Warning: sad tale afoot!

Cats were always my pets as a child. I wanted a dog. In fact I wanted a specific dog. I wanted the Enid Blyton creation ‘Shadow the Sheepdog’ from the novel I had read and read until the pages came away.

Anyone else love this book? I imagined that he was real and mine!

I imagined I had a dog. Teddies etc. Sad old me!! Then again,  I pretended my bike was a horse too and called it Toffee.

The dream.

Myself and my neighbour (not allowed any pet, strict Mammy, kinda hated our cats) would play ‘Grand National’ and make a list of horse names. We would then ‘race’ on our horse bikes around the meadow. Yes, we had a meadow. No horses or dogs though! Mainly because we ‘live on the main road to Cork you know!’. The horse was always a pipedream. Expensive and hard work. When I was young however, I really thought my parents didn’t think dogs were worth the effort with an animal murdering highway outside the front lawn. Cats were more replaceable. Sorry to offend! It was the truth though! I thought this was their reasoning. Now I know. They were protecting me from the potential heartbreak of a beloved dog dying before its time.

Never underestimate the power of a  bicycle in childhood play.

This is not to say I didn’t love my cats. I absolutely did. Until 1995 approximately all my pet cats were tame and loveable. Scamper the black cat. Daphne the black and white. Tom the ginger (My first word was Dom as a result of Tom the ginger!). Smartie who only lived six months. Toby the tabby. Many more. I got older however and at seventeen was away at college. All the nice, clean, pleasant cats had met their maker over the years and gone to the great cattery in the sky. In the eighties, our road was dangerous (double bend) but was nothing compared to what it became in the late nineties. Faster, more powerful cars made pet raising hell for my parents. After several tragedies, they had stopped taking in little kittens to rear. My little sister’s relationship with pets had become quite a bit more traumatic than my own. They swore never again would they have one. Too upsetting. Nonetheless, they were soft hearted and fed occasional strays at the back door. These guys were wayyy more street wise.

A bit less of this…

Not like my little Beatrix Potter kittens, running after spools and cheekily climbing into airing cupboards to hide. No. They had an air of ‘been there, done that’ about them.

I could tell you tales that would make your skin crawl and your teeth rattle!

Moggies. Flea bags. Hobos. Drop in, drop outs. Rarely killed by cars. Looked two ways. They knew the way around a bin. They knew before recycling really happened and they had to negotiate the tincans, toilet rolls and  tough potato skins to get to the beef rinds or whatever. Occasionally a few of these strays made my parents their number one care givers (cats make their own decisions) and occasionally would become tame enough to rub against a human leg. That’s about it. Once wild, always wild really in catworld. My parents’ house began to take on the air of Boys Town for cats.

Spencer Tracey playing Fr Flanagan in this true story.

On one occasion a cat adopted my parents by staying around. It didn’t take long to see why. As her belly grew, we realised she had probably been abandoned as female cats tend not to stray like males. Too late to neuter, she had her kittens in our shed. Feral as she was, I know that if you can handle a kitten early you have a great chance of keeping it tame. So we tried. These kittens however never fully prospered. Sad part coming…turn away if you wish. I called them Eyeballs. All of them. My reason was, when you peeped into the basket,  all you saw were their big eyes staring up at you. Their mother was bewildered. A young cat. We tried to help her, using droppers to feed them. We tried warmth by the fire. They were too weak. They had been lucky to make a few weeks. The mother cat disappeared before we could get her to a vet. My sister was about six at the time. She has never forgotten it. Our desperation to save them. Inevitably, we lost them as life cycles dictate, like many of my wonderful pets before, just earlier and without experiencing the joy they can bring. My sister swears she will never own a cat of her own as an adult. I have had two. Both met sad ends. I still always encourage her not to dismiss the idea totally.

It makes me wonder.

Cats are homely. Independent. Vain. Intelligent. Beautiful. Divisive. Unforgettable if you ever felt one became a friend. I watched cats keep my grandmother happy in her old age.

My cats often went to my  Granny next door for treats. Some stayed altogether. Chilled out environment.

