A little Cat Tale...

 In our churchyard there has been a little black and white cat for a while. It dawned on us gradually that she lives there. She is incredibly friendly and has obviously been loved and well-cared for at some point. There are many stories surrounding her..the most persistent is that she belonged to someone in a nearby house who left her when they moved. I don't know if this is true or not, but she certainly is loved by many. Her name is Milly and she is petted regularly by the various characters who pass through the churchyard each day - some just stroke her briefly and some stop and commune at length. Many bring her food and leave it on paper plates or even paper bags in spots that she frequents.

I noticed that she slept curled in a sheltered spot, a corner of the church by one of the ancient back doors. This is her 'special place' - but it's all stone, with no comfort for a little cat.

We started to have some really harsh weather a few weeks ago - regular temperatures of around -8c at night (incredibly cold for the South East), biting winds and snow...and it occurred to me that she wouldn't survive long with no shelter. She doesn't like confinement..she sometimes wanders into houses with open doors but panics if the door is closed. We can't have a cat currently (Miss Alice firmly agrees with THAT!) and she isn't ours anyway. But I couldn't leave her out in the open, at the mercy of the cold and the elements. I have owned many cats in my life and one thing they have all shared is a love of warm spots!

So I went to our local pet superstore and bought a pyramid bed. Of course, it's designed for indoors..but it has a deep soft washable cushion and it's enclosed on all sides. I also bought a fake fur 'lap blanket' for added warmth and a proper cat bowl (just a cheap plastic one) together with some nutritious food because living in the cold she would need lots of energy. I lined it with natural wool insulation under the cushion as protection from the cold stone. And placed it partially inside a folded down black plastic sack to keep it as dry as possible. Then I took it, with the filled bowl, to her 'place'...

and here it is, in situ. She loved it from the very first minute and has made it her retreat and her nest. I am so happy! She is used to living outdoors so is more acclimatised to the cold than an indoor cat would be. But we have had some bitter nights and days. So  a few days later I bought some very small hot water bottles, well insulated with fleecy fabric...

...as you can see, they are barely bigger than my hand. So during the extremely cold weather she has a hot water bottle, wrapped in the fake fur blanket, tucked into her bed at twilight - and on very bleak days, a replacement first thing in the morning. Food twice a day. Freedom still to come and go and live her life. I feel happy that we can do that for her. 
You can just about see her here - she's almost camouflaged, but her little white moustache just shows! Full disclaimer: I actually went back and bought a second, identical bed. So that if one gets wet or too grubby (which happened in the snow) I can swap them and wash the bedding. Certain neighbours think we're mad (Paul can often be seen padding to the bed early in the morning, full bowl in hand!) But on nights like this one, when I can hear the bitter wind whipping through the still-bare trees, I am certain that we sleep more soundly for knowing that a little cat lies, barely more than twenty steps from our door, in warmth and comfort.... xx

Comments

  1. Thank goodness for people like you!
    Mary

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    1. Thank you - it's not difficult, she is such a sweetie! I've just taken her breakfast out to her!

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  2. Oh my goodness, that is the sweetest story; it truly touched my heart. You and your husband are very kind people indeed. Thank you for sharing; you may inspire others to look around and do what they can for those in need, both people and animals.

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    1. I hope so Kathy - it just takes a bit of thought sometimes. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story!

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  3. Thank you , dear Rachel for watching out for Millie. I am touched by your heart for this dear little one. xoxo ♥

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  4. That is such a sweet story---I have always put food out for kitty friends who come by; I do feel for the little animals left about...this is extremely sweet though- a little bed; a little hot water bottle. You're a dear; such a dear. xx Joann in CO

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  5. You are a true kindred spirit. :-)

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  6. Dear Rachel, What a sweet thing to do, but I would expect no less. You are far from mad! You are caring for one of God's creatures as we are supposed to do! To a lesser degree I have felt that same satisfaction in feeding our birds . . . and a squirrel or two! . . . this winter. God bless you! I know the little cat does!! Love, Jane xoxo

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  7. Dear Rachel,
    I have thought of you recently with all the news of Prince Harry's future wedding. He should invite you just for being so kind!
    I LOVE this story of your sweet care of this kitty, we need more lovely people like you and your husband in the world. xx

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  8. Thank you for doing this Rachel and for sharing with us.
    You and your husband are kind, wonderful people.
    Hugs, Betty

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  9. You have brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes. Thank you for watching over this little one, and for sharing a very good idea that others may like to try.

    Sharon in Alabama, USA

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  10. This is such a sweet story! As a cat lover and owner of a tuxedo cat, I really enjoyed it.

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  11. Such kindness is its own reward. It is so easy for many to pass by those precious ones, but when you take the time to give love and comfort, it is wonderful and Christ-like. Thank you for what you do.

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  12. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing and doing what you are.
    xx oo
    Carla

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  13. This is a lovely story and your kindness of heart is so endearing ... Love and empathy of living creatures is so important to humanity and it’s very existence on our planet ...I would like to share this lovely story , if you don’t mind.... Thank You for posting it....Happy Easter and BLESS YOU

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    1. Hello Zaa, thanks for your lovely comment - I really agree with you. Kindness breeds kindness, it doesn't matter where it's directed! Please do share with whoever you like x

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  14. Ahhh Rachel how wonderful. You did the right thing. I would also say get some sort of base that would lift the cat’s retreat off the ground. Air beneath it will provide warmth. I know someone who puts Styrofoam coolers out as a warm shelter, and they do have the kind of shelters for pets that are waterproof made out of some kind of plastic like an igloo sort of. It’s so nice that you’re taking care of that sweet little girl. We got our Dolly because she was a stray and then she had babies and you know the rest of the story. I’m so glad you’re looking out for her. You might want to take her to a vet and make sure she’s neutered so there are no babies but she would have to recover for a while because it’s a big surgery for a girl cat. Any time you can bring someone comfort, you end up gaining at least as much as you give, so blessings all around.

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    1. Thanks for the lovely comment Nancy x She is a clever girl and her chosen spot is right next to the wall that houses the church boiler, so it's always warm! We're pretty certain she's neutered as she's been around for a couple of years now and no babies. She did have a limp a month or so ago which worried me - I made an appointment with our vet and borrowed a cat basket to take her. But she absolutely freaked and wouldn't go in the basket at all, two of us tried quite a few times and she got so distressed we thought that it was probably best to leave her (she was starting to avoid all humans!!) I had a chat with the vet who said it could be rheumatism and a warm dry bed could cure it. We keep an eye on her all the time, and the limp has disappeared so she may have been right! She has food for senior cats - even if she's under 7, we figured she could do with the extra calories and vitamins! If she ever gets really sick I'll make sure get her seen though x

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