Today is International Cat Day when the world is celebrating our wonderful feline friends.  And I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you the story behind a very special shoot that I undertook recently.  It was with a lovely lady, Catherine, and her beautiful cat and best friend, Buffy.

Catherine and Buffy’s story is extraordinary and moved me greatly so I thought you might like to hear about it too together with a preview of some photographs from their shoot.

Their story began in the autumn of 2000 when Catherine, who is an RSPCA inspector, was called out to the aid of a cat who had reportedly been trapped for a week in an underground pipe.  When Catherine arrived and was trying to formulate a rescue plan, the cat showed an indomitable spirit whilst seeming to understand that Catherine was trying to save her.  This spurred the little cat on and, unbelievably, she managed to claw her way to the surface through 4 feet of mud.  In the dim light, the first Catherine saw of Buffy was a pair of tiny paws and a head when they appeared above ground.  This little fighter found the strength to pull herself free and, covered in mud, she walked straight towards Catherine crying in distress.  She was tiny and very weak.  Catherine immediately took her to see a vet who found that she was very young – no more than 16 weeks old, very thin and extremely ill.  She had a lung infection and her pupils were fixed and dilated leading the vet to fear that there had been permanent damage to her eyes.

However, the little cat was not to be beaten and 2 days later she was well enough to go home…. with Catherine.  There was no way Catherine could give her up and she firmly believed that Buffy had chosen her that fateful night.  After her tough start in life, Buffy was very timid and it took her a few years to fully trust Catherine but with time and patience she did and they became an inseparable team.

Buffy became quite a celebrity in her youth.  The story of her bravery and determination led her to be shortlisted as a finalist in the Cats Protection Rescue Cat of the Year Awards and her story appeared in several local newspapers.  Buffy is now 18 years old and Catherine tells me she likes to take life a bit easier – sleeping on the bed or sunbathing in the garden next to her favourite cat mint plant.  But in her younger days she was an amazing hunter and her record was 70 “presents” of mice, voles and shrews in one summer, most of them alive. Apparently Catherine became adept at catching these ‘presents’ as they ran round the house, with Buffy looking on!

Buffy celebrates International Cat Day

Esther photographed Buffy in the studio

Buffy has defied the odds throughout her life.  At age 9 she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with a limited life expectancy and yet here she is at 18 years young.  I imagine that, in large part, is due to the mutual love between her and Catherine.  During our photography session I could see that their bond was extraordinarily close and I sincerely hope that my photographs have done justice to their deep love.  Catherine explained to me that Buffy has always been very good at communicating with people and the two of them came to instinctively know what each other wanted and needed.  Catherine learnt to know when to open the door, feed and give the obligatory tummy rubs, whilst Buffy is always there to give support and companionship when Catherine needs it.  Catherine made my heart melt when she said that Buffy has been her rock through life’s turbulent ups and downs.  I know that so many of us animal lovers can relate to that.

The bond between a cat and her owner on International Cat Day

Catherine and Buffy share the closest bond

Catherine went on to tell me the story of when Buffy had her heart scan.  Remarkably she did not need to be sedated, Catherine just standing by her side reassuring her that it would be OK was enough to keep her calm and still.  Apparently, Buffy lay quietly on her side for over an hour whilst her chest was scanned and even the vet remarked on their amazing bond.  This remarkable, unbreakable connection shone through in our photography session.  We all had huge amounts of fun and I hope that some truly special memories were made as well as some beautiful photographs to be cherished forever.

A photograph of a gorgeous cat to celebrate International Cat Day

Buffy posing on an old-fashioned suitcase – quite the model!

Thank you Catherine and “Princess Buffy” for allowing me to share your story and happy International Cat Day.  To all you cat lovers, make sure you all give your fur babies an extra special hug today, and a bowl of cat milk might go down a treat too!

Lots of love

Esther X