The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Pushkin. The cat who couldn’t be placed

Pushkin relaxing in the sitting room

“We just haven’t been able to place him. He doesn’t settle. And then we thought of you. The only person we know that is laid back enough to deal with him?”
It was the lady from the cat rescue centre.

I was rather flattered. Had never thought of myself as laid back. So I said OK.

I did want a cat. The mouse war in the cottage was never ending. I hated killing them and think that the humane traps are cruel.

The large and rather beautiful tabby cat arrived with an amount of luggage that would suit a spoilt Saudi prince. A massive cat gym, traveling basket large enough to house a small hippo,  a cat tray with its own roof, superior cat litter, gourmet food, bowls and a range of expensive cat toys.

He was settled in the spare bedroom, with a fence across the door to deter prying min pins.

There he stayed for months. Spitting from under the bed when I went in to feed him and clear his cat tray. Growling when I peered under the bed. I sat in the room for hours as he yowled from beneath the bed. He hated me and I loathed him.

Somehow it was never convenient to return him to the cat home. I didn’t dare pick him up. They would have to come and collect him. Then he went missing and I was secretly delighted.

After a month he poked his head through the cat flap and eased himself into the kitchen. This became his kingdom. The growls, spitting and lashing out with needlelike claws continued but soon the mice had left home! He was clearly good at his job.

Everything changed when the Min Pins died and were replaced with new dogs. Suddenly Pushkin was weaving around my legs. Purring and doing normal cat like things. He was clearly jealous of the dogs.

I had been drying his back when he came in wet for months – he liked this and would stand beside the place that I kept his towel until I reached for it and gave him a gentle rub. Rather nervously I started to cuddle him as he ate. Gradually with a combination of lashing out and deep purring he indicated where and when he liked to be touched and stroked.

“He likes you,” my sister said. “He always perks up when you come in.”
I wasn’t so sure but I was getting fond of my shy grumpy cat who always disappeared when strangers trudged up the drive.

Now he transferred his hatred to the dogs. They were not keen on him – he whacked them with claws that I suspect he sharpened daily. The dogs were frightened of going in the garden – the cat ran away when they barked but rapidly returned to torment them. There were several visits to the vet to tend war wounds and frayed nerves.

Last year everything changed.

I had major building works carried out in the cottage and returned home without the dogs to complete the rest of the renovations myself.

After a month alone Pushkin gave me a warm welcome. He slept on my bed, goggling when I first stripped off for bed. Lived in the kitchen with me, kept me company when I bathed and gradually taught me his language. We were living on a building site but the kitchen was warm and we had an all night electric blanket on the bed. 

After a few months the dogs had to return home. What would happen to Pushkin? We had become like an old married couple. One of the dogs refused to stay in a room with Pushkin, if she got stressed she would tremble all over and pee in the house.

I had to change the old cat/dog status quo.

So I fitted a second cat flap to the sitting room outside door. He loved it.

When the dogs returned home the kitchen became their new kingdom and Puskin had sole access to the rest of the house.

I now no longer work in The Rat Room upstairs and have transferred my laptop to the kitchen to be with the dogs in the day.

Pushkin still hides in the bushes beside the back and front door and spits at the dogs as they pass but he allows them run or sit in the garden without attacking them.

Finally all the animals seem happy. For now.

Pushkin wanting to play

  Leave a reply


  1. Delighted to find you blogging again, Fiona, and what a great story for me to pick up the thread with. We have two rescue cats, neither are anything like Pushkin but cat tales (and cat tails) are always a treat. Lovely that harmony has been achieved… sort of!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Good to find you back here too, Sandra. Pushkin, is still very nervous when he hears the dogs barking but loves having most of the cottage as his domain whilst the dogs are stuck in the kitchen. Of course the human cat basket upstairs id the cherry on the cake!

  2. Veronica

    He’s a very handsome boy! I’m glad you’ve all found a way to cohabit. And delighted to see you blogging again — welcome back!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Veronica, Yes he’s handsome but a bit temperamental 🙂 I’m enjoying the blogging. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Patricia Anne Ellingford

    Gorgeous Fiona am glad you have become friends. When I first introduced our Jack Russell to my existing cats I used Johnson’s baby powder on their rears. It made them all smell the same and kept the pheromones to a minimum. Each time we had them together was for a short time but always well talced up and I was always with them to guide them on unacceptable behaviour. This has worked very well as now they can be in the same room together without too many hissy fits although occasionally the Jack Russell erupts out or wild cat comes to the fore. Missy our Jack is now 11 years old and only one of the original cats is left. She is also good with Molly and her three kittens who are now 5 years old and they are good with her. They are family. Puskin is gorgeous xx Hope you are keeping well. Pattypan xx

    • Fiona Nevile

      Ah that talc trick is worth noting. My parents always had dogs and cats living together. I’ve had cats and dogs before who coexisted happily. I think Push needed more attention than I was giving him. He is a working cat after all. Thanks for your comment Pattypan x

  4. Ruthdigs

    Aww, I’m glad it worked out. He looks a little like my Ezekiel.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Ezehiel is a marvelous name! Pushkin is very keen on keeping his white bits spotless. The only time that he is slightly whiffy is when I go away for a few days. He is fed by neighbours. He welcomes me home and then settles on the bed for a marathon washing session.

  5. Toffeeapple

    Confused of Milton Keynes here – Puskin or Pushkin – very different animals…

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi TA, It should be Pushkin – like the writer. Pushy for short 🙂 I missed the sp. Must edit x

  6. My neighbour went to a cat rescue place and one black and white cat immediately attached himself to her. The proprietor was astonished, because he was not a friendly cat – and of course, Rose came home with him. He’s a great ratter, as a bonus: the feral cats in the barn tend to kill what they can eat, but he is feisty enough to pit himself against the rats. And we don’t now have house mice.

    • Fiona Nevile

      What a brilliant result! We used to have rats here too 🙂

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