My journey so far by Monty aged six
This is me, Monty. Or to be more accurate, it’s a picture of me that I use on Twitter, Facebook and on my business cards (more later).
This brings me immediately to a point of importance – my name.
I am a foundling and as such I only started to collect human names after I was rescued.
Chapter one – My Names (starting when I was about five months old)
We all suspect I may have a lost human name, but gladly that one can stay lost (more of that later too).
Back to my known names – I’m frequently called Monty because that is my name.
But I’m also called:
The Little Prince
Head of Security
I like having numerous human names – it makes me mysterious. Also, and I think this is important, it means I’m not pigeonholed. Can you imagine how ghastly it would be for any cat to be pigeonholed?
Even the thought of humans being pigeonholed is enough to make me shudder.
Chapter two – About my brother
I don’t know exactly where or when I was born and that’s a pity. But I do know something very important. I have a brother.
He’s known as Felix and this is what he looks like at the moment. Felix and I are both foundlings and our earliest memories are of surviving together in the wild. If it wasn’t for Felix, I don’t know how I would have managed in those difficult early days.
He says the same about me, so it’s not all soppy and mushy. We depended on each other for our early survival. And I’m not being dramatic when I say survival because that’s what it was.
I don’t live with Felix now: we’ve grown up a bit and have gone our separate ways. But he lives just three doors away. I still see him and sometimes we go hunting together.
I used to live with Felix in The House Three Doors Away and I loved it there. But some things changed and I changed too. So I found somewhere else to live.
Chapter three – Being found
My life as a foundling started to be recorded on 24th September 2010.
It was a very significant day for me and Felix and it seems like it was a special day for other people too.
It’s fair to say all these other events that were happening on the day of my finding are a mystery to me. What I do know is that little events can be very important. Just because they aren’t momentous to everyone, doesn’t mean they aren’t super precious to others.
Imagine how different mine and Felix’s world would be if the events of 24/9/2010 hadn’t unfolded exactly as they did.
What matters, matters, even if we don’t know why at the time.
But back to me and my momentous 24/9/2010. Felix and I were found as strays next to a canal near Hamondsworth Road, West Drayton, London, England.
We were found by the nice people at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, known as the RSPCA.
They are special people doing special work.I couldn’t pay for them to come and find us, or to care for us when no-one else did. But they came out anyway.
They took us to see a vet, the first – but not the last one of these people I’ve seen.
The vet did checks and found we were both teething… and had fleas. On our reports they wrote ‘fleas +++’. I don’t know what +++ means, particularly in relation to fleas. But let me tell you fleas, let alone ‘fleas +++’ is not good. Not good at all.
Message to all humans. Fleas and cats don’t mix well. Please don’t leave fleas on any cats. It’s not kind. It’s not fun. And there’s no need for it.
And cats please note – humans and fleas don’t get along well. So we cats must do our best not to take unwelcome visitors into the house. No-one will thank you if you do.
Fleas can carry disease. It was them, not the much maligned rats, who caused the plague in Europe a long, long, long time ago.
Mosquitos are a bit like flying rather than jumping fleas. They’ve killed more humans than anything else in history.
A nice, famous human called Anita Roddick once said, “If you don’t believe in the power of small things, try sleeping with a mosquito”.
So believe in the power of small things. And don’t sleep with mosquitos. Or fleas.
Chapter four – Waiting
My fleas +++ were treated by the kind people at the RSPCA – Hillingdon, Slough, Windsor, Kingston and District Branch.
They probably saved my life and how can you say “thank you” enough times for that?
Once Felix and I had been assessed and treated, we were housed and waited for adoption.
And we waited and waited and waited. I don’t know if you know how long a day is to a five-month old kitten, but I can assure you, even if you’re safe, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting isn’t nice.
It’s not nice because it’s a little bit boring. Cats like to be active and chill in their own good time thank you very much.
And it’s not nice, particularly as a foundling, because all that waiting makes you think you’re not wanted.
We heard something a bit upsetting too while we were waiting. We heard it might take a long time to find us new homes because we are black and white. And black and white cats just aren’t popular. Aren’t popular?
Chapter five – Finding a home
It would seem that throughout 2010 and into 2011 our colouring unpopularity contrived to hold us back.
