The next in my series of stories about rescue cats, this time the mysterious arrival and lifestyle of a cat called Jimmy.
Big Lovable and Deaf The Story of Jimmy Cat
In the middle of the night I awoke suddenly. My partner was snoring next to me in bed. With horror I realised I could hear the sound of breathing and it wasn’t mine or my partner. I poked my partner and said ‘Wake up, there is someone in the bedroom!’. ‘Don’t be ridiculous’, was the sleepy response. ‘You are dreaming, the door is shut there is no-one in here but us. Go back to sleep’. Which was the point when we heard the sneeze.
We sat bolt upright in bed and put on the light, I don’t think my heart has ever beat so fast.
And there, on my dressing table, with his feet tidily in front of him and his tail wrapped round them, sat a gorgeous ginger cat. Who was not remotely bothered about the shrieking and lights! He just sat there, purring.
I will take a moment here to pause and recap. The bedroom door was shut. The cat was not in the room when we went to bed. The skylight window was only open a few inches. And yet there sat this beautiful creature. To this day we have no idea how he got in the room. Personally I think he beamed in using a transporter.
Ten minutes into this episode I had fallen completely in love with this gentle giant of a cat. He submitted to stroking and a cuddle (where I discovered he had not been neutered). I took him downstairs, put a bowl of biscuits outside the back door and shut him out, telling him to go home.
He Was Still There
The next morning he was sitting patiently where I had left him. And as soon as I opened the kitchen door he walked in as if he owned the place. I immediately put him outside again. This went on for a few days. Meantime we were asking around if anyone had lost a beautiful ginger cat. Nobody had. After two weeks we put notices up in the post office window and on the lampposts with his picture. The notices said that if no-one claimed him by a given date, we were going to officially adopt him. No-one came forward so we went to the vet for the removal of certain appendages and that was it he was ours. And I called him Jimmy.
Jimmy really was an incredibly mild mannered and polite young gentleman. He was wonderful to cuddle as he just folded into you and loved it. Jimmy was quite happy to be bottom of the pack with the other cats (and also with Penny and Thomas who joined us later – click on their names to read their story). He just bumbled along with his day. Jimmy never ran anywhere, it was always a measured walk.
Paws Affected By Frostbite!
One day I noticed that Jimmy was limping and when I looked at his feet they were covered with fluid filled blisters. I took him straight to the vets. People who are reading my cat stories will understand I was a good customer for this veterinary practice! The vet took one look at Jimmy’s feet and announced that it was frostbite! I had seen Jimmy sitting on the ice on the pond but never thought anything of it. The vet accused him of eating magic mushrooms and/or meditating too long on the ice. That gives you an idea of Jimmy’s character. Like some laid back hippy type. He lay on his back quite happily, several times a day while I applied cream to the frostbite.
Jimmy Was Partially Deaf
One of the reasons for this laid back approach to life became clear after a while. Although not completely deaf, Jimmy had hearing difficulties and could only hear certain tones. As a Buddhist I meditate with the cats in the room. Jimmy would always sit right by me with his eyes shut, almost as if he was joining in. Sometimes I would play prayers being chanted by Buddhist Monks – you know the sort, really deep voices. Jimmy could obviously hear that and enjoyed it. But the thing he loved most was whale song. He would lean up against the speakers and listen to sound. It was lovely to watch.
Jimmy Fell In Love – With A Chihuahua!
After a couple of years (by which time we had five rescue cats) I introduced a long haired chihuahua to the feline family. Her name was Holly and she was three months old when she came to live with me (You can read about Holly here).
My partner and I sat on the floor in the kitchen with the five cats and I put the puppy down near me and said ‘Okay everyone this is your new sister Holly’. There was a distinct moment when I saw Thomas say to Maximillian ‘What did she say it was?’. Then each cat came forward and touched noses with the puppy who just sat and wagged her tail each time. Except for Jimmy.
