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Try, try again

11 Dec

Rafa has been with us for 8 weeks today and has grown from this tiny bundle:

to this:
Stretched out his legs can now span Poppy’s bed (he doesn’t bother with his own smaller bed – much more fun to take over the dog’s). But long as those legs are already, they are not yet strong enough to let him leap to the heights he aspires to.

When Treacle and Zanzi want to get out of the way of guest dogs who call, or just want a bit of undisturbed peace, they find refuge at the top of our kitchen cupboards. They have started to take refuge there from Rafa too!

How did she get up there? Rafa is desperate to join Treacle.

He tries to climb the cupboards, makes a few futile leaps and springs ever higher. But it’s nowhere high enough. Wailing in frustration, he tries again, bouncing off the doors and crashing down in an untidy heap on the worktop. Once or twice he careers right to the floor, incorporating an impressive backward somersault or two.

Not at all deterred, he clambers straight back onto the worktop via a conveniently placed sofa and looks for another route. Is there a way up through the tiny gap at the back?

You’ll just have to wait till those legs grow a bit stronger, Rafa.

Meanwhile Treacle continues to stare down at him. Menacing? Patronising? Smug? Perhaps a bit of all these. When he does manage to leap high enough, we suspect an angry paw swipe may send him reeling back down before he’s even made contact with the top.

At least Poppy still likes his company. He’s safe with her.


Brave New World

9 Dec

It’s a sunny day today and Rafa is venturing out for the first time. It’s much later than any of our other cats went outside as kittens but they were all born in the early summer and our garden is full of hazards: dozens of tall trees, a pond, fountains and all sorts of other things that could prove dangerous for a young boy whose ambitions exceed his current agility. All three of our previous kittens climbed too far up trees and had to be rescued. The trees have grown even taller now and I’m not sure we have ladders long enough to reach a too adventurous kitten.

Our garden is a huge and bewildering prospect for a kitten who has never seen the outside of a house before. At first he is wary and keeps close to the house, fluffing out his tail against any possible predators. Then he darts out a little further but keeps running into the bushes to hide.

Eventually he gains courage and explores further, stepping onto grass for the first time and investigating the rockery.

Poppy is very solicitous and watches him continually, getting worried every time he disappears to somewhere she can’t see him.

Our other two cats turn up to watch too, though I’m not sure they are being solicitous. Zanzi sits imperiously in the middle of the fountain watching his progress. Would that be to rescue him if he fell in, we wonder (though of course that’s no longer possible since we covered the top with strong wire mesh). Or is she planning to hold the annoying little imposter’s head under water?

Now Rafa’s had his first taste of freedom, he’ll be wanting to be out in that big new world all the time. Many more heart-stopping moments to come, we’re sure!



The Great Cat Flap Mystery

7 Dec

Rafa is still determined to play with Zanzi and Treacle and is not at all phased by their total disregard for him. It’s interesting they should only tolerate his company when they are feeding (even though they would probably be fighting for food in the wild). Rafa moves in close to watch. But as soon as they have finished eating, they usually go straight back outside away from his bothersome chasing and pouncing.

And there lies the mystery!

Where have they gone? One minute they are there, then there’s a rattle, a disappearing tail, and … nothing.

He peers under the sofa where he last saw them run but it looks like just a blank wall. Then he checks out his playhouse. No cats in here.

Where can they have gone?
He so much wanted to play.

Not long now, Rafa, not long till you can go out too!


The Tinsel Thief

4 Dec

The start of Christmas preparations. Anticipating lively interference from our new kitty, we thought it best to shut him in the kitchen while we decorated the tree. For the next ten minutes we endured a pitiful wailing that increased in volume the longer he was kept away from us and whatever he was missing out on. Eventually, unable to ignore his cries any longer, we opened the door.

