Capers, romps, antics, frolics and shenanigans! Leah’s got them all by the fluff tonne at her place! She’s fostering two of the Emporium’s most playful scamps, Pip and Baz. These two goofballs of fur joined the family last summer and are not yet a year old, so they require (DEMAND) even more playtime than our slightly older residents. Thankfully, Leah is more than up to the task! She’s been keeping them fit, the cats have been keeping her busy, and they’ve all been keeping each other entertained 😻
Pipé Le Mew & the Ol’ Razzle Bazzle
When my partner and I moved to London from Australia last September, one of the most difficult things about leaving home was having to say goodbye to our beloved cat and dog. Although I was comforted by the knowledge that this separation is only temporary, I was suffering from a serious deficiency in animal companionship when I applied for a job at Lady Dinah’s. I was thrilled when my application was successful and I was able to befriend fifteen cats at once! I could never have imagined that within just a few months of my start date, I would be taking in two of the Emporium’s most rambunctious residents for an indefinite period of time. My partner, Jack, and I had discussed the possibility of fostering cats during our time here, but we could never have guessed that the opportunity would arise during an international lockdown. As soon as the Emporium’s Chief Cat Carer put out the call for help, we offered our place as a refuge!
The Dickens and Durrell kittens joined the café as two sets of two: Pip and her sister Estella, who are named after characters in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations; and Balthazar and his sister Mountolive, who are named after characters from Lawrence Durrell’s oeuvre. They all came to us at the same time from The Scratching Post Rescue Centre, so we think of them as one litter even though they aren’t all siblings by birth. Baz may not technically be Pip’s brother, but we knew that it would benefit him to be paired with her in a foster home. Baz has come on in leaps and bounds (literally!) since leaving the rescue shelter, but he used to be extremely skittish and we had to work to gain his trust. Pip, meanwhile, is the most confident and intrepid little miss you could ever hope to meet! We were certain that her bravery would inspire Baz, and we wanted to be sure that he would have a playmate whose high energy and insatiable appetite for games could match his own.
Just as we’d expected, Baz was nervous and Pip was excited when they arrived at my flat. In a move reminiscent of his infamous Ceiling Gremlin period, Baz established a small hideaway for himself behind my couch and then stayed there for the best part of two days. We made sure that he knew there was food and water nearby, and we gave him lots of space. Since Baz had exhibited similar behaviour in his first weeks at the Emporium, we knew that it would be a big mistake to rush him. He was allowed to do things at his own pace at the café and this is what enabled him to feel secure. Sure enough, Baz slowly started to spend more time away from the couch: with Pip’s guidance, he began to explore the flat and realised that there was nothing scary awaiting him. With the support of his honorary sister, this whole thing could be one big adventure!
While Baz was assessing risk from behind the couch, Pip wasted no time in getting the lay of the land. Not only did she survey every inch of her new play palace, she made her intentions for me and Jack very clear: we were all to be the best of friends. She has a big voice to match her big heart, and she spent her first night with us yelling from behind the lounge door. I’m not completely fluent in Cat, but it doesn’t take an expert to interpret the impatient meows of a kitten who wants to run riot at three o’clock in the morning! She’s accustomed to being around lots of adoring people at the café, so it’s hardly surprising that she demands so much attention.
Every foster parent was advised that their cats would benefit from a routine and lots of social stimulation since this is what they’re used to at the café. For this reason, Jack and I have been sticking to the feeding schedule that our cat carers have always used: meals at 9am, 1pm, 5pm and 9pm. Despite her regular mealtimes, Pip still harasses us for snacks! She has always been highly motivated by food - anyone who has seen her scouting for crumbs in the café can attest to that! Not only has this routine helped the cats to settle in, having some structure to our days has also been good for me and Jack. Without having to keep an eye on the time, these days at home could blend into a bit of a sludge.
As for playtime, I’ve done my best to keep the kittens occupied with lots of games and silliness. In the days preceding their arrival, I made them a cardboard castle which is just like the one Baz loves to lounge in at Lady Dinah’s. The original “Fort Baz” was expertly made by our Senior Cat Carer, Amy, and Baz took to it immediately. I was very pleased that my replica also received his seal of “apurroval” - all hail King Baz! He likes his new lair so much, in fact, that we deliver his meals to the castle door. Let it never be said that our cats don’t receive the royal treatment!
Buoyed by the success of my cardboard castle, I decided to make a pirate ship as well. This suits Pip more as she’s so adventurous, though I don’t think she’d appreciate being referred to as a scurvy sea dog! She wasn’t very impressed when I told her that Calico Jack was a man, not one of her ancestors, and she’s ready to make a name for herself. Her primary goal so far is to eat lots of fresh fish. She’s gone from scavenging high teas to sailing the high seas!
Fostering Pip and Baz has been an absolute joy! They have such funny quirks and distinctive personalities. I often wake up in the morning to the sound of Jack chatting to the kittens - he swears that they answer back! He’ll ask them if they’ve been naughty or if Pip would like to have her belly rubbed… the answer is usually yes to both. They have made our household feel like a home, and we will miss their antics when they return to the café, particularly those moments when they approach us for cuddles. In this time of uncertainty, it’s been real treat to focus so much of our attention on spoiling these guys rotten!