Posted by: christinelaennec | May 11, 2012

Tilly and the Dafter

I wanted to tell you about another Silver Lining to the Dafter’s long illness:  our cat Tilly has started to really make friends with her.  Let me explain…

Tilly says ‘thank you for my hot water bottle!’

When we found Tilly in the animal shelter, she was about a year old.  She had been lost in the snow for a week, and in the shelter for a week.  We came on the very first day she was up for adoption, and we felt very lucky indeed to be able to give her a home.  She’s always been a very well-behaved and intelligent cat.  And for a long time, she was a very shy and frightened cat.

As I wrote here, she finally learned to purr after a lot of coaxing from me.  After about a year and a half, she decided it would be safe to jump on my lap – but only if I’m sitting in my knitting place, and also only if I have a skirt on.  If I have my jeans on, and want feline companionship, I put a blanket over my knees.  Other members of the family have so far not been graced with this particular cat-compliment, but Tilly has always been friendly and attentive.  She nuzzles our legs, and likes to join us for meals:

Tilly sometimes joins us for meals (although she doesn’t come up on the table).

Since the Dafter has been home for over eight months now, Tilly (who is also at home each and every day) has been learning to trust even more.  Tilly now comes into the Dafter’s room and meows when she wants the Dafter to play with her.  She sometimes puts her paws on the Dafter to stress her point, and she will have meowing “conversations” with the Dafter.  A few times when the Dafter has been resting, Tilly has come right up to her and sniffed her face.

These interactions may sound like nothing to someone who is used to living with an assertive cat, but for a shy little cat these things are significant.  I’m so pleased that the Dafter is making at least one new friendship during this time.



  1. She is a lovely looking little cat and I’m glad she has been good company for your daughter through this difficult time. I think it’s cute that your cat likes a hot water bottle.

  2. I know exactly what you mean about Tilly! We have an adopted stray cat.
    She is my husband’s cat – will only sit in his lap! We have had her 1 1/2 years – she will finally get into my lap (but only if my husband is not home!!).
    Still waiting for that purr, though….

  3. It is so kind of you to find her in the animal shelter and take her home. It is so precious that she is bonding with your daughter, especially during this difficult time. I am sure they are both healing each other! She is a beautiful little cat and it is so nice that she gets a hot water bottle to keep her cozy. This story made me tear up! xx

  4. I love that picture of Tilly on the chair. Being allergic to cats, I don’t generally warm to them, but I think Tilly is the nicest cat I’ve ever seen, and obviously greatly loved. I’m so pleased for both her and the Dafter, making that bond and becoming friends, it’s very heart-warming.

  5. Oh, what a lovely story! Very special times for your daughter and Tilly. (my childhood little terrier was called Tilly!) xx

  6. That’s lovely, cats can be so therapeutic. The photo of Tilly at the table reminds me of a cat we had, Mog, she thought she was a person and used to sit on the spare stool at the kitchen table, never went on the table or anything naughty, she just wanted to be like us.

  7. It’s great that your daughter has found a way to help another creature grow. It sounds like an interesting interaction.

  8. The love of a pet can be so therapeutic. My brother is “loaning” one of his dogs to my parents for the summer. They can’t handle a dog year round (because they rent a house for the winter), but they miss having an animal to love.

    I bet this bond helps both daughter and cat.

  9. Thanks for your kind visit. 🙂
    How lovely, animals can be so therapeutic! Tilly looks adorable! 🙂
    All my cats used to come up on the table and try to eat from my plate. I sure miss having a furry friend around the house.
    What a beautiful poem “Building Vocabulary” is! 😀

  10. How lovely for the Dafter and it must make her feel very much wanted. Surely her friends from school are visiting and keeping her cheerful? How is everything going now? xx

  11. Thank you all so much for your lovely comments! Yes indeed the love of a pet can work wonders indeed. I think Tilly is actually a therapy pet now.

    ajb – the hot-water-bottle tradition began back in the days when we were all off at work and school during the week, and didn’t want to leave poor little Tilly in a freezing flat during the winter!

    Denise – I’m so glad you understand. It sounds like your own adopted cat is taking small steps towards trust. How funny that she will only come in your lap if your husband’s away! Well, we have to take what we can get. Keep encouraging her to purr, I think it’s very likely she will (re?)learn someday.

    Karen, Sigrid and Kelly – I hadn’t thought of the healing going both ways, but of course, you’re right!

    Tina – aww, you had a Tilly too! I think childhood pets can be a wonderful thing.

    Katherine – your Mog sounds a lot like Tilly. Tilly is impeccably behaved (unless sorely tried by things like someone leaving a piece of salmon out, which is a rare event in our mostly-vegetarian household). But she is very tuned-in to our family rhythm. In fact, she usually won’t eat her tea until I am sitting down at the table! I hope all’s well for you and your little family.

    Kia – you have an interesting blog! And I’m glad you liked the poem, thank you.

    Karibu – sadly there are no friends from school to come visit. As you might recall, the Dafter fell very ill with throat/sinus/ear infections after only one day at a new school last September. She sees the girl downstairs, who is a few years younger but counts as a friend, and also two sisters from primary school. But they are extremely busy with sports, music and exams so she doesn’t see them often. Isolation is extremely common for teenagers with ME. I don’t know if that’s due to people not understanding the disease or if it happens with other chronic illnesses. So the Dafter has either me or Michael with her every day, and we try to keep her relatively occupied with whatever she is able to do. Often she is only able to watch tv or listen to music. Today she managed to re-read a book for an hour but had to rest after that for an hour. So it’s challenging, but we are keeping as positive as possible. Nearly nine months later, we are waiting for specialist help with her education. But as she finds it extremely difficult to concentrate on new information for more than about 10 minutes at a time, it’s okay that we are still waiting. Thanks very much for your friendship and concern!

  12. I would think that having Tilly warm up and form a bond with your daughter would be very therapeutic. She’s a pretty cat. I especially like the pic of them sitting together on the chair.

  13. Christine, what a lovely story. I’m sure the Dafter is pleased with Tilly’s growing affection. Tilly is one of the prettiest cats I’ve seen; in fact, I’ve not seen one of her coloring before except in photos.

  14. This is so heartwarming. Animals are so intuitive aren’t they 🙂
    I’m so glad for the Dafter too as animal companions are such good therapy.

  15. I had such a similar experience with my Himalayan, Tinkerbell who we got from the SPCA. For one whole year she never purred although seemed quite happy with us, then one day she started and we were so surprised. She was probably about three when we got her.

    How lovely to see Dafter and Tilly’s relationship growing. Animals can be so calming to the soul and bring such joy.

    Lil Bit Brit

  16. Dear Dianne, Ellen, Suzy and Christy,

    Thanks for your nice comments! Dianne and Ellen, you would have enjoyed what the lady at Mrs. Murray’s Cat and Dog Home said about Tilly: “Aye, she’s bonny markings!” The vet told me that tortoiseshell cats (calico in American?) are known as “naughty torties” because they’re intelligent and can easily get bored, so can make trouble if not stimulated enough. Our Tilly isn’t in the least naughty, but she is very intelligent. I’d like to think we keep her busy enough to keep her out of trouble.

    Suzy, I could write a post or two about Tilly’s powers of intuition! I probably won’t, though, because people might worry about my own sanity. But on more than one occasion Tilly has picked up on our thoughts, I’m certain.

    Christy, I’m so pleased that Tinkerbell started to purr! That’s a great story. (And a great name for a cat.)

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