*Purring Angels, the book for cat-lovers
Cats are wonderful. We can learn so much from them. They show us how to love ourselves and how to look after ourselves. How to live in the present and most importantly…they teach us how to be happy, even if the circumstances are far from purrrfect. Their love, warmth, humour and loyalty sooner or later make you want to write a book about them.
That's how our first book came into being, ‘Miracles on little feet’. Ernest Hemingway said: ‘One cat just leads to another’ and that’s certainly true. Also true is that one book can lead to another. 'It’s only logical,' Puddie told his friends, 'that 'Miracles on Little Feet', would have a sequel! Why, shouldn't Daimke, Catje and Chummy also have their own book?' So ‘Purring Rascals’ was born.
I always had a close and special contact with animals. They were not just playmates, they were my most important teachers. They taught me the real meaning of friendship, unconditional love and loyalty. They paid attention to me, they worried about me. They taught me the real value of life. Their love was and is Love with a capital L. My dearest wish was to have a cat. This dream only came true twelve years ago when Puddie came into my life, my beautiful grey half-Siamese forever-cat! Two years later Luckje joined us, a born wanderer who clearly was 'sent' to support me in one of the most difficult periods in my life. When his mission was accomplished he suddenly left, no doubt to comfort another person in need. I still miss him terribly. Then Donsje, who was found in a wheat field, came to us and Mickje soon followed. Sick and starving, she was thrown over the fence into the garden.
One dream leads to another. I wanted to translate at least one book. I chose ‘Purring Rascals’, but also I wanted to put some wonderful stories from ‘Miracles on little feet’ into ‘Purring Angels’, the new book. It starts with the arrival of Daimke, who, only a few hours old, was taken with her siblings to Maria of the Poezenbel-foundation. In spite of this hard beginning, Maria, with love and dedication nursed Daimke into a beautiful and cute cat. When Daimke came to live with us, she asked me if she could bring her bosom-friend Catje, of course I wholeheartedly said yes, I loved the cute little kitty already. Catje is so special, she plays the piano with style and is a real clown. Then there is Chummy, my dear big British Shorthaired tomcat. He is a real British 'gentleman' who never spits. Tommeke, my ‘wild’ Belgian Forest Cat joined us later. He is incredible and he loves to be cuddled now.
How did Puddy, Donsje and Micky react to their new friends? What did my kitties think of the spacious run I had installed for them? And the nice tunnel? Oh, the fun they had! And what about Donsje, who won a first prize in a contest and became a star on television! How Catje startled us when all of a sudden she couldn't walk straight any more.
I tell about stray cats and the good work the men and women who take care of them do. About Mausie, a cat thrown out of a car, who found a real home in the village of my birth where she is now as happy as a cat can ever be. One chapter is about the Hereafter, the Rainbow Bridge and the importance of making a will for the benefit of your animals. Just read what happened to Ophelia. On a Christmas Eve, Daimke tells about the Cat-goddess Bastet, I tell about Saint Francis and the birds and the wolf. There is Tarzan, a very clever kitty who orders a parrot online! A skill Puddy very much would like to acquire!
In the second part of the book I talk about Anorexia, the terrible disease that I have suffered from for thirty years. I was saved by my kitties and by Karma, my lovely shorthair collie and I am not the only one! Indeed, our cats are purring angels sent to us by the Lord. The next chapters deal with the bringing up of cats and include interesting facts about cats, the dangers in the house, resuscitation and so on. I was allowed to use some of the lovely stories from the Cats Confidential Newsletter and from Doctor Vernon Coleman. Also I inserted quotations from the Bible and the Koran. These are very moving! It’s wonderful that FAB, the Feline Advisory Bureau allowed me to use their leaflets about feline diseases and hazardous plants. I am so grateful to them. Carina Smeets, a homoeopathic veterinarian, explains the Bach Flower therapy in Chapter 19. There are such wonderful poems and stories all over the book. The ones from Maureen and Wayne for example and many others. Just read them…
My dear friend Anne Versteyne has illustrated this book with very charming drawings. She has also illustrated my previous books, and I am sure that the success of those books is partially due to her fine talent for drawing.
It is my profound wish that this book may contribute to the lessening of the distress cats often suffer by informing people so that they will understand their cats better and love them more.
Part of the proceeds of 'Purring Angels' will go to the Foundation Poezenbel.
Puddie, the oldest and wisest will introduce us.
Puddie: born on 25-3-1995.
