My Stone Deaf Cat, Chalky
Chalky takes up residence!
It was around 1982 when Chalky decided to come to our house to stay. We never knew why he picked our family to attach himself to, or from whence he came. He just appeared in front of our house one day, a bit bedraggled and obviously determined to persuade us to let him in.
He seemed very distressed, tired and presumably hungry, and we decided he must be lost. We could simply not resist allowing him to walk in through our open front door and immediately start to make himself at home. He was just so cute, and we felt sorry for him.
We already had another cat, black with white paws, called Domino or "Dommy" for short, so we had cat food to spare. We put some out for Chalky and he wolfed it down like there was no tomorrow! He really was hungry!
As soon as he had finished his meal, our new found friend leapt up high on top of the microwave in the kitchen and promptly went to sleep in this strange position. He slept for some considerable time like this with the top of his head flat on the surface of the microwave and right up against the kitchen radio. We couldn't resist taking this photo at the time.
This lens was featured on Squidoo's 50 Cats We Love
The Kids fall in love with Chalky
Can we keep him? ... Pleeeease, Dad! ... Can we keep him?
I don't recall how long Chalky slept like this, but I believe it was quite a long time. We all tried to be very quiet so as not to disturb him. Eventually he woke, stretched, yawned, and then jumped down to explore his new territory.
The girls made a fuss of him and he accepted their attentions in a very friendly manner. They were obviously hoping to keep him as another pet and companion to Dommy. I was more concerned that there was a worried owner out there desperately seeking their missing animal.
The problem was, the cat had no collar. I keep calling him Chalky but at that time, of course, we had no idea what name his owner knew him by.
After a short family discussion we all agreed. He was pure white. There could be no other name for him but Chalky!
Over the next few days I made some effort to trace the owner and kept a look out for "Missing Cat" notices, but we gradually convinced ourselves that, due to the state we had found him in, Chalky had been abandoned and any previous owner was unlikely to want him back.
Chalky became one of the family!
Just As You Think You've Adopted a Cat ...
Just when you think you've adopted a cat you realized that in fact the cat has adopted you!
Thus it was with Chalky. He found our home so comfortable, he made us think it would be cruel to return him to any other life. Like most cats he spent much of his time sleeping. He picked the best spots and draped himself over them in such hilarious poses, we couldn't help laughing. We let him go pretty much wherever he pleased, even though we began to realize that every time he curled up on the best sofas, he left behind a ring of white fur as he seemed to be constantly moulting!
Are All White Cats Deaf?
Eventually we worked out that Chalky was as deaf as a post! Apparently this is quite common. We had started to think he was so independent that he simply ignored us if we called him and stubbornly refused even to look in our direction.
We didn't have the Internet in those days but I seem to remember a friend or neighbour raising the subject and saying they thought it was a common problem.
We may have eventually got some advice from a book on the subject.
Wikipedia has this to say about it:
Deaf white cats are domestic cats with a pure white coat. Some white cats suffer from congenital deafness caused by degeneration of the inner ear. This condition is associated with blue irises. In white cats with mixed-coloured eyes (odd-eyed cats), it has been found that deafness is more likely to affect the ear on the blue-eyed side. White cats can have blue, gold, green, or copper coloured odd eyes ...
By the time we knew Chalky couldn't hear a thing, he was well and truly settled and would wander off on his little hunting and exploring trips away from the house and always found his way back. Occasionally we would hear a racket out in the road with someone repeatedly blowing a car horn. On looking out we would often see Chalky sat calmly in the middle of the road, looking the other way, while some frustrated motorist was trying to get the cat to move so that he could drive past. Chalky was totally unaware of the trouble he was causing.
The Life of a Contented Cat
Chalky had so many daft ways about him. He loved cardboard boxes. Any time he found one he would jump inside and refuse to come out. He seemed to like the security of the box or maybe he had spent time living in a box in a previous life.
Anyway, he gave us a lot of fun trying to coax him out. Chalky wasn't exactly a playful cat. We figured he was no longer a kitten and was probably at least five years old when he came to us.
At the time Chalky was with us, my wife and I were going through a weight-watching kick. The bathroom scales were often left out after one of us had checked our latest achievement and these proved another fascination for Chalky.
It was probably the movement of the dial under the glass that caught his attention. Somehow he had worked out that by standing on the scales he could make it move. The girls would often come downstairs saying, "Chalky's checking his weight again!"
I am convinced Chalky's previous owner might have had a fish pond... (Seeing it now, our old Avocado bath does have the look of a stagnant pond about it.)
It also occurred to me that catching his owners prize fish could be the reason why he was abandoned, if indeed that was the case.
Whenever there was water in our bath, Chalky would be there staring in as if looking for a tasty morsel to hook out.
Chalky stayed with us for about ten years while my daughters were growing up. He gave us such laughs and was never any trouble. He was a delightful cat.
One day Chalky, it seems, decided it was time to move on. He disappeared as abruptly as he had come.
For a few days we worried and searched. Then one day a woman came to the door asking if we owned the white cat that had installed himself in her house, two hundred yards down the road, and wouldn't leave.
We were so glad he was safe! After some discussion, we agreed that if Chalky had decided to move in with her family and she was happy about it, then perhaps we should just let him go. After all, he was never really ours ... we had been HIS!