Only Floofs, No Horses

Much like his namesake, our Del Boy lives by the cockney proverb that “only fools and horses work.” He is accustomed to the good life at Lady Dinah’s and therefore has very high standards for keeping up appearances. Once it was announced that the cats would leave the café during our temporary closure, Del began to worry that he might be placed in accommodation that was less than absolutely fabulous. He imagined a dismal boarding house where every meal is thin porridge and the sheets smell of bottom, the sort of place that makes Fawlty Meowers look like the Purrlaza. Del was very pleased to learn, then, that Anneli had steptoed in and offered to foster him!

Del was brought to a flat occupied by three trendy twenty-somethings (no, we are not writing the pilot script for a sit-com) and wondered if the young ones could keep him in the style to which he’s accustomed. Well, we are now almost a month into the lockdown and can assure you that Del is most certainly being served and treated to the finer things! As time goes by, he may even be allowed to sample the last of the summer wine, though we hope to welcome him back to the café before then!

(Editor’s Note: This week, the isolation-induced “restlessness” has moved me to pepper this introduction with references to classic BBC comedies, thus alienating all of my younger colleagues for good! Are you able to spot all twelve titles? I’ll start things off by acknowledging my shamefully clumsy attempt to sneak a reference to Steptoe and Son into the last sentence of the first paragraph. That’s right, it’s not a typo, but it is an affront to good writing.
Also, in case it isn’t obvious, we don’t actually recommend or condone feeding your cat alcohol! If you miss going to the pub with your drinking buddies, consider treating your feline pal to some catnip tea and then regaling them with an anecdote about your online grocery shopping.)

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Lovely Jubbly, Sweet and Cuddly

Del Boy snoozes on Anneli's bed. He is mostly black with some white features, like his white muzzle and paws.

I joined Lady Dinah’s as an apprentice in Animal Care in March of 2019, so I have just celebrated my first anniversary of being on the team! Well, I haven’t yet been able to do much to mark this milestone, but it has been very special getting to spend so much time with Del Boy. Once it became apparent that the Emporium’s clowder would have to be temporarily disbanded, my flatmates and I were eager to help. We don’t have a great deal of room, though, so it would have been a bit of a stretch to take in more than one cat. It was decided that our home would be most suitable for Del Boy since he is more independent and outgoing than his siblings, Rodney and Cassandra, who would be happiest if they could be fostered together.

In order to prepare the space for Del, we took the same sorts of measures as Amy describes in her blog post about fostering Wendy and Peter. We ensured that there were plenty of private spots cleared for him to choose from if he wanted some time alone, such as a nice vantage point on top of the wardrobe and a cosy box of blankets in the corner of my bedroom. Naturally, Del has turned his snout up at these in favour of sprawling out across our beds.

Del Boy the fluffy black and white cat lies in bed like a human being. The duvet is tucked up under his chin and he looks indignant, as though he's annoyed due to being woken up.

On the day that we brought Del home, there were some shenanigans with the younger, feistier cats who were reluctant to get into their carriers. Del proved himself to be the very model of grace and decorum, however, as he strolled right into his carrier and settled down for a nap during the short journey home. Having been a foster parent once before when I played host to Teddy for a couple of weeks, I had anticipated some shyness and uncertainty from Del Boy upon being introduced to new surroundings. As it happened, Del was lounging on the bed and playing with my partner, James, within half an hour of his arrival! I had clearly underestimated his confidence. In all honesty, I was slightly irked by how quickly he took to James considering that the same thing happened with Teddy last year. Teddy became James’s adoring shadow while I was basically ignored, and I didn’t want a repeat of this situation! Del is affectionate towards me, but I don’t know what to make of the fact that his favourite hideaway is a storage box full of James’s trousers. Having made a a thorough inspection of the flat on his first day with us, which included loitering under furniture and sitting in the bath, Del quickly discerned that he’d be happiest curled up between these jeans and tracksuit bottoms under our bed.

Del Boy the fluffy cat curls up with Anneli's partner, James. Their heads touch.

Del has certainly made himself at home with us over the past few weeks! He loves our movie nights and will bundle onto the sofa and stretch out across our laps for a snooze as we chuckle at Monty Python classics. During the days, he follows shafts of sunlight as they move between different rooms with the progress of the sun across the sky. We live next to a fire station and a police station, so flashing lights and sirens are a regular feature just outside. Del is fascinated by these and races to the windows to watch them, which means that he often goes skidding across the wood flooring in his excitement! Think of Tom Cruise’s dance scene in Risky Business, except less smooth and with cleaner white socks.

Del Boy the fluffy black cat sit on a chest of drawers and looks out of the window.

Del is a playful, inquisitive cat who is at times lively and mischievous but spends much of his time napping happily in a corner. My flatmates and I have all remarked upon how natural it feels to have him here, as though he’s always lived with us, and we’ll have to adjust to a slightly colder flat when he rejoins his siblings at the café. I will miss many things about fostering Del Boy, even the tickle of his whiskers on my face at five o’clock in the morning when he’s decided that the day must begin!

Del Boy the fluffy cat lies on top of Anneli's bed and gazes at the camera with loving eyes.

Bonus: Here are the 12 titles Jay references in the opening paragraphs!
Only Fools and Horses (obviously, perhaps we shouldn’t count this one), The Good Life, Keeping Up Appearances, Absolutely Fabulous, Porridge, Bottom, Fawlty Towers, Steptoe and Son, The Young Ones, Are You Being Served, As Time Goes By, Last of the Summer Wine. Well done if you found them all!

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