Born or Influenced to be Cat Lovers?

Were you born a cat lover or were you influenced to become one, by the people in your life? I think I was both. I can’t ever remember a time in my life not loving cats.

loving cats

Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra

First and foremost of course the cat lover who most influenced my lifetime of loving cats, was our late mother. She grew up in a country village where cats were part of the family and she used to tell Barbara and me stories about them, especially her own cat ‘Mrs Moss’.

We grew up in a family with dogs, because our late dad was a dog lover, but we and our mother were always longing to have cats in our lives. I suppose in a way our dad influenced me too, he said he hated cats, yet in the factory where he worked mending trains there were many cats and he along with his work mates used to share his bait (a Northern word for a packed lunch) with them.

A neighbour was next, her family had a cat called Tibby who lived in a shed in their yard and had many litters of kittens, I spent some very happy hours in that shed and learned a lot about cats and kittens just by being with them.

After I left school and was awaiting a chance of a career with animals I worked for a while in a wallpaper and paint shop. A cat we called Tuppence used to come to the back door to be fed, I loved that little cat but other shopkeepers didn’t want her around. There were no local Sanctuaries back then so the RSCPA were called to collect her, I cried when they did.

But through that sad happening I met the local RSPCA secretary who turned out to be my old headmistress! We became very friendly and I loved going to her house as she lived alone with her two beautiful cats, a long haired brown tabby called Teddy and a black and white called Coco and I was always welcome there.

We had lots of happy times having cat conversations. When I landed my first job at a vets I had to travel quite a way every day, setting off early and arriving home quite late and working weekends too, so I hadn’t much free time and our friendship fizzled out.

I next met up with another cat loving lovely lady, she was the secretary of the local BUAV branch (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) and we became good friends. She used to travel 20 miles by bus every Monday to a town and buy all the cats and kittens for sale on the weekly market there, because it was a place where animals were known to be bought from for laboratories.

The vets where I worked also had boarding kennels and cattery and after I’d done my kennel maid training, my stint in the cattery was my happiest time. I remember one lady used to send her three brown tabby cats a postcard each from her holiday, I still think of reading those postcards to those beautiful cats, Thomasina, Go Canny and Sooty Moo.

But all too soon I was moved on to nursing and most of my time then was helping the vets in the clinics and with the daily operations and after care of the patients. Although I did take my turn on the reception desk too and learned office work and also still worked in the kennels and cattery some Sundays and Bank holidays when there was only emergency cover so not many clients coming in with their pets.

We had three resident cats there, Fluffy a long haired tabby who used to butt under chins so hard she knocked the person’s head back lol. She used to sit on a chair in the waiting room, totally unfazed even by dogs and was much admired and petted. Fluffy was a long haired tortie and Ebony was a very shy black cat, all had been abandoned at the surgery and just stayed there.

Eventually a job came up nearer home, in a mixed animal practice. When I went for the interview the owner of the practice snapped me up as I was just the ‘jack of all trades’ he needed. There was only him, another vet and me!

So for many happy years there I was secretary/receptionist/telephonist/nurse/ cleaner/mortuary attendant…the lot!

I met many more cat lovers during that time and became friends with some ‘crazy cat ladies’ too lol. One was very poor but had cats on every available surface in her home, she was absolutely besotted with cats and hated anyone who didn’t share her passion lol.

I was still working at the vets and Babz and I were still living at home when our dad died suddenly aged only fifty-five. We only had one old dog at that time and I took a long haired black kitten home for our mother who was shocked and heartbroken at her bereavement. She called her Kitty and that cat saved her sanity!

Forty years on from that day and many beautiful cats later, Babz and I live together again since she was widowed and we have our two boyz, Walter and Jozef.

Then of course last but not least, along the way, Babz and I met Marion, our local Cats Protection co-ordinator and what she doesn’t know about cats could be written on a postage stamp!

I feel sad when a child longs for a cat because I know how that feels. But I tell them the wait is worthwhile in the end.

Having lived with, worked with and volunteered with cats all of my adult life, now I can’t imagine my life without them in it!

