Cat Owners – Keep Your Windows
Time for something a little different on the blog, but I think it is worthwhile broadcasting to a wider audience. If you are a cat owner, especially a young and small cat, read on. I could save you from a great deal of heartache.
To put it succinctly, tilt and turn windows (you know the ones, the have a handle which can turn into three positions. One to close, two to open like a door and three to tilt open, leaving a small gap at the top), are a danger to cats. Especially small and curious cats.
How do I know this?
I found out the hard way a week ago when I returned home from work.
I had left a window open on tilt in the kitchen and one of my cats in the house in the morning. There is no easy way to say this, but I found him trapped in the window and completely lifeless in the afternoon. He had obviously got out that way and had got stuck coming back in, wedging his body in the small gap. I won’t go into details, other than to say it was apparent that he had been there a long time.
His name was Sullivan and it is no exaggeration to say that I miss him terribly.
I’m going to indulge myself (because I can) and give you his story. I make no apologies for the sentimental nature of this blog post!
I adopted Gilbert and Sullivan from the Cats Protection League in January (they were named by the staff at the centre). I had been thinking of getting a cat for a long time, and finally decided to take the plunge. A visit to their rehoming centre ensued, and I went in to meet the cats. It had been my intention to adopt only one, but these two caught my attention as soon as I saw them.
They were two gorgeous black cats – brothers – and were very close, so were to be homed together. They were very nervous, not angry scratchy nervous like some cats can be, but run away and hide nervous, Sullivan much more so than his brother. Gilbert, on being offered some chicken, decided that I wasn’t such a bad sort after all – at least until it had all gone!
In short they stole my heart.
So, I got them home and they spent the first couple of days on top of a kitchen unit. Scaredy Cats!
It didn’t take long for Gilbert to settle, but Sullivan was a different cat altogether. It took him over a week to feel safe enough to come down from his hiding place when I was in the house, and even then, he would scuttle back up there if I made any sudden movements, or even stood up from my sofa.
If I sat quietly in the room, the two cats would reward me by playing together, thundering round the house like a couple of hooligans!
Oh so gradually, he came to trust me. A slow process indeed. If I startled him in any way I would get hissed at and he would go back to his perch atop the cabinet. My secret weapons came into play here – little fluffy balls of catnip (he would pick them up like a dog carrying a ball, and play with them until lost under the furniture) or a simple shoelace – he just couldn’t resist chasing it.
Gradually he allowed me to touch him and the penny seemed to finally drop a month or so ago. The change in him was unbelievable, demanding attention, wanting to play (all the time) and enjoying neck and chin scratches. He also seemed to garner great pleasure in chewing my fingers! In the end, I would scratch him just below the tail, he would flop over and play with my hand when I tickled his tummy. I had gone from being a scary monster to complete trust in just a few months, something that, especially in the early days, I though might never happen.
He was still a nervous wee thing, though, and anyone strange coming to the house, would see him make a quick exit to a hiding place, until they had gone.
Throughout all of this, both cats maintained a very close bond (although Sullivan did seem to have knack of irritating his brother, and would get a clout round the ear on a regular basis). They would often sleep together, and Gilbert spent a lot of time grooming Sullivan.
They both have brought me a lot of joy in the short time that they have been with me, Sullivan especially – it was so rewarding seeing the total change in him. He really was a character, as thick as mince, but a character nonetheless.
He died on Friday May the 23rd 2014, getting trapped in a tilt and turn window.
The hole he has left has been huge – the big consolation is I still have his brother, Gilbert, who is a delightful little cat, and a real character in his own right.
I would however, much rather still have them both.
If you are a cat owner, please, please, please never leave a window open on tilt. You may just save their life!