The ultimate guide to our host-family’s animals
Over the last sixteen months I had a chance to develop a very strong relationship with all the gorgeous animals belonging to our host-family. They included a dog, five cats, two tanks full of fish, also pond-fish, chicken and a rabbit. Some of them already passed away and it was tough, but I’ve already written some post about Squizzie who was my most favorite cat and Truffle the rabbit and now I feel like it’s time to say something about the others who stayed and who I’ll be leaving. I wrote it in a guide-style because I believe either the host-family itself or whoever will replace us could use one to take a really good care of them.
I think I could write much more about them and post tons of crazy pictures (it’s pets, you know how they are and every picture is so damn funny and silly that you just HAVE to share it annoy everybody on facebook) but let’s keep it simple and just about the most significant features.
Let’s start with Daisy. Daisy is a dog, god knows what kind, but she’s a good and sweet dog. She pretends to be the toughest guarding dog ever, barking at every car that drives by, or every person that dares to come close enough to „her“ property but just call her name and she’s all quiet and playful.
She responses well to either english or czech version of her name, the czech being Daisynka or Dášenka, and she understands some basic ordrers like „sit“, „lay down“, „give me a paw“ or even „shut up“ – but that only for like ten seconds.
She’s totally into playing with any ball, usually tenis balls. She could chase you all day with one of them in her mouth, until you give up and go play with her. She has her own rules which nobody can really understand – she doesn’t bring the ball right to you, she comes back with it and wants a pat. Then she sometimes drops the ball into the grass on her way away from you, but sometimes she doesn’t. So the only way how to actually make her to bring it back to you, is to get on a trampoline. She then loves to climb the ladder with her front legs and carefully drop the ball into the trampoline where it rolls right to your feet – very handy, isn’t it? 🙂
What you need then is either a good strenght in your arms to throw the ball very far, or a plastic launcher that you can buy from Poundland (but the joy it gives is unpriceable). Play with her for ten minutes and you raise her hapiness bar to a maximum level. It’s also a good way how to dry her quick after you had to bath her (‚cause she played in a mud or rolled over a fox poo).
Another thing she loves is simply to be around people. She hates to be left alone, do that and you have her whining and barking all day long. If you want her to shut up, there is nothing easier than to let her into your room, where she can be all night as well. If you let her, she’ll gladly sleep with you in your bed, if you don’t, she won’t go whining, unless she actually needs to pee or is thirsty or hungry.
When it comes to her eating habits, she’s used to quite a little of food twice a day but treat her nicely with some extra meat or bones if you happen to have BBQ leftovers. She’d happily at least clean your plate for you if you don’t want to spare any food and she is a highly effective dishwasher, I must say.
She loves to be touched. When sitting next to you, stroke her head or she’d poke you with her nose constantly. And another game she loves is a pool game where she throws the ball into the pool and wants you to throw it to her. If you don’t, she’d bark at you for an hour if she has to, and no „shut up“ will actually do the work, you need to throw the bloody ball! When you’re not at the pool, she likes to do the same thing with your bed or your lap while you’re sitting. It’s no big deal but it makes her ultimately happy. And a happy dog is… you know. It should be your priority, if you have one. Make her life really happy and longer. Every few minutes she’s happy, it gives her longer life. Do the math yourself and play with the bloody dog.
The next one is Tabitha.
She’s the oldest cat here and quite a tough one to figure out but once you understand her game and accept and go with her moods, you’re a winner and you’ve got yourself a golden key to her purring heart.
She’s usually very shy and doesn’t really seem to like people. If she absolutely has to go past them, she makes herself as invisible as she can, she keeps very low profile and runs very quick. Don’t try to catch her when she does that and if you want to see through another day, do never pick her up. Unless you have a reeeally good relationship with her – like I do.
The only chance of bonding comes when you sit quietly, preferably on a couch or even floor, and you don’t move. She might come to you and start rubbing her body of a furniture – which is your catch. You must not move, let her come, encourage her with calling her name gently and patting your own lap or belly. She will then know it’s safe and she will come to walk over you and sit or even lay on you if she likes. Still, you must not move! You can gently start touching her head and in a while you might even stroke her back, but do not overdo it ‚cause one bad move might as well cost you her presence. Out of nowhere, she stops liking it and she just walks away – or attacks your hand if you touched her where she doesn’t like it.
