Following on from the story of my rescue cat Maximillian, today I am telling the story of his two rescue cat sisters Juju and Kimberly.
Rescue Cat Sisters Were Different Characters But Inseparable
Jojo and Kimmy must have been devastated when their elderly lady owner died. At the foster home they clung to each other for comfort.
The rescue cat sisters were about to have their little worlds turned upside down. Maximillian, an 18 month old ginger cat was pining after the death of his beloved brother HG (you can read HG’s story here). The advice from our vet was to get another cat, a girl the same age as Maxi. Having phoned the (then) Cats Protection League we were told there were two sisters available and we could go and choose one.
Standing in the living room of the foster home, looking at the two little cats, it would have taken a harder heart than mine to split them. So we said we would have them both.
I renamed them Juju and Kimberly and we introduced them to Maxi on Christmas Eve. The next morning we found them all curled up together on the spare bed.
We knew everything was going to be all right.
Completely Different Characters
The two rescue cat sisters were the same colouring but Juju was very small and short hair, Kimberly was bigger and long haired. They both had glorious orange tummys! It was easy to see they were sisters but their characters were completely different.
Juju was very quiet, kept out of the way and needed encouraging to join in with anything. Kimberly was loud, constantly demanding cuddles and always in your face! Juju just took a back seat and let her sister get on with it.
While Juju would lay quietly in a chair or by the pond enjoying the sunshine, Kimberly would go off exploring. But every time she encountered something that bothered her she headed for home fast. You would hear her calling, then the mad scrabble as she clambered over the six foot fence and ran to me for a cuddle and security. If I didn’t quickly pick her up she would climb up my leg!
I loved her dearly but it could be quite wearing as she wouldn’t take no for an answer. If she needed a cuddle she got one, end of story. And it would happen many, many times each day. She was neurotic! She would sleep with her little paws on my throat, draped across me like some furry scarf. If I close my eyes I can feel her little feet there now.
The girls ate from the same food bowl. We tried all sorts to split them up so they had their own bowl but they had obviously always eaten that way and nothing was going to change it.
Except something did. The worst thing imaginable. But I will get to that later.
We took the two rescue cat sisters to have their vaccinations. Because my partner and I both worked full-time we had to take them in the evening. All went well, they were declared healthy and vaccinated. Parking at the clinic was limited and we had to park in a side road. Halfway back to the car my partner said ‘Ummmm, Juju is not in the basket’. I stopped and couldn’t believe what I heard. I won’t repeat my reply. He hadn’t fixed the fastening correctly on the basket and Juju had got out. But he hadn’t noticed exactly when this had happened so we had no idea where to look for her.
In tears, I put Kimberly safely in the car and walked the streets calling Juju. No sign and it was getting dark and quite late by now. We had no option but to go home and then come back in the morning to start looking again. I was sitting in tears in the living room about half an hour after getting home when the telephone rang. ‘Are you missing a cute little tabby cat called Juju?’ said a lovely lady. ‘She turned up at the door with our cats at bedtime and we got your telephone number from her collar’. I went straight down and got her. What a relief!!!!
Needless to say even to this day I check and double check the fixings on cat baskets!
Kimberly Was Run Over By A Car
The Moment Before It Happened
I was in bare feet cleaning the floor in the conservatory. The weather was warm, it was June and the rescue cat sisters had been living with us and Maxi for six months. We were all very happy with the arrangement.
I had dinner in the oven and remember looking at the clock as my partner’s train would be arriving at any time at the local village station. Within a few minutes he would be home. We lived in a quiet cul-de-sac with no real traffic to speak of. There was the sound of a train in the distance and so I started to walk towards the kitchen to pour a glass of wine to say welcome home. I heard a car and thought it was him. Then I heard the car hit something that sounded like a football.
It wasn’t a football.
Realising What Had Happened
About a minute later Kimberly shot through the back door and collapsed at my feet. She looked up at me and miaowed and then collapsed unconscious. By now on auto pilot I had grabbed her, one of my shawls to wrap her in and my car keys and ran out of the house, leaving everything open, dinner in the oven, leaving everything. As I opened the back gate my partner arrived home and I leaped into his car shouting ‘get us to the vets now!’.
But there was nothing the vet could do. Our neighbour’s car had run over her abdomen and the damage was catastrophic. Thank goodness she could feel no pain. How she ran to me was a miracle, but that was what she always did when she was scared. The vet said it was adrenalin and an almost automatic impulse to get to Mum. He said she probably didn’t feel anything before she became unconscious. I got some comfort from that. She was put to sleep quickly.
