Well that’s not Cricket!

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Yep. I know it’s not a cricket but I spent ages looking for one, couldn’t find one, got bored, sat down and then this obliging little chap hopped on my knee!

Alex and I went to visit my sister – this was a few months ago now – but while we were in the kitchen talking, I gradually became aware of a noise … faint, but distinct and very persistent. I thought perhaps her fan oven was making a weird noise, or she’d set an alarm and left it on somewhere upstairs, forgetting to turn it off.

Eventually, I could ignore it no longer – “What is that noise? I asked, irritated by her seeming acceptance of it.

Lisa – my sister – looked somewhat resigned and replied: “It’s a cricket.” In answer to our puzzled faces she went on to explain: “I bought a box of live crickets to feed David’s bearded dragon and one escaped. And now it’s living behind the cooker.”

I couldn’t help myself … I burst out laughing. The cricket joined in, merrily chirping away from its new abode.

Alex asked: “But what does it eat?”

Still snorting with laughter I said: “It’s probably eating all the dogfood and growing to massive proportions, snugly tucked behind your oven!”

Lisa paled somewhat, clearly not relishing the thought of Cricket-zilla squatting in her kitchen … coming out with the dogs… sitting for its dinner…

Right! That’s it! I’m evicting it tonight!”

We took our leave, I cheerfully reminded her to message me to let me know what transpired at Cricket-gate… Later that night I received an irate text saying: “Can’t get the bloody thing. Now it won’t let me concentrate, just keeps chirping all the time!”

I replied saying she should think of it as her very own brand of ambient music, some people pay good money for recordings of things like whale music…cricket song… I heard nothing else for the rest of the evening, and indeed the rest of the week. Most unlike my sister.

Meanwhile, the cricket chose to accompany Lisa with some choice pieces of background music in whatever she was doing until one day she decided shereallycouldn’tstanditanymore

Now. My sister is only small, and had at the time broken her toe, having fallen up a step; yet with irritation levels threatening to overflow she managed to haul her fridge/freezer halfway across the kitchen floor to make enough space to pull the cooker over a bit so she could crawl behind it to catch the cricket. Suitably armed with a plant pot the battle began … they raged back and forth in the limited amount of space behind the cooker until in a last ditch heroic effort my sister launched herself across the floor and rugby tackled the cricket, trapping it firmly beneath the plant pot.

She lay, for a little while, catching her breath while the cricket chirped away in the pot, perhaps pleading for mercy… But no. Lisa got to her feet, clutching the captive cricket and took it outside to the very top of the garden where she left it sitting miserably inside the plant pot.

Back indoors, she made herself a well-earned cup of tea and sat down to do a little relaxing sewing. What was missing… ? The silence was, well, deafening. I remarked upon it myself, the next time I saw her.

Well, I don’t miss the bloody thing!” she stated defiantly.

Then one night, later on that week, she went to the kitchen door to let the dogs back in:

Ee-ee ee-ee ee-ee!!”

She looked down.

And there, at her feet, on the step, sat the cricket!

Too Many Cats – Never!

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As regular readers know, I love my cats dearly and various feline characters have played starring roles in my life so far…

My earliest memory, a coming into consciousness, if you will, involved a cat. Wew were living in the practice house at the time, a rambling, three storied Victorian building that had a little surgery attached with a few kennels and a stable. The garden wrapped around the house on three sides and in my memory was always filled with sunshine…

My awakening into being involved our cat of the time, Snoopy, a large, black, plush-furred and amiable cat who became my heart companion in early years. I remember to this day the feel of my cat’s fur against my bare arms as I lugged him inelegantly along, upright on his back legs and nearly as tall as me, as we walked around the garden together.

And thus began my life-long love of cats. My life has been touched by other animals too, including most especially dogs, but cats. Always. And what do you get someone who loves cats – why, cat related-objects of every variety, shape, size and form!

I can hardly bear to wear these shoes..they are so comfortable, it’s like walking barefoot… but… too cute!

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This scarf is a treasured gift from my old headmistress, from The Cat Gallery… I daren’t spend too much time on their website…

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And the jewellery! This ring and necklace were Christmas presents from my son.

I love the symbolism of the golden cat pendant, hanging in the Rowan tree…

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Ornaments, always a favourite, but this one, purchased from my son’s crystal lady, Lizian, is actually carved from Malachite – cats and crystals, how lovely!

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And of course, my most important cats. Princess Charlotte, Lily, Ting and Tooty… my fur family…

Time spent with cats is never wasted.”