She’s quite like weather, unpredictable and quite crazy sometimes, but it is totally worth the effort of figuring out because I’ve spend many nights with her laying on my chest and purring away for hours and hours, just because I was patient enough to let her dictate the rules. I mean, almost all cats are kinda like that, you can’t force them to anything, but Tabitha? She is the extreme case of this sort and you will learn how to listen or you’ll never have her anywhere close to your body.
She also has this other funny thing where she attacks the kitchen window from outside. It’s the only one specific window – never any other – and you never know when is it going to come, until you hear a loud noise of her landing on that window. She then holds onto it for a minute until she has to fall or until she sees you coming close to open that window for her. She ten jumps down and lets you open it, then you again must follow her rules or nothing’s gonna happen – you must stand clear of the window, be quiet and do nothing and in few seconds she’ll jump in and run to the kitchen. Then you are allowed to close the window again but be aware, cats do like changing their minds and in a minute, she might as well be back on that same window, demanding you let her out.
If you are currently sitting at the table by the window, she’d come to you, go around you or your computer and come to the window where she’s pat the window metal latch until you open it for her. If you don’t, she’ll go around you for eight, ten times, until you get the damn message.
If you think you know it all now, prepare to meet Minnie.
She might be the sweetest fluffy teddy of them all (unless she’s just bringing alive mice in the house to announce her contribution to the household and then chase them around) but she’s probably also the most nuts one as she keeps on meowing all the time and she doesn’t seem to know what she wants.
And it’s not really meowing, either. It’s a sweet quiet sound which sounds more like „e“ letter than anything else. She sounds more like a bird than a cat and she can go on with that sound for loong minutes while she follows you through the garden, no matter what you do. You’d say she asks for attention and every time she spots you looking at her, she does this funny thing when she turns her head on a side and then all body follows and she crashes on the ground, rolling over as in „look at me, I’m cute! Play with me and rub my belly!“.
So of course I usually come to her and want to stroke her but then she immediately gets up and starts dancing around me in a way that makes it quite impossible. She just can’t stay still! She rubs her head on my body with a lot of temper and strenght and you might as well just keep your hand in front of you and she’d stroke herself with it without your help. But when you try to pick her up – which you’d think she wants – she starts kicking and goes all Houdini on you so you have a real trouble trying to hold her. The most crazy moments we had was when I put her into a catbox as she was going to the vet. She bloody escaped it five times! And I know it was kinda not solid and there were kinda holes in it but she pushed herself through them with such a streght that I would never guess in something that has such a tiny sweet voice.
The best thing you can probably do, is to either sit on a couch and let her come lay next to you, or you can simply duck, call her name few times and wait till she comes to you. Then you have to dance with your hand around, trying to cuddle her while she keeps on moving, and again, you have to be very patient with her. The same thing when you brush her, which she loves. She’ll never stand still but she’ll definitely enjoy it so don’t loose your patience and go with it. Again, it’s very worth it and it’s a way to win her over.
Almost finishing are we with Lily, Minnie’s sister.
They look quite similar but Lily got some of that white after her mom, Tabitha (yup, she’s their mum, didn’t I mention?). She’s also a completely quiet cat, doesn’t make sound unless you call her and she sees you from afar. She then starts running towards you and meowing, like she hadn’t seen you in a year or something. She then likes to do the same thing as Minnie and just hit the groung on the side, rolling over, getting cuddly. Unlike Minnie, Lily doesn’t mind picking up that much. She goes kicking a bit, too, but not so fiercly and she can be convinced if you hold her firmly (but gently) and pat her head whilst saying her name sweetly.
She’s a mice and rabbit killer and quite an outside cat because she has to. She is very social if she can have a person to just herself but she doesn’t like louder or bigger companies at all. And since the house is always too loud and full, you don’t get to see her very often, only in the morning and evening she will come for food and eat it in a style that makes you think she didn’t eat the whole week.