Ruth aka Kattaddorra

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Born or Influenced to be Cat Lovers? — 72 Comments

  1. I read every word of this. It is beautifully evocative (a bit like Dee’s US article) of times past in England. The potted history of an English cat lover. Charming and informative article.

    You have touched on that age-old question: nature or nurture and it is both but I believe that loving cats (and for me all animals) is in the DNA – it is in our genes. We inherit it. Influences thereafter are a factor definitely.

  2. I never really cared much about cats until Gigi in Canada chose me – that really caught me by suprise. I have never turned back. I’m sure if a cat had chosen me sooner I would have changed sooner. I just didn’t know about them really. I was even nervous around animals – now I am only nervous around children and some dogs.

    • Neither did I get involved with cats until quite late in my life (other than through my mother’s cats). That may have been good for cats because my life was not really stable or settled enough to go a good job caring for them.

    • Yes Marc if you’d met a cat sooner I’m sure you’d have loved cats. It’s a wonderful feeling getting to know a new cat. I can remember many of the ones I met. One who used to come into the first vets I worked for was a Persian and the pott model of Jimmy Edwards (A UK comedian with a handlebar moustache)His name was Lord Ferdinand, I so longed to call him Jimmy lol
      Another who sticks in my mind was a dark tortie who used to board in the cattery, she was called Winky Woo and she hated everyone poor little soul, she was very unhappy boarding and lashed out when we went to feed and care for her. Well one Christmas when I was on duty my dad was in a good mood and he drove me and Babz (she used to help weekends and school holidays) to work and our late mother came too. She of course headed straight to the cattery, picked Winky Woo up and cuddled her! Never got even one scratch!!! She was the cat lady of all cat ladies lol

      • So you have really had cats your whole life – that’s wonderful Ruth – I wish I could understand and know them as well as I am sure you do.

      • I just loved your story Ruth – thanks for sharing yet again. I’m actually quite jealous of your life to be honest. You are in a much nicer part of England than I was – the countryside up there is lovely and the people are much more friendly and nice. You have worked with cats and animals all the time and now you live in a lovely house with your own back garden and what’s more your cats can go for a wander pretty safely there. I’m jealous!

        • Yes County Durham has some lovely places, our countryside is beautiful and we have lots of historic buildings and museums here. Sadly some of the houses and shopping streets are quite run down now with so much unemployment and young people turning to drugs and crime.
          But at least we can escape to the peacefulness of the Nature around us.
          You know Babz runs our branch of funeralcare, would you believe she often gets to work to find the front defaced, takeaways thrown at her door and windows, once a window even broken, the latest is tar on her step. It’s shocking and sad that some people have no respect for even a place where people are RIP.

    • Ha, ha, Marc. You wouldn’t last one day in my job teaching music at an elementary school if you are nervous around children! Kids can smell fear on you– you’d better not be scared or nervous or they’ll walk all over you. They aren’t so bad once you get to know them, and once they learn they can trust you. It’s great to have the opportunity to guide young people to make good choices in their lives.

      • I’m sure they can tell I am nervous then. I’d love to be able to teach kids to care for animals. That would be very worthwhile.

      • I haven’t had a great lot to do with kids and didn’t want any of my own but I do enjoy other peoples…….in small doses 😉

        • That was how Jeff and I felt: we could enjoy other people’s children, but then at the end of the day, you get to send them home to their parents. I enjoy teaching, but I also enjoy coming home to a quiet house with just Monty and Jeff to greet me.

          Parenting is a 24/7 job and I don’t think I was really cut out for it. Some Christians say it’s a sin not to have children because of the command to “be fruitful and multiply,” but at the time that command was given the earth was empty. I think God also gave us brains to look around and see when that job was done. The earth seems pretty full of people to me. Children are a great gift, but not one that has to be given to everyone, and not something that is right for everyone. God didn’t give me a son or daughter to care for, but He certainly gave Monty to me for that purpose. Each must fulfill his or her calling, and that won’t be the same for every person.

          Just because it’s your calling doesn’t mean it will always be easy either. Teaching really challenges me, but I know it’s what I’m meant to do. I suddenly can’t work physical therapy at all, until I build strength back and am clear of the risk of tendon rupture from Cipro and I don’t really care that much that I can’t do that job, except I miss the money. But I believe daily bread is something God gives, not something I earn in a paycheck, so it will all work out.