Sigmund Freud

Smoky Quartz and Sister Cats

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Smoky Quartz is a personal favourite of mine, in my crystal family. It has a very suave feeling about it, protective and smooth but without being smarmy… think Pierce Brosnan playing Bond…

As a crystal, Smoky Quartz can help lift depression and restore emotional calm, at the same time relieving fear but bolstering your confidence inn your own abilities to cope with different situations. Smoky Quartz is wonderful to help with relieving stress too.

I have a tendency to become overwrought, sometimes, but ten minutes by myself with the trusty Smoky Quartz helps to anchor me… rather than running away with the stress fairies, and actually just washes away the negative emotions… a spiritual shower that gently sponges away the dirt of negativity to let positive thought and clear insight shine through.

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A yin/yang stone of balance and harmony, rather like sister cats… Ting and Tooty are litter-sisters – that is irrefutable despite the fact Ting is Siamese coloured and Tooty is all black. It is not uncommon for kittens to be fathered by two different tom cats, as the queen has the ability to – ahem – pick and choose which swimmers find their way home. I’ve never had sister cats before, and it’s lovely to watch as they greet each other – a quick lick to the forehead, or as they play… although sometimes that can end in growly hisses and tufts of fur…

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They are funny though… Ting will go Siamese-cross eyes and squint fiercely down her nose as she advances, tail swishing towards Tooty. Tooty – and this never fails – will collapse on her back, legs in the air, displaying a large amount of soft black tummy to bounce on… not so! Ting falls for it every time as Tooty deploys her toe knives and kicky scratches to embrace her sister in combat… Tooty generally wins as she is the – um – heavier cat, although they are both quite tall in the shoulder, compared to the older girls, Charlie and Lily.

_mg_2847“Hmm, I love children… Couldn’t manage a whole one though…”

The two older girls tend to regard Ting and Tooty fairly dispassionately, more nuisance than family, although sometimes Charlie can be tempted into a terrifying game of chase… terrifying for the cat she is chasing as they are never entirely sure whether she will play or punish… Yet Ting and Tooty will still sleep together with love and affection, perhaps harking back to the sad few days when they were little and lost, cold and frightened… They curl up back to back, or ‘spoon’ each other, sleepily pushing and shoving each other to get comfortable.

However sad I may feel, I cannot help but be lightened by my sister cats… a furry reminder of love and balance.

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Chiastolite and Cheerful Cats

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This is a wonderful crystal…a real gift… where we live, the city is built on a network of sandstone caves, carved out of the living rock, that have been used for a variety of purposes since mediaeval times, or thereabouts…

To capitalise on this geographical gift, there are organised tours of the caves, with the obligatory haunted cave and secret passage leading to the castle, as well as a wonderful gift shop. The gift shop sells little bags of assorted crystals, which of course is an irresistible draw for myself and my son.

On this particular day, we purchased the little hessian bag and opened it eagerly on the bus home… out spilled the usual treasures of Red Jasper, Zebra Marble and Green Aventurine. Then a lovely, pinkish stone with a dark cross running through it.

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My son recognised it as Chiastolite, but not being familiar with its qualities I had to look it up. And what a little gift it is indeed! It’s a very protective stone – I am always drawn to these – traditionally used to ward off ill-wishing and negativity, its power perhaps associated with the symbol of the cross it carries. It will rid you of negative thoughts and emotions, bringing harmony and smooth transitions.

Again, perhaps because of its lovely inbuilt symbol, this stone is credited with the ability to help you understand immortality, the concept of Life, death and re-birth. It can ease the acceptance of reality, letting go of illusions and help the wearer release old habits and memory patterns.

Chiastolite can help in strengthening the intent to find solutions to problems, clear guilt and stabilise emotions. It provides a constant supply of stability and basic cheerfulness, actually, rather like my Siamese cat Ting… bless her!

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She is unfailingly happy…

HI!!! Didn’t realise you were upstairs… that’s GREAT! Now we can play…”

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She loves to lie on the bedside rug and air knead and make loud “CURR-ahh CURR-ahh” purring sounds…

She adores lying on the corner stair as you go up, waving her paws and jaws, demanding tummy tickles and strokes…

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She loves sleeping back-to-back with her sister or cuddling next to you in bed…

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Basically, for a little cat who had such a sad start in life, (The Finding Of Kittensshe adores living, and Life and greets it with a resolute happiness.

Just the sight of her slightly crossed blue eyes gleaming from her dark chocolate face is guaranteed to make me smile…

WaaaooOH!”

