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The Great Tree Challenge

13 Dec

Rafa is still spending the night in our room so that our other cats are free to go in and out of the cat flap as they have always been used to. At bedtime he runs up the stairs and lies on the pillow until we climb in. Unlike the torties, he loves to be petted and stroked, just as Jaffa did. He usually sleeps in any available hollow on top of the duvet or at the foot of the bed. Very quiet, he doesn’t disturb us during the night but in the morning he likes to wake us with a soft tickle from his whiskers as he gently rubs them against our cheeks. Then he crawls under the duvet for a morning cuddle.

However, as soon as we are up and about, Rafa turns into a demon, dashing about the house and leaping up and over furniture as if he’s practising for the Cat Grand National. He has solved the mystery of the cat flap at last and now he entertains himself by zooming in and out repeatedly, relishing the sound of the flap clattering behind him as he streaks through. We are wary of letting him roam out of sight and have been keeping a close watch on him. We certainly don’t want him going out in the evenings while he’s still so young and hasn’t learned the layout of our garden or where the hazards are. The heartbreak of losing Jaffa is still very present.

But with all our caution, it seems we can’t prevent the inevitable tree climbing catastrophe (no pun intended). It’s just a pity Rafa chose one of the tallest trees in the garden for his first climb. And like every other young cat in the universe he discovered going up was much easier than coming down. And so continued to climb. At first we just had no idea where he’d gone. An hour of frantic searching followed. We called and called but there was no response. We looked around all the garden, checking trees and outbuildings, the barn and stables. Nothing! We stared in trepidation at the pond and even waded in, hearts pounding, to search the water in case he’d fallen in.

At last we were relieved to hear a faint mew coming from above. Following the sound we tracked him down to a very tall and bushy conifer.

No chance at all of seeing him there as we realised he must have climbed right up the centre. There was nothing for it but to fetch ladders and saws to start cutting away the heavily fronded branches, starting at the bottom and gradually clearing the trunk so that a ladder could be fitted against it. Two hours later we found a single ladder was nowhere near long enough. Rafa must have climbed even higher as the mewing was coming from a long way up.

Another hour and we were still hacking branches, with no sign of our kitty – only the mewing had now ripened into a loud wailing.

Finally enough branches had been removed to allow for an extension. Two fifteen foot ladders were fixed together and a very gallant ascent was embarked on by the master. By this time it was almost dark. We were flashing torches through the branches, hoping to catch a glimpse of a whiskery face. It was nearly the limit of the ladder’s reach before a movement several feet above revealed a scared ginger kitten peeping out of the dense foliage.

Rafa was eventually coaxed within reach and once grabbed, clung on with all the strength his claws could muster.

Left to his own devices, would he have eventually got down by himself? The fire brigade insists that cats always find a way down when they get hungry enough. But could we have left our little chap out by himself in the cold and dark? Of course we couldn’t.

Was Rafa traumatised by the experience though? Not a bit of it. Despite all the wailing and the worried face on the descent, as soon as he was back in the house he wriggled free and shot straight out of the cat door again. That has been closed off again now so he must be getting a headache trying to butt it open with his head. Sorry, no more unsupervised exploring just yet, Rafa. Our hearts can’t stand it!


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.

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!

Cat Olympics

11 Mar

Jaffa has been testing out his nine lives again with spectacular vertical leaps.DSCN0658We have been storing some of our old kitchen furniture in the front room while waiting for a buyer to collect it. Jaffa has been using the position of the Welsh Dresser to gain access to a new place – the top of an antique display cupboard.DSCN0651He jumps vertically onto the top of the dresser and moves across to the cupbard. He settles down into the well at the top of the cupboard where he could hide for days as it’s impossible to see him lying down.
(Of course he wouldn’t stay there for days – too keen to sink his face into the chow whenever it is served up!)DSCN0659From here he can also make a calculated leap up onto the gallery, getting his trajectory just right between the railings (but not to be encouraged)DSCN0667And now, having learned these tricks, even with the Dresser gone, he has managed to climb the side of the antique cupboard using his claws to scramble up the wood and the glass front. (Even less to be encouraged – that furniture is valuable!)




Poppy Bride

19 Feb

Pippin has been staying with us for a few days. Her owner forgot to leave her coat when she was dropped off but she is so skinny that when we tried one of Poppy’s coats on her, we could have wrapped the belly strap round her twice – we had to fasten it with duck tape.

Yet Pippin races about happily and rarely finishes her bowl of food, so she’s obviously not hungry. She’s a naturally skinny little whippet and we’re just used to Poppy’s well-upholstered frame.

DSCN0646After their walk, the noise of drilling and hammering from the kitchen fitters is continuing and both dogs take refuge in the conservatory, where for once it is warm from the welcome winter sun.

Poppy dives under the cover on the sofa. This makes good ear-muffs. Pippin is fascinated by the white veil. Is that you in there, Poppy?


Cats and Chaos

7 Feb

It’s chaos here – the kitchen has been stripped out ready for refurbishing and our furry beasts are bewildered. Where is the feeding station? And the chairs and sofas and beds put out for their every comfort?DSCN0629There’s dust and disorder and drilling from dawn till dusk. and now the cat flap has been sealed off to stop the cats from coming in to walk onto the smoothing compound laid ready for tiling.

No wonder that Jaffa has been spotted, suitcase in paws, marching down the drive!DSCN0616And now, to add insult to injury, another guest dog has arrived to stay for the weekend. Yet more disruption to their lives.

Poppy looks resigned. She knows that Fern will bound about, crash into her with rugby style tackles as they race round the paddock, and steal all her toys from her basket in the house. Best just to stay here, keeping her place on the sofa in the living room.DSCN0613Jaffa and Zanzi scoot under the furniture. This is all too much! And to make matters worse, it’s raining outside – again!DSCN0599Treacle is not bothered. She can see Fern off any time she likes. And from up here she can survey any marauding dogs with her usual disdain.

One week of chaos survived – only another three to go before the pet palace will be ready for use again!