          • I admire that you have such faith, Ruth.
            I, also, admire how you have handled this Cipro nightmare. I hope every bit of you will be restored.
            I was blessed with 2 children who are, now, exceptional adults.
            No idea how they could have turned out so well, because parenting was very hard for me. I’m grateful that my parents were involved grandparents. It helped.
            Cats are so much easier for me even if they can’t (or won’t; I say that because I had a dog that would pick his toys up and put them in his basket) pick up after themselves, wash dishes, or take out the trash.

            • Thanks, Dee! I do sometimes miss having teens to do chores around here. Once my nephew was here helping me clean and he asked, “Do you want it clean or military clean?” He said he really liked helping me clean up the house because it’s so bad he feels really good to do it. Then he felt badly that he says it that way. I didn’t mind. It’s true. I’m a terrible housekeeper. But I do the important stuff– Monty’s room is clean, his litter box scooped, fresh food and water, all that. But I do have a lot of clutter. Every year I get rid of some more, but I have a ways to go.

              • I know what you mean. It’s easy for me to just pile stuff, with every intent on putting it away. I’m not good at keeping up with dusting, vacuuming, etc.
                I’m better at doing a “shine what shows”. I’m 5’3″, so anything above that doesn’t exist to me.
                Your nephew sounds like a joy and like my daughter. She comes about every 2 months, gloves up, and goes to work after saying, “Oh, Mom…” She does the things that I never have time for, like wiping down appliances and cabinets. I think there is something hideous growing inside the microwave right now.
                By the time I sweep and mop the kitchen, clean out 7 litter boxes, and do all my cat stuff twice a day, I’m whipped.

    • Thank you Michael, I really enjoyed doing this one, a bit of light heartedness after the serious declawing one 🙂 brought back some memories too.

  3. i think ive always loved cats, i had a scare when i was a child with dogs. Though didnt get involved with cats bigtime till i became seriously deprsssed started to have more empathy n tolerance 2 them. since when i had cassy she greatly taught me love. now i lve them.

    • I had a scare with a dog too, Kylee. I got bitten in my own yard by a huge dog when I was five. But I’m ok with dogs now, though I prefer to live with cats. I’ve never had a dog, but I do enjoy other people’s dogs. When I was eight I got to walk this fat little dog in the woods by my uncle’s bait shop. I don’t know if it was his dog or belonged to my cousins, but that was just the most fun I’d ever had in my life. I was amazed at how the dog would just follow the trail through the woods, leading me right along. Cats don’t do that! I think that helped me, spending time with that funny, fat little dog, and being in control of him with the leash but also enjoying his company somehow. I sensed he was showing me his favorite places, and I had never walked there so it was great fun.
      Today it’s all cut down and condos built there. Yuck.

      • I just went round our Neighbourhood Watch members houses with a circular about dog snatchers marking the walls of properties where dogs live, well if the dog in one house is snatched it’s his own fault because he grabbed the paper as I put it in the letterbox, just got my fingers out in time lol
        Dogs can do much more damage to a person and property than cats ever could!

        • Yikes! Maybe you should wear heavy gloves or use something like forceps to put in mail slots. Have you counted all your fingers? Are they still there?

          • lol yes all fingers present and almost correct apart from a cut on my thumb I did myself with a bread knife OUCH
            Some people further into this estate are actually almost as bad as their dogs. Before the last election Babz and I helped our local MP canvass, I got sworn at, leaflets thrown back at me, letter boxes snapping, and a door slammed on my finger. One door flew open and a ferocious dog lurched forward, I just managed to pull it shut in time before I became his dinner….phew ….limped home after that, bleeding, feet and legs aching …never again! Some one said it was because I look a bit like our local MP and some people hate her. Babz kindly took on the rest of my round, bless her. Thank goodness our NW is only the 12 houses of the nice people in our own little cul de sac 😉

        • Here in New Zealand we are having a similar thing with people marking letter boxes mostly up north and stealing dogs. Havent hearld of people stealing cats. But Its just so sad. I think alot of people want particular dogs for dog fighting.