I am a splendid grey tabby, er...I-lost-something-at-the-vet-cat, with big black spots. Everybody says I am ‘oriental’, that I look like a Bengal. I have big, communicative green eyes, which have earned me many prizes in America. (It is very hard to be humble when one is such a winner as I ). Mama and me, we have a very strong bond. An eternal bond. In the beginning there were just the two of us: Marg (mama) and me. How I enjoyed that! We were inseparable. We still are inseparable but we are no longer two. More fluffies came our way, you see.
First came Luckje:
On a rainy night he walked into our lives. He stayed for exactly one year. Marg loved him very much. But I, to be frank, I didn't love him. Maybe that's why he left? Well, Luckje sometimes attacked me and he wanted to claim Marg all for himself. I didn't want any of that, of course. I did understand him, though. He strayed in here and had a very difficult time behind him. Put it like this: Luckje was some kind of sailor looking for a job ashore for a change. He wanted a roof to sleep under and longed for love and affection and he found that with us. But Marg was mine and he couldn't accept that. Further, having to stay indoors made matters worse for Luck, the desperado used to the Great Outdoors. We didn't have open-air runs at that time where we could play. Running around free is something Marg found (and still finds) too dangerous. In short, after lots of thinking and grieving, Luckje was allowed to go outdoors and he didn't have to share the room with me anymore. Slowly, very slowly I calmed down. Luck's territory was the entire garden, the upper floor of our house and a small house in the garden where our cat-dwarfs live. Yes, we do have little dwarfs around here. Cat-dwarfs of course, they take care of cats in distress. Just like the Poezenbel Foundation does.
So, exactly one year after his sudden appearance in our world, Luckje left. All of a sudden he was gone. Mama is still looking for him. I know he is happy somewhere, probably living with people who need his help. You see, when Luck came here, mama had a lot of sadness and trouble because of some straightup-walker misfit who was trying to spoil her life. I think that's Luckje's mission here on earth: comforting and healing people who are feeling down. You know, like his patron, Doctor Luke, the Healer of the Bible. Sure, I am very grateful to him for that, but, mind you, hoping for his return is another matter!
You can understand, I have had a difficult time each time another fluffy has come into our lives. Yet, now I don't mind so much anymore being with more cats. I have observed that mama's love for me hasn't changed a bit, she still loves me as much as before. And, I do enjoy playing with the 'newcomers' (and showing them who's the boss around here).
Donsje: born 6-8-1997.
She is grey/beige and white. She is a very cute, lovely, soft and fluffy girl who came to live with us thanks to Aunt Maria from Poezenbel. She was found in a wheatfield when the farmer was baling hay with a huge machine. She was cosily resting with her mother, brothers and sisters in her nest, when that monster came rattling along, smashing everything in its way, including Donsje's warm nest. Her mother panicked and rushed off. Her brothers and sisters were killed. Only Donsje survived. Luckily for her a caring woman living close to the field picked her up and took her to Maria at Poezenbel. When she had grown big and strong she joined the family.
I love her very much. But I must admit that Mickje and I like to tease her a lot. We have fun watching her running away shrieking noisily to safety under the cabinet. Mostly however, she runs to mama to complain with a pathetic face: 'Mama, they are at it again, hellleeeppp meee!' Mama then scolds us and we promise never to do it again...till next time, that is. Still, we really don't want to hurt Donsje, and mama knows that. Donsje has a special place in mama's heart. Her name means fluffy.
Mickje: probably also born on 6-8-1997.
We don't know the exact date. She was dumped in our garden around St Nicholas. She was just skin and bones and had a big umbilicalhernia. She had been badly abused. I think some mean man must have kicked her, because whenever a male straightup-walker enters our house, Mickje will hide under a chair and always keeps her eyes on his feet. Mickje and I sleep in the living room and we enjoy each other's company. We love each other in a 'decent' way. You see, I am engaged to Asselijntje from Poezenbel. But Mickje is a fine friend. She is very happy that she can stay with us. Whenever she talks about her terrible experiences I start shivering and my tail fluffs up from anger. Mickje can't retract her claws, so she has some difficulty walking, but we do play a lot and you should see her now! Her fur shining like a mirror. I think (and hope) she has forgotten the horror she experienced.
Daimke: born on 24-5-1999.
