Monday, 20 December 2010


Today, inspired by Astres' post on her adorable new(ish) cat Dexter, I decided to hold Writer's Pet Appreciation Day. Because as any writer will know, there are times in our lives when no one understands us except our faithful dog, cat, ferret or tarantula.

In the past I've posted a few pictures of my adorable dog Finn (otherwise known as Finbar Finley Finneas Finbarrsson the third). I got Finn during a period when I felt very depressed and unhappy. I was convinced that getting a dog would improve my life. I was probably right: a dog WOULD have improved my life. But a yipping, bouncing, insane puppy with more energy than a squirrel on steroids? No.

I spent the first two months that Finn lived with me thinking I had made the biggest mistake of my life and feeling more depressed than ever. The fact that he never let me get more than an hour's sleep didn't help. But then suddenly, sometime during month three, I started to have fun. I realised I had found an amazingly clever and devoted friend who was always happy to see me. At about the time I taught him to 'high five' I fell in love, and now I wouldn't be parted from him for all the Brazil nut toffee in Thornton's.

Me: "Finbar! What should I do? I finished my Big Secret Project chapter and synopses and I don't have to start baking for Christmas until tomorrow and I feel all weird and loose-endy!"

Finn: "Use the Force, Zolah..."

This one is after his second walk of the day. In such cold weather I fold the towels over the radiator in the kitchen so that I can easily melt any frozen snow out of Finn's long, curly ears, or the fluffy fur between his toes. But Finn likes to think of it as a bespoke spa treatment. He's been known to lie down in the towels and roll around, resisting all attempts to get him out.

Finn: "I shall not be moved."

Me: "Right, that's it. You're going on a diet!"

Finn: "I shall be in the living room."

Five minutes later in the living room...

Finn: "What? YOU were sitting here? But this is my seat. And look how cute I am. Can you really say no to this face? Hmmm?"

Okay, moving on from Finn, let's give some attention to my two feline pals, who I've never featured on the blog because they are notoriously camera shy. They do not like the camera-thing that goes flashy flashy in their eyes. I had to bribe both of them with pieces of cheese (yes, cheese) and catnip treats to get them to stay still long enough for the photographs.

First of all is Echo. She is a rescue cat who came to me when she was two and half years old, and spent the first week hiding under my sofa and behind the bookcase, emerging only when food was on offer, rinse, repeat. Frankly, after a while having a silent black cat silently slipping around the house started to creep me out. However, when she finally did decide that my adopting her wasn't part of a nefarious plot to turn her into catfur mittens, she turned out to be the dopiest, sweetest little cat in the world. She's called Echo because any noise that a human can make, she will happily echo back at you. If you open a door for her, she says 'Meeeankoo' which sounds uncannily like 'Thank you'.

Echo says: "Oh Gawd, not AGAIN with the flashy flashy thing. Hasn't this human worked out yet that I don't like having photos taken? I always look fat!"

Me: "Come on, you're not fat! You're precious. Look at your cut little white paws! Do you know how many cats would kill for paws like those? And your whiskers! They're the finest whiskers in England!"

Echo: "What, really? Well, if you saw so...How do I look now?"

Me: "OMG, you're so FLUFFY! It's adorable!"

Echo: "And you're really SURE I don't look fat? Make sure to get my profile in this one! It's slimming."

Next up, Hero. Hero was also a rescue cat and came to me when she was eight months old (my mother named her for the Shakespearean heroine). She was possibly the friendliest little cat I've ever met. If someone sat still for more than thirty seconds, she'd be snuggled up to them, purring like an out of control electric toothbrush.

However as she kept growing, and growing and GROWING (she's one of the largest female cats I've ever met, and built along the lines of a Swedish supermodel) she began to display the fact that she was a serious One Woman Cat. She followed me from room to room, supervised me in the bath, ran to say hello when I came home from work and only consented to sit on *my* lap. Anyone could stroke or snuggle her, but if anyone else attempted to pick her up she'd go stiff as a board and dig her claws in with every appearance of terror.

