from the local Cats Protection for the required home visit so as I could go and get this poor old cat.
The home visit was arranged for the Monday. Then the following day I could go and pick up the cat. Just before the lady allocated the home visit arrived, the pictures came through on my email box. Tears ran down my face as I looked at them. It was my Grace. My Grace from the magazine. I would recognise those honey eyes anywhere. I was so excited as I let the lady from the cats protection in. Luckily her excitement matched mine and she rang the Sussex cats protection branch before she left to let them know the home visit went well. Just before five next morning I set off.
And the journey was equally as awful as the one to Lincolnshire. Lost in every town, Couldn’t find my way out. Crying and being pathetic. But I did it, I fetched my Grace home.
I had managed to get a bit more history on her. In the magazine article it had said she was three, and had suffered a broken back, probably from a car accident. I found out that she had come down from Rochdale in the hope of being able to re home her in the south, as they had been unable to up there. She had been reported as a stray with a broken leg, living in someone’s garden. Despite her disability, it took two weeks to trap her. When they x-rayed her they found it wasn’t a broken leg, but a broken back that had healed. There was a bit missing, and a ridge of bone had grown over to join the two vertebrae. It was not known how long she was in Rochdale before being posted down south. When she arrived, Sussex re x-rayed her. The x-ray was sent to a specialist who said surgery would not help. She then for some reason developed gangrene in her tail. They don’t know why, the back was an injury that had healed, it wasn’t connected. All they could do was to remove the tail. She was then put on Metacam, and declared as fit as she ever would be. She could be on Metacam for life if need be. And that was her life history. All I would ever know about my Gracie’s past.
I had asked that they make sure she was alright with other cats. They had tried her and said she was. They had let her out with a couple of other cats roaming around. But that was very different to sharing a home with others in close proximity. I put the basket with her in, in the kitchen. I have four cats, three Devon Rexes, and my Solly, the Siamese rescue. One by one they sniffed at the basket containing Grace. There was no spitting, or hissing by either parties. So far so good. Then I fed the cats. As they were feeding I popped Grace amonst them. They looked at her. “Where did that come from, did it fall out of the sky?” She sniffed at the food and walked off. They resumed their feeding. Grace then went feral. She returned to the life she had led before being trapped. I couldn’t get near her. She went up to my open loft and if I tried to get near her she would creep along the beams out of reach. I live in a barn conversion, so there is no ceiling in the bedroom, just an open loft accessed by an open staircase, and beams. I had to leave food, water, and a litter tray for her in the loft, and leave her to it for fear of making her fall off the beams if I pursued her.
I try to keep my cats as natural, near to as nature intended as possible. Part of this means natural feeding. In the wild cats eat meat. So after a lot of research, a year ago I changed my cats over to a raw diet. As Grace had only been used to canned the months she had been in the shelters, I had got her in lots of cans and packets she might like to eat. The second day of her hiding I put a little raw chicken with her canned. When I went to retrieve the dish, the canned was eaten, the raw left. Next meal both canned, and raw were gone. Next meal raw was eaten, canned left. The next meal I put out just raw rabbit. She came down to the kitchen and asked for more. Grace had given up being feral. Being domesticated was more lucrative. I gave her more rabbit, and she ate it with the others as if she had always been there. “Had it really fallen from the sky?” They would give her puzzled looks, but as she appeared to be no threat, they accepted her.
I had already contacted a classical trained homeopathic vet I had successfully used for my rescue Siamese. I didn’t want to use the Metacam unless I had to. There were too many possible side affects for my liking. Also I wanted to start her on an exercise routine to try to strengthen her little wobbly back legs. She fell over very easily as her back right leg would just give way. She didn’t appear in pain, just didn’t have the control to be able to turn or jump very well without losing control of her backend.
In the meantime there were other issues that needed attention. Again homeopathy stepped in to help. Grace had decided that as she had never had anything of her own, she was now going to make sure she held onto this new found wealth. She started to guard things. First it was my shoes. Any cat that went near them she flew at with lethal intent. Then she turned her attention to the toys. No one under the threat of death was allowed near them. Then it was the water bowl, followed by the food bowls, and finally the door. Yes the door into the little enclosed garden. I had started letting Grace out. She didn’t want to go out. She didn’t want to lose the nice cottage with all the nice things in. But she didn’t want anyone else to have the garden. So she would guard the door. No one was allowed out, and if they got out, they were not allowed back in.
The guarding didn’t last long. With the help of homeopathy, and a lot of love, she soon worked out that the toys food and garden etc didn’t go away. She didn’t have to guard them to keep them. They were all hers anyway. Forever. With the help of a homeopathic vet, and exercise, she is nearly as agile as the others now. The Metacam went in the bin as soon as I read up on the possible side affects. She can’t jump very high, so I have to dot stools around the place so as she can climb onto windowsills etc. Other than that she leads a normal life. When we are all snuggled up on the couch together, I sometimes think of the time when she was dragging herself around that garden facing all weathers. How did she eat, how did she survive? I kiss her little head and tell her she is safe. Never again will she know hunger, cold or pain. My amazing little Grace. I bless the day I saw that picture of her in the magazine, and knew she had to be mine.