Coping With The Shock
At that point I realised I was standing in the vet’s clinic in bare feet, with no money to pay him as I had left my handbag at home. My partner dealt with it of course. We took her home and buried her. I thought my heart would break as Juju just sat and watched as we put her sister in the ground.
It took a long time for me to get over it.
Juju’s Phantom Pregnancy
With the death of her sister, Juju’s world changed. She didn’t show any obvious signs of missing her sister apart from one thing. Her little yellow toy mouse. She carried it everywhere with her. We would find it in tissue boxes where she had made a little nest for it, in my handbag, in my shoe. She would carry it to the food bowl, put it down next to the bowl while she ate and then pick it up and take it off with her.
The vet explained this was called ‘pseudopregnancy‘ and it was triggered by the loss of her sister. He said it would stop after a while, perhaps a few months. And he was right it did.
Juju Came Out Of Her Shell
Juju’s character changed. Or rather, without her dominant, overbearing sister, she was able to be herself. A sweet, cheeky, naughty little cat who liked cuddles. It was quite amazing to see her blossom. And while I would have given anything to have Kimberly back it was also lovely to see Juju come out of the background.
Juju And The Pigeon
As time went on we acquired other rescue cats (don’t worry they will be the subject of future blogs). I got home from work one day and opened the back gate to see four of our then five cats sitting in a straight line totally captivated by something going on in the vegetable patch. As I looked round the corner, there was Juju hanging on for grim death to the back of an enormous pigeon. The poor bird was flapping and trying to take off and Juju was clearly terrified. Very much a case of biting off more than you can chew! The look of relief on her face as I grabbed them both and separated them was unmistakable. The pigeon flew off and Juju went over to the other cats. I distinctly heard some back slapping and ‘nice job’… I got the distinct impression they had thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing.
Juju The Great Stickleback Hunter
We had a small stream at the front of the house. I can tell you exactly how deep it was, up to the armpits of a small tabby cat called Juju! She would wade out into the stream and stand for hours waiting for sticklebacks. She never killed them, she would catch them and lay them at the back door for me. Each time I would grab it and rush to put it back in the stream. But sometimes she would do this while I was at work. I would park the car and follow the tell tale signs of wet paw prints up through the back gate to the back door. Often it was too late to save them by the time I got there.
The Tumor That Never Was
In later life Juju developed a small lump on one of her teats. It grew quite rapidly and the vet said it was a tumor and she would need surgery to remove it. We arranged a date and we were quite worried about what the vet was going to find. She wasn’t bothered at all of course.
The day of the surgery I took Juju to the vet and he said he wanted to give her an examination before surgery and could I stay so she stayed calm. He turned her over on her back and got out a black marker to mark the teat. I remember having surgery on my big toe on my right foot and the surgeon marked a big arrow so they made sure they did the right one. That sort of thing was what the vet had planned.
He carefully felt the other teats to make sure there was no sign of problems with them and then came to the one with the lump. As he palpated the lump suddenly there was a squirting noise and lots of water shot into the air out of the teat! I don’t know who was more surprised, me the vet or Juju! The vet laughed and said obviously not a tumor but a fluid filled cyst. So she came straight back home with me. And the cyst drained itself fully over the next couple of days and disappeared never to be seen again.
The Tumor That Was
Many years later, Juju was an elderly cat. By then my partner and I were spending a lot of time in Italy and there was a housesitter/cat carer who would look after our little monsters while we were away. One day the cat carer rang to say that Juju had a problem. Her tummy had suddenly swollen up to the size of a small football. The carer had been to the vet and he had said he thought this was big trouble and that I had better get back quickly.
I caught the next flight home and was shocked when I saw her. She had swollen up even more just in 24 hours. I took her to the vet and xrays and further tests proved she had a large tumor that was infesting her internal organs and filling her with fluid. The kindest thing, before things got any worse was to have her to put to sleep, which I did. I buried her next to her sister (of course) and I put her little yellow mouse in with her. So she wouldn’t be lonely.
I felt it had been a privilege to have had the two rescue cat sisters in my life, and also to have had to he opportunity to get to know the real Juju.
But the life of a mad cat woman goes on when you have other rescue cats that need your attention. And when one of them is partially deaf that brings a whole new set of challenges. You can read the story of Jimmy here.
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!