Monday 19 August 2019

The story of the life of Spin, my favourite cat

Six years ago, Spin was a tiny and adorable kitten.

By Pete Wedderburn - ANimal Doctor

As I type this, my favourite cat Spin is sitting between my arms.

He's lying curled up on the desk, between me and the keyboard, and I'm peering over him to look at the screen. Thank goodness I can touch-type: if I had to look at the keys, this wouldn't work. He's purring loudly, half asleep, and I'm loving having him there. I am feeling particularly fond of Spin right now, for a sad reason: he has recently been diagnosed with a serious heart problem. Although he is well just now, I know that his days are now numbered, and I am treasuring every moment that I spend with him.


I'm not going to write about his heart disease today: that's for another time. Instead, I'm going to tell his life story up until he fell ill. There have been many good times, and there is much to remember and celebrate.

Spin is the ninth cat that I've had in my life: from childhood on, I've known Honey, Slug, Kitten, Gladstone, Baby, KC, Sushi, Couscous, and finally Spin.

Sushi and Couscous are still around, and they are the reason for Spin's arrival. They were both stray kittens that had been dumped at our vet clinic, and as they matured, it turned out that they must have had feral cats as parents. Sushi is a grumpy cat, prone to lashing out with her claws or teeth if she feels the inclination, while Couscous is a scaredy cat who likes to maintain a five meter radius of personal space around himself. We like the two of them, but they are independent creatures who don't appreciate human attention if it isn't on their own terms. We wanted a cuddly cat who would be happy to sit on a human lap, and that's why we went looking for a cat like Spin.

I first saw Spin before he had even been born. He was in his mother's womb when I spotted him. A client had asked me to take an x-ray of her pregnant cat to discover how many kittens she had. I counted the outlines of six kitten skeletons on the x-ray, and after I'd given her this news, I said "Can I have one of them?". The mother cat was a Maine Coon and she'd been mated with a Devon Rex tom cat. Both parent cats were lovely, gentle, people-loving creatures, so it was almost certain that the resulting kittens were going to have similar temperaments. This was the kitten that we had been waiting for.

We first visited the litter of kittens when they were around two weeks old. They were all gorgeous, but there was one little ginger male who appealed more than the others. He had distinctive clear green eyes, and he purred whenever anyone came close to him. This was definitely the kitten for us.

Choosing his name was a challenge: we had to find one that our whole family agreed with: myself, my wife and our two young daughters. We went through many possibilities but we could never agree. Then one day, while the radio was on, tuned into the Spin 103.8 radio station, the name "Spin" was suggested. It just felt like the right name for the new kitten. It's a short name, easy to say, it describes the way a kitten spins around as it plays, and most of all, it was the name of our daughters' favourite radio station. The name "Spin" appealed to us all, and so the decision was made.

Spin arrived in our home when he was eight weeks old, and he settled in at once. The two older cats ignored him, and in any case, he was happier spending time with humans. He has always followed people around, waiting for someone to sit down so that he can hop into their lap and curl up for a snooze.

We always thought that Spin was just a lazy cat: he seemed to sleep all day, every day. Like the other cats, he had free access to go out through the cat flap whenever he wanted, but he preferred to stay at home. One day, I decided to do a bit of investigating, to find out the truth about his lifestyle. Could a cat really be so lazy?

I attached a tiny GPS tracker to his collar: a special gadget that had been designed to track a cat's activity and location. (You can buy these online for €70 from One day later, I took the tracker off his collar and plugged it into my computer's USB socket. A Google Map of our neighbourhood came up on the screen, with a dotted line showing me exactly where and when Spin had been for the previous twenty four hours.

To my astonishment, it turned out that Spin was a night owl. At around midnight, when we had gone to bed, he headed out, through the cat flap. He went down our driveway, then into the back gardens of around a dozen neighbours. He wandered around the area all night, covering three or four kilometers, on the move all the time.

Then at around six in the morning, the dotted line led back to the door, and through the cat flap. When we came downstairs for breakfast, Spin was always sleeping in the kitchen, in the same place that we'd seen him the night before. He'd fooled us for years, but now we knew the truth about his night time wanderings. It was no wonder that he slept so much during the day time.

Spin has just stood up, and he's head butting me. He's telling me he wants his supper, so I have to go now. I'll write more about Spin next week, including his recently diagnosed illness. Until then, Spin sends you his purrs.

Wexford People

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