Friday, 13 October 2017

Albert

Albert in his kitten cardboard box

In the Autumn of 2008 on a whim I drove into the animal rescue centre at Dyserth and asked a remarkably wizened old lady with an unlit fag hanging out of her mouth if she had any cats who could hold their own against a quartet of terriers. She told me that she hadn't but took my telephone  number " just in case"
That very afternoon she rang me
" we've just had an older kitten brought in by a woman with two staffies" she rasped
" He's a feisty little bugger".
I called down to the shelter later that day and literally minutes after seeing him, I took possession of a tiny wide eyed black kitten with a sad history.
Albert was the only survivor of a littler of feral kittens . His mother had brought them up in a farm outbuilding next to a busy road and had herself been killed the day after Albert's brother had been knocked over by a milk lorry.  Albert and his sister had carried on in a fashion through the charity of one of the farm workers. It was the farm worker who had rescued him after Albert's sister was killed on the same patch of road.
It was the farm worker's wife who had re homed Albert after one of their staffie crosses had taken a dislike to the kitten.
The sob story was worthy of Walt Disney's BAMBI.
Albert arrived wide eyed yet remarkably calm, and set up home inside a cardboard box placed carefully on the dining room table. For six weeks he lived on the table and on the kitchen cabinets without once setting a foot on the floor ( even the cat littler was placed out of dog sniffing) and for six weeks he drove the dogs mad by remaining just that bit out of reach.
The resulting hysteria bubbled just under boiling point as the terriers lived in a permanent state of cat arousal
It was a long , long month and a half!

Then it all changed.
For one very cold night , he left the safety of the kitchen table and took his place in front of the fire with the other dogs as if he had been doing so for years
Apart from William raising a single eyebrow , nothing was ever said about this sudden assertion .

For nine years now Albert has been a true delight.
He's been knocked over by a car , breaking a leg, (which he still can't bend properly)
He has killed hundreds of rabbits, mice , small rats and birds
and he has gone out of his way to be an active  part of the cottage dog pack spending a few minutes every day head rubbing each dog in turn in happy recognition of a friend well loved.

Albert is a constant backdrop to the more boisterous animals at bwthyn y llan, and is necessary to the running of the place as oxygen

74 comments:

  1. What a lovely, heartwarming start to the day, thank you from Jan Bxx

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  2. Our Polly is completely black and a wimp, a tiny thing so that vets always look surprised when I say she's at least 4 maybe older. She announced in the middle of last night that she'd brought in a present for us which turned out to be a Dunnock. Not surprised some people don't like cats!

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  3. Good to read that Albert is finally getting the recognition he deserves. What a traumatic start he had to life.

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  4. Albert is a complete charmer. I have had black cats for us long as I can remember and they melt my hard heart. Every one of them.

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    1. Black cats are my favorite, too! My last three have been black - which is just weird luck, as they all adopted ME, not the other way around!

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    2. I do love black cats, too! I was allowed to choose a kitten when I was about eight, and even though the black one scratched me to pieces while I was deciding, there was never any real question about which one would come home with me. He lived a long, long time and was such a feisty thing.

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  5. Like your stories . . .
    Happy Albert decided on that “curl up” by the fire
    with the rest of the family . . .
    Bet he is keeping an eye on the kitchen redo . . .

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  6. Anonymous9:02 am

    He’s just another dog really, in all but name.
    I’m going to try posting this anonymously. My comments seem to disappear when I’m signed in to blogger - dunno why.
    Wanda

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  7. Finally!!!!!!!!! Thank you John Gray (to be read in you know nothing Jon Snow accent). One of our black cats, MartinClunes, was also a feral kitten and very very frightened, until we got a couple of other kittens when he was about nine months old. They brought him out of his shell and he will now accept a stroke and ear rub......we have ways to go but it is getter there.

    Thank you again for a Albert only post and the lovely photo of the lad as a kitten.

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  8. Great story; I like to hear of differing animals getting on so well.

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  9. Good old Albert! Mind you, I don't applaud his bird killings. Can't you put a collar round his neck with a little bell on it?

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    1. If John "put a collar round his neck with a little bell on it" he wouldn't be John.

      I think it a terrible practice which achieves little other than getting on the cat's nerves (as it would on mine) by interfering with her natural instincts.

      I do appreciate your concern for song birds; however, by all accounts it appears that humans through their own thoughtlessness, say pollution, have done far more to decimate bird population than all the cats of these isles combined. Anyway, YP, enjoy your next roast pigeon, partridge, or whatever else feathered hits your dinner table. Mine will be goose (at Christmas).