The famous painter Renate Leijen saved this small pussy-girl. Renate found five newly born kittens in the bushes close to a hotel under construction. The mother had fled. Immediately Renate took the poor babies to Maria. The two male kittens soon crossed over to the Rainbow Bridge, but the girls made it here. Daimke lacks some kind of enzyme and has to have a pinch of tryplase with every meal to make up for this lack. She has a lot of Oriental blood in her veins, so we resemble each other. When she was small I was her idol and I liked that very much. I am a bit of an ego-tripper, you see. But now she is mature (and not so easy to fool anymore). Mama often calls her 'Our little Elf'.
Catrientje (Catje): probably born on 17-6-1999.
She was dumped together with her little brothers when she was about six weeks old. Holiday-time or no-more-welcome? Her brothers were found and taken to Maria two days before Catje was rescued. Catje had taken refuge high up in a tree and lived there for two days. How happy she was when she arrived at Maria's place and felt Maria's love, warmth and security! Catje and Daimke are very close friends.
Chummy: born on 13-5-2001.
He is the youngest of us. He was born on Mother’s Day. For three months we closely followed his growing up. And how he grew! After five months he was almost as tall as I was, and he weighs more than 5 kg now. Chummy is a dear. Quiet and cute, we all love him very much. He is a real British gentleman, an asset to his race, British Shorthair. 'Round and sound!!!'
|And then our beautiful ‘wild’ Tommeke joined us. He looks like a Norwegian Forest Cat. He is a lovely black boy with a long waterproof fur coat. We will write about him later on. He is such a wonderful sweet, faithful cat. Mummy calls him her guardian angel. But that’s what we all are!|
We also live together with two dogs.
Kirby: born on 25-12-92
She is a Cardigan Corgi and was grandma's favourite dog. She still misses her dear mummy. Luckily Femke is there to comfort her.
Femke: born on...8-98.
She is a cross between a Labrador and a Border Collie, black with white spots and very tall. Femke is a real dear. Because she went through a lot of misery when she was a puppy, she is afraid of strangers. Femke is a very good watchdog. No stranger can enter the garden or she knows it and spreads the news!
We have five ducks and three mountain goats, Treeske, Mekkie and Moppie. They were meant to be eaten and we are so glad they are safe now. The goats are so funny and play with Femke and Kirby. Very rarely a few deer come to visit us. We love them! They are so elegant and gentle natured. It’s incredible with how much ease they jump over the 1.50 high fence. They are nearly as lithe as we are!
And then there is mama, of course. We have a very dear friend, Mariette, who took fantastic care of grandma and who is very nice to mama and to all of us. Mariette lives upstairs since grandma passed away. So nice and cosy! We all love her very much. Mama and Mariette are close friends.
So, now you know us. We have two big open-air runs where we have super fun. What a delight to run and play under the sun! Whenever the weather is fine, Mama stays outdoors with her laptop too.
I have to go now, mama needs the PC, you see.
Many ppprrrrrrreetinggggsss from Puddie, secretary of the Rietkat.
Chapter 1 A sad Spring
Chapter 2 Little Princess
Chapter 3 Daimke, Daatje, Dotje
Chapter 4 Catje
Chapter 5 Downstairs
Chapter 6 Ophelia and the Hereafter
Chapter 7 Turn of the Century and Neutering
Chapter 8 The Painting, Miracles and Christmas Eve
Chapter 9 Strays, Catje’s Disease and the Run
Chapter 11 Autumn, Angels and a Christmas Message
Chapter 12 Adult Chummy and Mausie
Chapter 13 Angels and Anorexia
Chapter 14 Training
Chapter 15 Facts about Cats
Chapter 16 Miscellaneous, Cats Confidential, Animals in the Bible and the Koran
Chapter 17 Feline Diseases
Chapter 18 Hazardous and safe plants
Chapter 19 Bach Flower Remedies
Chapter 20 The Poezenbel Foundation
Appendix 1 Addresses
Appendix 2 Bibliography
How it began.
It is still very early on Whit Sunday of the year 1999. Little Princess, in the last days of her pregnancy, walks around restlessly. She feels something...she seeks something...she is not sure what, but she is afraid. For a couple of years she has been living, together with many other stray cats, in an industrial park in Spijkenisse. There is a hotel nearby and so it's not too hard to find something to eat. Yet the place has its dangers. It’s close to an exit of the busy motorway to Rotterdam. That road is jammed from morning till evening with noisy, impatient and frustrated motorists. Not so long ago the road was relatively safe outside the rush hours, but now the hotel is expanding. A couple of days ago heavy equipment came rolling in and foundations were laid. The strays were terrified. Some moved on. A wise decision since the actual construction is scheduled to start after the weekend.
