Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Meet our new friend Billy!


I emailed the RSPCA on the off-chance they had a cat with FIV. If we have to keep Kitten in, it’s only right that we rehome a cat with the same condition. Especially since these cats spend a long time waiting for someone to take them home. Luckily they had one, Mr Billy.


He’s a big ex-stray tom, the exact opposite of what we were hoping for. We thought a small girl would be best to integrate with Kitten but hey! Billy was there and he’s the sweetest cat I’ve ever met. He loves being stroked and plays with all the toys I’ve made that Kittensie won’t touch.


Kitten’s not too thrilled – I think he enjoyed a couple of weeks being the only cat – but so far no fighting, just an entente cordiale that will hopefully turn to friendship. Not bad for two big tom cats shut up together.


Monday, 28 May 2012


Because Kitten was diagnosed with FIV we had to find the kindest way we could of keeping him as an indoor cat. He’s not likely to infect any other cats but he could easily pick up cat flu or some other nasty virus due to his reduced immunity. He never went out much anyway but then neither do I and if someone told me I could never leave my house I’d get a bit restless!

So, we decided to cat-proof the yard, at least then he can have some outdoor space and sit in the sun.

The plan was to attach a cat-net over the top of the whole yard so he couldn’t climb out. We needed to make the fence higher to do this so tall people wouldn’t have to crouch!

We bought some trellis and stained it a blue-grey colour to tone down the brash orange.


Then I attached a batten to the top of the fence to support the trellis.


The trellis was attached to posts at each end and then drilled through to the fence behind so I could secure it with huge screws.

attaching trellis 2attaching trellis

Our gate was only waist high so that had to go. I decided to replace it with a sturdy piece of trellis we found at the hardware shop – it is sturdier than some of the gates we saw! We also wanted t be able to see through it to the garden and all the tall gates were solid.

gate 3

I attached a block of wood to the trellis so I could use a traditional gate latch.

gate 2

Then I hung the gate (I said it quick but it took ages to get it right, with lots of cursing and accusing my family of being useless)

We painted the fence too, just to make it look a bit nicer – we’ll get round to painting the rest of the fence at some point but we were pushed for time.

exterior painted

Then it was just a case of getting up on a ladder and screwing in loads of hooks all around the edge to hang the net from. The net comes with the hooks and also a length of rope that you weave through the edge to make it tighter and secure.


It’s a transparent net from Zooplus and cost around £15 – in fact the whole thing including trellis and paint cost less than £100. You can see the net quite a lot from outside but from inside it doesn’t feel like we are boxed in and it is fairly unobtrusive.

interior 3

While we were getting things from Zooplus we splashed out on a little house! Isn’t it cute? Look at those little steps!

interio 2r

Kitten, true to form, has so far ignored it. Oh, and he hasn’t escaped either. He tried to climb the gate once but couldn’t and hasn’t tried since.



Friday, 18 May 2012

Crochet for cats!

I’ve decided to have an unhealthy obsession with making toys for my cat, Kitten. Unfortunately he has been diagnosed with FIV so will have to stay indoors. Fortunately he only goes out once a day anyway and is very healthy. I’ve read a lot about FIV over the last week and it turns out they can live a long and happy life but will be less stressed staying indoors if they have lots to occupy them.

While mice are great, I wanted something a bit different to the toys you can buy in the shops so I made a little crochet Totoro!


I used Lucy Ravenscar’s pattern on Ravelry (hers is much nicer than mine, but I don’t think Kitten minds). It’s amigurumi really, and 4 1/2” tall but a good size for Kitten who is huge.


I also added two catnip pouches, one in the back and one under the stomach patch. I’ve bought a sack of catnip just for him!


Crochet and knitting are great for cats toys, as long as you don’t mind them quickly becoming loopy and destroyed! Of course, this is the only time he’s played with it – maybe the staring eyes look like a challenge? I’ve ordered some catnip spray though because I’m not convinced it was very fresh, maybe he’ll play with it then!

Right, I’m off to trawl Ravelry for more potential cat toy patterns!


Monday, 14 May 2012

Sad days…

I didn’t want to write this post. It hurts to write and I don’t want to bring you all down with my sadness. I couldn’t bring myself to write any happy posts though, pretending everything’s ok and sunshiny when it isn’t. Sometimes a personal blog has to get quite personal.

Molly’s breathing got worse on Tuesday night – so bad that if I had had a vet to hand I would have let her go right then. I took her outside into the fresh air and it got a bit better, she was more comfortable but she wouldn’t let me hold her or stroke her so she must have been quite uncomfortable still.

