Juliette Bains: Return of old feline friend prompts paws for thought

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I have an important announcement to make.

There is a new man in my life.

He has the most amazing green eyes, short grey hair, and, I don’t mean to brag, but he is incredibly good looking.

He’s cute, he loves a cuddle, and....yep, you guessed it, he’s a cat.

I guess, strictly speaking, Fred isn’t entirely ‘new’. We actually go way back.

But it’s only recently that he’s clawed his way back into my life.

Fred, my old feline friend, lived with me for three eventful years.

We met when I moved into a shared house in Leeds with four other girls.

To start with, we did not see eye to eye.

His cold indifference when I came home each night, the thinly-veiled look of disdain every time I gave him a cuddle and the unpredictable temper tantrums told me he was going to be hard work from the start.

Well, he is a man, after all.

There’d be times when I’d sit on the sofa with His Majesty purring next to me, a smile on his face so wide that he seemed the happiest cat alive.

But in a split-second, he’d turn and lash out at my hand or claw at my arm.

Whatever the reason for his violent outbursts, I still couldn’t help but find him adorable.

Even with the shocking mood swings, frequent health problems, maddening habit of waking me up at 7am every day and passion for bringing live rodents into my room, I came to love that cat.

Eventually, he learned to love me too and together we got through some tough times.

He was with me throughout my degree, two jobs, nursed me through countless hangovers and colds, and was always involved in birthdays and at Christmas.

In fact, his look of utter disgust when we dressed him in a little Yuletide ensemble is one of my favourite festive memories.

It’s strange that you can get so attached to an animal who spends the majority of the day licking various parts of his anatomy, but I found myself more fond of Fred than even some of my friends.

Needless to say, it broke my heart when I moved out and had to leave him behind.

Like a jilted ex-girlfriend, for months afterwards I used to drive back to the old house hoping he’d be outside and I’d be able to sneak a quick cuddle.

Alas, he was never there.

Now that I’m typing that out, I realise how pathetic it actually sounds.

But I’m not the only one who gets emotionally attached to pets. Take my mum, for example.

Our family dog suffers from muscle problems in his legs.

He’s getting on a bit now, and every time I visit him he’s a little bit older, skinnier, and smellier, but in my eyes he’s still the same out of control puppy I remember running round my mum’s kitchen with.

In a bid to help improve his health, my mum has already forked out for a one-on-one osteopath session for him.

And today the pair of them are off to a special hydrotherapy pool for a swim to help ‘build up his muscles’.

When she first told me, I couldn’t help but laugh.

But I’ve realised it’s no more daft than me driving round the streets of Leeds late at night looking for a cat cuddle.

Yesterday, after years apart, I finally got that cuddle.

Fred has gone to live with my boyfriend, who is now painfully aware that he’s got some serious competition for my affections.

As I write this, Fred, a few pounds heavier than I remember him, is snuggled next to the radiator and seems happy in his new home.

It’s only been a day, but he’s already the bad-tempered, attention-seeking but undeniably lovable part of the furniture he always was.

No more trash TV as I prepare to say bye to BBC Three

IT’S been my guilty pleasure for years, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Watching trashy TV shows on BBC Three has comforted me on cold winter nights and kept me entertained during quiet weekends.

So it’s disappointing to hear the BBC are planning to scrap the channel and only make it available online via the BBC iPlayer.

Almost 200,000 people have signed a petition for the plans to be scrapped, so I’m not the only one angered by the move.

I first fell in love with the channel when I stumbled across ‘Snog Marry Avoid?’.

Men and women who cake on way too much slap and parade around in hardly any clothes get a make-under in the show and are made to look more natural, and wrap up.

Yes, it relies on complete strangers judging someone purely on their appearance, but I was reeled in watching incredible transformations, seeing tangoed tarts turn into stunning ‘natural beauties’.

Then along came ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’.

Watching a teenage boy confess on national television –and in front of his parents – about his embarrassing adventures on holiday wasn’t exactly a pivotal point in television history, but it certainly had me glued to the screen.

And, let’s not forget Don’t Tell The Bride.

Seeing Bridezillas go into meltdown and cry their way down the aisle on their special day is what television dreams are made of.

So I will be sad to see the BBC’s black sheep leave our screens. So long BBC Three, and thanks for the memories!

Fans’ anger over The X Factor star’s baby joy is a new low

X Factor winner Sam Bailey announced this week that she’s pregnant.

And some of her fans weren’t best pleased.

The former prison officer has had to push back her tour dates because of the impending arrival, which didn’t go down too well with some people on Twitter.

Some of the tweets directed at the singer say she’s ruined her career before it’s even started.

Cruel, considering all she’s doing is having a child with her husband.

But thick-skinned Sam has brushed off the comments and said, quite rightly, that if Victoria Beckham and Myleene Klass can be a working mum, then so can she.

There are Twitter trolls out there ready to pounce on pretty much anyone about anything, but I thought this was a particularly low blow.

Yes, most X Factor winners strike while the iron’s hot and do an album and tour within what seems like mere months.

But suggesting that success depends on whether you’re a working mum or not is ridiculous.

I wish Sam all the best and hope she proves the haters wrong.

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