After an unlucky start, this black cat has landed on his feet at Luff House, our home in Walton-on-the-Naze
The bottom of Ivy’s bed, that’s the spot that Fred likes best, especially when the sun streams in through the window warming his fur. “I leave him be as I don’t want to disturb him,” says Ivy.
At Luff House, Walton-on-the-Naze, Fred is a popular member of the family. “If someone is having a bad day, catching sight of Fred can really perk them up,” says Faye, Activities Co-ordinator at the home. “They’ll stretch out a hand to see if he’ll come over. He’s a lovely distraction.”
Fred, a rescue cat who arrived in 2017, is not the first cat to call Luff House their home. “Back in 1995 or 1996, when I was working nights, a female tabby turned up one night at the door meowing for food,” says Sharon, Business Manager at Luff. “We never found out where she came from, but she came every night and eventually moved in and became part of the family here. She never really had a name because the residents gave her all different names. One I remember was Wimsey.”
After the tabby cat passed away, there were no immediate plans to get another cat. But as the months went by the home started to feel empty and family members were missing her. So Sharon started looking online at local rescue centres. “I saw Fred advertised and called the centre to ask about him,” she says. “I told them about our home and explained that any cat we took would have to be very gentle and passive due to the nature of the place. The lady immediately said that Fred would be absolutely ideal."
Sharon and the then Care Manager at Luff went along to the rescue centre to meet Fred. It turned out that he had been put in a cage and abandoned under a bridge at Weeley at around the age of four. A kind person had taken him to the rescue centre where he had lived ever since. “They told us that black cats weren’t as popular and that his age was against him for other adopters. However, we agreed that Fred was the cat for us and we brought him home in June 2017.”
At first, Fred was timid and ran away from people. His favourite place to retreat was the quiet lounge – so much so that it became known as Fred’s Lounge. But as the months went by, Fred settled in and started to be bolder, leading him to discover Ivy’s bed as a prime spot for lounging.
Ivy is among Fred’s biggest fans. Having grown up on a farm, she has been an animal-lover all her life. She remembers her sister looking after chickens during the war as part of the Women’s Land Army and she helped out with collecting the eggs. Two Alsatians – ostensibly guard dogs – were the family’s main pets. “I like having Fred around because when I was growing up I only ever had dogs,” she says.
Kitty, on the other hand, is accustomed to life with a cat. “I've always liked cats, I had cats and they were all different,” she says. “Fred is very friendly, he wouldn't hurt a fly.” Joan likes to give Fred’s soft fur a stroke while for Roy there’s a kinship between Fred and the cuddly snow leopards that are often at his side. Everyone agrees that Fred brings a warm and comforting presence to the home.
“Fred seems to know who he’ll get the most fuss out of,” says Faye. “He’s also quite canny. When it’s time for staff change-over, he’ll whinge and pretend he hasn’t been fed. We’ve got wise to it and leave his bowl out now so no-one is fooled.”
Hymn-singing during devotional times has been known to raise a curious look from Fred. “He’ll stare at us as though to say, ‘what on earth are you all doing?’ then wander off find somewhere to sleep,” says Faye.
Where does Fred go? His basket in the quiet lounge, perhaps. But if he sees an opportunity, odds are on that he will have darted through a certain door and claimed his spot on a certain bed.
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