Lucky Sandford, the author, pictured at home.
I don’t remember much about my youth. I was a bit of an adventurer. I liked to run outside, climb trees, chase mice and birds and yes, girls, too. You must understand, I was a handsome fellow with long flowing fur and a regal face, and I was particularly proud of my big fluffy tail. I have to say, when I was young I was, sort of, irresistible. Sadly, one day tragedy struck. I was running across a road – one of those busy with big people machines – and I don’t know what happened but the next thing I remember I was lying by the road with a lot of humans standing over me debating whether I had just lost one of my lives. I mean, we cats, we don’t care so much as you humans about that kind of thing; we do have nine of them to go through you know. My hips and legs hurt, I knew that much, and when a white van arrived. I allowed the uniformed human to put me in a cage. I confess that I probably cried a bit. The ambulance took me to a hospital where I got poked and prodded. I didn’t like that so I bit the vet, just a little bit, just to let him know I didn’t like it.
The next few days were a blur. I remember the delicious food that was served twice a day, feeling warm and safe, and a lady human with a soft touch and sweet words. She kept saying to me, ‘You are so lucky, do you know how lucky you are?’ I replied, ‘Mow wow! Mow wow!’ The medical man took a picture of my pelvis with a machine and proclaimed it broken. It was also observed that I had an air gun pellet in my belly. Some people have tattoos to remember their adventures, we cats have scars and metal bits in us. I heard the lady who was looking after me talking to the vet about keeping me at the hospital and trying to find me a home, because she said the people with the white van planned to come back soon to euthanize me at the shelter. I thought it was odd that she didn’t know that we were going to be best buddies for the next 18 years, soul mates for the rest of our lives. Sometimes humans are a bit slow to realize things.
All went well. I had my manhood removed and went home with the human lady who, going forward, I shall refer to as Mama Pat. I joined a household of two other kitties, and a small human boy. I had a wonderful life, climbing fences, mousing, sleeping on my lady’s bed, and playing with a black kitty next door. I learned to stay away from those metal boxes that humans traveled in. As I got elderly my hips bothered me a lot and just as I thought my adventuring days were winding down my lady decided she wanted to move to England. England, I thought, and had a vision of a lovely garden, tasty British mice and pretty sunsets. Well, sign me up for that, I thought, I was feeling old and tired, but living inside a concrete apartment with only a balcony cramped my swashbuckling style a tad. Bring on the open seas and the warm south winds…
My lady’s belongings were rapidly leaving our apartment in boxes.
Leo Sandford, in the garden.
My brother, Leo, was a fluffy, nervous boy who was afraid of his own shadow. I will liken him to Eeyore. He was worried that we would get left behind and he started to pee in strange places. I knew my lady would never leave us behind; she knew what ‘forever’ meant. Bear, my younger brother, who had more recently joined our clan, was distracted with the new fern plants that Mama Pat had hung from the ceiling in an effort to beautify the apartment to sell it. He was launching himself off the couch at the plants oblivious of what was about to happen.
The journey was hell. We were all put in boxes and driven to a place where metal birds land and take off. We were terrified. I kept calling out to my brothers, telling them we were going to be ok. We were in lock down; in isolation for hours. Being the most confident of the troop, I considered myself the leader of the three Musketeers. My brother Leo, was a beautiful fluffy grey guy, sweet but lacking in confidence, and Bear, almost a twin of me without the white feet, was just a silly inexperienced kid. I sat in my box and tried to count how many lives I’d had… perhaps this was the 9th and the end? I could only remember six before I fell asleep. I think Mama Pat sat above us on the metal bird, crying a lot. Whatever possessed her to do this crazy England thing? My brother Bear in the next box was throwing up a lot and from the smell, it was safe to assume that he had peed and pooped his breakfast, lunch and dinner. Poor guy. The in-flight service was non-existent, not a catnip cocktail in sight.
A long time later, I decided to take matters into my own paws and leave. I had to get out of my cage. I worked at the door with my teeth and nails, and miraculously the door opened. Now what to do? There wasn’t really anywhere to go, so I went and consoled each of my brothers, telling them that if we were going to die we would all go together like proud warriors. I then sat between their cages and waited. Later there was some bumping and clattering. Eventually the door opened and some uniformed soldiers took us out. They seemed surprised that I wasn’t in my cage. We were taken to an Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow Airport, not quite the Holiday Inn, but at least we were on the ground and were given a litter box and food. Much later, back in our cages we were taken to Mama Pat and off we drove in a metal box. It seemed this journey was never to end, we were all so tired.
