Sharing life with a cute, furry Serial Killer….

Oh Heavens!! Spring approaches…. Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year, all the new life and the promise of Summer to come…. For me, there’s just one drawback, Lola has woken up! Being a fair weather cat, she has been content to stay indoors and sleep most of Winter….

My problem is one many a cat owner will sympathise with…. Spring is prime hunting season….need I say more…. With 7.4 million cats in the UK, it’s estimated between them they catch some 275 million items of prey each year, approximately 20% of which are birds. I’m thankful that Lola is not particularly fond of birds (Lewes is the one I have to watch for that) – but she will try her luck if the opportunity arises. Lola’s preference is for rodents, especially rats….

It is impossible to tell whether a kitten is going to grow to become a prolific hunter; some cats don’t hunt at all, while others are like Lola…. However, just about all cats have an overwhelming desire to hunt, they are born with the instinct.

Through play, they learn the techniques; they develop co-ordination and master how to judge speed and distance…. Eye, stalk, pounce, grab….

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Photo credit: ‘Mousing’ broterham via / CC BY-NC Original image URL:

The mother cat will teach her kittens; firstly by bringing prey back and eating it in front of them. She will then bring back dead prey for them to eat. Next, she will bring live prey for them to play with….and learn. Finally, the mother will take her brood out hunting with her….

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Photo credit: ‘Feral cat mom and 3 kittens’ Chriss Pagani via / CC BY-NC-ND Original image URL:

Female cats, (especially those that have been neutered), are far more likely to bring prey home…. A cat without kittens may find it necessary to attempt to feed her human…. So, that rodent dropped at your feet really is a gift for you…. Of course, our reaction to such a present is “Arghhhh!!” – but really we should show appreciation and gratefulness, as this is a real compliment. In the wild, there is a pecking order to who gets first bite of the kill; it is usually the alpha-male, as head of the family. So, by a cat gifting to you its hard-earned quarry, take it as being acknowledged as ‘alpha-human-cat’….

If Lola comes in with a dead something or other, it is not normally a gift for me, (as far as Lola is concerned, alpha-cat is Lola). Sometimes, she will donate her kill to Lewes, I think out of pity, as he is rather hopeless and lazy in the hunting department – thank goodness! Invariably, she will devour it herself, leaving a pile of guts behind – for me to clear up; (actually, now I come to think of it, in Lola’s eyes, I may well be at the bottom of the pecking order)…. Cats tend to eat the heads and more muscular parts of their kills, rejecting the innards….

When I do get gifts, they are usually still very much alive. I am still, apparently, viewed at being at the ‘kitten’ stage; Lola is obviously concerned that I am not capable of looking after myself, I need educating…. I need to learn how to hunt….possibly she has realised her human eats no meat…. Vegetarianism is not a lifestyle choice a cat can comprehend….


In this household, we have what we jokingly refer to as the ‘Mediaeval cat flap’…. John’s DIY skills, (bless him), usually involve large slabs of oak…. We needed to come up with a Lewes proof cat flap, as he rips the doors off of conventional ones, in order to let himself out…. We would probably get a slap on the wrist if Heritage knew we had cut a hole in a Victorian, or possibly earlier, door (whoops! They may know now….) – but I am sure future generations of felines will still be enjoying its benefits for years to come…. Had they of had cat flaps in the Middle Ages, I am certain they would have been very similar to this one….and I must say, it works rather well! The door can be slammed shut in a hurry and the bolt slid across….a necessity with the likes of Lola around….


Only this morning I heard the familiar ‘yowling’ that alerts Madam is home with the spoils of her morning’s hunt…. This is my signal to sprint and bolt the cat flap. Lola was not in the best of humour this morning, so my refusing to allow her and what ever rodent was hanging from her jaws entry, did not go down well. After spending a few minutes trying to ram-raid her way in, she eventually gave up and walked off in disgust. A gift of dead vole was left on the doorstep for me. Now, I could look at this ‘gift’ in one of two ways: either she was saying ‘don’t worry, I understand. I’ll leave your present outside, to show there’s no hard feelings’. More likely though, it was left out of protest, as she knows I hate dead things; like I said, she was not in good humour, as she’d had a worming treatment earlier this morning. Of course, a necessary evil, especially for cats who are keen hunters. I have given up trying to hide powders in their food and attempting to get either of them to swallow a tablet is not a good idea, if I want my hand to stay intact; so, I opt for the spot-on method…. Equally unpopular, it takes two of us to hold down and administer it – but is the least stressful option for all of us….

I have read the various information available on how to discourage cats from hunting, or at least make them less successful…. A collar with a bell is frequently recommended…. Personally, I shy away from cat collars, having experienced a couple of mishaps with previous cats. Luckily, no real harm was done on either occasion but it could have been very different…. Aware of collars getting caught up on branches and shrubs etc. I always chose the soft ones with the safety elasticated piece sewn into them – one of our cats, Bruno, managed to get his lower jaw stuck through his collar whilst grooming…. Bruno was a rescue cat, who had been feral; he was always sweet-natured with us but when this incident happened, he momentarily became quite wild again….removing the collar from his mouth was no easy feat…. The second time happened with Gemma, who somehow got her front leg trapped in her collar, again one very panicked cat…. In both cases the collar had to be cut off, (I am just so thankful somebody was around each time it happened) – and now I vow no cat of mine will wear a collar….

