The cats in reverse time order…
Henry, Louis and Oscar (current felines)
Things were just too quiet without Sven, so… Henry, Louis and Oscar joined us, bringing the household (at the time) to six cats, which is a record for the Christie household. They are three Maine Coons (with pedigree) and came to us from Wil SG. We originally planned to take two, but couldn’t conceivably split the three brothers up.
In the meanwhile, the three Coons, born on 24th March 2017, are fully integrated into the five cat household together with Arthur and George.
Louis, as heaviest, has taken over as “big boy” and keeps the troop in line in his own calm way. Loulou likes to snooze in “home office”, preferably with David. He has affectionate moments, particularly during video conferences and in the middle of the night. He is not a small cat and it is quite a cuddle session when Louis lands…
Henry, next in line by weight, is the cutie in the household and wins over the hearts of all visitors. Henry’s great passion is running after crumpled paper balls and bringing them back for more play. He can be pretty demanding if he wants to play that game. Unfortunately he is quite a scatter-brain and forgets where the paper was in the middle of the game, or when his brother Oscar (who is lighter and faster) runs off with it. The result is bits of paper all over the house. Henry has a special way of talking involving sounds that most cats can’t make.
Oscar, the lightest of the Coons, makes up for his size with his naughtiness. Oscar prefers to play football with the crumped paper balls, which interferes rather with Henry’s preferred game. Oscar has a rather loud voice which he brings into play when breakfast is not served quickly enough.
Arthur (current feline)
Arthur and George were both born on 18th March 2015 and came to us from a farm in Eastern Switzerland. Arthur (“King of the Britons”) quickly became a fixed part of the family, especially after his attempt at flying resulted in falling 6.4 m to what was thankfully only the loss of one cat life and some rather sore insides. The humans made visiting the next door neighbours impossible by putting a bamboo fence up on the balcony, thereby putting an end to flying attempts. Arthur has fully recovered and comes most nights to purr loudly with (at?) his humans and energetically licking with his very rough tongue. He is extremely cuddly and still enjoys the occasional knitted mouse chase. Arthur has also perfected Speedy bottom biting.
George (current feline)
Arthur and George were both born on 18th March 2015 and came to us from a farm in Eastern Switzerland. George (“The Magnificent”) won all our hearts with his sweet character. He is particularly attached to Seán and purrs even louder than his brother. George particularly enjoys “banzai” jumping and fast galloping early in the morning. The former activity normally involves his brother but sometimes Sven was jumped on, which was not always appreciated and resulted in loud groans from “big boy”. George has developed a penchant for buttered toast which he regularly “asks” for at breakfast. George (Jonjo el Grande) has perfected the art of “vertical take off and landing” which earned him the epithet of “compact combat cat”.
Sven (former feline)
Sven followed after Filou and also came from the Tierheim Zürichberg and arrived in October 2002. He was very shy and took a lot of time to feel at home in Girenbad.
He spent his first few weeks under the stove in the living room. Memorably, we were all out searching for him in the freezing cold on Christmas evening. For many weeks we had to search for him in various hiding places but eventually he settled in and became a lot cuddlier and tamer. He has a special love for cheese and would do almost anything for it.
As an adult cat, Sven is the heaviest of our cats and (in Girenbad) weighed in at nearly 7 kg (in the winter). This of course permanently annoys Mr Magoo, who knows that he is top cat.
In Schrennengasse, the more sedentary indoor life led to an increase in weight – peak over 9 kg! – which has led to an austere dieting régime for both Sven and Speedy. Otherwise, Sven has settled in well in Zürich, and he and Knut (the tail) are on the whole well behaved.
In September 2015, his bladder was blocked by a gallstone, but he was successfully operated by Dr Coradi. He had over a year and a half of additional active life on a special diet, but never really regained a normal weight: his kidneys weren’t working properly any more and he had to drink a lot of water. Towards the end, he enjoyed his special treats of ground beef and ham cubes, and Sally-Ann’s white powder helped him to keep going. Despite permanent hunger and eating (he got the nickname Idefix in his last weeks), his kidney eventually failed him, and he just stopped eating and faded away within a couple of days. He was a true Gentleman to the very end.
Speedy (former feline)
Speedy had many names: Walter, Wädi, Madame, Valtellina. Nobody really knows why. They were a reflection of his particular nature. His given name, Speedy, came about because his sister was called Cannabis. Speedy certainly acted as if on drugs from time to time. He was over 16 years old when he left us.