Such was our arrival in England. The next day we arrived at our new home, a house with lots of sunny windows and soft chairs. We all gave a big sigh of relief and slept for days. I have to note here that I did not see my brother, Bear, for a few months. He lived in a cupboard. Mama Pat finally carried him out to the garden and showed him the bunnies and the cows over the wall. He was shocked; he had no idea that such creatures existed. With time, he ventured out on his own and would watch the bugs in the hedge, and hunt the pygmy shrews and mice.
England was ok. I liked to walk on the grass again, and slept a lot in sunbeams. The sun warmed my bones. I felt my body aging and I couldn’t jump anymore. My Mama would talk to me; I could see her mouth moving but couldn’t hear the words. I actually couldn’t hear anything. How strange the world had become – quite scary. I also couldn’t climb the stairs to sleep with my Mama so I cried at night a lot and she would come downstairs and we’d sit in a chair and cuddle and look at the full moon over the sea. Aging is no fun. I am embarrassed to share that I was also having a problem with my poo. It had started to, kind of, just, fall out when I walked. I think my muscles had got weak from that whole broken pelvis experience. Nobody seemed to mind too much though. One day, after about a year, Mama announced we were going back to live in Canada. I felt relieved. Of course there would be another metal bird journey, but at least I was wise now and knew we would be safe and see Mama on the other side.
By now my brother Leo was also old and frail. His kidneys were painful, and he could hardly walk, and we weren’t sure if he would make the journey. Mama gave him some pain medication that helped. Brother Bear on the other hand practically lived outside in the garden and didn’t want to leave. He had come into his own, with a big gloriously fluffy coat and a proud face. He guarded the garden daily, sitting on the wall watching the cows and foxes, and the bunnies. Neither Leo nor I could get up there, so we left that job to the young one.
We all went to the vet to get our passports signed for travel. While on the table Mama told the vet how much Bear liked the garden and she didn’t think there would be a garden where we were going to live in Canada, so she was worried she was going to ruin Bear’s life. Bear looked at her and saw a picture of life back in the apartment in Canada and decided not to go. I know that sounds crazy to humans but we cats choose how and where we want to live, just like you do.
Two days before we left, Bear went missing, he had gone out to play and not come back. Mama went out to look for him and found him caught on the barbed wire fence at the bottom of the garden. His fluffy trousers had got stuck on the sharp barbs, he went into a panic, had a heart attack and accelerated through a bunch of life times. Mama was hysterical. It was a sad trip home, she cried a lot. Leo and I tried to reassure her that we wouldn’t leave her. We felt calm, we’d done the journey before, and it was going to be ok. Canadian cat food is far tastier than English cat food anyway.
I arrived back in Canada and had my nineteenth birthday. For my birthday Mama bought several comforters from Value Village; they smelled so interesting. She folded them up on the floor and made amazing beds for me in every room. It hurt to walk, and jumping was a distant memory. I felt relieved to be home and safe, and I slept a lot. I had wonderful dreams. I let go of my life two months after that; I had had eighteen fantastic years with Mama Pat and was very grateful. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I knew it was time to go. I followed Mama around all day, telling her I loved her and gazing at her beautiful face. She didn’t understand what I was saying until the next day, but sometimes as I said before, our humans are slow to understand. I told her that I would send her another kitty that reminded her of me to help her sadness. The next day in the very early morning I got off the bed where Mama had put me to sleep by her head, and my legs wouldn’t work at all. I couldn’t feel them. It was a strange sensation. Mama took me to her friend who was a vet, and they decided I couldn’t continue that way. Mama held me while the vet man gave the injection and the last thing I remember is her tears of love. I told her with my eyes that I would always love her, and I left my body.
What an amazing long life I had!
My buddy, Leo, was so frail and all alone for the first time in his life. He sat on the couch all depressed.
Leo and his new girlfriend, Bunny.
I found a white fluffy girl kitty called Bunny who agreed to go and love him. It took me six months to find a cat as beautiful as me to send to my Mama but eventually I found Shanti and gave him some instructions.
I learned in my life that cats and humans can have deep love and respect for each other and fantastic adventures. I told Shanti to go and live with my Mama and love her hard and make her sadness go away. When they met, upon seeing him, Mama said my name, and then she said Bear’s name and I knew she understood.
Shanti and Bunny find each other.
I’ve learned that the lifetimes go fast, so cats, my advice to you is to live well and long and love your people deep.
Happy hunting! Sleep a lot, meditate a little and eat lots of tasty food. Mow Wow!!