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Tooty’s Tale

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Tooty had a… confused start in life. She is Ting’s sister, no doubt about that as they share a bond of sibling affection that I don’t see between Charlie and Lily, even though they’ve known each other since they were a couple of months old. How we found them is the subject of an earlier post: ‘The Finding of Kittens’, but although Ting’s place in our family was assured – my partner knew of my secret, long-held desire for a Siamese – Tooty, as a black cat was held as being surplus to requirements in my partner’s opinion. Besides which, we already had a black cat, little Lily, the dainty, pretty murderess who had captured my partner’s heart with her killing charm.

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However, I loved Tooty the moment I saw her for her bravery. She was the first one to leave the safety of the hedge for an unknown future with us. I had absolutely no intention of separating the sisters. I just never mentioned it. So she stayed, and I say a ‘confused’ start to life with us since we were convinced she was a tom, and actually called her Derek for her first few months of living with us.

She grew and developed into a black cat with a charm and beauty of her own. She doesn’t have the fragile prettiness of Lily, rather the sleek, powerful lines of the traditional parlour panther. She is the only cat I have with eyes the colour of Citrine or Amber, depending on the light… a proper witch’s cat but she has the temperament of a particularly cuddly marshmallow.

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Like all my girls, I took her to the vet to be spayed, however, she did develop a chest infection after, and although it cleared up after antibiotics, it has left her with the tendency to snore. And I mean snore. A real roof rattling reverberation… Her meow is quite funny too. She’s not the most talkative of cats, unlike Charlie or Ting, but when she does meow, it’s more a croaky “Wah!” sound. A bit like a goose. Tooty “Brrrp’s” a lot though.

Brp! Hi, I’m here,”

BRPP! I didn’t see you there, you scared me!”

Brp-wah… sure it’s feeding time…”

Tooty has the most wonderful purr though, a deep, melodic soothing rumble. She likes to cuddle in the bed next to you and will lie, legs in the air, so you can stroke her chest, eyes blissfully closed, purring away like a little motor.

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She and her sister, Ting, still play together as well – sometimes a little too roughly and the fur tufts fly. It’s soon forgotten though, as they greet each other affectionately with a tender lick between the ears.

So. Despite having a duplicate of colour in cats, Tooty brings her own special qualities to my feline fur family. She is loving and affectionate, a confident panther who stalks the rooms of my house, “brrrping” and throwing catnip mice around…

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Family and Fibromyalgia

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I have a bit of a complicated family. I am, effectively, an only child… that is, of my parents’ marriage, although I have three sisters and a brother. In brief, I have an older half-sister by my mother’s first marriage, an older half-brother by an interim relationship she had, and two younger half sisters by my father’s second marriage. So, as you see, an only child…

Although not really… my sister, strictly speaking, half-sister, and I have been as close as any full blooded relationship could make us.

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When my parents met, my father was a newly qualified veterinary surgeon, while my mother was working as a receptionist, and living at home and taking some time to think what to do next with her life after the failure of her first marriage that had left her with a little girl. My parents (obviously) hit it off and got married, my father quite pleased with the idea of a bonus daughter. And what does every vet’s daughter need? Why, a pony of course! My father, eager to fit in with the right set, bought my sister a pony, and so it was firmly established that we would be a ‘horsy’ family before I even set foot in this world.

My sister grew up to be a talented horsewoman and soon outgrew her pony… which I inherited. She rode to hounds with my parents (sorry) and came home triumphantly with the fox’s brush and blood on her cheeks. I cried.

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These were the glory days of horsemanship and British showjumpers like Harvey Smith and Paddy McMahon were the pin-ups of the day. My sister was the talk of the show jumping circuit on her bay horse, built like a tank that went like a rocket.

I was there to witness a bad fall though, as her horse clipped the top rail of a jump with his hoof and fell…My sister lay, groaning, beneath the felled jump, while the horse scrambled to his feet and galloped away. My mother leapt agilely into the ring and darted towards the horse, screaming:

My God, Rambler, are you all right?!”

My sister broke her collarbone that time.

My parents spent a lot of time ferrying my sister from one show to the next. I didn’t mind. I was quite happy at home, with my cat, my books and a sweet French girl called Isabelle who my parents paid to look after me – I learned most of my nursery rhymes in French first.

As my sister grew older and technically more responsible, she looked after me while my parents worked, and, as siblings do, we managed some fairly spectacular adventures … and got along together pretty well. The day she let my pony in the kitchen was quite entertaining, as was the day she was stuck up a tree for three hours as the new horse waited below … and I waited inside for my mother to come home and remove the bad-tempered creature.

