Pets, Their Stories And Their Owners
I never saw it before; before I had a cat, but people with pets, dress in an extra layer of vulnerability. I see it now in other pet owners – it’s like acquiring a sixth sense and then suddenly, your vision is altered forever – the world as you knew it, no longer exists.
A woman came into the shop recently with her partner. They were deliberating over some cat food, concerned about their cat’s sudden weight loss. BoBo was in the car, in his cat box, and like any proud parent, they were keen to show him off – “would you like to see him?” The question felt wholly unnecessary.
He was this glorious Ginger-Tom, with a beautiful face –adorable and inquisitive – but had obviously been a bigger boy at some point. His parents were worried – and with a sense of loss that seemed to shroud his next question, asked if I’d ever had an ill pet before.
I haven’t. MyBoy is my first pet. I sometimes torture myself with the thought of him not being around and my heart genuinely, genuinely aches – but he’s well and (I hope) happy… Previously, if I was home and my cat was out and about, an unexpected knock on the door would leave me feeling almost paralysed – terrified of receiving my life wrapped in a blanket (I’m managing this much better recently).
This couple made an impact on me. They were only in for a few minutes, but I felt ‘altered’ somehow, albeit slightly. And then it got me thinking – how does that happen? People enter and leave your life constantly, and yet, there are some people who leave an impression, despite only being in your world, for seconds.
Of course, BoBo made an impression on me, but so did his owners. In fact, I think I took to them even before he was ‘revealed.’ I guess the length of time you’ve known someone doesn’t always bear any resemblance on the impact they may have. An unprovoked negative interaction with someone, for example, can leave you reeling for hours, sometimes days afterwards.
There are so many people that come into the shop who wear their pet vulnerabilities so visibly. Some of the most amazing stories are shared – and I sometimes feel like a teacher again, at Parents’ Evening, listening to a parent; vulnerability unashamedly exposed.
Sometimes it’s their stories that make the impact. Cats born and rescued in garages and at the bottom of gardens. Four kittens left in a box, outside an animal shelter. There are the two friends who got a couple of kittens for their friend who suffered from depression, as a possible cure. An 8kg cat who belonged to a parent with dementia, who kept forgetting she’d fed her (the cat is now living with her daughter and now weighs a healthier 5kg). A story of a cat-mum who lost two cats over the space of a few days due to deliberate poisoning with de-icer which genuinely broke a local cat community on Facebook. And a kitten thrown out of a moving car(!) rescued and now thriving.
And then there’s a cat-mum who has done nothing short of breathing new life back into her cat. Her cat suffered a blood clot and lost the mobility in his back legs. Following weeks of acupuncture, hydrotherapy, physio, red/amber light therapy and a determination of Herculean proportions, nursed him back to jumping on beds and going for walks. You read of mothers lifting cars to save their baby; in my head, her rescue-effort is the same (a second blood clot claimed his life recently, but their story is one I’ll embrace for years).
One woman came in who worked as a cat-rescuer and had three cats of her own before taking on a fourth. His story was that he’d been rescued from a home where his owner had died. The cat was stuck in the house with his dead owner for several days and, trapped and starved, began eating away at the flesh of his human. She mentioned how the other rescuers often teased her with “ooh, he’s had a taste for flesh – he may go for you in your sleep.” And she laughed, almost flippantly – as if she hadn’t said anything in the least bit disturbing.
And sometimes it’s the owners who come in and make an impact – whether they’re regulars or have just come in to share your world, temporarily – like BoBo’s parents, visibly vulnerable. And then they go, leaving their mark. Too many to mention here – but, independent of their pets – there’s a level of connection that fills up the FurCats’ metaphorical Positive Energy Box and it lingers in the shop for a while.
But sometimes, (often), it’s the pets that make the most impact. They clamber into your heart sowing seeds of vulnerability that can grow to become all consuming – monopolising your thoughts. Of course, I have a catshop so it stands to reason that I’ve had cat visitors; Jiva and Osho, Chucky, Kiri, Winnie, Paola and of course, BoBo, who prompted this post. (Although I’ve definitely had more dog visitors – cats obviously travel differently to dogs).
There was a point when I had a number of regular dog visitors and immediately I was smitten (I share a shop floor with the hairdressers and following a couple of complaints from some of the clients, this has been curbed. Now I have a few clandestine – much shorter – dog visits)! You instinctively care for them beyond them being in the shop and there’s this whole unconditional-love going on.
I well up at the thought of one of the elderly dogs, rescued from a breeder, being poorly. Or the dog rescued from a kill-shelter in Romania who loves the Lucky Cat in the window and stops, I like to think, to wave back. Or the shy dogs, or the ones who are just a little bit terrified, or the exuberant ones, or the dogs in charge of the leads. Or my friend’s two rescued ex-racer-greyhounds; one more mischievous than the other who just wants to be cuddled. Or the huge pit-bull-staffy cross, who comes bounding to the shop door, waiting for me to let him in and openly reciprocates my unconditional love (check out his GoFundMe page).
And then there’s Tiny. I’ve mentioned before, that my shop is next door to Tiny’s Tipple – named after the Jack Russell, who ironically was not a fan of cats. FurCats opened on the 1st July last year and on the 2nd day, Ed, his owner, left Tiny with me, as he needed to nip home. He was the first pet who came to my catshop – and he made an impression on me instantly.
He had an almighty bark for a little dog – but only when he was outside. I never heard him bark in the shop. I’d try and think of an excuse to go in to see him – and he always seemed so gentle – that bark must have belonged to another dog!
Tiny died on Thursday (11/10/18) after a short battle with cancer. I’d sensed something had happened as Ed came in – cloaked in vulnerability, raw and aching. It’s always the pets who make the biggest impression.
Your name will live on Tiny – thank you for being the first in my shop. You will be so very missed and your impact has been left on so many of us. Good night.