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  • Writer's pictureSheila Norton

Currently catless! (But maybe not forever?)

With my second ‘cat’ story soon to be published, I’ve been asked by several people whether I’ve got a cat myself. It’s a fair question. Some might wonder how someone who doesn’t have their own cat can possibly know enough about them to write this kind of book – especially as my stories are told from the cat’s point of view!

Those of you who’ve read previous posts on here will know the answer. I’ve been privileged to share my life with three cats in the past, but no, sadly at the moment we are a catless household. Our last cat passed away four years ago at the ripe old age of 15. He was a chocolate Burmese called Charlie, a real little character and yes, I thought of him often when writing my new book Charlie, the Kitten who Saved a Life, but my fictional Charlie is a young tabby, despite sharing a few of our own Charlie’s cheeky characteristics!

We lost our previous two cats in traumatic circumstances. Misty, our lovely Devon Rex, died in a road accident outside our house. And Oscar, Charlie’s brother, a lilac Burmese, went missing along with Charlie after we moved house. Both boys were microchipped and we eventually got Charlie back after two weeks’ absence but never saw Oscar again. So the fact that Charlie survived into old age, eventually dying in his sleep at the cattery while we were on holiday in Australia, was of some comfort by comparison. But still, of course, the end of the human-pet relationship is always tough. We’ve had two dogs during our time, as well as the three cats, and it’s never easy to lose them, no matter what age or what the circumstances. As well as our own shock and grief at learning about Charlie’s demise when we came home from holiday, we felt bad for our family who coped with the news and kept it quiet from us while we were away, and bad for the cattery staff, especially the girl who’d found him.

So, over the years I learned a lot about cats’ behaviour, and their interaction with us humans. In fact, I’m currently writing a series on my Facebook author page, which I’m calling Charlie’s A-Z of Humans, describing what Charlie the Kitten might think about us! Luckily I also still have ‘access’ to a few cats – not least those belonging to two of my daughters and their families: lucky black cat Freddie, and black and white kittens Winnie and Wilbur.

But for now, we’re remaining catless – and dogless too, for that matter. Why? Well, now we’re both retired from the day jobs, like a lot of retirees we’re doing a fair bit of travelling and holidaying before we become too aged and decrepit to do so. Most of us ‘oldies’ rarely, if ever, went any further than their nearest bit of British coast when we were younger. (I remember once, as a schoolgirl, getting a postcard from a friend who was in Cornwall with her family, and being absolutely amazed that anyone went so far away for their holidays). In a way, I wish we’d been able to get the ‘travel bug’ out of our systems at a younger and fitter age, but it wasn’t within our means so we’re trying to make up for lost time now. And we don’t want to start a new relationship with a furry companion, only to end up putting him or her into a cattery all the time. The fact that we weren’t there with Charlie at the end of his life has influenced this decision a little, but it’s not just that. When I do get another cat, I want to spend as much time as possible enjoying him.

So is that a ‘yes’ for a future four-legged newcomer to the Norton household? Let’s just say I find it very hard to close the local paper after looking at the pages from the Cats’ Protection League showing pictures of cats needing loving homes. And yes, I’m one of the many who drool over cute kitten pics on Facebook. So I’m certainly not ruling it out. I’d be quite happy to end up as a mad old cat lady!

Meanwhile I’m happy to have, at least, written another book narrated by a cat. Charlie, the Kitten Who Saved a Life, a sequel to Oliver, the Cat Who Saved Christmas, will be published by Ebury on 11 August 2016, in paperback and ebook editions. Charlie hopes you will enjoy his story!

Charlie the Kitten - front cover

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