Little Princess, that's the nickname the other strays teased her with, did not know what to do. She sensed it was high time to find a quiet place to deliver her kittens, but where? And where had everybody gone? She got the nickname Little Princess because she felt herself better than the other strays. Her grandmother had been a real Siamese princess. And, indeed, Little Princess looked very Oriental, she had lovely long legs and a beautiful little face. She thought about the days when things were quiet and easy and she and her lover had a thrilling time. Yes, she was indeed loved by the male strays when she was on heat. They turned and turned around her and fought for her. Seemingly unimpressed she sat down and watched this ‘tomcat foolery’, meanwhile deliberating on the lover she’d select. 'What a lot of nonsense,' she observed silently, but nature called.
In the end only two big macho cats remained. Furiously growling and snarling, they circled each other. Soon the moment of reckoning would come. She didn't have any feeling for these boorish lovers. Suddenly she noticed a small tomcat behind the two rivals. He was smaller in size but had beautiful black-and-white fur. "There, someone who has manners", Little Princess suddenly thought and she felt tickles in her belly. She looked again. He blinked at her! Bingo! Together they vanished into the night. It was beautiful, very beautiful. He was kind and tender. She wondered where he would be at this moment. Moved on like the others? She felt very lonely and vulnerable and her babies wanted to get into the world and they wanted to come now!
…When the kittens arrived at Maria’s place, what a sight they were! So small and frail! Yes, they were hardly more than half a day old. Maria had prepared everything for the arrival of the kittens and soon they slept snugly in a warm cradle. They were too weak to drink, so Maria tube fed them for the first two days and nights. They were real survivors though and on the third day they drank from the bottle. Still, Maria was worried.
… At last! Never shall I forget the first time I held Daimke in my arms. That teensy-weensy fluffy curled herself up against me. She put her head in my neck and purred. Although very weak and ill, she purred and knew that we belonged to each other. Oh, what a pitiful sight she was! Her little face was dirty and her little bottom was red and inflamed. Maria cleaned her more than once daily but quickly she dirtied herself again. Still she tried to play with the others. Brave little girl!
…As soon as the three little kittens were allowed to leave quarantine, Catje, as I called her, became close to Daimke. Those two became inseparable. How happy we were for Daimke that she had a dear friend now. Strange however, Catje never left me when I visited Daimke.
…Catje still likes to pretend she’s a doggie. She runs around all day carrying things in her mouth. Ball pens, collars, handkerchiefs, she's a real retriever. Half of the bathroom is brought to my bed in the morning. It is always a surprise to discover what she has collected when I wake up. Last night she brought me something that I could not define. Something hard and small with a tag on it. I was too tired to switch on the light. It was a flea comb! Maybe she thinks I have fleas? Daimke runs around carrying big slippers. Very smart. In her basket I found the little bucket for body oil that I use when I take a shower. When I entered the bathroom I saw her lying down amidst the shreds of a kitchen paper roll. How I laughed! It was so funny. She joins my laughing then, she throws herself on her back and moves all four legs in the air. She really has fun. Of course I took away the roll and told her that she shouldn't do that. But I do enjoy it so much, and she knows it! Kittenhood doesn’t last long. Socks seem to feel the cold. They hide themselves under the covers. I expect one of these days to find a little mouse in bed. Catje has already caught her first one. She was so proud of that! Fortunately I succeeded in snatching the mouse from my little tigress and released him far away in the garden. He was shivering but still very much alive. Boy! He will have a story to tell tonight! Catje still talks about her first 'live prey'!
…'Cats are very sensitive to voices,' Miguella said. ' and they have a very accurate sense of smell.' She is more of a dog person but she says that cats are more interesting, more 'profound' and more intuitive. When cats are staring intensely or full of interest at something we don't see, for instance a speck on the ceiling, they see it like a gigantic bubble. That's how sharp they see. For them it is something like a kaleidoscope of light, a beautiful movie. They can also see in other dimensions. For instance they see and feel spirits of deceased beings appearing for a short visit. That’s why cats sometimes may suddenly look up and stare at something we don’t see. Dogs also have that ability. Cats immediately notice stress, sorrow and happiness in their people. Also in strangers. People radiate their feelings through their skin and a cat knows perfectly how to interpret them. There is no way fooling them. Cats are curious and notice everything. Even blind cats are happy and 'see' the radiation and smell of their people. Objects also radiate smells and cats concentrate on them.