This is probably explained by the fact that her previous owners were a pair of teenagers who abandoned her in a box by the side of the road, may suffering be upon them with swift wings.

Hero says: "U bringz cheese?"

Me: "Who's a beautiful girl, then? Who's the most beautiful girl in the whole world?"

Hero: "I am, of course! I don't have self-image issues, like that other cat. Hand the cheese over. And stop trying to sneak the camera out, I can SEE what you're doing."

Me: "Please let me take some pictures. The world deserves to enjoy your beauty. All you have to do is stay still for thirty seconds. Have some more cheese."

Hero: "Okay, cheese gone. You can go too. I'm having a nap now. Unless you'd like to stroke under my chin? No - wash your hands first! I don't want cheese all over my fur."

So these are my cuties, without whom, I am sure, I could never write a word at all. Do you have pets, and how do they help you in your day-to-day life?


Phoenixgirl said...

Aawww! Echo looks a bit like my Gaby (short for Gabriel), who died several years ago. He had that same kind of tuxedo coloring, with the little quirk of white by the mouth. He was a big, sweet lump of a cat who liked to sleep on his back with his fluffy white tummy showing, ready to be rubbed.

Hero is clearly on to you! I love the expression on her face.

Zoë Marriott said...

Echo does that too, with her feet coyly folded over her belly. But she doesn't actually like having her fluffy tummy rubbed. She curls into a ball like a hedgehog and gives you reproachful looks.

Hero actually looks quite scary there, but she really isn't! She's terribly sweet and actually less trouble than any cat I've ever had.

Amanda from facebook said...

Aww! Your pets are sooo cute!!! At my house we have 3 dogs (Dasher, Domino, Penny), 3 guinea pigs (Onyx, Checkers, Patrick) and 3 hermit crabs (Rose, Lily, Hermes). 3,3,3! :)

Zoë Marriott said...

Wow, you've got a menagerie. I've never heard of people keeping hermit crabs as pets before. Are they friendly or do they live in a tank?

Megha said...

You have got THE cutest pets in the world. I, sadly, don't have a pet, but I've always wanted one. If I could, I'd get a furry white cat :D .

I'm guessing Echo and Hero stay away from Finn...

Zoë Marriott said...

I'm sure you'll be able to get a fluffy white cat one day.

Finn and the cats tease each other. The cats swipe Finn as he goes past to make him jump, and he barks at them to make them jump and fall off tall perches. I'd call it an armed truce, although the lasor stares they give each other when they're fighting over a place on the bed must be seen to be believed.

Nattasha said...

Aww your pets are absolutely adorable. I have one dog now, her name is Skye and you've already seen her, she is the biggest suck up ever and when she jumps up she will put her paw around my waist as if to give me a hug. My other dog was Candy, she was a Westie. I had her for 8 years and even though she was old, blind, partialy deaf and only half the size of Skye she had Skye put into place so Skye knew who was boss. How old are Finn, Echo and Hero?

Zoë Marriott said...

Actually, in my house Echo (the tiny black cat) is the boss of Hero (the massive grey cat). Anyone who doubts that animals have their own personalities should see Hero sighing and giving up her place at the food bowl to a cat that's half her size!

Finn was four this October, Echo is ten now, although she acts like a much younger cat, and Hero is eight, also acting like a much younger cat.

Nattasha said...

Lol Aww I'd well believe that.

Alex Mullarky said...

I've got Snap, who's my own dog and a rescue dog, the sweetest, most well-behaved and loving dog in the world. Then my family took on Jake, who is Snap's polar opposite (yet, strangely, suits her very well) and never stops wagging his tail and knocking stuff over and coming over for cuddles. He annoyed me at first but I think it is turning into a beautiful friendship. Snap's flawless behaviour needed to be balanced out, I suppose (: My characters always seem to have pets - guess that shows I can't really imagine life without animals!

sadie said...

