24 October 2023


In 2014 we downsized in the UK so that we could upsize in France and spend more time there.  Once we had decided to buy the house in the middle of a large field friends said "you will need a cat".  Will we, I thought?  Their ginger cat, Marmalade, was about to have kittens.

There were two kittens, a male ginger cat and a female calico or three coloured cat.  Our friends' daughters had decided they would like to keep the female and let us have the male but when the time came for us to have the cat they had changed their minds.  They kept the male, who they had called Pumpkin, and we were to have the female, who they had called Splodge.  Splodge didn't seem the right name for such a pretty cat so we called her Daisy.

The friends said we should keep Daisy outdoors.  She had never been allowed into their house and they always had outdoor cats, providing food and shelter in their barns.  We were not completely convinced but could see the logic so we decided to go along with it. 

We moved into our crumbling farmhouse in the middle of a field in the September and Daisy arrived four days later.  She was eleven weeks old.  Two weeks later she had disappeared.

We spent the first few days of her disappearance frantically calling for her, searching our outbuildings, also the roadside and ditches in case she had succumbed to a passing car.  There was no sign of her and she had vanished completely.

After ten days it occurred to us that she might have made her way to the neighbour's house although we thought this unlikely.  She was so tiny and to get there she would have had to navigate enormous ruts and deep puddles in the field in between, or made her way to the grassy track that led to his house.  He also had a dog.  

We had a dog, our then standard poodle Lulu.  After a tricky start they had learned to live happily together but the neighbour's dog was untrained and uncontrolled.  

After ten anxious days and sleepless nights we decided to speak to the neighbour’s carer.  She visited him every day so we watched for her car leaving his house and waited for her at the end of the lane.  When we asked whether she had seen a kitten anywhere she said "she’s on his bed".

It transpired that the neighbour had noticed the cat and decided he would like her for himself.  He was in the habit of walking to and fro across the front of our property to watch what we were doing, several times a day.  On that day we had to go out and leave the gate open as the electrician was coming in and out.  When we left the house Daisy was playing at chasing leaves in the garden.  By the time we returned, only twenty minutes later, she was gone.  The neighbour had been into the garden and taken her.

He kept her imprisoned in his bedroom so that she couldn't escape or come back home and where she no doubt had to endure goodness only knows what torment from him and the dog.  He had told the carer that he found her abandoned by the road, picked her up and took her home.  The carer’s opinion was that kittens were easily come by, that we should let him keep her and get ourselves another one.  We protested and said that if she didn’t bring Daisy back to us we would go and get her.

Daisy was returned to us the next day.  She was ill, bloated and riddled with worms and fleas. From that moment she became an indoor cat with outside options.  We got her treated for the parasites, fed her quality food, had her vaccinated and microchipped and installed a cat flap, keeping a close eye on her if she went out, in case the neighbour tried to steal her again.

Inevitably we had to take Daisy with us when we went back to the UK.  She had her own passport so the formalities were straightforward but she was not a good traveller.  We had to put up with hour after hour of operatic meowing and eventually we worked out that what she didn’t like was the noise.  Road noise, traffic noise, roadworks, sirens, music, radio, the tomtom and even conversation would cause her to wail inconsolably.  Gradually over the years we learned how to manage the twelve hour journey, travelling in complete silence while Daisy sat quietly in her cage.

She was not keen on cheap hotels either.  Overnight stays in places like an Ibis or Campanile would result in none of us getting any sleep as she scratched frantically at the door or window all night trying to escape.  In much posher hotels, with plush chairs, a big bed and a large bathroom where we could deposit her litter tray and feeding bowls she was happy.  She would settle down in a comfy spot and we all got a proper night's sleep.

Our overnighters in posh hotels were not without incident.  On one occasion Daisy launched herself at one of the very stylish standard lamps causing it to crash onto the tiled floor and shatter into a zillion pieces.  Nick was out walking the dog and I was in the shower.  I heard the crash and dashed into the bedroom in my birthday suit to find a sea of broken glass on the floor and Daisy on a comfy chair wearing her "nothing to do with me" look.