Puddie was listening while lying high up on the climbing pole. Later he confirmed everything Miguella had told me. 'We cats feel immediately whether people are genuine or not. Haven't I warned you many times before? Beware of such and such straightup-walker, I told you ever so often! He says 'Yes' but means 'No'. Now, Jos and her family are all right, I was not so afraid as usual. They felt good and they love you very much. You know, my dear pussy-mother has warned me sternly about strange straightup-walkers. That's why I always select a high vantage point. I want to have a commanding view, you see. We cats don't communicate with words. We use body language to express how we feel. We communicate with our eyes, our posture and by telepathy. Straightup-walkers talk too much. That's why they forget to observe body language. The speaker wraps his words in glossy paper and sends them to you with a smile. And so he can tell you whatever he wants without really meaning anything of it. That's the horrible thing about people. They say something but do something else.' Indeed, Puddie had a good point there. I have often experienced such behaviour. Mostly though, I am able to ‘read’ the truth pretty well, probably because I am thinking like a cat. I often intercept thoughts and watch out for body language.
Pudje wrote to his pen pals:
…We are very worried about our mama. She is too tired because she works relentlessly till deep into the night. We have come to the conclusion that working is good for your health, but stopping in time is even better! So we held a powwow and decided to get into action around nine p.m. I usually give the go-ahead. Than we start with 'Operation-Shut-Down-the-Office'. There are different ways to bring that about. If the weather is dry and warm, Daimke goes outside to lie down on a piece of wire-netting that serves as hammock. It is just above the door between our two runs, so she lies quite high above the ground. After a while she starts wailing: 'Mama, mama, please help me. I am afraid to move, it's so cold and dark up here! Help, mieeewuuwuwuw mieuuwwweeeeeeeiiii, wheeee!' That does the trick, almost always, if the television doesn't make too much noise. But we are there to show mama the way to her child in distress.
Then it's Catje's turn. She tries to park herself on the computer or on the papers next to it. Now and then she does a headstand, very funny to see. Marg can't help cuddling her then. Donsje approaches from the other side and swings her paws around Marg’s neck. If there is no reaction she will lick Marg’s face and softly bite her nose. Computering is next to impossible then.
Mickje's job is to jump into the drawer of the cabinet and start ostentatiously 'cleaning up' by throwing envelopes around. I watch it all from my command post on top of the television set. I fix my gaze on mama while keeping an eye on my soldiers, as befits a good commander. But the real champion in getting mama away from her pc is our Chummy. Sure, he is a real cat but he can wreak havoc like an elephant.
Like yesterday. I saw it happen. It was just a fly buzzing around…Of course, Chummy got interested. So when the fly landed on the table, Chum went for it like a tiger. But our Chum, I must admit, is not very flexible as he is sturdy. He miscalculated the distance and got caught in the tablecloth. Can you imagine what happened? Clatter-clatter-dash-smash!!! Everything fell down, including the vase of roses. Marg had just left for a while. To be on the safe side, we all hid under the cabinet. The devastation was huge, but the fun we all shared was even bigger. When Marg returned and saw nobody around she concluded that our poltergeist had been at it again. Yes, we have our own poltergeist. We also have dwarves here, but they are kind. They help cats in distress, you know, just ask Asje. One by one we left our hiding place to be cuddled and comforted by Marg. A pity there hasn’t been a cloth on the table any more since then, so we cannot perform this act again.
'Yes, in the evening, Chum has his 'happy hour' and then he swings through the office,' that's what mama tells everybody. ‘And he never breaks anything!’ Hi, if only she knew. But it works! Now mama stops working almost at a decent time!!
What about you? Also very busy helping your papas and mamas? What would they be without us? Prr, purrr. Lots of loving purrings for you all and I wish you lots of tasty fresh fish and cuddles. Your friend, Puddie.'
… It was Daimke's discovery and oh, how I loved it! The wastepaper basket next to my desk is usually filled with envelopes and papers. When Daimke feels bored she picks up her toy-mouse and throws it into the basket. And, of course, she must catch it then. But she can only catch it by sticking her head into the basket. So, it's not her fault when the basket turns over. The next problem: she can't find the mouse. So, she has to transfer every bit of paper to some other place. That's only logical, isn’t it? The first time I fell for it and said to her: 'Oh, poor Daimke, just wait, I'll get the mouse for you.' So I picked up the mouse and threw it out. Huge fun! She flew after it. I put the wastepaper basket up again, gathered up the papers and stuffed them back into it. As soon as I sat down again, bingo! There's the darned mouse again diving or being flung into the basket. 'Wiieehh, mama, help, my mousie 's gone again! Purr prr.'