Articles in Featuring Felines are written by
Patrick Roberts

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Practice Cats 4

Contra Costa County cats

Discovery Bay, California

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It was a typical busy day some years ago at Discovery Bay Veterinary Hospital in the town of the same name — in eastern Contra Costa County in California, about 60 miles (100 km) from San Francisco — when a woman came in and left a cat carrier on the floor at reception. It was a few minutes before anyone could attend to it, by which time the woman had left. In the carrier was a calico (tortoiseshell-and-white) cat with a note that said simply, 'I'm good with children and dogs.'

Clinic cat Orphan Annie, late of the Discovery Bay Veterinary Hospital, California, USA An Animal Control Officer was called, but by the time he arrived the little cat had made herself at home at the hospital and had clearly decided to stay. She was christened Orphan Annie, and soon became greeter-in-chief, hostess and spokescat for the clinic. She liked to sit on a chair in the lobby, or at a window where she could see the next arriving patient and be ready to greet them. She would pose for photos, and seemed quite unperturbed by all the comings and goings.

Annie had a sweet personality and the unusual sensitivity shown by many calico cats. One day a woman was standing at the counter, obviously distressed over the condition of her elderly cat, to the point that she was softly crying. Annie, who had been sleeping on a chair in the waiting area, went on alert, jumped up to the counter and padded over to the woman, purring and rubbing her face on the woman's cheek. Her touching concern had exactly the desired effect, and the object of her attention smiled and wiped her tears as she hugged the little calico cat.

The present clinic staff think that Annie stayed for about 6 or 7 years, and then she went to a permanent home with an ex-member of staff. No one is quite sure when that was, and she has probably died by now.

Clinic cat Indy of the Discovery Bay Veterinary Hospital, California, US However, in April 2002 a cat about a year old came in with serious injuries after a road accident, and Indy has been the ruler of the roost at the clinic ever since. He had various internal injuries and a broken jaw, as a result of which he lost the sight in one eye. After a lot of surgery he is now a happy and healthy cat aged 11 or 12 years, who keeps the dogs in order and helps to comfort other cats visiting the clinic. He loves to sunbathe on the 'Welcome' rug and greet each client as they arrive; or if not there he's likely to be on the desk, making sure things are running smoothly and that people stop to give him some attention. He's particularly pleased to see everyone on Mondays, as the clinic is closed at weekends, but he does a good job of guarding it and of course is left plenty of food and drink. On longer holidays staff take it in turns to go in and spend some time with him.

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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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