It turned out that we definitely did need a cat.  Over her short life Daisy caught hundreds of mice, along with other things.  Her repertoire included a mole, a stoat, luckily very few birds although a hapless moorhen, and a few bats who all lived to tell the tale.  Frogs, toads and lizards had to run for cover and the young snake she brought into the bedroom one morning was very cross.  

She was also a very mischievous little thing.  Cats will be cats and true to type she loved hiding in bags and boxes, climbing up high and pushing things off the edge.  One morning we sat up in bed with our mugs of tea and watched as a large holdall on top of the wardrobe gradually inched towards the front and finally dropped off.  Daisy looked down at it with huge satisfaction.  

One of her favourite games was to go out in the rain, come in and demand to be dried off then go straight out and do it all again.  She just loved getting a rub down with a fluffy towel.

She helped with household chores by getting in the way and was generally always around us.  Her favourite time of day was "apéro time" when we all sat together, preferably outdoors, for a drink and some treats.  Her treat of choice was Dreamies.

After Lulu died we got our standard poodle Hugo.  They got on famously from the very start and were best friends.  In reality he adored her and she teased him mercilessly.  Her favourite taunts were to run between his legs at speed from the other end of the garden, to sneak up on him when he was eating and biff his tail, to demand that he licked her ears (which, being the perfect gentleman, he was happy to do), and swipe at him when he stopped.

We didn’t settle in the UK house we had downsized to.  After only three years we were on the move again and one of the main reasons was undoubtedly Daisy.  The house was on a busy road, which didn’t seem to matter until we ended up spending more time there than we expected to.  We were terrified that Daisy would either get run over or run away so we decided to keep her in.  It was hard work so we moved to a quieter area where there was a wood at the back of the house.  We were much happier and Daisy enjoyed being allowed outdoors again.  She was thriving, having a great life in both countries.  In France she had fields, barns and roofs to explore.  In the UK gardens, ponds and the wood.  She would run along the top of the fence chasing squirrels, jump across the roofs of sheds and garages, climb up and demand to be let in through the bedroom window.  Then she would go out through the cat flap and do it all over again.

When she had just turned seven years old we noticed the appearance of a small berry like red lump in front of her left ear.  The UK vet suggested it was probably not serious but offered to do a biopsy if we wanted one.  I remember thinking that this could cause Daisy and us a lot of pain and cost a lot of money and how right I was.  The lump did not change for six months but once back in France the following spring we thought it might be getting bigger.  A biopsy revealed that it was a sarcoma.  

In 2022 she had two operations to remove the tumour, one in France in June and the second in the UK in December after it made a reappearance.  That second operation was a big job and afterwards she was unable to close her eye properly.  After a few months she ended up with a corneal ulcer requiring more treatment by the French vet.  There it was discovered that the tumour was back and was growing fast.  Another operation would have required the removal of the ear and eye and even then with no certainty that all the cancerous cells had been removed.  For us it was out of the question.

The eye was treated successfully but we were just waiting for the inevitable.  We gave her the best life we could for the last few months but finally she, and we, lost the battle on 12th October.  She was only nine years old and we are immensely sad that she didn't get the chance to live to a ripe old age.  She was unique, a joy to have around and we miss her enormously.  There will never be another Daisy.

Since I started writing this post we heard of a mature cat in need of a home, called Yvonne.  She now lives with us, is very different from Daisy and is settling in.  


  1. Daisy was one of the most amusing and personable cats I've ever met. What a character she was!

  2. A lovely tribute to Daisy. She landed well with you, Nick and Hugo. Hope Yvonne settles in with you all.

  3. I love seeing all the places Daisy loved to hide in. Thank you.

  4. Daisy was a sweetie pie, and I loved the way she adored Hugo in her typical aloof cat way. I know he misses her as much as you do. Hopefully Yvonne will make friends with Hugo soon.

  5. What a lovely obituary for sweet Daisy! I think Susan sums up my feelings about her, too. But you didn't mention the drinking from taps, so I will!!

  6. The perfect tribute to Daisy, who although I never met her as such, I felt that I knew her so well. I have always enjoyed following her ups and downs, she seemed such a character. You have some great memories of her. I am sure Yvonne will give you some happy and memorable moments as well.
    Keep well and take care, Diane