Friday, February 12, 2010

A Christmas Present

With the festive season coming up fast its time to drop all talk of recession and other matters gloomy! Children small, and not so small, will not be thinking about the coming budget, but thinking about what they might get for Christmas, especially those who are still small enough to expect a visit from Santa. One of these presents, very often requested, comes in the shape of a small lively kitten that from day one demands your constant attention. The following tale concerns one such animal. We didn’t get him for Christmas and he wasn’t a present: he was more or less a rescue operation. I first wrote briefly about him twelve years ago and how he became one of us, a very small bundle of yellow fur deserted by his mother Sitting in a doorway in the yard he was yowling his head off letting all and sundry know that he was cold, hungry, and deserted. The Missus introduced him to a saucer of milk, which he dispatched with gusto then settled down for a sleep.
Perhaps at this stage I should explain as to how we chose his name. When picking a name for a pet we have always tried to pick one that corresponds to some world event, that way it’s easy to remember their age. Hurricane Floyd had raged across the southern States at the time we got Tyson, so Floyd was the first choice though we didn’t like it much. As a small kitten he spent a lot of his time on my shoulder if I was at the computer. He would sleep there for ages then wake up and start playing with my ear lobe; then one day he bit it, hence the name Tyson after the boxer. Tyson Floyd seemed to run smoothly, so we settled on that!
We had another house pet at the time, a Jack Russell called Scud, and it was obvious that introductions would have to be done with great care for Jack Russell’s are snappy little animals and don’t take prisoners if annoyed, especially by nosy little kittens, so I cobbled up a wire door on a tea chest, put in a piece of blanket plus scratch tray and feed dish, and it became Tyson’s abode. He took to it like a duck to water and when it became time to leave the door open he would retire into it for a sleep, which was often. Scud usually slept in an armchair! They quickly became acquainted and when Tyson was big enough to jump into a chair he usually chose the one that Scud occupied. There they would curl up together until the next feed time! It was an unusual acquaintanceship to say the least.
Scud reached the ripe old age of seventeen before he passed on to his happy hunting ground: Tyson was now on his own. All cats and dogs in their wild state are pack animals and so it is with domesticated ones, and if they cannot hook up with their own kind they’ll settle for the next best thing, humans. It was at this stage that Tyson became family; in short, he adopted us on his terms. He would have nothing to do with the cats in the yard, treating them with utter distain and contempt. Independent creatures that they are he laid down the ground rules, but nevertheless we always thought of him as a programmed creature, or put another way he followed a routine. When we got up he got up, same at bedtime, and he followed us everywhere. If the Missus was gardening he sat nearby watching her every move. When very small she made a pouch for him, popped him in it, and slung it round her neck. From time to time he would take a peek just checking on his whereabouts. If I was doing something in the workshop he hopped up on the workbench and watched proceedings, except when operating the angle grinder or welder. As a young animal he had a passion for tree climbing. Like all cats he was adept at climbing, but coming down was a different matter and many’s the time a ladder and me had to come to his rescue. I fitter a cat flap for him in a window and he caught on in double quick time using it at night time when he went hunting. In the small hours we would sometimes hear it go clip clap, and a few seconds later wet whiskers would be pushed into your face seeking the warmth and comfort of a warm bed. Once he brought in a live mouse and let it go on the bed. There was all Hell to pay! He was a timid little cat and hardly ever meowed; if he wanted something such as grub in his dish he just sat beside it and gazed at you hoping you’d get the message. He was not a lap cat, and if picked up would wriggle free and settle on your shoulder, or the back of the chair you sat in; independence personified.
Exactly a year ago was the first signs of trouble; he was finding it difficult to pass urine. We took him to the vet who was very honest and told us that an operation was about 50/50 chance of success. We gave him the go ahead to operate, but as time passed it became clear that the vet was fighting a losing battle, and we were holding on for our own selfish reasons. It was time to think of Tyson and his welfare. Last month we made the big decision and Edward his vet took him out of his misery. He is buried beside his pal Scud, and if perchance there’s a happy hereafter for animals I’ve no doubt they have got together and are making up for lost time!
To conclude, I would appeal to all parents to impress on their kids that all small furry animals be they puppies or kittens will grow into full grown adult animals but nevertheless will require the same care and attention for the duration of their lives. Cats or dogs, if properly cared, for will leave paw prints on our hearts! Jeffers.

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