London · Work

Dear Maggie,

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I started working at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in October 2016 and it was the first time I felt like I was within a workplace where I could whole-heartedly and passionately throw myself into the topic matter. It was something I could be passionate about outside of working hours as well as within.

I’ve always loved animals from a very young age – I don’t know where it came from because I never had any pets growing up – but maybe this was all the more reason for my over-the-top reactions, admiration and slight jealousy for those who did have a furry little friend in their household.

Before I worked here I was 70% dog person and 30% cat person…since then it’s now completely 50/50. So much so, I ended up adopting a cat after five months at Battersea.

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Maggie’s first night at home

I call her Maggie and she’s 13 years-old. She has the grumpiest face, she doesn’t like to be touched and she’ll give you a swipe if you get too close. But even though she’s a bit of a meanie, she’s also really funny. Her weird cat ways have been something I’ve had to get used to but her harsh ways are actually quite endearing.

My first month at home with her was stressful. She’s my first ever pet and I felt like I didn’t know what she wanted from me, I felt like she hated me. I couldn’t stand the cat-guilt I felt everytime I left her to go to work, I couldn’t stop worrying about her every second of the day, and to be honest, I was beginning to doubt whether I could look after a cat long-term.

But you know, despite all this, I knew deep down this was part of it, this was something I had wanted to do all my life and I wasn’t about to give her up that easy. This was just the difficult settling in period – for both Maggie and myself. I’ve been wanting a companion to care for as long as I can remember. It just happened that my current living circumstances meant that a dog would be out of the question. I have no garden so it wouldn’t be fair on an outdoor cat.

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Our first selfie together – Maggie’s thrilled about it.

Instead, I decided I wanted to help an old, geriatric cat. I know I can give a cat a good home, and so why not? I see an endless number of cats arriving into the rescue centre everyday, and of course, any person with a heart has that thought of taking all the animals home with them, but when you see a cat where you genuinely think you could provide care and love for them – then why wouldn’t you? What’s there to stop you?

And so this was where I was; and I am. I want to give an elderly cat a good retirement home where they can live out the rest of their days in a place where they can dictate their owner in their own home. It’s how it should be. I wanted a cat over the age of 12, but one of my issues was that I would still want a bit of a social life, so I was actively looking for an anti-social cat. And then came along Maggie with her grumpy face. I had no preference on looks because to me it all depended on whether I would be able to fit into their life.

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Beginning to relax at home

It would be harsh to say Maggie is not an affectionate cat. She’s actually not that anti-social. She likes to be around people and will quite happily sit near you and watch you (albeit with a frown). She cried for a whole month when I shut her out of my bedroom at night, but it turned out, she just wanted to sleep next to me on my bed – since then, we’ve both calmed down and have a decent night’s sleep most of the time. She’ll occasionally even climb on me and lay down on my chest – as long as there’s a cover in between us – she’s happy. She’ll head butt me for a few short chin rubs too…sometimes.

I feel like we have a mutual understanding of each other now and it’s a lovely feeling. Even though I joke and moan about her, I find myself defending her at the same time and trying to get her approval, which I know will never happen, but I won’t ever stop trying.

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There’s something quite special knowing there’s an innocent living being in my home that depends on me. It’s a funny feeling knowing that this furry little thing has her own mind, personality and facial expressions that is unique to just her and no one else. And this is why cats have gone up in my estimation. They’re so individual and different. That’s why I wanted to give a cat a chance in life because I care. I’ll never stop caring.

I hope Maggie knows, that even though I’m probably not her idea of a perfect companion and I probably annoy her all the time, that at the end of the day, I’m just a girl, standing in front of her cat, asking her to love me.

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Her favourite fluffy mouse
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