Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am, and always have been, a dog person. My family has always had dogs, I’ve always had dogs, I can’t go past a dog in the street without saying hello and I’m always planning what kind of dogs I will have in the future when my lifestyle permits it again.
Above: me kayaking with Danny, the first dog who was “mine”, and not just a family dog.
When I lived in Western Australia I couldn’t have a dog, so I fostered them for SAFE (Saving Animals From Euthenasia) until they were adopted. I did get myself a cat though, my first ever cat, called Shakespeare.
Shakespeare was pretty cool as far as cats go and I did love him. However, when I had to give him away because I was moving overseas I wasn’t anywhere near as devastated as I would have been if he’d been a dog. I decided that cats were ok, but I probably wouldn’t bother ever getting one again.
Fast-forward to me living in London and meeting Dennis. Dennis is my Dutch boyfriend (who I now live with in the Netherlands) and Dennis’s family always had cats. He grew up surrounded by cats the way I was surrounded by dogs. Dennis likes dogs, but he is definitely a cat person.
It’s kind of ironic really.
So now I am living with Dennis…and five cats. Yep, five. See, the thing about Dennis is not only does he really, really like cats, but he also can’t say no to an animal in need (a bit like me and one of the reasons I love him) which is partly how he came to have these five very different cats as part of his family. Well they’re part of my family now, and as much as they drive me mad and annoy me and I swear they deliberately try to aggravate me sometimes; they are also quite entertaining and have very distinct personalities.
So let me tell you about ‘our’ cats.
Grim is the oldest of the group and he is the boss (of the cats). He looks a bit like he’s wearing a tuxedo and seems to think that means he must be more refined than the other cats. He’s definitely more polite, he always sits by you and waits patiently for you to notice him if he wants a pat; rather than just barging into your face like Zaphod. He’s also a bit like a dog in that he knows his name and usually comes when he’s called. He also has conversations with you, but he doesn’t have a normal meow it sounds more like “mroa”.
He spends a lot of time sitting on the sub-woofer looking out the window. When he sees birds he makes those funny chattering noises that cats do which sounds pretty funny. If you poke him he immediately says “mroa”! and turns around to see what you want.
If you leave the door a tiny bit ajar when you go to the bathroom then he opens it and comes in to see what you are doing!
He also really likes my dressing-gown. If I leave it lying around anywhere he’s usually sitting in it when I come back.
Looking annoyed because he knows I’m going to make him move off the dressing-gown and my chair!
While he is the boss and the other cats follow his lead (especially Fe’ral) he’s also quite good at putting up with the kittens, especially Zaphod who likes to lie on top of everybody.
Fe’ral is the next oldest and really sees himself as Grim’s right-hand-man. Whenever Grim gets up and goes somewhere Fe’ral immediately follows him and nudges him a lot. Dennis’s old boss found Fe’ral on the side of the road when he was only about three or four weeks old and they think maybe he’d been thrown out of a car. So Dennis adopted him. He also thinks the fall might have done a bit of damage to his brain because Fe’ral doesn’t really always seem to be “all there”. He’s very dopey and clueless, which just makes him cuter.
He’s still smart enough to sit on a bike seat though! I love the little smudges on his face. He quite often picks a spot on the floor and sits there all day, or for days on end, just staring at the floor.
He also likes to sleep on Dennis’s computer chair if Dennis is not around.
He’s very easy-going, and usually just seems confused if you pat him or pick him up! Apparently when Dennis got the kittens Fe’ral also mothered them a bit, letting them suckle on him and licking them. And like all cats, he likes boxes to sit in, although usually only ones on the floor for some reason.
Luna is the next cat Dennis got and she’s the only girl. She’s also VERY timid and hard to get photos of because she was obviously abused by her previous owners. When Dennis’s old cat died he found an online ad for another female cat but when he got there it was obvious that she was terrified of the male owner. So, of course Dennis took her just to get her away from there.
She usually hides from all humans but she is getting better around us, she sometimes comes close and lets you pat her if you’re feeding her but usually if you get too close to her she runs away. The first time I visited Dennis here I didn’t even see her for a week. We don’t know what happened to her before but it must have been bad if after two years of being here she’s still terrified of humans. She gets along with all the other cats though and does seem to be a bit more relaxed around me, maybe because my voice is softer than a man. Sometimes she lets me pat her even when she’s not eating and arches her neck to show she likes it. Sometimes she still runs away though.
Fandango is the brother of Zaphod and they are the two youngest cats, just over a year old now. Dennis’s parents’ cats had kittens and Dennis was going to take one but couldn’t decide which so he got both! Fandango is definitely the quieter brother, and likes to just be near you while you’re on the computer, but isn’t a huge fan of being patted. If we are both in the bedroom he stands up looking through the window and meowing as though he’s so lonely, but as soon as you come out he walks away!
He and Zaphod play together, and sleep curled up together a lot, although usually poor Fandango ends up being Zaphod’s pillow!
Sometimes he gets his own back though;
Zaphod is the weirdest cat I have ever met! He has so much personality and he can be very annoying, but also very adorable and funny.
He meows ALL THE TIME, sometimes little trills and sometimes full-on yowling that makes you think he is trying to sing. If you meow back at him he’ll have a little conversation with you. He’s also very greedy, if there’s food, he wants it. I’ve seen him eat pasta, lettuce and potato peel before and he will shove all the other cats out of the way to get something he wants!
He’s also very affectionate and loves attention. If you’re patting one of the other cats he will rush over and try to get in on the action. You can do almost anything with him, as long as he’s getting pats, he doesn’t care, he just keeps purring.
He also LOVES belly rubs, and will roll around in ecstasy if you give him one!
He loves to sleep in boxes and on top of the other cats (especially his brother) but he also often falls asleep in very odd-looking positions:
Did I mention he was cute?
So there you have it, the craziness of cats that is my life now! Stay tuned for more blog posts next week.
I'm a freelance writer and ex English teacher from Australia currently living in the Netherlands with my Dutch fiancé and our four weird cats. After living in Tasmania and Western Australia I spent a year in London where this blog began. I try to travel around Europe (and the world!) as often as I can, while blogging about the things I do, the sights I see and what it's like to live and work as an expat Aussie in the Netherlands.