Mornings after dinner parties – my father was determined to take his place in the social circle – we would sneak down and eat leftovers and have onion fights … the aim of this being to place a piece of raw onion directly in your opponent’s eye and hold it there – by force if necessary, until they start screaming and crying. Being ten years older than me, my sister generally won this.

Then my parents got divorced. I went to boarding school – unwillingly – and my sister moved in with her boyfriend – happily. My father moved in with his mistress – relievedly – and my mother finished her training as a nurse.

The childhood days that seemed like something out of a James Herriot book crossed with a Jilly Cooper novel were over, as our family members essentially went their different ways.

We don’t live far from each other now, my sister and I, and we’ve only just started talking again, after a fall – out lasting more than ten years… She has Fibromyalgia, my sister.

This debilitating disease has sapped her strength and muddied her mind. The girl who met each fall with bravery and got back up again now needs special aids in the house to help her up and downstairs safely. The small sensitive hands that could guide a horse with the lightest touch on the reins are now swollen with Rheumatism.

Yet she recalls each detail of our childhood with laughter, and meets each new challenge with the courage that kept her flying over six foot jumps as I watched safely from the sidelines.

My sister – my friend.

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Emeralds and Eyes

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Emerald is one of those versatile crystals that lends itself well to jewellery as well as being used in crystal therapies. It is the birthstone for May, coinciding with the horoscope signs Taurus and Gemini. It sometimes is linked to the Heart Chakra, like the majority of green stones meaning it can provide both emotional healing and instill compassion.

There are a lot of myths and legends surrounding this beautiful crystal, including one that says the Holy Grail is made from a large Emerald. It was also said to be able to protect the wearer from enchantment and Emeralds were traditionally given to travellers to protect them on their journey.

Cat's Eye Green.jpgThis is Cat’s Eye, a man-made version of Chrysoberyl… still very beautiful and an excellent focal point for meditation…

The word ‘Emerald’ simply means ‘green stone’ and is derived from the Greek ‘smargos’. The oldest known mine is in Egypt, from around 3000 BCE and supposedly a favourite of Cleopatra’s. Emerald also has the reputation of being able to enhance domestic bliss and ensure good relationships – didn’t bring her much luck – although if it changes colour then that is an indication of unfaithfulness.

An interesting crystal then. A traditional interpretation of its metaphysical benefits is that it can help with the recovery after an infectious illness and also detoxify the body. It enhances metal clarity and is therefore, good to use in promoting group co-operation and expression. It is also said to help with diseases of the eye and improve vision, both physically and spiritually as the colour mimics the beneficial and restorative powers of Nature.

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Emerald then, is a useful and practical crystal to have. As well as being attractive to look at, it encourages unity and friendship. Quite a few cats have green eyes, although having said that, out of my four, I only have one cat that has green eyes; Lily, my little huntress with eyes of deepest Emerald… cat’s eyes are a fascinating thing to look at anyway, regardless of colour. They can see up to six times better than people which gave rise to the belief that they can see in the dark. In actual fact, cats have a special layer of cells at the back of their eyes called the ‘tapetum lucidium’ which reflects light back to the retina, thereby making use of every bit of ambient light to enable better vision, a little like camera settings.

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This also gives the eerie reflective glow you sometimes get when photographing a cat or seeing them in half light. Ting’s glow purple, which startled me, till I realised it’s because her eyes are blue… All cats have blue eyes when they are born, the adult colour develops around three months of age. Some sort of recessive gene causes adult blue eyed cats to usually be deaf, and you can also get some cats that have one blue eye and one green, or yellow… heterochromia iridum is the technical term.

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I remember when I was a little girl my sister and I had an alarming encounter… We used to live in a cottage in a little village in the country. I think it was originally two tiny farm workers cottages that were knocked into one larger dwelling. We had beams, open fireplaces, atmosphere… I hated it.

One evening, our parents had gone to a dinner party. At 16, my sister was considered old enough to look after me responsibly while they were out. Naturally, she let me stay up long past my bedtime, we made a large bowl of popcorn (and a mess in the kitchen) and settled down to watch the late night horror film. We had quite a long driveway leading up to the house, so there was plenty of time for us to rush up to bed if our parents returned.

We were watching one of those Hammer House of Horror films, starring those late greats Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. We sat in delightfully horrified silence as Mr.Lee – as Dracula- bared his vicious fangs and hissed…

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There was a scratching behind us. There was a SCRATCHING behind us! The cat was on the sofa, with us, the sheep was in her bed in the kitchen and the dogs…were watching something…Their ears were pricked and they were following the progress of something across the room.

We looked at each other, my sister and I. She said, reassuringly:

Don’t worry, if it’s anything bad, the dogs will start to growl.”

