The Old Man Cat And The Care Home

As you may know, I have five cats. You may not know that we moved house in February (a day after Beany was discharged from Birmingham Children’s Hospital – I don’t recommend it). We didn’t move far, into the next village. And while it was probably a crazy time to do it, it was an opportunity we couldn’t miss.

I don’t regret it. The house is better, the neighbours are better, the kids are happier, my wife is happier, I am happier and so are the cats. In fact, one of my cats is actually healthier since we moved.

Reb Brown is my old man cat. I’ve had him for eight years and he’s roughly 16+ years old. We’re not sure how old he is, he was the village tom cat when he moved in with us and my local vet has a reputation for not being able to estimate the ages of pets. Farm animals, yes, hamsters, cats, etc…not so much.

In the old house, we were seriously talking about Reb’s future. He was having seizures twice or three times a week, on a good week. He was losing weight – mostly muscle – and his back legs were bothering him. We weren’t sure he would make it through the winter and were discussing end-of-life scenarios. The vet was pretty positive about him, his seizures were a concern obviously, but he’s in pretty good health for his age.

The medication they gave us didn’t make a difference, so we handled it as best we could. Then we moved house and started letting him roam around outside again.

He had a seizure in the kitchen when we first moved. He’s not had one since. He’s still not the fat chunk we first met and his back legs still bother him, but he’s healthy and happy and he’s become an unofficial therapy cat.

Care Of The Community

Our house sits behind a care home. It’s in an old big house and they’re basically across the one-lane road from us. We can hear the room call buttons from our house (took us ages to figure out what it was). We pass their garden on the way out every day and see the odd resident sitting there.

In the past few months, Reb Brown has been venturing out of the house and into…the care home.

The first time he went over there, we were all in Cardiff staying at the Ronald McDonald house there while Beany was in hospital. She was there for a month so we were back and fourth. As she improved she was allowed to stay with us in the house and I checked my phone to see a missed call and a voice mail from the care home. So as I took Beany over to get some blood tests, I listened to it.

They had my cat, he’s okay but they’re worried about his eye (he has a blocked tear duct but it’s fine). They’ve given him some milk and a sausage and can I come and pick him up.

Er, no, I’m 100 miles away and my train isn’t until 4pm. Flower and I got home late and went to bed. I was going to get him the next day but he came home on his own. So I texted the person who called me to apologise and thank them for taking care of him. I didn’t mention how they’re never going to be rid of him now they’ve fed him.

He came and went from the house, but was always home every night for dinner. My sister joked that she’d seen him at the care home and I just assumed she meant in the driveway or the garden.

No, no, he was inside the care home.

He started skipping breakfast and we found out that every morning he went over to the care home. He let himself in the backdoor, walked around the all the rooms to check everything out before getting something to eat from the chef and chilling in the garden.

I found this out when I bumped into one of the staff while walking Beany around the village one afternoon.

Then he doesn’t come home for two days.

I post on the village facebook group, asking people to keep an eye for him, and as soon as I hit send he turns up. I look like a prat, he saunters in like he’s not an old man cat who’s been missing for two days.

It happens again, and I hold off from posting on facebook and decide to text the staff member from the care home.

They’re not at work but they tell me the following:

  • Reb is probably asleep in one of the resident’s rooms.
  • He’s in the care home most of the day.
  • He’s taken a liking to a 96-year-old called Barbara.
  • He sleeps on her lap all day.
  • He’s learnt to move out of the resident’s way when he’s moving
  • He brings a smile to the residents.

They texts me back to say they spoke to the chef and Reb Brown is indeed in Barbara’s lap.

Pub Cat

We also discovered that he goes to the pub.

We didn’t think he strayed that far from home (or the care home). The pub is down the hill and further than he has been before. He’s followed us down the hill before, and we chased him off and saw him later at home. This time, we thought we’d chased him off. We were going to the pub for dinner with my in-laws.

We sit in the beer garden, watching the kids play and chatting and who strolls by?

My flipping cat!

Apparently it’s not the first time. And he did;t come over the fence because he doesn’t like to jump (it hurts to land). No he came in through the front door, got some fuss from some locals in the front outside seats and completely ignored all the dogs there.

My wife scooped him up and took him home and put him inside but I’m pretty sure it’s not deterred him at all.

Unoffical Therapy Cat

Since then, Reb Brown only comes home every few days. I checked with the staff that it was okay that he’s over there all the time and told them to call me if there are any issues with him.

We got him a new tag for his collar with the correct village and postcode, and a note saying he’s old but loved. This way people will know he’s taken care of and not to worry about his eye (it looks gross but it just needs cleaning).

Today I went over there with some cans of cat food and some biscuits. I had been over a few days before to collect him so I could treat his fleas (he had a whole two fleas), get him a new flea collar and comb him and clean him up. When I got him he was in the lounge, asleep on an old lady’s walker in the sun. She said to me as I picked him up, “you don’t want him do you?”. I told just for a couple of days. He’s making them smile, he sleeps in their laps, in their rooms, and sits with them in the garden.

Apparently, the staff have been chipping in to buy him food and I cracked up when I found out he doesn’t like fish fingers and they were overfeeding him. No wonder he doesn’t want to come home! When I took the food over, he was right behind me and the staff member I spoke to let him right in.

I think it’s good for him to be over there. He deserves some peace in his old age, we have other cats that can be cuddled (much to their chargrin) and he’s making people happy.

And he’s happy too. Especially if they’re feeding him sausages.

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