This morning we left our three sleeping cats to go and see the international cat show at Les Griottons in Cluny. We’d seen the cats arriving yesterday morning, some from Switzerland and Holland. Uncomplaining, they were wheeled in by the trolleyload.
Swiss cat enthusiast’s car
I thought then that they couldn’t be proper cats. Ours howl like souls in torment just going to the vet’s. And today we saw the hall full of cats, mostly huge and fluffy and all asleep except for those hauled out of their cages to be presented to the judges. The owners hold them so they are stretched out as long as possible.
poked and prodded, and tested for their playfulness
The judge in the above photo was from Belarus and he gave his verdicts in English. Goodness knows if the owners ever understood that their cats had a wonderful coat or nice bone structure.
What makes me think that these show cats were just realistic automatons was that they accepted their treatment without demur. They didn’t seem to mind being handed around and examined, or bothered about strangers peering in at them. Sometimes there were even three cats in one cage.
Back at home we find our real cats still sleeping, each in their separate rooms. Mother, our adopted ‘wildcat’ insists that ‘the kittens’, now aged 5, should leave home. Benedict wants to be pally with Smudge but Smudge doesn’t want anything to do with him. I woke up this morning to find them fighting under the bed. Mother would rather die than learn to use a catflap. If the doorbell rings or there are voices outside there is mass exodus so I’m not sure that any of our friends even believe we have cats. They will not be picked up or brushed. Mother will put up with a couple of strokes before you are in danger of losing your fingers.
Anyway, even if they are not sociable nor biddable our three are tough and streetwise. I’m not sure I would choose to have a cat who would do what I wanted. Anyway you don’t choose your cats, they choose you.
That’s 35 in human terms but to us they are still ’the kittens’. Their mother was a stray cat barely a year old. She was starving and the only thing I had to give her was a tin of best tuna. She wouldn’t come in the house but had her four kittens in the nearby stable. We boxed up the kittens and brought them home. She followed and has been here ever since.
The kittens at 6 days old
A life of leisure for Mother
Sadly we lost two of the kittens on All Saints Day 2012 so now we just have Benedict and Smudge.
Benedict doing what he does best, eating
Both cats spend their nights out hunting but unfortunately like to share their catch with us. We often have mice running around under the bed in the early hours.
I would like to come back as a cat. Eating, sleeping and hunting. What a wonderful life!
Chris BBQs some chicken
Our ‘kittens’ are now two years old. It’s been a hot day, about 30°, so they have been sleeping in the shade, only emerging this evening for our first barbeque of the year.
We lost two kittens on All Saints’ Day last November so we now have just the three cats, Benedict and Smudge, and their mother, White Cat. Mother, who was barely one year old when she had the kittens, is the most playful of the three.
Mother climbing the peach tree
Benedict watches her....
and decides to have a go too
while Smuge prefers to roll around on the garden
Calling our cat Benedict was like calling a tall chap Shorty. Would he have grown more angelic if we had called him Lucifer?
Benedict as a kitten
The kittens were born in the pitch black in our neighbours’ tackroom. Soon afterwards I went in with a torch and the first thing I saw was a white cross, luminous in the dark. As I am not of a religious disposition Varanges did not become a shrine for pilgrimage, but we did call the kitten with the cross Benedict, after the Pope.
It seemed a suitable name as Benedict was always the leader of the gang. But he was also the naughtiest, the only one to try and scavenge leftovers if we were slow to clear away after a meal.
His name caused no end of confusion as he is male and Bendict becomes Benoît in French. Bénédicte is a girls name. Our lovely lady vet Bénédicte says he is called after her. (We did manage to get reduced rates once but only because all five were there at the same time!).
Since Pope Benedict resigned last week I have realised just how unpopular a name it is. Apparently the most infamous traitor in the US was called Benedict Arnold. He swopped sides during the War of Independence and his name is synonymous with betrayal, like Judas. But, as Benjamin Franklin commented, “Judas sold one man, Arnold three millions”.
Benedict at breakfast this morning
So besides the Pope there are no glamourous role models for our Benedict. He continues to be the troublemaker in our normally peaceful existence. Shouting his usual name Oy!Benedict! has no effect; the only deterrent from his errant ways is the occasional spray of water. But he is probably our most interesting cat.