            • its horrible i think over here the do a purople mark. Thankfully over here by the law for dogs anyway they got to be microchipped and registerd. That way they can track them. NO doubt it will prob be the same for cats.

  4. Excellent poster as always.
    Your story is magnificent. I just love it. It gave me a keen glimpse into “how to make a Ruth AKA”.
    Pour in love and kindness until it overflows, whip in every skill known to mankind until all are absorbed, then gently blend in as many cats as possible.

    You may not have lived with cats at a young age, but you sure had a lot of them and cat people around you. So, you were more than prepared for a “luvacat” life.
    It’s it amazing that cat people just seem to be drawn to each other, some never knowing at first that they have there love of cats in common?
    Maybe, we all have some sort of radar or have cat scent that oozes cat love through our pores.

    That’s why I need to respond to the question of born or influenced with…
    I think it’s a mix of both. Perhaps being born is 60% with influence at 40%.
    We all “go with what we know” and are exposed to, but cat people seem to possess some sort of added element in their psyche that others don’t have.

    • Thanks Dee 🙂 Yes maybe cat lovers have some sort of aura which attracts other cat lovers to them, we are certainly all drawn here to PoC out of all the cat web sites on the internet, because our worthy leader Michael is so honest about his passionate love of cats himself.

  5. So what chance did I have with a mother and sister who were crazy cat ladies? My only option was to join them, so I did. I love every inch of cats, the sharp bits, the smelly bits, the hungry bits, the whole lot! Great pics and story Ruth as always, much enjoyed a trip down memory lane.

    • You didn’t take much persuading to help out at the vets weekends and holidays, I always remember Mr P calling you a ‘sensible little bird’ and awarding you ten shillings pay from the till lol

    • Thanks, Barbara.
      I was just about to pose the question as to whether you shared the same love for cats as a child. Now, I know. But, it’s also nice to know that dogs were loved too.

      • Babz had two guinea pigs she loved too Wilma and Elmer and our dad bred German Shepherds and budgies and canaries and we loved them all, wish he’d loved cats too though.

        • I would have loved all of those critters too. That’s why I think there is really something inborn in animal lovers. I was never influence into loving lizards or turtles. I just did. Frank and Alfred were my favorite lizards. By the way, I did learn that lizards don’t do well in captivity. So, I stopped “keeping” them and just played and enjoyed their tickle.

          • I don’t think I could get close to lizards, I’m a bit scared of things like that, couldn’t touch one anyway. I also couldn’t get fond of a pet rat, but once when we did a coffee morning for Kays Hill they brought a dog and a rat as the mystery guests of honour and I did manage to stroke the rat with one finger though I still shiver to think of it, and am very glad it didn’t escape and take up residence or I’d have had to look for alternative employment 🙂

            • About the only things I could never warm up to are snakes. My son has one and asked me to babysit one tiome for 3 weeks. I was OK with it as long as it was secure in its glass enclosure and I didn’t have to feed it. It would have starved before I ever put A

              • well…
                to continue…
                It would have starved before I ever put a live rodent in that enclosure.
                I put it in a room by itself and away from cats (not a chance it would be in my room) and just checked on it 3 or 4 times a day. It was all creepy and it charged at me through the glass a couple of times.
                My son says that snakes have personality. I don’t see it.

              • You were brave to even have it in your house Dee.
                I couldn’t feed live rodents to one either, at least rodents have a fighting chance with a cat as the cat has to catch them first.

              • Oh no I couldn’t look after a snake, couldn’t feed it live food, and couldn’t even bear to make eye contact with it, arghhh that one charging at you makes me feel all wobblyskinned. I don’t see the point of keeping snakes, though I know people do get fond of the horrible nightmare inducing things. I saw a comment on Facebook earlier in the week, someone was talking about buying frozen mice for feeding some sort of reptile and I just thought how awful that someone somewhere is breeding mice to freeze for food, do they even kill them first or what?

