“What greater gift than the love of a cat?” ~ Charles Dickens

After a pretty dreadful week, the Berrow family very sadly had to say goodbye to a grand old lady today. My parents’ cat Minnie very sadly passed away this morning. She was put to sleep very peacefully by our lovely vet, after rapidly deteriorating over the last week or so from – we presume – cancer. She was very nearly 17 years old (84 in cat years), and I was just 10 when we first brought her home as a runty little kitten with a stubby tail. She led such a good happy life, full of love and comfort, and I will sorely miss her squashed-in, cute little face of fluff. So. Much. Fluff.

Rest in peace, my beautiful badass babushka; you will be sorely missed ♥

Minnie Mouse

Minnie Mouse
27 July 1999 ~ 28 June 2016

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Kittens, Cake, Cats and Tea

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 22.50.38On Friday 27th May, I hosted a tea party for my friends and family in aid of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. The idea was that I would provide drinks, snacks and entertainment, whilst my guests made a small donation upon arrival. Relying heavily upon The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree for recipes, I was able to clobber together a collection of delicious foods such as: camembert, walnut and cranberry puff parcels; Earl Grey truffle cakes; a salad ‘cemetery’; Sunshine Punch; and two tea-based cocktails called Rosie Lee (rosehip, vodka) and Gunfire (English breakfast, rum). Some of my guests also brought along a selection of home-made cupcakes, to the point that I was so inundated with cake once the party was over that I was able to hold a bake-sale at work on the Tuesday.

My target was to raise at least £150, but I’m pleased to report that together we managed to absolutely smash this target by a whopping 173%, bringing in a total of £260 (plus £62.50 in Gift Aid) for the 8,000 dogs and cats that pass through Battersea’s gates every year! To give you some idea of how much money that is, £260 equates to:

  • 6 cat scratching posts
  • 2 microchips
  • Shelter for 1 abandoned animal
  • Beds, bowls, toys and treats for 5 dogs

Those who have followed me for a while will know that I also volunteer on a weekly basis at Cats Protection, and I did not waste the opportunity to raise some money here too. In addition to the money generated for Battersea, I also sold 17 Cats Protection raffle tickets at £1 each – and bought 5 of my own – totalling £22 (plus £5.50 in Gift Aid) for Cats Protection.

Final total: £350

Thank You - Angel Adoree

Speaking of Cats Protection, after 8 months of volunteering and a near-miss late last year, I finally caved and adopted a little rescue kitten of my very own. His name is Edgar, named after the 19th century horror writer, Edgar Allan Poe.

img_6837
Edgar and Edgar; an uncanny resemblance.

Born on Easter Sunday earlier this year, he is a domestic medium hair, mostly white with black patches, and a complete and utter fluff monster. His hobbies include following my other cat Petra around the house adoringly, carrying his little pink mouse from room to room, secretly disconnecting my internet, digging up jade plants and knocking over full glasses of Cava. In fact, even as I write this blog post, he is making life very difficult by attempting to chase the cursor on my screen and by walking all over my keyboard. He has already accidentally opened Spotify, muted the sound, and turned the brightness way down. Cheers, Edgar, you adorable little beast!

That’s all for now. As always, I am several blog posts behind, but I’m hoping to write some more gig reviews and writing updates soon… If you wish to be overloaded with kitten pictures and updates on how the little monster is doing, be sure to follow my Twitter or Instagram, both of which are updated on a fairly regular basis.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

 


Reserved for the EdgarAre you thinking of buying a kitten, or do you have space in your life for a little furry friend? Please consider adopting from your local shelter! Remember that when you adopt rather than buy, you save not only the cat you adopt, but also the cat that takes its place ♥

If you are feeling generous and would also like to donate despite a lack of tea, cake and cat cuddles, please visit my Just Giving page:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Berrows-Battertea-Party

You can find out more about the event here; Perhaps you will feel inspired to try it yourself next year:

https://www.battersea.org.uk/support-us/events/tea-party-2016-0

Lastly, Edgar’s mum (lucky enough to be adopted by a lovely man named Paul) is on Twitter! Follow her @PoppyTuxedo

Christmassy Calamities

ReindeerContrary to the vast majority of my friends and family (K.F. Goodacre being a major exception), I actually bloody love Christmas. I love the decorations, the cold weather, the food, the lights, the films, the TV, not having to work… Though it may only be 22 November, I’ve been suckered in by the commercialism of it all. In fact I felt so gosh darned Christmassy on Saturday – probably because they switched on the Christmas lights in my local high street and set up Santa’s Grotto with real life reindeer (pictured) – I actually gave in and put up my Christmas tree… in November. It even has a present beneath it already! I also dressed up Jack Skellington in his Sandy Claws outfit, and stuck snowflakes on my window.

Christmas TreeToo early, I hear you say. Well tough! Since doing so I’ve begun to feel really excited about the Christmas holidays and I feel all warm and bubbly inside. I feel like it’s what’s going to get me through the remainder of a quite frankly exhausting year. I have lots to look forward to: Nightwish, going away with my boyfriend, spending time with his family on Christmas Day (mine shall be abandoning me for a Caribbean Cruise)… Due to the fact I’m house-poor at the moment I’ve warned everyone that I’m only going to be buying my boyfriend presents this year, but I’m really looking forward to giving him those!

Mog's Christmas CalamityI even popped into Sainsburys and bought myself a copy of Mog’s Christmas Calamity by Judith Kerr, specially written for Sainsburys in partnership with Harper Collins Childrens Books, the profits of which will go towards Save The Children and improving child literacy across the UK.

