Anyone who has owned more than one cat will know that they are all individuals with quirky characters and specific personality traits as diverse as those of humans. One thing that has always fascinated me is the huge difference in intelligence between one animal and another. Take my cat Sammy who is incurably stupid and spends most of his waking hours wandering around looking confused and making strange noises like a duck! Yazmin, on the other hand, was a different kettle of fish entirely and nearly drove me to the brink of insanity.
I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I chose a cute looking Himalayan kitten to take home with me but I was starting to realise by the time I got as far as my car. This kitty was extremely vocal and making almost insane efforts to escape from the basket. As soon as I arrived home she set about attacking my other cats in turn until her attention fell on the curtains which she promptly climbed and ended up swinging from the curtain rail like a gibbon. I knew I was in trouble I just didn’t realise how much!
The real trouble started when I had to leave Yazmin unattended. I returned home one day to find that she had learnt how to open the fridge door and the kitchen cupboards. She had also clearly been monitoring my eating habits as I walked into the kitchen to find the floor awash with milk and Rice Krispies! She had pulled the cereal box out of the cupboard emptied the contents onto the floor and then punctured a milk carton to spray milk everywhere. I was now seriously worried. How clever was this animal? She soon developed an annoying habit of entering the kitchen every time the kettle clicked off having gleaned that this meant I was making tea which would require milk. If I didn’t give her any milk she would jump up and knock the teacups over in protest.
Things got more awkward as Yazmin got bigger as she hadn’t shaken the habit of swinging from the curtain rail but was now much heavier and eventually her efforts pulled the rail clean off the wall. As her favourite game had now been spoiled she turned her attention to the French windows stripping off all of the mahogany veneer over the course of a couple of weeks. I was now completely exasperated and took her to the vet who referred her to some kind of animal psychologist who declared her to be of exceptional intelligence. Well done Sherlock! Her abnormal intelligence was causing her to get bored and thus to seek out mischief. I had to install a ridiculous amount of diversions in the home to keep her occupied and was now taping the fridge door shut after an unfortunate episode involving four pork chops and a packet of bacon.
Yazmin’s activities were not confined to the house. She soon learnt that hunting rodents was great fun and leaving the corpses in certain places was even more fun. I guess I expected the odd mouse in my trainers but perhaps not a dead rat in my Rieker shoes and certainly not a headless squirrel corpse in my bed! The rat in the saucepan nearly resulted in Yazmin’s own premature death.
Perhaps the most impressive of all Yazmin’s talents was her progressive ability to comprehend the English language. I have had other cats which gained the ability to recognise their names and perhaps the word fish, but not dozens of words and whole phrases. My friends were constantly shocked by this freak of nature and most people thought Yazmin was just plain spooky. I got so used to talking to her that I sometimes forgot myself in front of strangers who probably thought I was crazy asking her to pick things up or to find one of the other cats but she could do all this and more!
When Yazmin was a kitten she suffered from a severe gastric complaint which the vet predicted would end her days before her first birthday and informed me that her breed were not known for longevity anyway. She was then diagnosed with epilepsy and one of her fits caused her to suffer severe injuries including a fractured skull and severed tendons in her legs. She lost so much blood that the vet told me that she probably wouldn’t make it. Despite all of these issues Yazmin finally died of cancer at the age of 17 years and four months and I have never had another cat like her. I have some amazing memories of her antics even if I did want to kill her at the time!
Sally Stacey is a cat lover and regular blogger who is currently writing on behalf of Barnets Shoes. She lives in the South of England with her three cats and long suffering partner who is allergic to them!