Speedy was the unexpected “gift” of a neighbour in Girenbad and came to us one nice September evening. To call him “unexpected” is only half the truth: we did say to Peach that we might take one of those sweet little kittens if he couldn’t find a home for them!
Speedy could have been described as a “zen” cat. He was very calm and steady and nothing really bothered him. If we were looking for him we just had to follow his grunting noises (caused by a respiratory problem). In Girenbad, he hunted mice occasionally but mainly he trusted the fact that the humans are two legged cat food suppliers.
In Schrennengasse, Speedy took over the second floor flat and lived mostly on Seán’s e-bass case and the boys’ beds. He got rather “heavy” as a result. On the rare occasions that he ventured upstairs (usually to check whether the humans intend to feed him or not), there was a risk that Mr Magoo would jump on him “banzai” and lock him in a vice-like jaw grip: Speedy, being Speedy, just waited for this phase to pass, as it always did, even if sometimes it needed the humans to intervene…
Poor Speedy, like Sven, also had gallstones (the biggest was 2 mm) and couldn’t pee. It was a life-threatening situation and thankfully Dr. Coradi managed to unbung him and get him back on his feet, but for an over 15-year old it was touch and go. And then, unexpectedly, he went blind and almost fully deaf overnight. He coped with this turn of events surprisingly well and “wombled” around the flat finding his way by using his whiskers and sense of smell, and by checking carefully in front of him using one front paw. Until the end, he enjoyed being on the roof terrace, even though he could not see anything any more.
The arrival of the three not so little Maine Coons didn’t faze him at all. We are not sure whether he really knew just how many of them there were.
At the end, the kidney problem caught up with him and so poisoned him that he suffered a series of severe epileptic fits in short succession. We had no option but to relieve him of this torture (by driving across Zurich in the middle of the night).
Bye bye, Wädi
Filou (former feline)
Filou was the red cat after Moritz. He came from the Tierheim Zürichberg and had already survived one car accident. His short tail was his trade mark and his cleverness was known in the village. He could open doors and drawers (including entering various neighbours’ houses to eat).
He loved to communicate with his humans, particularly by gently chewing ears, and he was very cuddly from the first moment. He had no problems joining the cat community in our house and he enjoyed the free life in Girenbad. Unfortunately he started to cross the Höhenstrasse for hunting and he got killed by a car (and then half-eaten by a fox). It was a shock for all of us and we still miss him since he was a very special cat.
Mr Magoo (former feline)
Mr Magoo followed Muffin. He was given to us by an acquaintance and was first named „Pitschi“. We felt that this was not the right name for a cat who developed a strange love for cuddly fabric animals, socks and wool as well as quince tree leaves and frogs he fished from the pond in the neighbourhood. Over the years he learned to hunt mice and enjoyed making early morning gifts in our bedroom.
Mr Magoo was, however, unusual in that he didn’t eat raw meat. He preferred his food cooked by Gault-Millau chefs and enrobed in a suitable sauce! On the rare occasions that he brought home a piece of live meat in Girenbad, the other cats lined up to eat it!
In Schrennengasse, Mr Magoo has calmed down a lot like the others and perfected the art of nagging guests to give him food at our table! We suspect that he bacame top cat once Max was no longer with us, but these matters are always difficult for humans to detect. Mr Magoo’s tail was called Alfred and gave its name to one of our file servers, for reasons now lost in the annals of history.
In the end, Mr Magoo had kidney failure and got thinner and thinner until he more or less faded away in David’s arms. Even his beloved fresh meat could not motivate him any more, and the knitted mouse hunting that had kept him surprisingly fit in his dotage had to be abandoned too. In his last week, he still managed to get up onto the roof terrace to enjoy the early summer sun, even though he was extremely weak.
R.I.P. Mr. Magoo!
Merline (former feline)
Merlin II was supposed to be a male cat until the misunderstanding was cleared up at the vet’s. Merlin II became Merline and the only lady cat in the household. Born in a barn in Girenbad she was very shy for a long time. But in her latter years she calmed down a lot and she had her sweet cuddly and purry moments with us, when she just loved to lick us.
In Girenbad, she had epileptic attacks from time to time, sometimes giving us broken nights, but as long as she recovered and clearly enjoyed life we felt that we could all cope with this problem.
