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If it didn't happen earlier - this is the moment where most people call me crazy. I just adore my animals.

Although it might seem like it, I'm not regarding them as little humans to be spoilt rotten. Probably I have seen too many injured and badly treated animals when I was young. They just deserve our commitment.
Mohrchen and her 6 babies - at my parents house when I was little

And that is and always will be my point: If you don't want to commit to an animal, that's fair enough. That is not doing any harm. But if you are committing yourself, then do it the same way you would commit to a child.

A grown up might be disappointed but has the capability to understand, a child can't understand and neither can an animal.

Two kittens

From my childhood in the village I learned to read and understand animals. Cats are different from dogs are different from rabbits are different from birds of prey. You have to become a little bit the species you are dealing with, and you will have to respect the character of the individual.
Doberman Bingo and Poodle lady Uschi at my parents backyard. You can tell that she wasn't happy there. We found her in a rotten staple in 10 inch of dung together with two other Poodle. Her fur was like felt and when we cut it off, nests of maggots came out of it. She was scared of everything and apparently had been beaten. She hated our cleaning lady and was for some reason scared of cameras. This is one of the few photos we ever could take of her. Nevertheless she had a lovely character and after she had babies she became brave like a lioness, but she kept her fear of cameras.

My mum once brought a sedated stray dog which they eventually had managed to hunt down with sleeping pills. In the dance hall which was only used occasionally we had piled up all the tables and chairs in one corner and once the poor thing woke up it dashed under this pile and could hardly be seen. I was about 10 years old and small enough to approach him. He was shivering and growling throughout, and it took me hours and constant talking (still good in this) to get to him and win his trust. After some weeks he was the sunshine of the family and then found a lovely home with an elderly lady. For some reason experiences like these formed me more than all the years of school and University study.

I read somewhere that with winking the eyes a cat signals 'peace'. Probably that's why they like it when you smile at them. I tried this with all the cats in our neighbourhood and I made them all wink, even when they were sitting far away. It is a bit like talking their language with them, and I find it very interesting that the cat is able to read these signals from a different species.

Guinea pig Strubbi and one of the many offspring of cat-mum Mohrchen.
Always best friends

However, I believe myself to be a rather normal person, but in regard to pets everybody else thinks I'm mad. Oh well, there is worse.

So, above were a selection of the pets at my parents house who taught me how to behave with pets, and here are the pets I had and have since we came to England:

Tommy - about 10 years old

Moved in from the neighbourhood and due to his persistence the owner agreed for him to stay with us. He had a fellow cat, and probably was tired to play the pasha. We suspect that he was already ill with cancer when he came to us. About half a year later he died.

More than any other cat he loved boxes and bags and was the best teacher to children

Felix - about 15 years old

Moved in from the neighbourhood and due to his persistence the owner agreed for him to stay with us. He had 5 fellow cats, and the owners had recently moved. Probably he was tired to fight for a favourite place again. We suspect that he was already ill with heart problems when he came to us. About half a year later he died.

He was a master in putting himself bang into the middle of everything so that nobody got past him and loved having his tummy cuddled. And he was a catnip junkie.

I got a pretty bad image at that time. Nicking all the cats from the neighbourhood who then died shortly after. I guess they smelled the vacancy and hoped for calm twilight years. And we had a nice compost pile with mice and a birdcage - loads of entertainment without having to move about too much.

Bobby - stray

He was my dream cat. Straying in the garden, nicking bird food (they love dry cat food, especially in spring when they have babies) I invited him to stay although we already had Felix. He became the most understanding and talking cat. Tommy already was amazing in communication, but Bobby was even smarter.

Unfortunately he didn't stay with us for long and after a good year he got sick and died.

And these are the little buggers we still have: Moritz and Vinny. They hate each other, or better: Moritz hates Vinny and Vinny is scared like hell. Since we have those two we don't get a proper night sleep anymore. Moritz goes out during the day - occasionally the old sloth-bear - while Vinny goes out at night using the window above the conservatory while Moritz is locked in. Only that Vinny likes to announce that he is back and wants to have attention. One doesn't need kids if one has two little devils in the house.

Vinny - about 13 years old now

Moved in from the neighbourhood and due to his persistence the owner agreed for him to stay with us. He had no fellow cats, but there was a black&white bully cat straying around his house and living in the field close by. Additionally his lady had a new boyfriend and some lifestyle change going with it.

Vinny was not amused!

... and my image was going downhill.

Moritz - Black&White Stray Bully

It needed a while to realise that the white cat hair in the armchair couldn't be from Vinny and we were a bit worried about the food consumption. And then one morning I saw him dashing out through the catflap.

I can't shoo cats away!

And now he is the laziest cuddle ever and as communicative as Bobby. He only moves fast when he sees another cat.

And then we have a fish tank with Goldfish and little Catfish, although the Goldfish population changes all the time as I catch little ones from the pond and put the big ones back into it. Otherwise it's cleaning every other day. Ghosh these little buggers are messy.

And we have the aviary for the foreign finches - 13 of them. They are breeding like mad and usually I have fake eggs to have them breeding on, but sometimes they are cheating on me.

And then we have the garden birds including two ducks visiting this spring and a sparrow hawk hunting, we have a hedgehog sleeping in the shed and all the neighbours cat's lurking around waiting for treats and their chance to move in only kept at bay by lazy bully Moritz.

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Author: Rika