Jimmy stood and gazed at her for ages with what I can only describe as adoration. It was clear he was completely taken with this little scrap and he moved forward to say hello to her. At which point the puppy started jumping up and down barking crossly at him. And that sort of defined their relationship really. Jimmy absolutely adored Holly, she behaved as if he didn’t exist. He followed her everywhere, she ignored him. She realised he was going to adore her and look after her and it was how it was. Sometimes I would say to Jimmy (in a low voice) ‘Where is Holly?’ and he would go and find her and bring her to me. It was so sweet.
Jimmy Arrives in Italy
I think he missed her when she started coming to Italy with me on my visits. A few years later when he was the last of the five cats left we brought him over to Italy to live with us. My partner put him in a crate and booked him in at Gatwick and Holly and I drove down to an airport in Rome to pick him up.
We had been waiting at the goods depot at the airport for ages with no sign of Jimmy and I was starting to get anxious. We hadn’t been living in Italy very long so my Italian was not as good as it is now. I got myself in a dreadful mess trying to ask questions. Then I had to stand to one side and grab Holly quickly as a fork lift truck whizzed backwards toward me. As it got closer it did a 180 degree handbrake turn (or at least that is what it looked like) and there on the front was a crate containing one big ginger cat with eyes the size of saucers. Once we got to the car I put him in the back seat with Holly and clipped them into car harnesses and they both slept the two and a half hours home.
Jimmy Settles Right In
Then I introduced Jimmy to his new house. He stayed very close to Holly and she actually did show him around and sit with him bless her.
Things were different as Jimmy had to become a house cat. A big, soft old thing like him would last about 30 seconds with the feral cats and as we live in the countryside he could easily get lost. He got used to living within the new boundaries.
Jimmy wore a harness for walks outside and I rigged up a sunbathing platform for him that he could use when I sat on the front porch with him.
Sometimes Jimmy and Holly would just lay on the front steps in the sunshine. Jimmy became much more active living here than he had done in the UK, he would walk the boundary fence on the terrace and spend hours gazing out of the windows watching the birds. He loved sitting by the open window at the back of the office. He couldn’t get out because of the metal grill and mosquito net, but he would sit there and the breeze would come up the valley and ruffle his fur.
I wrote a poem about Jimmy and the changes that had taken place with his character, it is called ‘Jemima Jim’.
Jemima Jim has come to live at Casa Due.
Mild mannered, gentle, quiet, sleeps all day
should transfer, can’t see any problems anyway.
But Casa Due has worked its magic
Jemima is now lord of all he surveys.
Excited by the birds, lizard and sun
wanting to go and play with the feral cats
and be number one.
Pacing the terrace, like a lion its cage
observer of his realm and awake; just a mo
Jemima Jim has become Giacomo!
(c) Dorothy Berry-Lound
Jimmy and Bluebottle
A few months after Jimmy moved to Italy he got a new feline sister, Bluebottle. You can read Bluebottle’s story here. He wasn’t too sure about her but she adored him and thought the best thing in the world was to climb all over him. He never hurt her as she was only six weeks old and he was a big old cat but he was never relaxed when she was around.
Jimmy’s Heart Problems
A few months after this Jimmy started to get sick. It is difficult to notice in a quiet, slow moving cat that there is a problem but you could see something wasn’t quite right. I took him to a vet and he said that Jimmy had gastritis. A few days later Jimmy collapsed dramatically with what I now know was a cardiac faint. X-rays and tests showed that Jimmy had a bad heart. And would have had the problem his whole life which might explain why he was so slow and deliberate in everything he did. But now things were breaking down and there was a big build up of fluid around his heart.
Diuretics didn’t work unfortunately and it was clearly time to say goodbye. I sat up with him all night and we watched the sunrise together and then I took him to the vet and had him put to sleep. I brought him home and put him on the floor in the living room. The kitten Bluebottle really didn’t get that he was dead and kept diving at him and pulling at him to play so eventually I put her outside the room. All this time Holly had just sat staring. She got up and walked over to Jimmy’s body and sniffed him, trembling as she walked. The little dog then went behind the sofa and cried and cried. She knew she had lost her special friend and guardian.
Jimmy was buried under the terrace that he loved sitting on. His grave is covered in blue irises, the colour of which suited him very well.
The next rescue cat story involves Penny – we never even saw her for the first fortnight she lived with us!
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!