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Five Years of Gizmo

Big black cat: Five years since adopting adult cat.

Today marks five years since Steve and I adopted Gizmo.

Gizmo had previously lived with relatives of one of my colleagues, however he had spent the seven months since the arrival of their baby cowering behind the sofa. I'm right there with the "you don't just ditch a pet because you've had a baby" brigade - pets are not just a trial run for children - but I do believe that, if your pet is extremely unhappy and there's nothing else you can do to improve their life, finding them a new home can be the kindest option.

So. Gizmo came to us. And three and a half years later we had a baby, too. But we'll get to that.

Gizmo is a big cat with a tiny kitten squeak. He's very affectionate but prefers not to be picked up and has only ever slept on our laps three times; he likes to be stroked and brushed and he grooms my hair whenever I lie down to do my physio exercises.

He's a nervous cat (this nervous) and didn't seem to have a lot of self-esteem when he first came to us. He has never known how to interact with other cats; he tries to befriend them (Polly and random neighbourhood cats he meets on the doorstep) but scares them off with his big, wide eyes and over-enthusiastic bouncing.

So he's lovely and hilarious and a total sook but not all that good at being a cat; he's the closest we're ever likely to get to a puppy.

How our cat is coping with a toddler.

I hate to admit it, but Gizmo's going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment.

When we first moved into this flat, the cats divided it up between themselves; Gizmo got the living room and the spare room while Polly claimed the bedroom and dining room. Everyone was happy, all was well.

Then Matilda came along and invaded the spare room. But she wasn't mobile so Gizmo made do with the living room (bar several attempts to claim the cot).

Then Matilda started crawling and excitedly launching herself at the "meow". But there were places she couldn't reach (behind the sofa being the big one), so Gizmo still had somewhere to hide if he wanted to be alone.

Then Matilda figured out how to get into every single one of Gizmo's safe places. And now her toys are having mountaineering adventures on his scratching post. Gizmo has nowhere of his own.

There are turf wars going on. He has started blocking Polly's routes around the flat; he has started chasing her out of the bathroom (litter tray room); he has begun venturing outdoors and sometimes stays there for more than five seconds. Gizmo is trying to find some new territory and Polly is expressing her displeasure in the one way she knows how: pooing in the shower.

We're not sure there's much we can do about it. Matilda is now very good about leaving Gizmo alone when he's sleeping and he is sufficiently comfortable around her that he gives her kisses and allows her the occasional pat of his back. Gizmo is nowhere near as good at climbing as Matilda is so there's nowhere else we can create a safe spot for him. For now, our approach is just to ride this out and hope that he and Polly find some new understanding.

Despite all of this, he's as sooky as ever, following us around and meowing for attention. He spends most of the day on the sofa and purrs incredibly loudly if Steve or I sit next to him. He's also much more confident around strangers than he used to be, happily asking them to pet him instead of cowering behind the furniture.

And he might not have any safe spots but he does know how to find a warm patch: we can't vacate the sofa for more than three seconds without a big, furry, purry lump appearing in our place.

Five years since this big black cat became part of the family.

You might also like: Five years of Polly.

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