      U

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    2. Not "terrible" for the birds who get an early warning of the cat's approach. At Christmas we will not be eating any small wild birds - just a fat turkey specially raised on a turkey farm. There is no ethical contradiction in that.

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    3. Albert will not wear a collar. I tried for months when he was younger.also collars can be dangerous for energetic cats like Albert he's always up trees and in tight spots

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    4. Jinx wears a flea collar with no problem but then he is an indoor cat... I have heard of putting a bell on an outdoor cat to protect the birds but i have no idea if it works...... deb

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  10. My first cat Kimmy was boss over our large boxer for 10 years, Trampas (boxer) never had best place anywhere.

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  11. Took Albert a while to get integrated, but oh my look at him now such a lovely cat. Great post, greetings!

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  12. We have always had cats and enjoyed their different characters, the last four cats have been black. They have been black just by chance and the cat rescue says that they are usually just that little bit harder to home. It is that little bit that we fall for every time. The cat we have at the moment is called Minnie. I had a cat called Roxie a few years ago and decided she was lonely on her own so got another little cat called Beryl. Roxie hated Beryl and poor Beryl spend most of the first few weeks under the bed or under a chair. One day we had to go out, but on pulling up the drive I remembered I had left something. So we went out by the back door and back in through the front. There they lay on the settee, not quite curled up together but within tail touching distance. I swear they both looked guilty and of course after that they were firm friends. Cats, keep you on your toes. Love Andie xxx

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  13. What a beautiful boy he is and what a lovely life he has now.

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  14. My dear John, your account of how Albert came to be brought a lump to my throat only alleviated by telling Yorkshire Pudding what to do with the bell he suggested.

    U

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  15. You will have many more happy years with Albert. Our Bramble came from the cat. Home seventeen years ago, a tiny scrap of blackness. He already had a crooked jaw and within a couple of weeks lost a section of his tale. He's had so many accidents he must have used his lives all up but still he goes on.
    Such a lovely part of your story when Albert joined the terriers by the fire.

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  16. In the early days of our cat keeping, we tried the collar thing, but I can assure you, Mr Pud, that as I'm sure John knows, it is a completely pointless exercise.
    When a cat is stalking a bird (or, I imagine any small animal) he or she stands completely still until he is sure the bird has stopped paying attention all attention to him. And that's when he strikes! He could have the equivalent of Big Ben around his neck, but it would be too late for the bird!

    John, I thought yesterday's photo of Albert rubbing his head against yours was just adorable! I hope he is with you all for at least another 12-15 years. And I am so glad you have given him such a caring home after such a ropey start in life.

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    Replies
    1. If you are right why do the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) advise that those cats that are in the habit of killing birds should wear bells on collars. The bells do indeed make a difference.

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  17. It was a hard life til he met you....he is amazing!

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  18. I guess it's just one of those days. This made me teary eyed.

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  19. I wonder what the "moment" was when Albert decided to descend to the ground? I loved this story. Thank you for sharing. -Jenn

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  20. I love it when cats and dogs are friends. Ginger has had a cat buddy or two in her life, but George barks and acts crazy when he sees one. It really pisses me off and I've tried to break him of it, to no avail. It's not like we're going to be getting a cat, I'm terribly allergic, but I like some of our neighborhood cats and I wish George wouldn't act up when he sees them.

    Albert is a dog in a cat suit! :)

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    1. LOL, I say that about my cat, too!

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    2. Get a Scotty, they are the cats of the gud dug world.

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  21. I loved this story and I love black cats.

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  22. I'm a dog person, but I like cats a lot, too. I keep a dog door so the dogs can come and go as they please, so I never purposely seek out a cat to own, because I feel I can't keep it indoors and safe all the time. However, one way or the other, I always seem to have one! My current cat Lucy just showed up on my doorstop one day, came right in the house, and was fine from minute one with my three dogs (and my dogs have been around cats their entire lives and are totally unfazed by them). I do love that cat! But she goes in and out, and I worry that she will disappear one day, just like many of my other beloved ones have :(

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  23. Albert is gorgeous and wherever he goes, that's where he belongs!

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  24. What a great story. We have always had black cats and Raver in particular thought our yellow lab was her mother. Raver was rescued by my daughter from her high school furnace room and we had her for 17 years. I miss them both and they were the dynamic duo.

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  25. It is great to be introduced to another member of the family.

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  26. Thanks for the Albert post!

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  27. I'm so happy Albert found his wonderful "forever home" with you, the Prof and the dogs! He's a sweetie.

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  28. How sweet is this?! What a lovely back-story to a wonderful cat! You ROCK, Albert!!

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  29. Made me cry :)
    Long Live Albert !!

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  30. I love Albert.....I feel like I know him now.