So still we waited and waited and waited. Until early 2011 when we were both adopted by a lovely young couple called Lyndsey and Clive. That’s when we moved into The House Three Doors Away.
Felix and me, explored the territory surrounding The House Three Doors Away. At the end of the garden is a strange kind of stream. Not like the canal in West Drayton where we were found.
The stream at the end of the garden is very shallow and it runs in a concrete-lined channel that’s a cat-leap wide.
On the other bank is a tall building with no windows. It turns out that Felix and I are a little bit famous round here because we used to get to the top of this building and stroll around.
We discovered it’s a nice area with nice gardens and other cats. We found that some were nice and that others just looked at us. Some seemed to want to fight with us.
Now I don’t like to name names or point paws, but George up the road is TROUBLE.
Chapter six – The day it changed
I was minding my own business, noticing that Lyndsey had been getting a bit tubby around the middle, and that a lot of redecorating was going on.
Then one day everything changed.
First of all, Lyndsey and Clive came home with a youngling. On the same day the youngling arrived, Felix – my lovely brother came home in agony with about three inches missing from his tail! Gone. Not be seen again.
He went to the vet and when he came home, he smelled all funny. Not like my brother at all. I didn’t recognise him as my brother – I thought he was a new cat – an intruder.
My world turned upside down. But I had a plan.
I’d seen another couple a few doors away (three in fact). They always seemed to be around.
There were other cats next door to them – Billy and Charley (known as ‘The Girls’) and an old black wanderer called Max. But from what I could see, there was no other cat living with The Couple Who Were Always Around.
But I sensed there was something. Something that could pose a problem for my plan. So I decided to get closer.
It was time to be a bit brave and check them out, maybe even let them see me.
So I made a few appearances in their garden – fleeting of course. Just enough to give them a sense of my speed and my black and whiteness.
Then one day I hung around a little longer and went eyeball to eyeball with the chap of The Couple Who Were Always Around.
He seemed gentle but a little reserved – possibly even, dare I say, a little standoffish.
Then I made contact with the lady of the house. She was very nice, petite and kind looking, but like the chap, there was something a little reserved about her.
I decided I needed to be bolder still if my plan was to succeed. So one day, when I saw they were both in and the back door was open, I quietly went in and just looked at them. I looked for a sign and then it came.
They sat on the floor and gestured for me to come and join them.
I slowly took up their offer and snuggled up on the lady’s lap. I can now tell you she’s called Elaine.
I snuggled, she stroked me, she looked at the chap, who I can tell you is called Graham. And as she stroked and they looked at each other, and they smiled, they both gently began to cry.
I didn’t know why, not then. I was sure it was nothing I’d done. I’ve since found out though.
They once shared their lives with a lovely cat called Murphy. She was black and white too – like me but blacker where I’m whiter.
But Murphy was no longer with them. Her loss had made them sad. Sad enough to cry when another black and white cat decided to try and adopt them.
They welcomed me into their house and let me hang around with them. They put water down for me but no food.
They didn’t know my story, but we started on a new one together – a fresh start for all of us.
Chapter eight – Getting to know each other
I had no collar, so they didn’t know where I lived or my name. They gave me a name of their own. They called me Moo. Apparently my black and white markings reminded them of a cow!
As soon as they discovered I was called Monty, Moo became a memory that brought a smile.
I continued to work on my plan to move in with them. I was still eating at The House Three Doors Away but I was spending the rest of my time with Graham and Elaine, in their house and in their jungle of a garden.
They didn’t seem to mind. In fact there were no more tears and they seemed to enjoy my company. This was nice. A real win-win.
They were the kind of gentle folk who obviously liked black and white cats and I enjoyed exploring and snoozing on all their stuff.
But it couldn’t last. Apparently, if you just eat somewhere and show no affection to the people who feed you, they get upset. Not upset enough to be angry but upset enough to want to find a way to change things to make me happy.
Chapter nine – The Accident
To add to this upset, one night while I was out on patrol, I had an accident. Don’t ask me how, but I ended up like Felix with about an inch and a half of my tail severed. Nasty I can tell you.
I ran into Graham and Elaine’s because it was the nearest house. They locked me in and tried to care for me. Graham sat up with me all night and took me back to The House Three Doors Away early next morning.
Then came a set of ghastly experiences – vet, injections, the collar of shame, and no going out.
