Charlie and the Silver Bell

When I was growing up both my Dad and Grandad used to write me wonderful stories which they would read to me. Whenever we visited Nana and Grandad I would love hopping into their bed in the morning to hear Grandad’s latest tale. He’d even send me tape cassettes (this was the 90s remember) with stories recorded on them so I wouldn’t go too long without. My favourite stories were about a boy called Peter Edward North (his friend’s called him Pen!).

I love writing stories myself (whenever I get the time!) and i’m so excited to write stories for own little baba. I hope that she gets my love of books because stories can take you anywhere, they introduce you to a whole world of magic.

This is a story I wrote a few years ago for Josh, Jess and Joe. It’s called Charlie and the Silver Bell.

N.B creative license was used here because Charlie never has and never will be a hunter!

Charlie and The Silver Bell

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Charlie loved to catch her owner’s gifts, and leave them at their door.

Birds and Mice, Toads and Frogs she always wanted more.

She loved her owners very much, and wanted them to see

That no other cat would ever love them quite as much as she.

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Her owners, on the other hand, were not such a happy pair,

When they saw the little presents they would often just despair!

They talked and talked, and thought and thought, of a way to make them stop.

“Ah ha! At last!” cried Jack, “I have the perfect plot!”

 

He rushed out and bought a collar with a shiny silver bell,

And they hung it round Charlie’s neck where it would jingle jangle.

“Brilliant!” cheered Carrie, “Now the gifts will cease,

And thanks to you, my smart smart man, the critters will be at peace!”

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Charlie loved her silver bell, it filled her heart with glee

To think her owners loved their gifts so much they’d bought a special one for she.

She vowed to work extra hard, to catch them even more

She’d begin right away to leave some at their door.

 

But try as she might, for days and days, Charlie had no luck.

She tried mice and birds, toads and frogs she even tried a duck!

She knew the animals were mocking her, they laughed from all around

But whenever she tried to stalk her prey they always found her out.

 

Now a Magpie in the garden, had been watching poor Charlie

He had seen the sparkling silver bell as he sat upon his tree.

“Cat!” he squawked from on his post, “I know the reason why

You cannot catch a single thing, no matter how you try!”

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“That silver bell upon your neck is making quite a din,

And while you’re wearing it you will not catch a thing!

Now I propose a deal with you, I’ll peck the bell right free

But you must make a promise not to try to pounce on me!”

 

Charlie sat and pondered, could the magpie’s words be true?

She loved her shiny silver bell but she loved her owners too.

“Ok Magpie” she meowed, “I’ll accept your deal today,

You can take the silver bell, and I’ll let you fly away”.

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The Magpie hopped down from the tree, and pecked with his long beak

And the shiny silver bell came off with just a tweak.

Now Charlie, who was just a cat, decided to be sly

And with a wriggle of her bum she leapt on the magpie!

 

The Magpie squawked and flapped his wings and feathers flew around

And the shiny silver bell bounced upon the ground.

The Magpie escaped her paws, and left the garden quick.

And Charlie was left alone once more with a few wounds to lick!

 

“Oh Charlie look!” said Jack that night, “I found your shiny bell

It was lying in the garden, I nearly couldn’t tell!”

He clipped it back around her neck and gave little a smile

“There you go Charlie dear, no more hunting for a while”.

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Now to this day poor Charlie still has that shiny bell,

And no one else will help her after the Magpie did tell

Of how she broke her promise, and tried to pounce on him,

And how she can’t be trusted with hide or hair or limb.

 

But Charlie’s owners are happy now when they open up their door

Because there are never any presents sitting on the floor.

And the animals in the garden no longer live in fear

Because when Charlie is coming, they can always hear!

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Cats and babies

Since I found out I was pregnant one of my biggest concerns has been how my first baby will cope. Charlie. I have had her since she was 9 weeks old and she is very much a Mummy’s girl!

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It was a really big adjustment for her when we moved in with Jack and the kids. She still hides every time the kids are here because she just can’t handle the noise! She follows me around everywhere like my own personal daemon. She also sleeps in our bed with us every night (usually being spooned!).

I worry about how to keep the baby safe around her when it arrives. You hear horror stories of cats scratching babies or worse, suffocating them. I also worry about how to make sure she still feels loved and part of the family. I don’t want her to spend her whole life shut in one room or to feel neglected.

