In November 2010 our local pet shop “Pets Unleashed” started displaying cats for the AWL. I always go there with my dogs to buy something for our animals. One day early November 2010 I noticed a big, beautiful ginger cat.

As soon as I approached with my Border Collie, Tobystarted smooching with me through the wire, totally unfazed by the very close dog. A few days later I had to get some more stuff and took my youngest German Shepherd with me to the pet shop. Again Toby smooched with me like crazy and the dog was not a problem for him. When I took my oldest German Shepherd Max with me a few days later, Max sniffed and then licked Toby through the wire and Toby smooched with me like crazy again. I was not looking for a cat at this stage since we had already rescued two kittens but I just had to tell the pet shop manager how friendly Toby was with me and the dogs. Sarah told me that the cats only stay on display at the pet shop for 2 weeks and then go back to the shelter.

Toby’s time was up the next day. He was about 7 1/2 years old then. I don’t know what hit me but I didn’t want Toby going back to the shelter, he had already spent around 6 months there and I knew that it is not easy for older animals to get adopted. So I told Sarah to pack Toby up and I took him home the same day on 16.11.2010.

At home I opened the carrier; Toby came out, set paw in our house and was at home. Toby and I had an instant connection. Every time he saw me, Toby greeted me with a “meow”.  Max stayed close to Toby, welcoming his new “pack member”. Toby was totally relaxed with this big but very calm and friendly dog. Our other two dogs accepted the new family member with no problems as well. So that was the easy part.

I expected our 8 months old female kittens to welcome Toby just like the dogs. I knew nothing about how to introduce cats and I learned very quickly how stupid I was! The kittens arrived; saw Toby …and all hell broke loose.

The girls were hissing and spitting, turned against each other and even attacked their beloved Max who didn’t know what had hit him. I had to protect my 6 year old German Shepherd from these small kittens. To cut a long story short, Tiger & Tilda started chasing and attacking Toby whenever they saw him. In desperation I asked the AWL for advice and they put me in touch with a very helpful cat behaviourist. Tamzin and I worked together on introducing Toby to the cats the proper way. It was a long, slow process because I had screwed it up the first time. The girls chased Toby for about two months. My husband was trying to help Toby, the victim and picked him up when he was chased by the other cats. However hubby got scratched in the process and was therefore not overly fond of Toby. I don’t know if Toby had not been socialised with males or had been mistreated by a male in his former life but Toby was definitely not keen on any male person and attacked my husband on many occasions, especially when held.

My husband wanted me to either return Toby or find him a different home. I believe our cats agreed – I did not. I could see something in Toby that others couldn’t, he just needed more time and more peace.

Finally after two months the miracle happened and our cats stopped chasing Toby. All I had expected was the cats just ignoring each other and live separate lives. Expecting them to become friends was probably asked too much, wrong again! Before long Tiger rubbed noses with Toby and shortly after Tilda started grooming Toby’s forehead. Then our cats started sleeping in close proximity and even play outside together. I was over the moon and so happy for our feline family members!

It took another 4-5 months for Toby to accept and trust my husband but then my boys loved each other. Toby slept on my husband’s bed, snuggled up against his belly and purring his cute little head off. And very often Toby sought Glenn’s company, for example helping him “build a fence” or do some boy stuff in the shed.  Once Toby knew he was safe and could trust all the family members and visitors he turned into “Toby, the cat god”, the most unbelievable animal I may ever come across.

The last picture I took of Toby and my husband shows Toby even climbing on Glenn’s bag to be closer to him when Glenn came home from night shift.

I breed Bantam Ducks as a hobby and have some ducklings running around in our yard sometimes. Day old ducklings nibble at everything, even big ginger cats. Toby endured it for a while and when he had enough he …ran away from these annoying little baby birds (rather than eating them). On many occasions I found Toby, my 5 kg lump of joy blissfully happy sprawled out in the duck yard surrounded by my ducks (800 gram) and ducklings. This 7 year old cat conducted himself from day one as if he had grown up on my little hobby farm.