And so the mission began – to strip that tree naked! First Rafa batted at the baubles, jumping up into branches and managing to dislodge enough of them for him to chase under every piece of available furniture. Then he grabbed the tinsel and tugged it free before giving it a good thrashing with his back legs and setting off with it at a gallop through the house, in and out of doors, up and down the stairs, long streams of tinsel streaking out behind him like the tail of a comet.

Well what did we expect!

Finally, exhausted from all this amazing fun, he flopped back down with his friend Poppy, leaving a trail of glittering debris. And what could be more fun for us than dressing the tree all over again!


Not Jaffa, but Rafa

1 Dec


It’s nearly three years now since Jaffa disappeared one evening and didn’t come home. We have never found out what happened to him.

But a few weeks ago we were contacted by someone who had a cat from the same litter as Treacle (Jaffa’s mother) and who had given birth to 6 kittens, including 2 gingers. So we went to see them straight away and a week later we collected another gorgeous little ginger boy.

He is called Rafa (like Rafa Nadal, the tennis player) – near enough to his cousin without being the same. There will only ever be one Jaffa. And now there’ll only be one Rafa. He looks very like Jaffa but of course he has his own personality. He’s very affectionate and also bold and  very, very naughty! He has his own adventure playground with cardboard houses, climbing frames and plenty of toys but he desperately wants to play with our other cats. He has been tormenting Treacle and Zanzibar (Jaffa’s sister), always chasing and pouncing on them. They are not impressed and there have been quite a few fisticuffs. Coming from a litter with lots of siblings he probably can’t understand why they don’t want to join in with his games.

Zanzi has started to thaw a bit now though and we’ve even caught them rubbing noses and whiskers although she will give him a smack with at least one paw when he gets too cheeky. But Treacle still hates him and hisses, spits and growls like a tiger whenever he gets near to her. It doesn’t put him off though – he still keeps pursuing her and it’s Treacle who flees and looks for a safe place to hide. Rafa is not allowed outside yet. All that new world to explore!

Poppy is wonderful with him though and incredibly tolerant, given that he leaps on her, dive-bombs her when she’s trying to sleep, even using his needle-sharp claws to climb her delicate back legs and tries to chew her ears and tail. Poppy sometimes looks at us as if to say ‘How long do I have to put up with this?’ but of our three pets, she is the one who engages with him most, play-biting and letting him roll about under her tummy. She is even letting him share her bed. She really is a dream dog – perfect Poppy!


Still Missing

30 Mar

JaffaDay 17 and there is still no sign of Jaffa. It’s hard not to despair. Our other pets sense something is wrong too.

DSCN0699Poppy and Pippin have been helping us to scour the woods. But where amongst the thousands of trees do we stop looking?

DSCN0690Zanzi has been walking around the top of our wall where she has a panoramic view of the garden and all the surrounding fields. Where is her brother?

DSCN0685In the house she jumps to the top of the new kitchen units – is he up here perhaps?

DSCN0693And now Mother has joined her in the search.

Jaffa and Zanzi

The not knowing is agony. We have run out of options to check and now feel so helpless

There is a howl in our hearts.



Jaffa Gone

21 Mar

Jaffa has been missing for 8 days now. We have scoured the woods and fields, gone house to house asking people to check sheds and garages, put up countless posters, advertised through Cats Protection and Facebook. Still no news.

JaffaIt’s so unlike our comfort-loving little ginger chap to leave behind his favourite places to lie in the sun and the supply of Dreamies on demand.

Jaffa snoozingWhy would a cat leave behind a garden full of trees to climb, stables to hunt in and endless places to explore, in order to go off, rucksack slung over his shoulder, to seek new adventures?

JaffaWe are wondering if he might have climbed into a vehicle and then jumped out, to find himself in unfamiliar territory. Is he now out there somewhere – a little boy lost, alone, frightened and hungry?


A message from all: Poppy, Treacle, Zanzi and (especially) us – We miss you terribly.

So Jaffa, if you are reading this:   PLEASE COME HOME!