One thing I do try to adhere to though, is keeping both Lewes and Lola in at night. Cats are more successful at hunting at night, particularly in the early hours….

The other piece of advice often given, is one that makes me smile…. Apparently, a well fed cat is less likely to hunt. Firstly, these two couldn’t be better fed, food is always available to them; secondly, Lola seems to treat her kills as ‘appetisers’. The moment she has finished devouring her ‘first course’, she will rush to her food bowl and empty it. So much for that theory….

Cats typically eat small, multiple meals over the course of the day…. I always make sure there is a plentiful supply of dried food available. Pouches are demanded at various times during the day, especially by Lewes, who cannot bear the sight of a half empty bowl – he also has the infuriating habit of sucking the jelly off and spitting out the lumps…. This cat has an obsession with food; he is not really a hunter, although he will go after birds if given half a chance but luckily without much success. Lewes has two main functions in life, eating and sleeping. Any opportunity to eat and he’s there, if it’s in a bowl and looks remotely like cat food, he’ll have it. This includes rabbit feed; which does, I suppose, look a little like cat biscuits – although I can’t imagine it tastes anything like them. Doesn’t seem to bother him though, I’ve lost count of how many bowls of alfalfa hay nuggets he’s scoffed his way through…. Another favourite trick is to sit by the recycling bin in the kitchen – just in case a piece of packaging is dropped in that’s worth a lick – ham wrappers preferably….

I sometimes question whether we have really domesticated the cat or have they actually trained us to suit their needs…. Cats became our companions about the same time man started growing his own food. With the beginning of agriculture came the need to store crops and grain, which of course brought the problem of vermin, in the form of rats and mice….which in its turn, attracted wild cats…. Speculation suggests domestication of the cat started some 12,000 years ago in the Middle East. It is thought the cat we know today descends from a Middle Eastern wild cat named Felis Sylvestris – translating literally as ‘cat of the woods’….

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Photo credit: ‘Chat Sauvage Felis Sylvestri’ Luciano 95 via / CC BY-NC-SA Original image URL:

It didn’t take long for those first farmers to realise the benefits of having wild cats around. In return for their mice catching skills, the felines had access to warm shelter and a plentiful supply of food, maybe with the occasional prepared meal thrown in….

Trying to pin point exactly when cats became domesticated has proven very difficult to do accurately. There is very little difference between the skeleton of a wild cat and that of the cat we know; so, archeological finds have been hard to distinguish. However, a dig on the island of Cyprus unearthed a grave dating back 10,000 years; the person within had been buried with a cat….

It seems ironic that we try to seek ways of discouraging our domestic cats from their natural instinct of hunting, when it was for this very reason we encouraged them to share our lives in the first place….

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Photo credit: ‘Wild Cat’ Cloudtail the Snow Leopard via / CC BY-NC-ND Original image URL:

I just take comfort from the fact that apparently, as they get older the desire to hunt lessens…. Although, knowing my luck, Lola will be a geriatric serial killer….




Lola’s theme….


I thought it would be relatively easy to write about Lola but actually it is difficult to try and capture the true essence of this cat in words….

From the moment of her arrival it was clear Lola was going to rule the household…. She was to become Queen of all she surveys….


I have known several cats in my life, all unique, individual characters and although I did not appreciate it at the time, they were model cats, impeccably behaved; at least compared to what I know now….

After the loss of Misty, our little tabby, in 2009, there was a big hole in our lives. During the Summer of 2010, John suggested that perhaps it was time to introduce a new addition or two into the family….

In the past it has always been moggies, mainly rescue cats – but ever since I can remember, I have loved silver tabbies….

I found a breeder, who had kittens available and so this is how Lewes and Lola came into our lives….

Lewes was a big boy for his age. Three weeks older than his half sister, the idea was he would look after the tiny scrap of delicate fluffiness that was Lola. Funny how things pan out – Lewes turned out to be a bit of a wuss, scared of his own shadow – where as Lola was to become the true definition of ‘tom boy’….

Lewes – “Is this for me, Mum?”

Having experienced kittens before, I thought I knew what to expect – what I didn’t anticipate was the level of naughtiness that was to accompany these two…. Lola always the ring leader, forever into mischief, egging Lewes on to join in with her high jinks antics. He didn’t need much encouragement and was a willing accomplice. Between them, they redecorated the house in Shabby Chic style – anything remotely chic we possessed rapidly became shabby, curtains were shredded, carpets clawed and the sofa wrecked…. Sadly, this is a trait they have never grown out of….We are reluctant to replace anything as it will most certainly be destroyed again. I lost count of how many breakages there were in those early days…. Nothing was safe….