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  31. Albert is amazing. From such a tragic start in life he has found a happy home with you and the rest of the family. A heartwarming story.

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  32. It's amazing how well he settled in. It's hard for me to imagine Olga living in peace alongside a cat, although maybe she would. (If it were the RIGHT cat.)

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  33. I think black cats are the most beautiful and the ones I've had have all been very intelligent and loving. My son adopted a black cat who has some sort of brain disorder AND is completely gluten intolerant. If he gets ahold of any food with gluten the results are quite nasty. BUT, my son loves that cat so much and they are best friends and this makes me love my son even more.

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  34. VERY well written John. I enjoyed this very much.. So nice to know Albert a little better. I too have a black cat... solid black .. except when the sun shines on him and you can tell his undercoat has a reddish glow.. His name is Jinx....He's about 12 or 13 yrs. old now... maybe a little slower, takes more naps but really doesn't show his age.. He has great big gold eyes... one is a little wonky... the pupil is messed up... not sure he can see out of it very well.. He came from the family ranch where he was an outdoor kitty and he got bit by a snake the week before we took him ... but he survived and has been a pampered indoor kitty ever since.. Hugs! deb

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  35. I was so scared something bad had happened to Albert. What a relief to come to the happy ending.

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    1. Same here! I had to scroll quickly to the end to make sure there was a happy conclusion before I could enjoy the story from the top.

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  36. I have always been intrigued by Albert. He seems to enjoy being part of the pack. What a story of love and acceptances.

    cheers, parsnip

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  37. I love a happy ending.

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  38. Our black cat is much the same as Albert - a foundling but constantly adored by Tess - lots of head rubbing goes on. Our other farm cat - half Siamese - is much more aloof but great friends with Blackie the cat. For this reason neither cat comes into the house and when we move both will stay here on the farm where they have lived for the past eleven years.

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  39. Albert is an amazing cat,like our Edmund.

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  40. What a winner he looked, and proved himself to be. Can't help but think of my three-months-ago-departed, so dear, all-black Blackso, of whom I think of and pine for every single day.
    It gives me enormous satisfaction knowing that Albert is being valued as he deserves to be.

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  41. I'm so glad he found his way to you all as a valued member of your family.

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  42. Cats are most definitely head of any household they decide they will live in. Ginger is most definitely head of our little furry pack and he has Alan exactly where he wants him ... providing a lap to sit on, a hairy arm to lick and a hand to stroke him, all evening every evening :-)

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  43. Cats always rule over their 'subjects' - you included, haha. He has good character.

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  44. Lovely Albert. King of the pack! :)

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  45. That last line... I knew you were a cat person at heart, John! Black cats are a wonder all their own. I love Albert!

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  46. I feel exactly that way about my cat Max.
    All he needs from me is to love on him
    and feed him.
    In return he loves me back,
    and always knows when I need love most.

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  47. I loved reading about Albert's beginnings with you but I still have a question. You said you went in on a whim to get a cat, but what was behind the whim? Did you need rodent control or did you just feel your life was not complete without a cat? :)

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    1. In Sheffield I had two cats.
      Betty and Joan . Both were elderly when we came to Wales. Betty died before we moved into the cottage but Joan lived a few years long until she was 20 she enjoyed the field and the freedom . She is buried on the field

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    2. Ah. Thanks for filling in the blanks.

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  48. Albert is magnificent!

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  49. There are a lot of Albert fans! I'm one of them!

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  50. Albert's adorable. What a rough way to start a life! So glad he found you! You're the best.

    Cindy

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  51. I rescued a feral cat. I've had a cat every day of my life since the age of twelve, or less. This feral cat does not own one domesticated cat gene. He's interesting.

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  52. The Darling Buds of bwthyn y llan. Have a great weekend, one and all. xx

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    1. Gawd bless us one an all....

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  53. Thank God you got Albert before the next truck came down the road got him, too. What a sad and then wonderful story, and you tell it so well. If you don't write a book of all of your adventures with your animals and the things that happened on the job (that you can tell about), it'll be a crime.

    I have a rescued feral cat, too. Her name is Nibbles, but we mostly call her Sweetie or Miss Kitty. She is about a year old. They told us she would probably never assimilate into our household of two retired folks, but after a week of being sequestered in her own room (but visited and played with often), we let her out to roam the house. She has been by our sides ever since. She is more vocal than any other cat we've ever had, and we love her to pieces. My sister says that Nibbles is simply thrilled at being in such a great place!

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  54. A cat to be respected..and loved

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    1. He's also not all black. He has a white star on his chest. The animal rescue centre named him Guinness

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  55. I love Albert best. More Albert and less dogs please

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