  6. Oh yes Dee I can’t really remember Tiny and Rex who were before my time but I remember our mam and dad bring home a little German Shepherd puppy one day, I was poorly in bed with pneumonia at the time, my bed was downstairs by the fire and Ruth had been looking after me while they had walked to a village about 3 miles away to collect her and had paid 12 guineas for her, a lot of money at the time, I think that would have been 1962 or thereabouts, oh she was lovely with chunky legs and paws and floppy little ears, we called her Lassie and we loved that dog, what a playmate she was, she used to dress up with us to do nativity plays, and wasn’t averse to giving us a bite on the bum if we deserved it, and our parents said it was our own fault if she did. I broke my heart when she died, we also had Shep by then who was the collie Ruth rescued at the vets, he too was a wonderful dog, irreplaceable both of them, I fancied another dog after Shep died, we had Kitty and Bert by then as well but then my beloved ginger Felix came along and that was it, love at first sight.

    • I was very young when Tiny followed me to the shop one day and was run over, it was very traumatising, a kind neighbour took me home. Rex bit the doctor and our dad had to rehome him, he broke his heart but the doctor said if he didn’t, he would report him for having a dangerous dog.

        • The doctor had come to see our mam and baby Barbara so the poor dog was probably just ‘defending’ them from him, I can only remember that he was a huge dog.

          • Tiny run over just breaks my heart. Sometimes, I get so mad at maniacs on the road acting like they have no brakes.
            And, Rex, it’s clear to me that he was just being protective. And, even if not, so what? Lick your wound, Doc, and get on with business. It’s not like rabies was a worry there.

            • Broke my heart too Dee, I felt guilty because Tiny had followed me but I hadn’t seen her, had I left the gate open? I don’t know, I was just little but must have been old enough to go to the shop alone I suppose, I just can’t remember anything but hearing the squeal of brakes as I went in the shop and turning round seeing her on the road. The driver had stopped and was very upset.
              And Rex after that, yes I’m sure he was just being protective but I suppose if the doctor hadn’t said that and the dog had bitten again, possibly a child then he’d have been in trouble.
              I just don’t know, I was 7 years old then when Babz was born, so can’t remember it all, just snatches. I do know he went to a good home.
              Anyway when we grew up a bit he got Lassie a German Shepherd and bred from her, 2 litters.

    • Thank you Caroline, PoC moves so fast that a lot of older articles get swallowed up into the mists of time lol

  7. What do you think about this abstract?
    It really has little to do with “kin,” nurture, but everything to do with “ilk,” genetics. I’m talking about those who supposedly have a highly developed brain [not a sense of purpose ;)] We are just evolved that we rule the world, this planet that we know as “Planet Earth.” Are we truly more evolved as a species. I will keep it simple. Are we? lol

    • My personal and rather strange opinion on this matter is that humans have evolved too far. We have become too introspective and are unable to live in the moment and therefore become over analytical and ultimately depressed because we cannot find a reason for living. For this reason eventually humans will die out and the planet will revert to the way it was, a better world.

      • Michael, living in the moment is not something that most humans understand. You are so darn right. That has to change. I believe that that is why Mindfulness has become a popular essay and actually, a “course” that is now taught internationally.

    • I agree with Michael, we are too evolved, in fact we are too evolved for our own good. We weren’t supposed to rule the world, we were supposed to share it with all other species.
      Our selfishness, arrogance and greed have ruined the balance of Nature and eventually we will pay the price.
      I agree with Michael again in that we the human race will wipe ourselves out and the planet will be back to how it was, all other species which we haven’t wiped out already, cared for by Nature.

      • Yes, Ruth. Thanks for agreeing with Michael and me.
        What has happened due to our ignorance and arrogance in thinking that we are the “ultimate” species is deplorable.

      • You know how i feel, just the same way we all do here. But I have to disagree with you when you say that we will eventually pay the price. *F* us. We won’t pay a price. The planet will. All due to man. mankind. humankind. It is truly despicable, and sadly, almost–not quite!–too late.

        • Caroline, I think it is a two-stage process. The planet will pay the price and become uninhabitable to a certain extent and then humans will be unable to live on it and then humans will pay the price. At one time I thought that humankind was destroying the planet because we hate ourselves so much.

  8. Sorry, I just came inside after attempting to round up three cats that knew it was bedtime, but felt it more important to climb trees after the wind died down. lol. bedtime.

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