After an accident, she had to have the end of her tail amputated (December 2007), but we felt sure that she still felt just as beautiful inside as ever before!
In Schrennengasse, Merline and Lily (the shortened tail) ritualised important parts of life, including a brief purr session on the bed every evening and early morning. The latter was unfortunately quite a bit earlier than the humans intended as getting up time!
In the end (August 2010), she suffered from a failure of her liver which meant that she seriously lost weight and appetite. Although we could help her for a while with medicine and “kitten” food, in the end her lungs stopped working too and we had to put her down to save her from a suffering a lung failure and having a painful end.
Merline had loads of character and went through a lot of ups and downs in her life. We will miss her quiet little rituals and purry licking attacks.
Merlin and Muffin (former felines)
Merlin came from a farm near Gibswil in 1997. We felt that a black cat would make a good trio with our two red ones. But Merlin was only to stay for about half a year. He was a victim of FIP, a deadly virus that kills cats within a few days. The virus can survive several weeks outside the body and we were very nervous about other possible victims. Luckily there weren’t any – all our other cats were OK.
Muffin followed on after Merlin and was just as black. Unfortunately he loved hunting on the other side of the Höhenstrasse and got run over by a car after only one year.
Max (former feline)
Max was a cuddly (this, by the way, was not Moritz’ opinion at all!) red tiger kitten when he moved into Opfikonerstrasse 18 in Wallisellen in the Summer of 1995. He never felt at home there and was always an extremly nervous kitten. But he had a very powerful purr, which made up for his rather weedy miaow.
He changed a lot when we moved to Girenbad. He loved the life outside and spent much of his time sleeping in our neighbour’s garden. He usually only turned up in the evening for food. In winter he loved to spend the night on our bed.
When we moved to Schrennengasse in Zürich, Max was the expert at climbing the new spiral cat ladder, but like all the others he was not at all interested in going out, except onto the roof terrace, where he could sleep for hours. Max’s tail, Bodo, had a very special way of twitching when he was being mentioned: a give-away that Max was actually listening (even though pretending not to).
In September 2009, the vet diagnosed kidney problems, old age diabetes and the signs of cancer. He gave Max only weeks to live. In the end Max held out until February 2010, by when he could hardly stand on his own, and had difficulty even drinking. As he got older and weaker, his miaow compensated for his body, which became particularly difficult in the middle of the night, when he insisted loudly on getting fresh water to drink. He still enjoyed fresh meat until the end, and particular enjoyed devouring diced ham by the box full. He kept trying to jump like a young cat, even though he really couldn’t any more. After a last painful night, when he did not even want to drink, the vet let him out of his pain.
Max was with us for practically his whole life and was very much a part of our family. It will be hard to live without him, and the boys in particular retain a very special place in their hearts for him, as he was always there throughout their lives. We all have fond memories of the special relationship between Max and Moritz, and of Max’s chasing (and bringing) of the famous “purple mouse” in Wallisellen.
Lebe wohl, Maximilian!
Moritz (former feline)
After the death of our purry companion, we missed Alexander so much that we started to search for another cat to be with Fanny. Whenever we were away our cats were looked after by Jakob Stocker, at his cattery in Fellenbergstrasse in Zurich. Over the years he had got to know us and he trusted us to take Moritz, an eight year old long-haired red cat who had been living with him for a number of years as his personal “guest”.
We love all our cats but Moritz brings back very special memories. He was a real character and had a particular taste for vanilla ice cream and melon. His particular liking for books earned him the title “the philosopher”. Moritz could miaow extremely loudly, especially when warning other cats to get off his patch!
He moved up to Girenbad with us and very much enjoyed the free life up here. Starting with Max, he looked after the various young kittens moving into the house and made sure they behaved properly. At the age of thirteen he started to develop kidney problems and was often sick (much to his chagrin) and only a year later we had to put him down. This was a sad loss for all of us. We will always remember Moritz with lots of affection!
Fanny and Alexander (former felines)
This friendly but shy female cat came to Zurich with her brother Alexander from the Animal Protection League in Schaffhausen. Only a few months after our move to Wallisellen she got run over by a car and was found dead in the cellar.
Our first red haired tiger cat. Like his sister Fanny he got killed outside our home at Opfikonerstrasse in Wallisellen. This after surviving a fall of three floors onto the roof of a car in Zurich (one of his previous nine lives).