I used to read a lot of Mog’s adventures when I was young, and I was so excited when I learned of this initiative. Reading and cats – two of my favourite things! And all for a good cause.

You can watch the short film version of the advert (which you may or may not have seen on the tele) narrated by Emma Thompson below. It’s absolutely wonderful and easily my favourite Christmas advert so far this year! I’m just sad they ran out of Mog toys, because I would have bought one of those too.

Speaking of cats and good causes, do you need any wrapping paper? Are you planning on sending out any Christmas cards? If so, please consider purchasing some from the Cats Protection Christmas Shop here. Every penny goes back into helping the cats make it through the winter and New Year.

Cats Protection Christmas Shop

Hope you all had a lovely weekend, and that the week ahead of you is a pleasant one.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

 

“The smallest feline is a masterpiece.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

If I may please take a moment to talk about something close to my heart.

WARNING: What I’m about to talk about is very sad, and involves neglected animals and animal death.

Earlier this year I made the decision to do some volunteering for Cats Protection. I do donate on a regular basis and always spare a couple of pouches of cat food for the donations box at my local supermarket whenever I go beast-food shopping for my cat Petra. However, I was feeling a little bit disillusioned with life in general and wanted to do something to make it worthwhile, so I volunteered to be a socialiser for Cats Protection. This is basically where you turn up at your local cat shelter and cuddle, play with, and generally be around the cats and kittens. They spend a lot of their time alone in their pens whilst they’re in the shelter and some are not used to humans (for example strays, mistreated cats, feral kittens etc.) It’s good for them to be paid some attention and given some love whilst waiting to be taken away to their forever-home.

I had barely been volunteering for two weeks before the saddest kitten I have ever seen turned up in the shelter. HIs name was Lewis.

Little Lewis

Lewis was abandoned by his mother when he was weeny, and so he’d been hand-reared up until the point he arrived in my local shelter. He’d been placed in a pen with a bunch of other kittens and their mum in the hopes that he’d learn socialising skills and be taken in. Because he was hand-reared and so tiny, he didn’t know how to wash himself, and so he smelled very bad and was covered in his own faeces.

I’ll never forget the first time I spotted him huddled and terrified in a collapsed cat tunnel, keeping out of the way and staying quiet. I hadn’t even noticed he was there until the owner of the shelter pointed him out to me, and I’d been in the pen for about half an hour by that time. I scooped him out and he was so shivery and smelly. Once the lady left, I couldn’t stop myself from crying, I was so upset. I stroked him gently and hugged him against my chest. I tried to encourage the other kittens to get used to his scent (which was pungent, because he was so dirty) by stroking them both and putting little Lewis next to them whilst they were asleep. All he wanted to do was cuddle up and get warm, and he kept trying to suckle (much to the kittens’ annoyance); he just wanted the mum he never had.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 22.59.01I was so shaken by the whole experience that the next day when I went out for a meal with my boyfriend, I burst into tears in public just talking to him about it. I even resolved – with some emotional support from my boyfriend – that I would take little Lewis in myself when he eventually went up for adoption. I wanted to rename him Fitz, after FitzChivalry Farseer from Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice; the scruffy dirty stable boy that nobody wanted. I was hoping things would be OK. I was hoping that when I arrived the following week, Lewis would be clean and frolicking around with the other kittens.

When I turned up, I was told that the other kittens had bullied Lewis so much that he had had to be taken indoors, also because it was cold and he had no other bodies to snuggle up with. I wasn’t allowed to see him because socialisers aren’t allowed in the house, but was assured that he’d been given a bath and was clean. He kept defecating in his bedding and urinating on the sofas, but nevertheless I still held out hope.

That was about a month ago now.

When I arrived at the shelter today, I was told that Lewis was dead.

He died earlier this morning. The lady at the shelter told me that he was due to be put to sleep anyway; he wouldn’t stop soiling himself and the vet said he wasn’t getting any better. There was nothing they could do. He had something majorly wrong with his insides (they’re not sure what) but they think that was why his mother abandoned him; she knew that there was no hope. The lady at the shelter said she let him out of his pen everyday and gave him lots of cuddles and playtime. He died warm and safe, and if he was suffering, he isn’t anymore. Cats Protection did everything they could.

This evening when I got in, I had cereal for dinner, watched an episode of The Muppets and consumed half my weight in chocolate biscuits. Lewis has been my first Cats Protection heartbreak, but I know he’s not going to be the last. And the truth is, as upsetting as this whole episode has been for me, I know in my heart of hearts that there is no one better than myself to give these cats and kittens the love, understanding and affection that they need during their time at the shelter.

Lewis was a hopeless case, but there are just so many cats in shelters who by all logical reason shouldn’t be there. Perfectly healthy, beautifully clean and gorgeously affectionate, more and more come in everyday. The saddest thing? About 95% of the cats I’ve helped to socialise have all been either fully black, or black and white.

27 October is National Black Cat Day. On average it takes 13% longer for a black cat to find a home than any other coloured cat. There are a number of reasons for this, from superstitions about them being unlucky to them not taking as nice pictures (yes, really!).

National Black Cat Day

So please spare a thought today for all the cats in Cats Protection shelters, whether they be abandoned dirty sick little kittens like Lewis, gorgeous healthy black and white strays like Luna here, or the long-overlooked black cats as Hallowe’en approaches. Are you thinking of buying a kitten, or do you have space in your life for a little furry friend? Please consider adopting from your local shelter. It doesn’t even have to be Cats Protection, and remember that when you adopt rather than buy, you save not only the life of the cat you adopt, but also the life of the cat that takes its place.

Thanks for letting me ramble. Take care,

S.E. Berrow


Cats Protection