The house would turn into a mad feline race track, round and round they would charge, play fighting and ambushing each other. Eventually, they would collapse exhausted. We would breathe a thankful sigh of relief and then tiptoe around, so as not to wake them….

No matter how long the pedigree it has, at the end of the day a cat is a cat and natural instinct will prevail; as we found out when Lewes and Lola became old enough to explore the outside World. Lola was soon to show her true colours. It became clear that she was going to be a hunter and a keen ratter. The first evidence of this came on the day I opened the back door to find dead, on the doorstep, a very large rat – and I promise I am not exaggerating here – it was almost the size of Lola herself…. My assumption was that she had found it, there was no way she was capable of killing a rat that size…. It didn’t take her long to prove me wrong….she was more than capable….

1730Lola has a very generous nature, she likes to bring in presents, usually for her brother but sometimes for me…. Trouble is, these gifts are often still alive! Gradually, the presents began to get more exotic, especially when she developed an interest in ‘snake charming’. The first offering was a young grass snake. I am embarrassed to say, that as snakes are one of my biggest fears, I asked my neighbour to deal with it for me – I should be ashamed of myself, as it was no more than 10 cm in length…

The next one to be brought in was far more worthy of a truly, hysterical reaction! I was home alone when Madam came hurtling through the cat flap and dropped a large and lively adder in the middle of the kitchen floor. She then turned around and sauntered off out again. At first, I was paralysed with terror, luckily for me, so was the snake…. I grabbed the washing up bowl and managed to drop it over the reptile, weighting it down with a pack of lemonade bottles. There was nobody around to help me and the poor creature was there for a good couple of hours before I managed to get assistance. Rescue eventually came in the form of a neighbour’s son – I shall be forever in his debt. He managed to catch the adder and then released it back on to the Common, it appeared to be none the worse for wear – unlike me, thanks to Lola, I had been traumatised!!

Thankfully, there have been no more snake incidents in the house, just a few outside… I dread to think what Lola gets up to when she’s out of sight – it is probably best that I don’t know….


If cats really do have nine lives, than Lola must be living on borrowed time. There have been plenty of scrapes and mishaps along the way. One afternoon, arriving home from the school run, I nipped upstairs. I wasn’t surprised to find Lola lay on our bed – it was winter, chilly outside and getting dark – she has always been a fair weather cat. As I flicked on the light switch, it became obvious that there was something terribly wrong. A dark stain surrounded Lola and it took a moment for it to register that it was blood…. A quick inspection showed that she had been injured and medical attention was required. Jordan and I whisked her off to the vet, where a thorough examination revealed her injuries were not too serious. She was patched up and given antibiotics. Evidently she had been attacked, most likely by a dog, her wounds healed quickly but psychologically, Lola had changed…. Up to that point, she had been a very sweet natured cat. Now there is a certain grumpiness to her demeanor, she will grumble and moan when picked up and will lash out if annoyed. She can still be very loving and affectionate when she chooses but it has to be on her terms….

If Lola doesn’t get her own way, then we all suffer. We like to try and keep both cats in at night, partly for their own safety but also out of dread as to what nocturnal creatures may be brought indoors…. As soon as possible after dark the cat flap is locked. Sometimes, the curfew is too early for Lola’s liking and she will show her disapproval. This will often involve picking a fight with her brother but if she is really miffed, she will attempt to dismantle the house…. A favourite trick is to climb behind the television, with the aim of sending it crashing to the floor…. We always know when Lola is in one of her moods, her eyes darken and her expression becomes one of pure menace….

One evening, I was surprised that she had decided to stay out. It was bitterly cold and pouring with rain. I had just lit the fire and was tidying up when she came through the cat flap….soaking wet. A short while later, I was puzzled, as I kept getting a whiff of what smelt like petrol. Initially, I assumed it was from the fire lighters I had been using but then it dawned on me that the smell was coming from Lola. Looking more closely, I realised she wasn’t wet from the rain but had been submerged up to her neck in what could only have been petrol. Where she had been to get into that state – I have no idea! As it was getting late in the evening, taking her to the vet was not an option – I had to think quickly. I found on the internet, a service that offered an online veterinary consultation, for a small fee…. I was a bit dubious at first but they were marvelous, staying online with me until I was satisfied that Lola was going to be OK. I had to bath her in warm water with lots of washing-up liquid (to break down and disperse the petrol) – the main worry was if the chemical got into her digestive or respiratory system. For once, she was as good as gold and let me do the necessary – but another of her nine lives was gone….

Lola has fallen in the duck pond on a few occasions, enough for her to have learnt not to chase the ducks or moorhens and thankfully, this also means fish is off the menu….

There have been lots of other minor scrapes and plenty of adventues – undoubtedly, a lot more are still to come….

For all her faults, she can be adorable…. She certainly is not a model cat and her behaviour is far from impeccable but I wouldn’t change her for the World. There will never be another Lola – they broke the mould after they made her….