I have two cats, Freddy and Sweetie. Freddy is a big cat who acts exactly like hero and looks a lot like him too. My cats freak out whenthey are given catnip. What about your cats?

astres said...

This message is Dexter Approved.

Zoë Marriott said...

Alex: Yeah, sometimes the best pets have to grow on you a bit. Ask my mum. I was on the phone to her about five times a day when I first got Finn asking 'Is this normal for a puppy? I seriously think there's something wrong with him. Why is he so insane??'

Sadie: My cats just roll around and want to snuggle when I give them catnip. It might be because they're used to it. They live with me in quite a rural area and there's probably catnip growing in patches all over the place.

Astres: Holy cow, I really hope that he's just yawning there. Look at those teeth!

a.u. said...

Aww, your pets are adorable! Finn is almost as cute as my 12-year-old dog, who still thinks he's a puppy (his name is Elmo). He is white with a big black spot on his back and a brown face. I also have two bunnies, Pepsi (black), and Sprite (white). They are soooooooooooooo cute and always calm me down.

Zoë Marriott said...

Thank you. That's the best thing about pets - when you get stressed out, they come and give you a significant look and once you've spent ten minutes scratching behind their ears or giving them a belly rub, you somehow feel so much better.

Isabel said...

LOL! Aww, so cute! You're really hilarious, Zoë, did you know that? Echo's eyes are simply gorgeous. I do have a guinea pig, which my three-year-old sister simply adores (although we always have to be on the lookout to be certain she's not killing it). Her name *was* Luisa, until my baby sister came along, called Luisa. So we changed it to Lulu. As a little little baby Luisa couldn't say "Lulu" and interpreted it as "Uli". So that is her name. However, Uli is old. She has outlived two of our other guinea pigs, Julie and Cocoa, who died. Julie had like this heart attack thingimabob, and Cocoa just... died. Uli hasn't been eating much lately, and we think that she might not last very long. *Sniff, sniff, sob*. It's sad for Luisa. She really loves her.

Zoë Marriott said...

Thank you! Echo's actually squinting (against the flash) in all those pictures - in real life her eyes are perfectly round and people are always remarking on it.

I'm sorry to hear about Uli. Losing a pet that you love so much is really hard. But remember that everything that lives has to pass on one day, and that you've given Uli a wonderful life, full of love and happiness, and that's all anyone can ever hope for.

Isabel said...

Thanks, Zoe. :)

Isabel said...

Sadie: I was just thinking that Hero looks a lot like Fred! Your cats are so cute! I just wish I could see Sweetie more often; she never comes out. (When I'm around, anyway.)

Sarah said...

You have such lovely pets Zoe :o) I don't know what I'd do without my 2 cats - they both cheer me up like nothing else when I'm having a bad day.

Echo looks a lot like my cat Mo, although Mo was always a big fat cat so much much larger than Echo. She lost a lot of weight recently due to a hyperactive thyroid but now she's on tablets she is starting to gain weight again. Such a relief as it was worrying seeing my big fat cat look like a refugee camp survivor!

I'd love to get a dog but I don't think my girls would be very keen on the idea, especially when I'll be moving into a smaller place soon so I'll just have to wait a few years :o)

Zoë Marriott said...

Thank you! People always say that Echo looks like their cats, you know - I think black and white tuxedo cats must be the unofficial breed of Britain. There's an army of them out there. Let's hope they're not plotting against us...I'm sorry Mo's been ill, and I hope she's on the road to recovery. In my house the dog is the fat one, but I know how heartbreaking it is to watch them be ill.

I must admit that bringing the dog into the house wasn't the very best of ideas. The cats don't really love him and they frighten the heck out of him. But luckily I've got a bit of space here, so they can get away from each other. I wouldn't recommend it!

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