Where would I be without my buddy Billie? Yes, this little kitty is a bit of a star on Instagram. However, she had a very humble beginning to her young life before she became an international furbaby phenomenon.
Billie is 4 years old now and also goes by an exhausting array of imaginative pseudonyms; such as Billie Blob, Billie Bunny, Billie Blobasaurus, Billie Bear, Billie Bunter, Silly Billie, 'ickle 'bickle Billie Bear and so on. I chose the name Billie as she's not only a little princess but also a cheeky tomboy, so it seemed the perfect name for her split personality.
When I was living and working in Dublin city centre, stray cats were a common sight in and around the apartment block where I was living in, close to the Docklands. I'd always feed them scraps of left over food and they became well loved little rascals around the apartments courtyards. One evening, I was strolling through the yard and was stopped in my tracks by a tiny piercing squeak coming from a large plant pot.
As I gazed down, I came across the sweetest little sight of a newborn kitten squirming out from the dense knotted shrubs. She was wobbling precariously close to the pots edge. Her eyes were still closed and she was shivering from the cold evening breeze. My heart instantly melted and I felt an immediate bond with her. I gently directed her back into the pot for safety, awaiting the return of her mom. I remembered reading that it is not advisable to take a newborn away from her mom at such a young age. Over the next few weeks, I'd see Billie and her mom hanging around the yard and snatching food from neighbours. They became a much loved double act amongst everyone.
I always felt a twinge of trepidation during stormy nights, as I knew she and her mom were outside in the cold and wet. Halloween was also fast approaching, which is always a very upsetting and dangerous time for cats and dogs, especially those who had no homes to return to for safety. One evening on a walk, I noticed two ladies feeding stray cats along the busy road beside my apartment. I began chatting to them and discovered that they were volunteers from the stray cat society and would feed the cat population most evenings, and trap them in order to spay and neuter the young adults to prevent over population. I informed them of Billie and her mom in the courtyard and they advised me to trap them both, so they could administer vaccines and find them a new home. It sounded like a simple enough task, what could go wrong?
I had the trap ready on one particularly blustery evening and placed a tin of sardines inside the cage to tempt the terrible two. I roped in my sister to help with the operation and we waited and waited....and waited some more. After a few hours they appeared from a random flower pot and bounced over to us to display an endearing routine of meowing and rolling around. The trap was conveniently ignored by the mom, but Billie on the other hand was delighted to venture in and commenced gobbling down the oleaginous sardine feast. So, as she filled her little round belly, her mom still refused to go inside as we desperately tried to coax her in. Eventually she popped in to check on her kitten and the door shut tight behind her, much to her startled bemusement. Now we had to wait for the ladies from the cat society to arrive and collect the trap, which was another hours wait due to the evening city traffic. The mom at this point was becoming upset and began crying. My heart was breaking at this stage and I almost felt like opening the door and letting them both free, but I knew that this was for the best and they needed looking after.
Eventually the ladies came, collected the trap and returned to the veterinary clinic. She asked if I wanted to take them both, but unfortunately I didn't have the room in the apartment for two cats. She had a home waiting for the mom but none for Billie. I decided that I had to have her, she was just the cutest little ball of fluff I'd ever seen with huge sad eyes. When she arrived at the apartment after her check up, flea treatments and vaccines, she bounced out of her little cage and bopped around the floor. I knew I had made the right decision.
While I was working, I'd think about her adorable little face and would almost run home after work so I could get to her sooner. I'd spend the evening playing with her and just watching her do the silliest and most non-sensical things. She was a delight to have around and became my little buddy and companion.
Every evening after work, I'd retire to my desk in a little corner of the living room with her by my side and spend hours researching resin, suppliers and articles on how to start your own business. Billie and I would indulge in lengthy one sided conversations, with her squeaking back in agreement and offering some very interesting feedback regarding my new enterprise. She was a comforting presence and some much needed relief from stresses and events happening at that time.
As she was a wild cat and had been living on the streets, she was a very sickly kitten and had a recurring mite infection in her ears and an autoimmune disease. I had to clean her ears every morning and evening and rub cream into her neck, which was shaved by the vet. It was a horrible task and even more horrible to see her so weak and in discomfort. However, it was all worth it as she started to slowly recover, which was a huge relief, especially with the mounting vet bills!
My circumstances then took an unexpected turn and I had to return home to my family. Billie came with me and she had to adjust to living in a big warm and loving home, which as you can imagine was a happy change for her as she had people around her and didn't have to spend copious amounts of time on her own during the day. During this time she became very attached to my dad and started following him everywhere, earning another nickname- 'little shadow'. She also began kicking down his bedroom door just so she could be beside him. It sounds sweet but its not so sweet when it happens at 6 am every morning!
She now has a great life in the Dublin suburbs, has a loving family around her, and a little kitty friend called 'Socks' who lives outside in the garden (she just came to live with us one day). Socks plays with her and also throws a few punches every now and again. Billie's now healthy, big and strong and a firm favourite with my followers on Instagram.
She also has some strange quirks, which only further define her eccentric personality. Here are a just a few of her idiosyncrasies:
- She only drinks her water from a tall glass on a coaster on the coffee table; very dignified.
- She has a stick with strings attached that she's had since she was a kitten; we call it her 'stick baby' which she squeaks to at night and brings into her bed (she also throws it into the wall too, which is why it was probably a good idea she didn't have kittens of her own).
- She has an unhealthy obsession with my dad.
- She likes to play a game called 'hide and punch', she's the one who does the hiding and the punching.
- Billie loves punching.... really loves it.
- Her tail is called Bobby and appears to be a totally separate entity, who also likes to smack you in the face.
- She has an unhealthy obsession with Tuna
- She likes to give nose kisses, especially after eating Tuna.
- She has to have her morning drink out of the tap, while sitting in the kitchen sink.
- Apparently she owns the family house and we are merely her tenants and obedient servants.
So that's the story of Billie Blob; not a bad life for someone born in a flower pot on Dublin's northside. I hope this little fur ball will stick around for a very long time, as I couldn't imagine my days without her and how her weird little ways always bring a smile to my face; my buddy Billie.
– Gillian x