I was drawn very quickly to a black cat sat high up in one of the pens. Eyes wide like an owl, I couldn't stop staring. When I asked if I could have a closer look, I was told I wouldn't get anywhere near him, but I was welcome to try.
I admit I didn't get very close to him, but close enough to feel he wasn't being nasty when he hissed and recoiled, he was just frightened. I did look in the other pens, but I think my decision had already been made.
A week later I sat in the back of my friends car with a cat basket on my knee. I talked softly to the wide eyed animal all the way home.
When I opened the door of the basket in the safety of my home, I was in for a shock. The first thing I saw was a deformed paw creeping tentatively through the open door and it was closely followed by a second. At the time I remember panicking a bit, did it mean there was something really wrong with him? Had I let myself in for more than I realised? I'd never really seen his feet and the sanctuary had not mentioned it at all.
On closer inspection I could see that he only had one foot that looked normal. His front paws had missing toes and one back foot looked like someone had stamped on it.
|This is actually one of his back feet|
He no longer hissed, but he was still very frightened. He ran quickly into the bathroom and wedged himself in behind the toilet.
His name was Sooty but, to me, he looked like a George and that's what I called him. I did have to ask my Dad's permission first though, who happens to also be a George. Once I'd got over the initial shock of his deformaties I felt even more protective of this little animal. I would love him regardless, he was even more special.
George spent a lot of the first few weeks hiding, only coming out to eat and use his litter tray when we weren't about. There was one time when I couldn't find him anywhere. I was starting to panic that maybe he'd somehow got out of the house. Taking another sweep upstairs I spotted something odd about the pillows on my bed. One side was slightly higher than the other. Closer inspection revealed a little black cat curled up inside the pillow case, but not on top of the pillow, he was actually underneath it. That has to be the best hiding place any of my cats has ever found (definitely beats Abbie at the bottom of a pop up laundry basket)
The defining moment happened in the middle of the night. I was gently awoken by movement at the side of me. Reaching out my hand I felt soft warm fur. George snuggled down close to me and went to sleep. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.
A trip to the Vet confirmed that his feet were the only abnormality. It's likely that his parents were a little too closely related...
George saw as many changes as Lister. When the children and I moved out into a rented house, he couldn't come with us. It was a long year without him. I did visit him when I had the chance, but that just upset me more. Once I bought another house I moved George straight in. He adapted well to the new surroundings and it was great having him with us again. Then he got a new Daddy and they bonded well. As Andy worked from home, George sat on his knee. They too became firm friends.
Another year passed and another house move. George has never lost his nervousness, but he is so loving and very vocal.
He likes to sleep between me and Andy under the covers. He's the only cat I've ever been able to actually hold in my arms and go to sleep with, like a real live teddy bear.
He was an only cat for quite a while, until that naughty kitten turned up....