Thanks for everything, Foo
I’ve been working as a vet in Bermuda for 17 years. In that time, I have seen countless animals who were all amazing in their own way. Each animal has taught me so much about behaviour – how to read and understand it, and how my behaviour affects them and theirs me.
But there is one animal who spoke to me so clearly that I brought her home and she has been my constant companion for the past 12 years. I’m speaking of my darling cat, Foo. It’s a strange name, I know, but it does seem to suit her.
She is a 13-year-old Abyssinian, who I met for the first time in a consult room. She was bred locally and her breeder was looking for a home for her and her sister. They were at the clinic for their first vaccinations. I hadn’t seen many Abyssinian cats, so I was intrigued and asked a lot of questions about the breed – known for their feisty temperaments, strong will, and incredible athletic ability, the breeder told me.
A month later, in came these lovely sister cats again, now for their second vaccinations. The breeder had decided that one of them would make a lovely breeding cat and was sending her to the US to a good friend. The other one was not of breeding quality, apparently, and was still looking for a home. “I’ll take her,” I said. And so began the adventure of owning Foo.
Her name was “Evie” at the time, a lovely gentle and sweet name which I soon found out did not suit her at all. The breeder had cautioned me that this breed was not like regular cat breeds, she had no street sense and would have to be an indoor cat. “No problem,” thought I. “I am a vet and will certainly be able to tame this beast, how hard could a little cat be?” Evie gave me a knowing look and the games began.
After one week, she had broken a lamp, a crystal photo frame that was a wedding present and had almost taken a screen door off its hinges trying to see off another cat from her porch. She could quite literally run the wall of death around our lounge on an evening, skirting close to the ceiling as she exploded from wall to wall. I had never seen anything like it.
I knew I couldn’t contain this incredible energy in our house, so I opened a window, and she found the great outdoors. She was so much happier with her new-found freedom and she stopped smashing my furniture – so it was a win win.
She was very loving and affectionate but only on her terms, which I learnt quickly or suffered the consequences. She had an arsenal of ferocious weapons she could use with the skill of a seasoned ninja. She could contort her body to get out of any hold then disappear into thin air until she was ready to be fed.
Her name started to change from “Evie” to “Evil” as we went toe to toe on the house rules, negotiating every minute like battling courtroom lawyers.
At six months old, I took her to the clinic to have her spayed, which I did myself because I didn’t want to subject any of my friends to her crazy antics. As she woke up from the anaesthetic, she progressed from fast asleep to full wall of death crazy kennel running in a split second. We all watched on in horror knowing there was nothing we could do but wait it out and hope she didn’t hurt herself. She didn’t, but I have never seen a reaction like it in all my years of being a vet.
It was then that her name changed again to “Foo Fighter” – “Foo” for short – and that seemed to stick.
Despite our rocky start, this little cat has seen me through two house moves, two children, a new, more “normal” cat and a dog moving in, and the development of my own busy vet practice. She has been a constant source of reassurance, understanding and love and I am eternally grateful that I know her. She has taught me about animals and about myself. She has shown adaptability, generosity and strength and is not afraid to tell me when I get it wrong.
There is no doubt that she is my cat of a lifetime and a dear friend. If you love animals, I hope you have had one like Foo. Hopefully you still have them – that special one that just seemed to understand you. I can’t put into words how important animals have been in my life, but this particular animal is just pure gold. Foo is getting older and she won’t be with me for ever but I have her with me now and she is just magic. Thanks for everything Foo.
• Lucy Richardson graduated from Edinburgh University in 2005. She started CedarTree Vets in August 2012 with her husband, Mark. They live at the practice with their two children, Ray and Stella, and their dog, two cats and two guinea pigs. Dr Lucy is also the FEI national head veterinarian for Bermuda
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