Thursday, 25 November 2010

Paws for Thought

"Time spent with cats is never wasted

Sigmund Freud

My faith in human beings has been restored. It doesn’t take much. In this world of horror where we hear so much about war and cruelty there are stories that would warm the cockles of the coldest heart. My story is about the Sunny Harbour Cat and Kitten Rescue.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I absolutely love cats. It was no coincidence that when I was writing my first novel "Bree McCready and the Half Heart Locket" I wrote the character Agora Burton, a whacky old lady who shares her life with lots of cats and clocks. It wasn’t difficult for me to conjure her up. In fact I reckon she’s me in around 50 years time.

Here’s an extract from the chapter entitled "Cats and Clocks" –

"At the end of the gloomy hallway Bree, Sandy and Honey came to a little room filled with cats and clocks, where the old lady poked at a roaring fire, a knobbly hand on her hip to support her decrepit body. A glow surrounded her like a magic circle. Burning logs spat and crackled in protest at being prodded, forcing her to dodge out of the way of floating embers.The room was just like the old woman – small, old-fashioned and eccentric. The walls were covered in paintings of strange landscapes and sepia photographs of rigid people. And there were cats everywhere. They sat on the window sills; were curled up on chairs, and stretched out on the mantelpiece, slowly edging the ornaments forward with their swishing tails until they wobbled precariously at the edge. Bree cleared her throat loudly and the old woman immediately straightened her withering body and smiled across at their gawping faces.
‘Aren’t cats wonderful?’ she smiled. ‘Mysterious, independent and unfathomable.’
Bree nodded but Sandy was unconvinced, the only cat he had ever liked was Bustopher. He looked down at his feet to see that a rather portly, tortoiseshell furball had planted itself beside him and was now licking its paw intently. The cat’s talons were spread out fully to allow a long, sandpaper tongue to lick thoroughly in between each toe. Suddenly sensing Sandy’s stare, the cat promptly stopped licking and glared up at him. Intimidated, he broke eye contact and edged away.
‘The thing I love most about cats,’ continued the old woman, ‘is that they say very little, but they think a great deal.’
She placed the poker against the fireplace and wiped the ash from her hands.

‘There is many a human being who could learn some precious lessons from our feline friends"

When my Mum and I arrived at Sunny Harbour we were welcomed by Paul - the lovely man who runs the shelter with his wife Sarah - and a whole army of gorgeous pussies all vying for our attention. I didn’t know which one to stroke first! Paul took us into a back room and introduced us to some real beauties – Ollie, a sweet boy with a penchant for nibbling fingers (in a nice way!), Daisy, a lovely wee lady who was desperate to get some time away from her three adorable - but demanding - kittens and Simba, a feisty young lad with eyes like saucers filled with mischief! Mum took an instant shine to Daisy who cuddled into her duffle coat like a newborn baby. And I have to admit I could really empathise with wee Daisy's urge to have some time away from her boisterous babes!

Then I saw him. Baby. And it was love at first sight. He was in one of the cages at floor level and easy to miss but when I spotted him I felt that tug in my heart that only comes when something just feels right. He’s a big hunk with the most incredible markings and intelligent eyes. I think I’m in love! Mind you if I could I would take every single one of them home. I have an abundance of love to give, not to mention a sheepskin radiator bed which is crying out for a furry lump to snuggle into it.

I’m returning to Sunny Harbour on Sunday with with a couple of bags of sheets and towels (all donations are welcome) and Junior. I want to see how he and Baby respond to one another and I have my fingers (and toes) crossed that they’ll hit it off. Hopefully this time next week my happy wee family will be complete. I can’t wait.

I simply could not get over the love and quality of care those cats receive from Paul and Sarah, who run the shelter from their lovely home. All the cages were spotless and I could tell that Paul had a heart of gold and would have laid down his life for any one of those moggies. It’s just so heart-warming.

He knew all their individual personalities and quirky mannerisms. You could tell that this was a passion for him. And it would have to be. He works full time on top of caring for the cats that arrive on his doorstep. And there are lots of them. At one point they had 76 poor souls looking for homes. Every single cat receives all the best of food and treatment including microchipping, vaccinations and neutering. The kittens are cared for like newborn babies, fed hourly and all through the night. No cat is ever turned away. Paul and Sarah even bring your chosen cat to your home to ease the settling in period and so that they can check their babies have everything they need in their new surroundings. It’s such a responsible way to do things and it reassures me that every cat that finds their way to Sunny Harbour stands the best chance of finding their happy, forever home.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress with our new addition and post some photos soon. And might I take this opportunity to ask you kindly to think of our innocent, vulnerable friends this Christmas and give a donation to Sunny Harbour. The shelter is run solely off donations from the public and with those hefty vet fees and quality care every single penny matters.

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