I owe them a lot for childhood memories. I will probably never own one again.  I don’t think where I live suits them. I have digressed however. More than you know!

You see, there was a reason I wrote this post today. It wasn’t supposed to be about tragic kittens and childhood challenges. It was supposed to be about my relationship with eyes and bringing that into parenting. My lifetime wearing glasses and passing on my short-sightedness to my children. Bringing my little girl to the optician for the first time. I started by talking about the cats and these kittens especially.  Now they are the story.  It took over! I will blog again about the optician visit. Now I am led to wondering, are pets always a good idea for children?  Their first introduction to grief?  Is it worth it? We have two dogs now. Not like Shadow! Two little white Bichon Frise. Friendly. Naughty! Loveable.


We love them. Were my parents right? Will the heart-rending story of what may happen to them be worth it? I reckon so. It has to be. I can remember the tears of losing a pet. I can also remember the playtime, the cuddles, the love. The camraderie of a pet. My little girl squeals in delight when the dogs run around her legs. She is not afraid of any animal. I reckon her little sister will be the same. I am also sure we will always have pets. We love animals too much not to.  So we take the risk! Not all stories are stories about Eyeballs.  Some are about Shadows. Friendship and warmth. Learning about life. An interesting and nostalgic digression, don’t you think?!

wagon-988818_640.jpgThe Pramshed


16 thoughts on “Eyeballs

  1. We have our cat Sonu Singh. He’s an indoor cat and totally bonded with us all in his special way. I dread the thought of anything happening to him…. bonds with any animal can be emotional and strong…and what a child can learn from having a furry family member is not something you can teach!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m terribly allergic to cats as is my husband, but I can’t help but want to pet them. Your valiant attempts to save “eyeballs” feels so full of hopeful heart. I wish it had gone another way, but I’m so glad you tried!
    We have had dogs all my life, though. And have a golden retriever now that I love beyond reason. Before my son was born, we had a dog, Chewbacca. She had been found in Florida, tied to a tree near where alligators were living. A friend rescued her and brought her across the country. We adopted her and loved her for twelve years. When my son was born, she was in her older years and unfortunately took a back seat to the demands of new-parenthood. When illness made it necessary to give her rest I cried like a baby as she slipped away. My son still talks about her, though he was too young to remember much. I think pets make a huge difference in our lives. Teaching us many things about love and life. Thank you for the post and the opportunity to remember the joy of animals.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s so frightening. Who could abandon a dog like that? Thankfully you came upon her xx she were very lucky have had a life either you all. Great name for a dog too, I love it.
      My little girls love cats but we will not have one. We have a little dog, a Bichon called Sugar, and a cat is not a good idea. However I love them and if a stray popped around, I would definitely be feeding it in an encouraging way😊
      I think pets as a youngster are so important. They discourage a fear of them too. I always feel a person who claims they hate animals to be a strange individual! Thank you for your lovely words xx


  3. I agree with you completely, it really is worth the risk. But goodness it is sooo sad if you live that close to a busy road!!

    My husband and I had a adorable kitten when we first bought our flat in London. It was a cat paradise, surrounded by gardens with no roads nearby. But then the poor little mite got bitten by a fox when he was around 6 months old, it punctured his lungs and he died in our arms art the vets. It totally broke my heart.

    It hurt so much that although we got engaged just before the kitten died, I couldn’t tell anyone for months. I was just too sad to share happy news. BUT I wouldn’t change having that little fuzzball for anything. He was SUCH a cool little dude that I just have to think of the happy moments we got to share with him.


  4. Oh I really thinks pets are an important part of childhood. Kids learn a lot from owning a pet. We always had animals growing up. Cats (me), dogs, fish, mice and hamsters. We all had our own pets. My little 6 yr old is allergic to cats and dogs but she recently got a hamster. She adores him!


  5. Oh it must be so hard to loose a pet, but I like how you have linked up this to eyesight for children which is so important. My daughter would love a cat, but for now she can make do with looking at the neighbours. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    Liked by 1 person

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