Friday, March 02, 2007

Horror’s Story

She was grandly named Horatia, after a determined character from a Georgette Heyer novel, with strongly marked eyebrows. This little black and white kitten quickly left grandness behind her and became known as Horry. Very soon though her antics landed her with the nickname Horror and that stuck.

We already had one kitten in the family, acquired, so we told ourselves, to rid the studio of the mice by which we were plagued. This tabby kitten, from a secure South London terraced house has his story told here. He strongly disapproved of a younger sibling being introduced to keep him company and from his one month older position of strength used to leap on top of her from a chair and flatten her à la Garfield. Horry had no notion of cowering into a corner though. She stood her ground, this scrawny little black scrap with big bat ears. We put her upstairs to give her time to settle in, which was our bedroom accessed via a ladder and trapdoor. The next thing we knew she came flying through the trapdoor, splat onto the concrete studio floor. Slightly winded but none the worse she let us know she was tough enough for this and had no intention of being sidelined.

Later we found out that the address we had gone to, in answer to an advert in Loot (London’s free ads newspaper) for a black kitten, was in one of North London’s roughest housing estates. She had evidently inherited a determined survivor streak from her parents. Cats anyway are naturally aristocratic, secure in their knowledge of having been worshipped in Ancinet Egypt, they transcend background.

She grew into her ears and her rightful place as queen of the studio. Roaming the tin rooves at night, she would call in at our skylight demanding entrance at three in the morning, hang out at the local pub, catch all our mice and play with them in the yard. Furious after a visit to the vets she would freeze us out, not allowing a purr if we stroked her, denying us her brrp brrp of greeting, until a few days later we would be forgiven.

She flew to South Africa when we moved here, emerging from her box after a 24 hour journey tail-up, purring, learned to keep the boistrous border collies in order with a sweep of her paw and has reclaimed her tin roof wandering in a rural setting with a look-out post high on a roof amoung bourganvillea blossoms

I’m telling her story now, because it seems like she is on her way out. We’ve been to the vets twice this week, her back legs have got very weak and they were going to X-ray today, but already her front legs are getting weaker, which means it is not an injury or arthritis but something more systemic. There are various untreatable viruses and diseases they could test for, but we have decided just to bring her home to be comfortable for however long she still has. She is still eating and purring, her eyes are still bright, she just can’t jump any more and walking is getting to be an effort. If she seems to be in any pain we’ll take her on a final journey to the vet, but for now we’ll just remember to stroke her lots and tell her how much we’ve enjoyued having her in the family.


  1. Horror is a beautiful girl, I am so sad for her illness. I lost my little Peanut not long ago, she also was tough and stood her ground. They are precious to us and we will never forget them.

  2. She is a beauty! It's always sad to say goodbye. But they must know how much they are loved, don't they? She is loved.

  3. Aww! I enjoyed reading this, and all the more so because I know there's a happy ending -- a three-year reprieve. And what a character your Horror is.

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, Mary! She is still a character - if she were in the Warrior Cats book series, she would perfectly fit the grumpy elder role!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!