Now I have mentioned Phoebe, my big, black, beautiful Great Dane who is to be my travelling companion, but haven’t mentioned Domino my lovely little black and white cat, with three clear black spots in a diagonal line on her right flank and six jumbled together ones on her left side. Otherwise she is white but with black ears, black eyes and a black tail
I first saw her up at a local farmyard when she was a tiny little scrap, but still just as full of herself as she is now. I pulled into the yard. She was sitting in the parking bay as I drove up, but turning, and with her tail straight up in the air she stalked off, all four inches of her, whilst throwing me disdainful look back over her shoulder.
She had been the only surviving kitten of a tiny stray mother hardly bigger than herself, who had brought her to the farm and abandoned her almost immediately and I would guess that Domino had lived on the leftovers from the other farm cats dishes, as the first day I got her home she went round the floor hoovering up any little bits of dropped food that I had missed whilst mopping the floor – quite embarrassing really to my floor mopping skills.
I had said I would love give her a home if they could catch her, and a few days later I got a call and went to collect her. She had been kept in for a few days and fed her up as she was so thin, but nevertheless they phoned up later in the week to check she was still thriving as she had been so tiny.
I already had a cat and hoped that poor little Domino wasn't going to be bullied. Fat chance. And in fact not all that long after Domino arrived Jade must have decided that Domino – little mite that she was, presented too much day to day torment to be tolerated and gradually we saw less and less of Jade until she finally decamped, I think to a quieter billet elsewhere..
Jade had slept on a sheepskin rug on the chair nearest to the door of the hot top oven of the aga, and on the other side was a second chair which was ear-marked to be Domino's once she got her confidence. But I needn’t have worried. Within less than two days it was Domino in the place next to the Aga oven and Jade had to take the one furthest from the heat. And if Jade managed to get back into the best spot Domino would tease and tease her till she moved
Many years later when I bought Phoebe – the Great Dane - a huge new comfortable bed to go next to the radiator Domino instantly took it over choosing to sleep right in the middle with Phoebe looking sadly over the edge until I had to go out and buy a cat hammock to actually hang on the side of the radiator. Domino felt this was an even better berth and Phoebe was allowed to reclaim her own bed. If the central heating is off there a little heated pad that goes under Domino's sheepskin to keep her extra warm and happy – and out of Phoebe's bed!
Domino is a wonderful hunter but hunts purely to eat and eats everything she kills – a hang over from her days as a stray I think. Within a couple of days of her arriving she mugged the resident cat who was bringing in a vole to torment, and having grabbed it from her and growling ferociously all the while as she proceeded to gobble it down. With lot of crunching of bones it disappeared in seconds. Bear in mind she was still only about four inches long. Time has mellowed her somewhat, but she is still fiercely independent and lives to hunt. Though when contentedly full and stretched out on her cat hammock she delights in being stroked and fussed and will gently try to catch your hands to keep you with her when you have had enough and try to move away.
I did wonder if I might be able to take her with me on my travels, but I don't think she has the right personality. Some cats might take to it but I don’t think she would, so I put out a few feelers and she has had the offer of a lovely home – and without any other cats – she hates other cats! They have two dogs, Labrador Retriever types - but hopefully having spent most of her life with either one or two Great Danes around she shouldn't be too fazed.
I will catch her in the morning before they are due to collect her so she doesn’t associate her new owners with being shut in the cat carrier, but rather thinks of them as the ones who release her. She will go with a good supply of her favourite 99p a kilo Lidl cat nibbles, her cat nibbles dish, and her cat hammock, sheepskin and electric blanket. The bedding really needs washing before it goes, but I thought if I leave it impregnated with the smell of home she may settle more easily.
Its sad to imagine she might think of me of betraying her, and it will be very sad to part with her - she is a real character. I tried to work out how long she has been with me and I know I have had her longer than Phoebe, and Phoebe will be ten in February, so I am guessing Domino is around eleven or maybe even twelve, but she still looks a real kitten cat, and has never had a days illness or trip to the vets apart from when she was spayed.
She never steals food, or even jumps on the furniture let alone the worktops or table. Occasionally she will sit on the sunny windowsill, but knows I don't like it and jumps straight off if she sees me coming, and never goes into any part of the house other than the kitchen as she knows that the rest of the house is out of bounds.
Within her first few weeks she caught a young bird and I scolded her for it and since then she has stuck to small mammals. Mostly mice and voles, with the very occasional baby rabbit - I can tell as she leaves the feet – 'Lucky Rabbit's Foot', I think not. And once she killed a weasel which are fearsome little beasts, though she didn’t eat that but left it as a trophy on the doorstep.
Weasels are a real danger to poultry and almost impossible to keep out as they are so small and lithe. If they get in poultry runs or housing they kill everything by a small, deep, almost invisible bite to the back of the neck. And they can kill and carry things much larger than themselves.
Poultry breeding became a passion of mine over the past few years when I needed to be at home with Mum almost full time, and running the antiques business without being able to leave the property became untenable. So the keeping and breeding of poultry in particular Marans (which are the ones which lay chocolate brown eggs) and Cream Legbars (which lay a beautiful pastel blue egg) was something I could do whilst being here on site the whole time. I was also in the process of re-creating the Old English Crested Goose, but of course once I decided I was going to sell up all the poultry needed to be re-homed. I am hoping those who have taken on my breeding stock will use it to go on to even better things. I do hope so, but breeding quality poultry is a time consuming task and needs a lot of input both physically and mentally.
But back to Domino. She is in her cat carrier now waiting for the very nice couple who have offered her a home to come and collect her. Mewing quietly but piteously I have to say, but I hope to hear soon that she is settled in well. God willing......