Leaps, Spike and Rosie

I've had the privilege of sharing much of my life with cats, and in recent years sharing my garden with them too.

Though cats are often seen as pests in gardens, in mine they are welcome, despite the bad habits. They have taught me a lot about many things, but particularly about a) the importance of greeting each morning with enthusiasm, and b) finding the sunny spot in the garden and sitting in it.

Spike and Leaps arrived with us in 1989, as kittens from the same litter. Leaps had to be put to sleep in March 2001, and is still missed. As any cat-lover knows, they are all different, and merely getting another cat can never replace the one you lost. Leaps, for example, played "fetch", like a dog, and would come trotting back to you with the cat toy in her mouth. (Being a cat, this was only when she felt like it, of course.) She was also good at catching flies and bringing them to you as a special gift. What a star.

After Leaps died Spike seemed to be doing his best to pretend to be two cats, by asking to go in and out even more often, and dashing about the garden even more than he did before. Spike died, aged 14, on 26 June 2003, after his big old heart could take no more. He was the most loving, relaxed cat I have ever known.

The two of them, Spike and Leaps, enjoyed three gardens in the time I knew them - our first yard garden, which they explored as kittens, the garden downstairs from a flat I lived in, where they lived with me for a while. And finally this garden, where they had even more space to sit in the sun, which both of them enjoyed right until their last days.

Rosie the cat

In the spring of 2002, we adopted another cat, after her owners, our friends, moved to another town. Looking after Rosie, a female black cat, was agreed as temporary, but possibly becoming permanent, depending how she settled. By summer 2002 she seemed fully settled and we all agreed it was best not to move her again.

Every garden should have a cat - and preferably several. They may make a mess in your flowerbeds sometimes, but they also know how to make you forget your cares, when they suddenly roll over happily on a sun-warmed path, or sit contentedly on a garden chair - usually the one you want to sit on yourself. Bless them.


"No heaven will not ever Heaven be; Unless my cats are there to welcome me."

- Unknown

Spike the cat

Above: Spike the cat

Leaps the cat

Above: Leaps the cat