Although I am mostly associated with dogs, dog showing and grooming dogs, I am also a cat lover and my pet, when I was first married was indeed a cat. I had a beautiful, pure white kitten, unimaginatively named Kitty. Sadly she was run over and I was inconsolable and didn't have the heart to own another pet for a long time.
It wasn't until we were living in Skelton, in North Yorkshire,that we unexpectedly came to be owned by another feline ! ( Because, as all cat-lovers know, its the cat that is the master and we are the humble servants.) I heard that someone up the road had a litter of unwanted kittens that were going to be put to sleep. This distressed me and so I went to talk to the people and managed to stay their hand and raise the kittens for a couple of weeks while I found homes for the poor little scraps. Of course, I always jump in at the deep end but managed, using a combination of persuasion and good old fashioned emotional blackmail , to secure good homes for all. And, naturally, one of the homes I found was........... yes, you've guessed it !!!
This little bundle of ginger fluff came into our lives one bright Spring day. He tiptoed around the house on stiff little legs, tail straight up in the air, spikey hair on end, the way cats do when they are unsure and trying to look brave, and promptly peed on my husband's newspaper !
My son, who was only 4 yrs old at the time, thought the kitten looked like a little ginger teddy bear and so the name Paddington was chosen. That soon became Paddy and a legend was born.
And what a 'legend' he was ! Paddy was the most adorable, loving cat with the most 'laid back' attitude. Even as a kitten he was never one to sit when he could lounge or run when he could stroll, he slotted into family life as if he had always been there.
He accompanied me where ever I went and even began to follow me when I walked to the nearby shops. He used to sit outside each store and wait while I made my purchases and then walk back home with me, often jumping up onto a garden wall and strolling along beside me, mewing conversationally every now and then. I would answer him and so it went, back and forth, both of us having a good old gossip until we reached home. I have often wondered if all my animals are daft before they come to me , or if I make them that way !!
We often visited my family in Hampshire and , of course, Paddy was never left behind in a cattery, oh no, he was a seasoned traveller. The car would be loaded up with luggage and my son ensconced in the back seat with his toys and books, then Paddy would hop in, get under the driver's seat and curl up, fast asleep throughout the whole journey often having to be woken when we reached our destination.
He grew into a very handsome boy with 'Persian cat' features and a huge, thick, long amber coat. He was very 'un-cat like' as he loved to be brushed and combed! And he soon became well know , both round about our neighbourhood and in the South of England too .
In 1976 my husbands job necessitated a move to Southern parts and we found a house in Droxford in Hampshire. Of course Paddy came too and soon settled into his new home. He enjoyed the rural setting and became a little more adventurous, although certainly not more energetic, nor more intelligent !
He liked to sit on the bedroom windowsill and watch the birds fly about in the trees. He even made a few abortive leaps, in a half-hearted sort of way, to see if he could swat one. On one occasion he leapt a little too enthusiastically, the window was open and he fell to earth with a mighty thud. I rushed to check he was OK, but he just sort of picked himself up, shook himself, looked puzzled, as though to say,
" How the hell did I get down here ?"
then strolled back into the house, totally unharmed.
We never experienced the 'pleasure' of little gifts of dead rodents as many cat owners do, that would have meant that he would have had to exert himself and actually stay awake for more than a few minutes. In fact he didn't seem to know that he should hunt anything, he viewed my son's hamster and goldfish with complete indifference.
One Autumn, a field mouse found its way into the house and ran past a sleeping Paddy. We prodded him, to wake him up and even lifted him up and and placed him 2 feet away from the mouse, who was sitting in a corner washing its whiskers. We hoped Paddy would persuade the little thing that being outside was a much better idea. Paddy just sat and stared at it and then looked up at me as though to say,
" What the heck do you want me to do about it?"
Then lay down. Well, the poor mouse must have been a 'death or glory' sort of guy and made a dash for it, running straight at Paddy, under him and out the door. Dear Paddy spent almost 10 minutes looking around, behind, and under himself, wondering where the heck it had gone, then yawned and lay down again and went back to sleep.......... it was all just too much excitement !!
Paddy was a well loved and cherished member of our family and spent a long and happy life with us. Unfortunately, no photos of him have survived our many house moves , but his unique personality ensures that he lives on in our hearts and inspired us to rescue other cats and kittens, two of which were also named Paddy, in his memory