Today’s Cat Man Monday is Chris Coulson of Orpington, Bromley (UK). Chris was most certainly NOT a cat man a birth, but now shares his home with three cats “self described” on their FB page as “Three beautiful cats – Freya, a 7 year Old Bengal. Teego a 2 year old pure-breed moggie, and Chatzi – a butthead.. Sorry, I mean a 1 year old Bengal.”
Chris has the dry British wit down pat. He got me pretty good last April Fools day with a video of his “hobby” (tire hunting). I politely emailed him saying it was such an unusual and interesting hobby (joke was on me!). Without further ado, meet cat lover Chris Coulson!
I was brought up in a family who didn’t like cats. My parents were dog people, and as a young child you inherit your parents’ opinions. I lived as a cat non-appreciator until I was 21 and met a girl at University. She was a cat person. We lived together and one day she suggested we get a rescue kitten.
The cat rescue place came around to vet us, and didn’t see anything inappropriate in us adopting a kitten. Can you imagine anything crazier than s a student couple getting a kitten? What if we split up? What happens to the cat?
When our little black kitten arrived! We called her Scampie, because she scampered around everywhere. She’d been born in the wild, was very feral and had a wild temperament. Thus began my lifelong interest in cat psychology. Because if you didn’t understand how Scampie thought, you would end up with a nasty scratch or bite!
Inevitably my girlfriend and I split up, but Scampie came with me. As a single stay-at-home bloke, we grew to be inseparable. I totally loved Scampie, and we shared a special connection.
I’d pick her up for a cheek rub after coming home from work, and she’d look so deeply into my eyes – something that I’ve not experienced with any cat since! Wherever I was in the house Scampie would be at my side. If I dozed on the sofa she would curl up with me and we’d cuddle to sleep.
Then, out of the blue, at the age of 14, she developed renal failure, and my world fell apart. Even as I write this, over three years later, tears are streaming down my cheeks!
Scampie went to The Bridge two weeks after her initial diagnosis, but I was determined to rescue another cat. A new cat wouldn’t replace Scampie, but the alternative of not giving another cat a home was not an option. Exactly one month later, Freya moved in.
Freya had been advertised as a 5-year-old rescue Bengal, and that only experienced Bengal owners need apply. I called and explained my experience with a feral cat, and they said that would be fine. They just didn’t want someone who wanted a trophy Bengal to show off as she’d been a factory-breeding queen and probably not had much of a fun life.
Before meeting Freya, I’d already decided to write a cat blog, and I even filmed the very first day we put Freya in the car on her first trip home! I found the difference between Scampie’s behaviour and Freya’s very interesting – if you did wrong with Scampie, you’d get a bite or a scratch, but with Freya, she’d just run away.
Over the following three years Teego (a ginger) and Chatzi (another Bengal) joined our family each with their peculiar traits. Being a filmmaker, I couldn’t resist filming as much as I could of Freya and Teego’s first interactions. It’s a kind of documentary of their first week.
With Freya we’d been warned about Bengal behaviour, but she didn’t really exhibit much typical behaviour. Chatzi on the other hand is certainly a handful. He’s very intelligent, boisterous, mischievous, and OMG STUBBORN! Just teaching him to get off the kitchen counters took 2-3 weeks of constant and consistent training, because of his stubbornness!
Poor Freya has been suffering a little since Chatzi he joined the family as he loves to chase her and unfortunately, she’s taken to running away. He simply can’t resist some prey running away from him! If only she’d calmly walk away, things would be so much better!
Looking to the future, I’m planning to make more cat behaviour videos, and first on the list is clicker training. I can’t decide whether or not to use Chatzi, as he’s so intelligent, he’ll probably end up training me!
All three cats have such a spoiled and loved-to-bits lifestyle; it’s amazing to think how I’ve moved from being an inherent cat-hater, to a rather weirdly mad-cat-man person!
To keep up with the antics of Freya, Teego, Chatzi (and Chris), be sure to follow A Cat Called Freya (and Teego Too…and now Chatzi!) and like their FB page!
Chris isn’t kidding when he says his babies are “spoiled and loved-to-bits,” just check out this amazing Catio he’s built for his brood. Warning: video features a rather lifeless mouse courtesy of Teego.
Chris takes such great photos of his cats I had to share a few more! Sadly I can’t make them any larger and still caption them (has anyone else had this issue with WordPress?!).