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Cat people

25th June 2024

Rachael Smith and her husband Ade are confirmed ‘cat people’ and are prepared to dispel some commonly perpetrated myths surrounding their feline friends

Words: Amander Meade
Photography: Rachael Smith (

NEWLY MARRIED, working full time and not really in the market for the demands of a dog, Rachael and Ade decided a cat would be a great addition to their first home together. When Ade spotted a litter for sale locally, the couple wasted no time in arranging a visit. ‘A feisty little ginger kitten ran towards me and jumped onto my trainer,’ remembers Ade. ‘So that was it. George chose us.’ Specialising in curtain climbing and remaining quite feisty and ‘bitey’, George, the couple decided, might enjoy the company of another kitten, so they visited the Celia Hammond Animal Trust (, where a second young ginger cat was described as having been ‘waiting for a while’. He was immediately selected, christened Charlie and brought home to join George.

‘Warfare ensued,’ continues Rachael. Unwilling to lose his status as an ‘only cat’, George made his feelings clear from the beginning with so much scratching and fighting, the couple had to put the kittens in separate rooms. ‘For a long time now we have had an uneasy truce, but even now they are rarely within a metre of each other. Charlie loves George, but his affection is not reciprocated.’

Gender surprise

On George’s first visit to the vet, the couple discovered that he was in fact a female, but the name remained. ‘The more benign George appears, the worse she is about to behave,’ says Ade. ‘She’s very spiteful and calculated, and poor Charlie is such a simple, sweet soul he never learns to steer clear.’ Luckily a friend for Charlie arrived in the form of Henry, the couple’s son (now 12).

Charlie would sit underneath Henry’s moses basket and guard him – standing up to defend him if any visitor dared approach. As a younger boy, Henry would construct Lego houses for Charlie to sit in – which he always duly did. ‘They are great mates and adore each other, with Charlie rarely leaving Henry’s side when he is at home.’

Now nearly 16 years old, George and Charlie have provided many laughs and funny anecdotes over the years, including the presentation of all kinds of wildlife to the family – usually alive, at the least opportune moments, and including frogs, toads, mice and, on one memorable occasion, a live rat. ‘We sat down to breakfast and noticed Charlie behaving oddly as well as what appeared to be a pile of brick dust under a radiator,’ recalls Ade. ‘It turned out to be a rat that had hidden behind the radiator, and its scrabbling had caused the brick dust.’ An elaborate pincer operation ensued, with Ade and Rachael corralling the rat into the open top of a Wellington boot before releasing it.

Loyal and loving

‘Contrary to popular belief, our cats engage with us all the time and love being with us,’ insists Rachael. They are really loyal to us and know we are their family. George doesn’t go far and only really goes into the garden when we are outside, while Charlie is a bit more adventurous and has had major surgery as a result of being hit by a car. We do worry a lot more about him, as he’s been in many scrapes. We are out of the house a lot, so cats are by far the better option for us. Our cats are sociable, charming and funny, and our house would not be a home without them. We all adore them and would not be without them.

‘If you are thinking about a cat, do try a rescue centre, but don’t be taken in by looks. If you are after a cuddly cat, cuddle them to see if you make a connection. Rescues always allow you to spend time with a cat and often take them on trial. Eventually when these two are gone, I wouldn’t hesitate to rescue another couple – ginger of course.’

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