So what can be done? How much risk is there with a cat and a baby? How can we reach a happy compromise?

Getting the Cat Ready for Baby’s Arrival

Cats are creatures of habit and get easily stressed when there is change. This can lead to the cat acting out when there is a new baby, scratching, peeing outside of their litter tray etc. So how can we minimise the stress?

My two big concerns are sleeping arrangements and affection so I’ve covered them separately below. However, I’ve found lots of tips online for helping your cat adjust to a new baby. Here are the best 10:

  1. Introduce the cat to baby sounds before it arrives. Apparently you can get CDs of babies crying to prepare the cat (although this doesn’t sound like much fun for anyone!)
  2. Start wearing baby powder and lotion to get it used to baby smells.
  3. Establish a routine and stick to it. This means feeding your cat at the same time, emptying it’s litter tray and all those things. Essentially making sure your cat experiences as little change as possible.
  4. Make sure to stay on top of fleeing and worming treatment to avoid the spread of infection or diseases to baby before it’s born or after.
  5. Consider using calming sprays like feliway around the house to help the cat feel settled and relaxed.
  6. Prepare cat safe spaces that are out of reach of babies and where it can escape to. Currently Charlie escapes to our bedroom to get away from the kids but this won’t be possible when baby is here and sleeping in there! She does have a lovely big cat tree in the dining room though where she can perch up high.
  7. If mummy and baby stay in hospital for a bit bring home baby blankets or clothes that have been near baby for the cat to smell.
  8. If you have friends with babies invite them over so your cat can get used to the strange little creatures being in the house.
  9. Change your cats environment slowly. Bring in baby furniture in stages not all at once so the cat can get used to it. Let it smell it and get used to it!
  10. When the baby does arrive stay calm when cat and baby meet. Don’t panic and stress your cat out but equally never leave them unsupervised.

Sleeping Arrangements

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According to Cats Protection the risk of a cat suffocating a baby is very low. I had heard that cats were attracted to the smell of milk on baby’s breath but Cats Protection says cats dislike the smell of human breath altogether! The majority of websites say that the risk of a cat suffocating a baby is very low but do recommend using a net over the cot in case the cat is attracted to baby’s warmth.

I have even read sites where people say they continued to let their cat sleep on their bed with the cot in the same room! They also recommend introducing the cat to the baby products (e.g. cot) early on and training it to learn it’s not allowed in it. I’m not sure how well this would work with Charlie, she still jumps on the kitchen sides when our backs are turned and she knows she’s not allowed up there!

Whilst it is reassuring to know the risk of suffocation is low I am not convinced I would take the risk and let Charlie stay sleeping on our bed. So this leaves us two choices

a) get Charlie gradually used to not sleeping in our bed before baby arrives
– this would be very difficult! Whenever Charlie is shut out of the room she scratches up the carpet keeping us all awake (not to mention the damage to the carpet!)

b) make Charlie an outside cat at nighttime when baby arrives
– this worries us because cats are more at risk of injury or death outside at night. She’s also such a friendly beautiful cat we worry she will get stolen (or poisoned, we’ve all ready the stories!)

I’m leaning towards option b because shutting her in a room at night seems cruel. Jack is definitely leaning towards option a if we can find away to make it workable.

Affection

Charlie is used to getting lots of attention and affection. However, she has got to used to having less when the kids are here which took some time! At first when the kids would sit on my lap she would try to scratch or bite them to warn them off her space. Now she just hides in our bedroom (Currently a kid free zone) and waits for me to come and find her.

The rest of the time she is never more than a few feet away from me (even when i’m in the bath!)

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Some sites recommend giving the cat lots of extra attention in the run up to baby coming. Some recommend withdrawing affection so they get used to you being less available before baby is here.

Neither seems a perfect solution to me. Personally I think we’re going to keep giving her lots of love and affection but maybe reduce it a bit. I’m also going to try and get Jack and the kids more involved in cuddle time (when she’ll let them).

Current mums what did you do to help your cat adjust and to protect baby? And expectant mothers, what are your plans?

Sources

https://www.cats.org.uk/caterham/learn/cats-and-babies

https://www.livescience.com/22449-do-cats-really-kill-babies-by-sucking-away-their-breath.html

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cats-babies-debunk-myths-cat-health-parenting

https://community.babycentre.co.uk/post/a26192623/cat_sleeping_in_the_same_room_as_baby