I live alone and thoroughly love having a furry friend to keep me company, so with the passing of my incredibly old Tuxedo cat last year, I felt truly alone. With the coming months getting back to my life as a full time photographer, I was unsure about getting another cat. Martina Navaratalova, my Tuxedo with a wonky nose, was a cat who had previously lived in a shed for most of her life and was more than happy to retire beside a radiator in my home, even when I was out on photographic shoots, would a new cat be able to accept my ad-hoc work schedule?
After many lonely nights (three weeks) I telephoned the local cat rescue shelter and told them my predicament: I would want a cat that was independent and characterful, to be able to entertain himself if I was away for the full day. As it was during the pandemic I was only allowed to meet the cats via a video link. But the moment I saw Mr Darcy, a scruffy grey long haired cat (remarkably similar to the Nebelung breed) I knew. I could only hope that he would be able to love me as much as I already loved him and I decided, if he did love me as much as I loved him, then he would be the best cat in the world.
One year together and the love grows increasingly stronger each and every day. Mr Darcy, my rescue kitten was 18 months old when he arrived in my life. After many hours of research of the character and visual identity, comparing these written notes to his actual behaviour and looks, I have since discovered my scruffy long grey haired kitten is indeed of the Nebelung breed. He and I spend our days entwined with walks, climbing trees, along with hide and seek amongst the forest, whilst indoors his skills are more associated with chewing electric cables and Olympic trampoline practice whenever he so chooses.
His best attributes are finding my foot escaping the duvet cover and giving it good ‘thwack’ to remind me that he loves me so and knocking off individual items from my desk one at a time and hiding them in his day bed beneath my desk.
My parents take him for overnight and weekend stays and they always ask when is he coming back to visit them – because they miss having their mincemeat stolen from the countertop (even though it was well covered) and they miss my father’s hearing aid being hidden amongst Darcy’s toys, they also miss tripping over his rattly plastic balls he scatters everywhere and my mother misses removing him from his biscuit making on her freshly laid bedlinen. Yes they love him too. Oh, they also want to know when they can have another cuddle with him, he so very much loves a cuddle. All the time.
This squiggly snuggle fluffy bug is everything to me. I decided to feed Mr Darcy on natural wet food without additives so that he would have the best chance of a healthy lifestyle, whilst providing dry kibble that contained nutrients to ensure his long hair would be treated and he would not suffer from hairballs. I brush him every morning after his first run outside. Hopefully before he begins his daily grooming which I noticed is around 10.00am. However, I often need to retrieve pieces of the garden from his tail throughout the day. Before bedtime Mr Darcy will have had a good brush from me along with his personal grooming to ensure my bed where he creeps into, is void of leaves and excess fur.
Always taking a keen interest on the best way to look after this special creature, I started to read about cats preferring a raised food bowl and dishes that were also flat to the brim. Whilst there is no scientific evidence that the raised bowl is better for the cat, I can appreciated that it certainly wouldn’t do any harm as their spine is able to keep straighter whilst eating. Even though Mr Darcy pounces down onto his mice in the garden with a flying leap first taking off from all fours after a good solid wiggle of his bottom, this is usually followed by a good dig out of the mud and a scurry around to play ‘more’ with the mouse in question. However, back to more sedate eating inside my house, I thought that he might like a calmer way to eat.
As for the dish being flat without a rim, I completely understand that cats can get whisker fatigue – well Mr Darcy has the most elongated whiskers I have ever seen. A flat raised dish and bowl it will be.
I received the Happy and Polly Flower dish and bowl set and no sooner had I popped the tuna onto it, I watched him munch away on his food immediately. He loves it and I love seeing it, what a delightful set to have around my home. The whiskers of Mr Darcy spread out for about a kilometre either side of his face and I watched them hover without them touching the dish. I carefully studied his tail and it slightly swayed from side to side. One thing I know about him is if his tails swishes gently, he is happy. My goodness, he was happy. Healthy food, good dish, good mummy.
The water bowl is also a great hit with my fluffball although I very rarely catch him sipping from it. He takes water every now and then usually before bed and through the night - I noticed from the water level in the morning. I have yet to study his water drinking habits, but I do know he loves to climb onto buckets to collect his water, so a raised bowl is perfect for this adventurer.
The colour of my dish and bowl set is so delicate and I smile every time breakfast lunch and dinner are served. Yes, Mr Darcy has lunch with me and often dinner at the same time too, although he has breakfast an hour earlier than my coffee is made especially during the winter months.
For our Valentine’s day dinner, I allowed my young man to join me at the table with his fluffy beard and colourful dishes. I cooked a special chicken for us both (his with a squidgy carrot and mine with red pepper). Probably terribly bad behaviour on my part to allow him to eat with me like that, but I was trying to study his whiskers – honestly?!
I love this colourful pretty set and so does Mr Darcy. I think the raised dish idea is certainly perfect for elderly cats and great for cats who like to see what is going on around them when they eat. Mr Darcy usually gets distracted when he eats – because he cannot see his territory properly and with this raised dish he can keep an eye on the terrain without taking his mind off the food, and of course his whiskers can have carte blanche of the air. On the whole the flower set is gorgeous on every level, for my cat and for me to see every day. So pretty.
Meanwhile I am being beckoned away because it is time for our daily walk and Mr Darcy is very punctual with his walks. Today we are going to revisit a tree that I know he loves. How do I know because as soon as we head off towards it, he doesn’t stop chattering and he runs at full aplomb in front of me, runs back, tells me to get a move on – so I have to speed up into a slow run, and he runs off towards it again. When I am nearly at the tree, Mr Darcy is high up amongst the branches and I begin my series of heart attacks as to how he will ever get down again.
And so, life continues with Mr Darcy and Lala…