Lily and Minnie are both very good walk companions, meaning if you go out for a walk, they will follow you. Minnie making that „e“ sound all the time, obviously. And if the house is quiet, they both will love to jump and sleep on a kitchen bench and if you are there, too, they will force themselves either just next to your butt or onto your lap and they will purr and purr away while piercing your skin with their killer claws… actually Tabitha does that, too, when she lays on me at night. So many nights spent awake in pain… but still worth it.
The last and most recent member of this family of furry little freaks is Pearl.
She’s a ragdoll which pretty much describes her. She’s the most spoiled young lady ever but once you get to know her, you can’t help but love her.
She’d let you do almost anything with her most of the time so she’s the perfect toy for when you just want to hug something and hide your face in the fur. She is a true sleepy kitty and when in the sleepy zone, she’s a cute little teddy bear. She can also get grumpy, too, though, and very, very annoying. Not only she attacks all the other cats all the time just for funsies (so you have to interfere quite often if you want to keep them happy), she also gets under your feet in a way that makes you either learn how to fly and dance ballet, or fall heavily while stepping on her – but somehow, these little bastards know it works and you will actually hardly ever step on them. Even if it doesn’t seem to be possible to avoid it, you always will, it’s a law of the cat world. If you have cats, you know what I’m talking about.
She gets in heat quite often and it’s always heavy and loud. She’ll scream for days until she loses her voice and if she gets a chance, she’ll escape the house and find a nice lovely chap around to mate with – that’s how she got pregnant the first time anyway.
She then had four completely black kittens that were sweet and hyperactive and loved crazy running and climbing onto anything, mostly your jeans.
Pearl is above all deeply social and more of an indoor cat (even though she can get lost for days and also is a spectacular mice killer so don’t be fooled). Even if she wants to sleep, she wants to be in a company of people and she’d follow you through the whole house until you settle down somewhere where she can crash next to you. If you then decide to go elsewhere, in few minutes she will wake and find out that you abandoned her and then she’ll run to find you with a very annoyed meowing. Then she crashes next to you in the new place.
She especially loves any cushions to sleep on, or chairs. And she’s pretty much the only cat who’d play with the squeeky mice and things. She also loves to sleep in somebody’s bed, whether they are in it or not so watch out for any open doors, she might be in.
All of these lovely animals have many specialities about them, many little habits you need to learn and respect and many moodswings you need to be able to go by. It could be a full-time job to keep them satisfied and over the winter, while we still also had one more beautiful and amaizing cat, Squirrel, it was one for us. It makes you angry, it makes you laugh, it makes you a bit tired sometimes but above all, it makes you infinitely happy to make them happy and it actually charges you and that’s a fact.
It is totally worth spending time with each and every one of them. It makes sence to take a really good care of them and give them any free minute you have, anytime they ask for it – even if it’s not really fitting into your schedule. It’s kinda like having a family and sometimes you have to say no, if you want to have some time for yourself, too. But it’s amaizing.
Whatever you do in your life, needs to make sense to you. And sometimes I am wondering what sense did all of this have, to become an au-pair again. But then I realized – I wasn’t actually this family’s au-pair, or the children’s au-pair, I was one for the animals. It was my job to keep them not just fed and clean but above all happy, purring, relaxed and played with. It was on me and my boyfriend to make their lives joyful and full of love, to squeeze and kiss and stroke the hell out of them until we have to go one day, and I believe that’s what we did and we nailed it. I’d be leaving this place knowing that we did our best, the mission was acomplished and I’ll wish for our followers to be just as good in it ‚cause these babies need it desperately.
And it’s not just these, of course, if you can make any single animal’s life better, even just for today, do it. Make them feel loved and taken care of, make them safe. It’s the right thing to do and one day when they die of old age, you’ll know they had a long and happy life. It’s all that matters.
Have you found any mistakes and/or typos in this article? I’m not an english person and my brain’s sometimes going crazy when writing in english, so feel free to point them out and correct me 🙂