Once my ordeal was finished, and I could go out again, I headed back to Graham and Elaine’s to make sure they hadn’t forgotten me. They hadn’t and their welcoming smiles cheered me up.
They didn’t laugh at my bald tail and welcomed me back like an old friend.
Chapter ten – Things come to a head
Things were becoming a bit awkward. And the stress of eating in one place and more or less living in another wasn’t working for any of us.
So Lyndsey and Clive from The House Three Doors Away decided something had to change. They went round to talk to Graham and Elaine to see what could be done to make me happy.
They explained they still loved me and very much wanted me to continue living with them, but most of all they wanted me to be happy. And they felt that living in The House Three Doors Away wasn’t making me happy. It wasn’t making Felix happy either.
So they stopped putting out food for me in The House Three Doors Away, and brought papers round for Graham and Elaine to sign.
It all became above board. I’d adopted Graham and Elaine and they became my family. The RSPCA knew. The neighbours knew. And more people than I imagined possible would know…
Chapter eleven – I go missing
One day, when I’d been living with Graham and Elaine for a few months, I decided to visit The House Three Doors Away. I can’t remember why. Maybe I’d gone to see Felix.
Anyway, I went in through the cat flap and had a good look around my old home. But when I went to leave I discovered the cat flap was locked from the inside!
Distraught, I went upstairs and hid in the back bedroom where I felt safe and warm. Unfortunately, I got stuck in there too.
Unknown to me, Lyndsey and Clive and their little boy, Isaac had gone to Australia for three weeks. Three weeks!
The whole neighbourhood and beyond was looking for me. Graham and Elaine put up posters on trees and lampposts, and put them through the doors of houses in this road and lots of others further afield.
Then after I’d been missing three days (so I’m told) I heard a familiar voice calling for me. It was Elaine. A neighbour, who had the key to The House Three Doors Away had been in to look for me on the first day. Elaine asked her to come in again.
I meowed to let Elaine know I was stuck in the back room. She was overjoyed to find me and ran home to tell Graham. She took me back in my travelling basket and I spent the afternoon being thoroughly spoiled and pampered.
I didn’t set out to cause a fuss. But there’s something I haven’t yet mentioned about myself. I’m curious. I just can’t help it. Curious is now one of my names.
I think I was probably born curious. As a kitten, after Felix and I had been abandoned, my curiosity was in our best interests. Curiosity about what to eat and where to find it. What caused horrible itching and how to stop it. Where was safe to sleep so the big wild things wouldn’t get us.
Curiosity saved our lives when we had nothing but our wits and our street smarts.
And I’m still curious.
Chapter twelve – Curiosity and why it’s good
I see all, feel all, smell all, sense all.
Every space I’ve not yet explored is exciting.
Every texture I’ve not snuggled up to is inviting.
Every new sound is enticing.
Curiosity keeps me awake and it fills my dreams.
Routine is good too though. I like to know there’s food in my bowl, a warm lap or two, and love at home from my human friends when I need it.
Chapter thirteen – I become Chief Executive Officer of my own business (that’s CEO)
Life stared out rough for me and Felix. We lived on our wits. We had to think fast. We had to make decisions.
Well, apparently these are all characteristics of good CEOs. That and curiosity which as we know, I have in abundance.
My business was thought up by Graham and Elaine. They called it Inspired by Monty (because it is) and they invited me to become CEO.
Inspired by Monty does two things. We offer a Fuss and Feed service, looking after cats in their own homes so they don’t have to go into a cattery. I did that once. I wasn’t fun. Graham and Elaine took me at 4pm one afternoon and got my cat-mother – Virginia to collect me at 10am the next morning. They then rallied friends and neighbours to look after me at home. And that’s where the Fuss and Feed idea came from.
We also have Mr Monty’s Feline Art Emporium. We sell feline inspired work by talented UK artists and makers, and I send The Staff (Graham and Elaine) all over the place looking for fabulous work. They seem to enjoy it and our lovely neighbour, Linda comes in to look after me while they’re away.
From being abandoned and unwanted, I’ve become loved beyond my wildest dreams. I have a cat-mother – Virginia who brings me treats and gives me lots of cuddles (and springs me from the cattery). I have lots of human friends up and down the road who stop and talk to me. I have my own little business.
And I have Graham and Elaine who tell me every day how much they love me.