Terrible Tabbies: Stephen and Matilda

by tirial

About two rescue cats, acclimating them, and then discovering one is a large, smart cat with opposable thumbs and no common sense. We've had to make a few changes...

Getting Stephen and Matilda

A pair of rescue cats from the Cats Protection League, they've been with us for a couple of years now and have settled in nicely.

That's not to say there weren't teething problems. While Stephen flopped down on his back and demanded stroking, Matilda hid under the bed for the first three days. The real fun came once they settled in, and proceeded to turn our lives upside down.

Adopting a cat

How it worked for us

The adoption process was easier than I thought. We phoned the Cats Protection, told them what we were looking for and they said they would get back to us.

We had a home visit, but it was as much to find out whether we knew how to look after a cat as to check the home out. Both of us had cats before, and were quite surprised to get a call a week later saying they had the perfect cats for us.

We picked up all the supplies, in case the cats did like us:

  • Food
  • Food plates
  • Littertray
  • Spare bag of litter
  • Grooming brush (more on this)
  • Dry kibble (for grazing for shy cats)
  • Catnip mouse (optional but nice)
  • Cat carriers

And arranged a time to go see them with the cat carriers. We'd been told Stephen was a big boy, but didn't realise how large. Luckily I'd bought things for small dogs.

The cats were in a row of cages with attached runs. Most runs had three to four cats in, and then we came to ours, with one LARGE animal looking up. Matilda was hiding inside. The introduction went well - Stephen genuinely loves new people - and we left with two cats. It was that simple.

If you are thinking of adopting a cat, as you can see it isn't that scary.

Matilda - the little one

Shy, affectionate and no common sense

When she arrived with us she was tiny. Once we managed to stop Stephen eating her food however, she soon bulked up and is actually a reasonably large cat in her own right.

She was also incredibly shy when she arrived. She still doesn't take well to guests, but has discovered that she loves to be stroked, and talks all the time.

She also got a feature on Redgage for being cute!

Matilda in Bed

Yes, she's officially cute

Matilda in pictures

Matilda up a tree
She also turned into quite an agile explorer. Unfortunately what goes up often requires help coming down, and the ladder is out frequently.

She sleeps in some very odd positions...
I swear I didn't pose her! Isn't it sweet?

...and can make it hard to get work done
Laps and keyboards, what's not to like?

Stephen - The mewing monster

A giant, friendly, feline

A large cat, at nearly 8 kilos when he arrived with us, he has slimmed down to an exploring weight of between 6 and 7. He really does have opposable thumbs, has been known to shut his sister in cupboards, and is usually the cause of mischief around the house.

He's also, as one neighbour's daughter called him, a giant teddy bear.

A few Stephen photos

Facts and figures? A picture is worth a thousand words

From Nose to Tail
Since I caught him asleep I couldn't resist laying a tape measure out.

Opposable thumbs
Yes, he really does have opposable thumbs - both of them, on each foot. The cause of much mischief in the household.

Cupboards and laundry, and Stephen

If you can't open one cupboard, open the other

Tabby shoes

Since I couldn't make mittens out of him, I settled for a shoe...

Cats Protection League - adopt a cat?

About the Cats Protection League, the national feline rescue charity

The Cats' Protection League
"Our vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs" The leading charity for cats in the UK, Cats Protection need your support.

Adopting an older cat

Rescuing adult moggies

When we looked into adopting a cat, we were unpleasantly surprised by what counted as an older cat. Any cat over the age of five is apparently an older cat, and adopters are less interested. Cats can live well into their teens and I know more than a few over twenty.

Here's a few reasons to adopt an older cat

  • Already housebroken
  • Have a formed personality - you can work out the ground rules between you*
  • More intelligent than a kitten

(*No, cat owners do not make they rules. They may try...)

And finally, for cats over a certain age, some charities will pay vet and medical bills for life.

I'll give you two more: Stephen and Matilda. We asked for older cats, thinking we'd get twelve to fourteen year olds. Instead we got a pair of seven year old tabbies with (hopefully) most of their lives ahead of them. Sedate, quiet, no personality? Hardly.

Stephen's a big boy

A big boy

More about rescuing a cats by other authors

Articles by other Wizzley authors

A few US/UK differences in cat treatment

Cat ownership in the US and UK is very different.

There are a few differences between cat ownership and adoption in the UK and US I should point out.

In the US, cats are often not allowed out. In the UK, one of the adoption criteria is living on a quiet road with a garden to introduce the cat to the outdoors. If you don't have this, it won't prevent you adopting but it does restrict what cats will be adopted to you.

In the US, declawing is allowed. In the UK it is deemed inhumane, borderline illegal, and only performed for the cat's benefit (e.g. misformed claws).

One reason may be the lack of large predators in the UK compared to the US, as well as encouraging barn cats and viewing roaming cats as pest control. Our nearby farmer was always delighted to see the local cats by the hayloft or feed store.

Support Cats Protection

A range of books and Christmas gifts by the charity
Paws and Claws: Anthology of Cat Poetry

Hutchinson Children's Books Ltd  / $5.95  $5.94
Bumble the Brave Kitten

Macmillan Children's Books  / $7.13  $3.9
Caring for Your Cat

This comprehensive guide is full of expert advice and helpful tips about many aspects of looking after a cat. It also includes insigts into cat behaviour.

HarperCollins UK  / $10.48  $4.55
Updated: 11/14/2011, tirial
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missyzane on 09/26/2013

I really enjoyed reading this. Lucky cats! And I much prefer the adoption criteria in the UK to ours in the US. My rescue will not adopt to strictly indoor homes, and that makes us very different from most others.

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