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Encounters of the Furred Kind - My Love Affair With Cats (and all creatures great & small)


Photo of Tortoiseshell cat and Bengal cat
My First Cats Mimi & Elijah

As a child growing up I wasn't allowed to have pets. So I would listen to my friends stories about hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs with wonder. I was obsessed with hamsters and would borrow books on them from the library and pore over the photos of the different colours dreaming of one day owning one of my own. I sometimes would devise plans to sneak one into the house unoticed but my mums warning "Don't you bring a rat into my house" would ring in my ears and soon put paid to those fanciful thoughts. I even fashioned a home made hamster cage out of ice cream tubs and kitchen roll tubes once but chickened out of buying one in the end - probably a good idea as the hamster would have made short work of the plastic and cardboard.

When I left home for university I took the opportunity to exploit my new found freedom and indulge myself in the pets I always longed for. I started off at first with a Syrian hamster who hated me and used to throw the bits of cucumber I gave him back out of the side of the cage at me! I next moved on to gerbils then russian dwarf hamsters - including a very clever hamster I named Houdini (aka Dini) who would squeeze himself out of his cage bars for a run around the living room at night then squeeze himself back in again - he one day disappeared altogether - be careful what you name your pets! There was also Bandit the highly sexed hamster who wouldn't stop playing with himself.

Pair of chinchillas
Pikachu (left) and Cuddles (right)

After gerbils and hamsters I moved on to chinchillas. I had a pair called Professor Cuddles (a violet) and Pikachu (a standard grey). Chinchillas were my pets for several years until one day at work a colleague was giving away some kittens that her daughter's cat had. I wanted the ginger tom but he was taken so I settled on a tortoiseshell girl who I named Mimi. I was completely unprepared for the adorable, fiesty little bundle of fluff. My hands and arms soon became covered in scratches from playing with the over enthusiastic little kitten. I also learned that cats do not like their litter tray near to their food and water bowls - makes sense really, a classic new kitten owner mistake. I found this out from a colleague I deemed "the kitten whisperer" when I was trying to work out why Mimi was using the litter tray but not eating.

Tortoisehsell kitten
Along came Mimi - Mimi as a kitten

After a few months I thought maybe Mimi would like a friend as I hated leaving her at home when I left for work each morning. I had become fascinated by the Bengal breed - a breed developed by the crossing of the wild Asian leopard cat with domesticated breeds to create a domestic cat with a spotted coat. I raided my savings to be able to buy my first pedigree cat - Marblejac Winston who I named Elijah. I thought Mimi would be so pleased to have a friend but she hated him. I've come to learn that female cats are a lot more temperamental and tend to enjoy a solitary life more so than their male counterparts - of course every cat is an individual but that has been my experience.

Mimi and Elijah came to tolerate each other but there was never a great fondness for one another. Elijah was very mischievious and playful whereas Mimi loved her space and her human. Elijah had a very different almost dog like personality that was very endearing, he loved to follow me around the house and enjoyed playing fetch with toys, I also trained him to walk on a leash and we regularly went for walks at the local park - I got some strange looks from passers by and was often stopped by people fascinated by him. Elijah enjoyed going out so much that on days that I didn't take him for a walk he would sit at the front door and yowl or make a nuisance of himself with the other cats. So I would sometimes let him go out by himself. One day he went out and never returned, I think maybe he was stolen, I found his collar in some bushes and despite putting posters up all around the neighbourhood and knocking on doors he was never to be seen again. For this reason I keep my cats indoors.

As I enjoyed Elijah so much in Pokemon fashion (gotta catch 'em all) I decided to get some more Bengals. Elijah was quickly joined by Tabian an AOC snow bengal, Valentino a blue eyed snow bengal and Inca a brown spotted bengal breeding queen. It's with Inca that I began my first foray into breeding bengal cats and my love affair with Bengal cats has continued ever since.

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