We rang the vet first thing Wednesday and arranged an appointment. 10am. I had an hour with her. We cuddled her as much as she would let us and pressed her paws into a slab of clay. It was devastating saying goodbye, she didn’t want any love, it was almost like she was blaming us, me, while we were waiting for the final minute. She went very peacefully, no fuss, no bother just as she was in life. I had forgotten how quick it would be. The vet was lovely and reassuring – she wouldn’t have got better no matter what we did and it was better to do it when she wasn’t in too much distress and wasn’t frightened. The hardest thing is reconciling yourself to the fact that you ‘did the right thing’. After all, you can’t ask them, and looking into that forever trusting face knowing what is going to happen is heartbreaking all over again.

I still expect her to be sat on the sofa when I walk in, and am full of disappointment and sadness when she doesn’t follow me into the garden. She always acted like our mother – following us to make sure we didn’t stray too far and leaping on our laps when we were upset.

She was the ugliest cat I’ve ever seen, she looked a bit like Gollem, but to me she was beautiful and will be sadly missed. She left such a tiny physical imprint. No wardrobe to empty, no letters to read. But the hole she left in our hearts is huge.

I could write so much more but I’m going to stop, I’m just upsetting myself. I just wanted to add a huge thank you for everyone’s kind messages and prayers, they have been a big help at such a sad time.



Tuesday, 8 May 2012


So, I’ve just dropped Molly off at the vet for ‘tests’.

Not an experience I was looking forward to. Last Christmas I took Manny to the vet because although his belly was always full he seemed to be losing weight. A few tests later and it turned out he had cancer wrapped around and constricting his stomach – the fullness was caused by fluid collecting in his belly.

The vet had him all day and phoned mid-afternoon to see what I wanted to do, have them put him down while he was still under general anaesthetic or they could wake him up so we could say goodbye. I was on my own and he was a family cat so I decided (through floods of tears) to let them wake him up so we could say goodbye – I just couldn’t deny my family that. It was awful.

I’m in a similar situation again. Molly’s breathing started getting laboured so we took her in and the vet said it could be tumours, but then it could be bronchitis, or pneumonia, or a hundred other things they couldn’t find out without tests. He also noticed one eye was slightly damaged on one side – could be tumours too, or trauma. It’ll be very expensive says the vet, like a builder quoting for a driveway – we could just put her down? No. NO! I told him she could never be too inconvenient or costly. Unless she’s in pain or discomfort she’s not going anywhere.

Which she isn’t, neither according to the vet or pure observation. That was Friday and she’s been at home all weekend. The vet gave her a short-term steroid/antibiotic and said if her breathing got better it was the worst news. Well, her breathing didn’t get any better but her eye got a bit worse and now her pupil looks like a diamond on one side and doesn’t open fully. She’s eating fine and acting just the same as usual. When I took her to the vet this morning she didn’t bat an eyelid.

So I have to sit here waiting for the phone to ring – just like last time. They’re testing for feline AIDS and leukaemia, doing a chest x-ray then they’re going to ring me when they get the results back to make a decision.

Decision? I don’t want to have to make the same one as before. We’ve had Moll for 11 years, but we don’t know how old she was when we got her so she could be a bit older. She’s a self-imposed house cat, and it’s quite odd to not know where she is. But, we have to remember that she won’t be here forever regardless of what the tests find and at some point we’re going to have to let her go.

Hopefully not just yet.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

I’ve been very busy since Open Studios getting ready for my next exhibition, ‘Traces of Elsewhere’ which opens this Saturday 5th May at Studio Eleven in Hull.

Traces of Elsewhere Flyer v1 - LOW RES

It’s very exciting to be exhibiting – I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but maybe this is one of those life-changing experiences I’ve been waiting (read probably procrastinating) for? It happened out of the blue. One day in October I got an email from the lovely people at Studio Eleven asking if I would submit some work for an exhibition. Of course I said yes and last Saturday I delivered several boxes of ceramics to the gallery.

I can’t expect that to happen every week though! I know we make our own opportunities really and if I want to reach my ideal of being self-employed then I need to get off my backside and approach galleries myself, and maybe get good at talking to people in real life! It’s scary but I can’t just let the weeks fly by while I while away the hours being cosily domestic, only producing ceramics when occasion demands it – I need to take some chances.

So if you’re in the Hull area it would be lovely to see you on Saturday (go on, introduce yourself) and you can let me know afterwards how good I am at talking to real people.