Marvellous Marvin

I have had many dogs in my life. But I have also had many amazing cats. I had a kitten when I was living at home with my parents, and he was adorable. When I left home, I did not take him with me as he was getting old and he knew the area he had lived in all his life. I did not think it would be fair to take him to a completely different area that he did not know.
His name was Snowball. He was so tiny when we got him and pure white. He could fit in the palm of our hands, hence the name. He was so beautiful. As he grew, he developed some ginger patches, but his name stuck. He turned out to be a huge boy and would spend many an hour lying on the windowsill in the lounge, stretching out to his full length – and Mum’s crystal did not get in his way!
After the first piece got knocked off, the crystal was found a new home. He spent so much time on the windowsill that in the end it was his place, and he was not going to share it with anything that did not deserve to be there. Snowball was my first cat, and he was the first of many.
One of my other cats was named Marvin. He was named after Marvin Hagler, as he was a real fighter, and usually won any fight. He was a tiny kitten when he came to me. One of my neighbours had told me about a litter of kittens that were to be drowned as the owner could not keep them. The family were obviously going through hard times, and the kittens were being fed on crisps, bread and water. There was no sign of the mother. I saw this tiny bundle of black fluff and knew he was coming home with me.
When we got him home, we did not know what to call him, but over the next couple of days his name came to us. As I mentioned, he was a fighter, which would later prove to save his life.
We had already got Suki, an elderly female tortoiseshell, and Charlie, a young adult male tortoiseshell. Marvin decided at seven weeks old he would take on the old girl. She put him in his place rather swiftly. But then he decided to take on Charlie. Charlie took one look at him, turned his back on him, and slowly walked away.
Marvin never picked a fight with either again, but as soon as he was allowed outside, he came home many times with battle scars. One day I was leaving for work and my nextdoor neighbour stopped me to tell me that Marvin had been fighting with her cat, and that her cat was upset.
I apologised and said that unfortunately this is what cats do. Her parting words to me were, “If you do not tell Marvin to leave my cat alone, I won’t speak to you again.” I must admit I did chuckle to myself. I told Marvin what had been said but it fell on deaf ears.
A few days later, Marvin did not come home at bed time. This for him was not unusual, but when he was not waiting for me when I came home from work, I got a little concerned. I spent a couple of hours calling him, rattling his food bowl, and walking up and down the land behind the house. It got late and there was still no sign of him. I thought he would be waiting for me in the morning. He must have found himself a young lady, I thought. Even though he had been neutered, he still had the urge to find any in-season girls he could.
A further day-and-a-half went by and still no sign. So when I was on the phone to the local paper to place an advert, I heard the most awful cry. I dropped the phone and ran outside – there he was, dragging himself up the pathway at the back of the house.
I went out and tried to pick him up but found his back end covered in dried blood. He could not use his back legs. I rushed him to the vet. His whole rear end was mangled and the vet was sure he had been hit by either a car or a train.
He gave me the option of having him put to sleep, but I would not hear of it. So, the following morning they started to operate. Mid morning I got a phone call from the vet. He told me that he was not hit by a car; he had been mauled, most likely by a fox, and that he was in a terrible condition.
My vet was the most amazing surgeon, stitching him back together, using over 100 internal stitches and over 50 external stitches. It appears the fox had grabbed him by the back end and had violently shaken him.
He could not walk or stand, and I was feeding and medicating him every two hours, day and night.
Marvin eventually made a full recovery. He had one back leg one inch shorter than the other, but boy could he run when he wanted to catch mice, rats, birds and the neighbour’s cats! I guess my talk to him did not have much of an effect on his attitude towards other cats …
Cats are independent and love to roam around their territory. I eventually allowed Marvin to roam again. It is how they like to live and it is natural for them to want to explore.
By Sue Ogden
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Sue Ogden is a professional dog groomer living in the Algarve. In her regular column, she provides readers with information on how best to care for their pets. Trained in the UK, she studied nursing, breeding, grooming, nutrition and kennel management.
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