The dogs started growling. Their hackles raised. I did what any self-respecting 6 year old would do and burst into tears. My sister-as the responsible adult – got off the sofa, me firmly attached to her leg. The dogs, Nikki, the German Shepherd, Damask the Great Dane and Misty the whippet, were all staring behind the sofa. It was pushed up against the wall, but didn’t fit flush to it, so there was a gap of perhaps ten inches into which… something… could creep.

My sister and I bent down to look behind the sofa. A pair of RED eyes swam into view… about three feet away in the gap behind the sofa. They blinked – AND SHOT TOWARDS US VERY QUICKLY!

That was it. My sister flung me aside – I grabbed her jumper and we legged it. Ran for the stairs and upstairs to our parents’ bedroom where there was another telephone, the dogs now barking, the sheep awake and all charging upstairs with us. The cat slept on…

Needless to say…tearful telephone calls to the house where our parents were dining, my sister’s boyfriend and the police. My parents were disbelieving, thinking that perhaps my sister had got into the drinks cabinet, but hearing my distressed shrieking in the background, decided to come home sharpish. Actually, all those summoned arrived pretty much together, and reassured by my parents’ presence, the boyfriend comforting my sniffling sister and a rather large policeman, I directed them towards the back of the sofa.

There was nothing there.

We’ve had our ups and downs, my sister and I, but this is one thing we agree on to this day. Those eyes were there. They were evil. We never found anything that could be responsible for them…

IMG_4722 (3).JPGThis is Boris, a stray that seems to have adopted us – he has the most beautiful eyes…

To return to eyes, then, my original subject along with the serene beauty of the crystal, Emerald:”The eyes are the windows to the soul”…This saying is popularly attributed to Shakespeare, but a true enough reflection when you think of making eye contact and what you perceive of the person, or animal, within.

Emerald for clarity of vision then, as clear as cats’ eyes and as guileless; beautiful and mysterious, holding secrets of the ancients.

IMG_4955 (2).JPG“Who’s Princess?”

“We are Siamese if you please…”

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Ever since I was a little girl and I heard those immortal words from the classic Disney film ‘Lady and the Tramp’, I was besotted with Siamese and overcome with the desire to have one for my very own. When I was a little girl they weren’t exactly a common breed, but when my old cat passed, my parents moved heaven and earth to find me a suitable replacement. A Burmese. Don’t get me wrong because I adored him, and my fondness for Siamese faded into the background.

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I have had a succession of cat family members, my most recent being the four ‘Girls’, the ‘Big Girls’ and the ‘Little Girls’. I have already told the story of how we acquired the ‘Little Girls’ in an earlier post and how I finally came to own a Siamese.

image[9].jpeg“Yay! My forever home!”

Granted she has no pedigree to prove her background, but she is the sweetest natured cat I have ever had the pleasure to know and love. Admittedly she is not the brightest of cats, but from the tip of her chocolate kinked tail to her brown leather nose she is every inch an elegant Siamese to look at. And hear.

CAM00115.jpgIn my son’s bed – I’d just changed the sheets!!

Waaaaahh! I’m here! What’s happening!”

It is heart-rending when we have to go out… a puzzled brown face and slightly crossed blue eyes watches our departure and her howls echo after us… even round the corner…

Waaaaoooh! Whyyyyy! Nooooah! Don’t go! Please! Come back…”

The look of sheer pleasure on her little face as she comes running to greet us, purring thunderously and then flopping at our feet so we can rub her tummy. She will roll ecstatically from side to side, grabbing at our hands with her paws and mouth – never to bite or scratch, although there have been a couple of accidents where she’s snagged me… The devastated look on her face afterwards has me comforting her!

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She is certainly the most talkative cat I’ve ever had, and will keep up a running commentary on whatever she sees me doing:

Hi! What shall we do Oh, you’re going to clean the bathroom, that’s always good for a laugh…”

My partner chose her name… he likes ‘Little Britain’ and doesn’t have to take the cats to the vets…

Ting Tong! Ting Tong Maccadangdang!” muffled snickers from the – of course – crowded waiting room…

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She adores having her photo taken. The other girls don’t mind and will quite happily pose for a while, but Ting actively loves the camera…

Oh yes! He’s got the whirry box! Me! Look! I’m here right now! I’ll waive my fees…” as she tramples over Lily to get to my son and rub her face lovingly on the camera.

She is the sweetest, most loving cat. From the lost little kitten, she has grown into a happy, confident cat who never fails to put a smile on my face as she gazes at me with love in her – slightly crossed – sapphire blue eyes.

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All photos were taken by my son!