One neighbour even told me once that she had seen Toby running home for his life…chased by some little birds!

The bond Toby developed with me is nothing short of incredible. Every time he saw me, Toby greeted me with a happy “meow” and walked up to me with a raised tail, stopping at my feet for a cuddle or a pick up. When I didn’t know where Toby was, I called him and he answered with a meow every single time he was in hearing range. Then we walked together upstairs where he could get a snack.

After only two months I walked around our farm with three dogs and three cats in tow. Toby has never stopped walking with me. When I walked one or all three dogs down our dead end road, Toby walked right beside us just like a proper pack member.

When I trained our dogs in the front yard, three dogs were sitting nicely waiting for their treats and so did Toby. He was sitting right next to the dogs, looking up at me expecting his cooked liver or chicken just as our well behaved dogs. Toby turned into the friendliest, coolest cat and into the love of my life. His favourite spot was under the palm tree in our front yard close to the gate. Every time I left or came home, Toby was there to greet me at our front gate.

Still, when I look at the sheet the AWL provided stating the information Toby’s previous owner provided I am amazed how much Toby has changed for the better. According to his previous person, Toby was affectionate but didn’t like to be held. It also stated that Toby hides away from visitors.

Well, the day I took Toby home, he melted into my arms, purred and dribbled and he always stayed in my arms ever since. I took him home 16.11.201 and he made me the most wonderful birthday present on  21.11.2010 when he jumped onto the couch where I was with my German Shepherd dog Max and then settled right on my chest, dribbling with delight and happiness. Not even Tiger & Tilda which I raised since kitten hood have done this!

Toby was a little cautious with visitors in the beginning but after a short while he greeted everyone at the gate, stopping at their feet demanding cuddles and attention. Our neighbour’s toddler was even allowed to cuddle Toby’s belly while the cat was rolling around happily on our driveway.

Toby had also become the mascot of our street, visiting some neighbours across the road or next door. He was always calm and friendly and wasn’t fazed by anything.

This really doesn’t seem to be the cat anymore that hides away from visitors; this was a social butterfly of a cat!

Toby was there when my friend arrived with her three foster greyhound puppies, Toby joined us when the back yard was flooded and we were playing in the water with our three dogs. Toby always came when he heard the ball bouncing on the driveway, he knew I was there playing with the dogs.

Toby accepted my foster cats and kittens (picture attached) and even tried to teach young Benny how to hunt and kill a rodent in our back yard. Benny looked very attentive but didn’t quite grasp the concept.

It will never cease to amaze me how wonderfully an older rescue animal like Toby can fit into a family of dogs, ducks, cats and of course humans. It took a bit more effort in the beginning but this was just due to my ignorance…one can also call it stupidity on how to introduce cats. It didn’t take long for Toby to be loved by our cats, dogs and humans. Toby has taught me so much and I will always be looking for an older cat smooching with me and my dogs through the wire should the time come to give another cat a loving home.

We had the immense pleasure of living with Toby for 22 wonderful months.

Toby was so happy and healthy here that I expected to share 10 more years with him.

On August, 30th at 9 a.m. Toby got killed by a runaway Husky in our neighbour’s yard. I raced out to his rescue but was about three seconds too late.

I have put Toby’s urn with his ashes under the palm tree in our front yard where he spent so many happy hours snoozing.

And although we lost our beloved Toby in a traumatic way; it still is a very happy story. Toby has given our family so much love & happiness in such a short time and I am sure that he had the most wonderful 22 months of his life on our little hobby farm. I will be forever grateful to the AWL who saved such a wonderful animal and gave it the chance of re-homing and also the pet shop who displayed for a rescue organization rather than selling kittens.

I can’t wait for our 2.5 year old girls to turn into such wise old souls like Toby. Please give an older animal the chance of a new home; they are more than worth it!