Slinky Malinki: Garden Kitty and a Paradigm Shift

Slinky Walks

Slinky Malinki in the Garden

Slinky Malinki is a character in a well-loved children’s book by author Lynley Dodd.  Slinky is “a cat as black as midnight with a kink in his tail.”

Our beloved Slinky is a shiny black cat, too, with a kink in her tail. The resemblance, however, ends there.  Dodd’s character is a “thief in the night;” bold and adventurous.  Our Slinky spent the last two years hiding in the garden, afraid of her own shadow, and everything else.  The paradigm shift happened today.

In recent months, Slinky in the garden finally became a house cat, venturing outside for five or ten minutes a day, but otherwise spending her day asleep at my feet under the desk.  She’s come a long way from the cat we first knew.   She used to swat and bite, refusing all attempts at affection. Gradually I’ve figured out ways to stroke her chin, avoiding the business end of her claws.  As she spent more and more time indoors, I started to wonder if her hearing might be impaired.  I would call her with her back turned without a response.  Was she hard of hearing or simply aloof?  I wondered if poor eyesight might by the reason she swung at me with my hand extended.  Perhaps she was once mistreated, learning to distrust human hands.

Slinky Stretching

Slinky Stretching

The Paradigm Shift

We saw the vet today and here’s what we learned: The kitty we thought was three to five years old is probably in her teens. They ordered a geriatric blood panel, the last thing I expected on today’s visit.  Slinky is hard of hearing, picking up some sounds but definitely hearing-impaired.  She doesn’t see well either and things will likely get worse.

Our wonderful vet was decidedly upbeat.  I’m grateful there are people in the world like her. Results from the lab work will be back tomorrow.

I’ve thought about the time we shared in the garden, Slinky and me. She tentatively rounded the corner each day, then kept a watchful eye on the proceedings. Any sudden move and she was out of their lickety split.  She ran from my outstretched hand. One day Slinky gave me a gentle headbutt, a clear sign of cat affection. I knew at last we had turned a corner together.

If cats could talk, she would have her own tales to tell.  A Haiku:

Slinky Malinki
lived more winters than I knew.
Safe and warm at last.

Slinky Moves In Collage

27 thoughts on “Slinky Malinki: Garden Kitty and a Paradigm Shift

  1. What a safe haven she has found with you, Alys, and I’m so surprised to hear about her age! I agree with you, when I saw her in your back yard and in your pictures, she looks so young. It’s so nice to know she will never have to be cold or fearful again and will only experience love from now on. I also applaud Slinky for coming such a long way from being so fearful to finding her place in your home. She could teach a thing or two to us humans.


    • Laura, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Thanks, too for your lovely thoughts and words. I think we’re all shocked about her age.

      Of course once you know, you start seeing other signs: little flex of white in her shiny black coat, her lack of playfulness (which I attributed to fear), and of course poor vision and hearing go hand and hand with advancing age.

      I’m so glad she is finding her way indoors. She has all she needs in one room, which the vet said was a good thing. I’m warned not to rearrange the furniture!


  2. Ah but what a wonderful ending for a not so happy start. She is a love and has someone who cares not matter what her attitude and its paid off for both of you. I hope she has many more years with you all!


    • Sheila, you always have such lovely things to say. Thank you for your support.

      I too hope she has many healthy years ahead. We’ll never know exactly how old she is, but the tests, at least, will let us know if we need to keep an eye on things.


    • Thank you!

      Yes, it was quite a surprise. She is a beautiful, sweet cat and we’re glad to have her indoors and safe. I hope her tests come back positive and she can live out many happy years warm and safe.


  3. ((( Alys ))) Your story just completely warmed my heart this morning, I’m all misty eye’d with happiness. Thank goodness Slinky found her way to you. It’s such a surprise that Slinky is so mature. That was very smart of you to notice the signs. I’m crossing my fingers and toes for a good report. It must be such a weight off your mind that Slinky is now in the house. I’m so happy for you both xo. You couldn’t have possibly known this but our first black cat, Paco (indoor/outdoor kitty) also had a kink in his tail. When he went missing, I went to the SPCA several times to find him. It’s hard to tell on line, black cats look all look very similar. They usually don’t let you handle the cats (I don’t know why), but every time I had to explain how Paco’s tail had a kink and that’s how I would tell. Crumb that was hard. I hope he found someone like you out there xoK


    • I’m so sorry you lost Paco in the way you did. I’m sure he found a good home. How interesting to know he had a kink in his tail. Sweet little thing.

      It’s so nice to finally have a way to track cats and dogs with chips. It makes all the difference in reuniting lost animals.

      When I was in France over 20 years ago, the cats had a sort of tattoo inside the ear. It was also a permanent way of identifying them.


    • It was a shocker to learn of her age. Even when the vet was telling me about her hearing and eye-sight, I was thinking “how unusual for a young cat.” Now the pieces make more sense.

      She’s quite leery of me today, worried I suppose that she’ll be heading back to the vet. Beijing, however, has forgotten all about her ordeal and is as cuddly as ever.


      • It’s rough being the ‘bad cop’, Petals gives me attitude after the vet too. Blossum is like Beijing…que sera sera is her attitude.
        Interesting about the Tattoo in the ear in France. They did that for a while here too before the Microchipping. Paco actually was chipped and is officially still ‘missing’. There was just a story about a guy who got his cat back after 10 years…the people who found it never had the vet check for a chip…isn’t that odd?


        • I’m so sorry. It’s so hard not knowing. I’ve heard stories like that, too. We’ve always taken the strays we find to have them checked. Last year I took in a dog (no chip) but found the owner by posting signs. I found a cat (with a chip) and was able to unite him with his owner. Slinky and Beijing were both strays, neither one chipped. It’s mandatory at all the shelters here now, and I’m sure all the vets suggest it too.


          • You’re like a stray animal angel. The SPCA was just on the news this morning to talk about pets and the weather and they mentioned how full up there are. I think, better there than on the street…it’s freezing out I couldn’t even believe how cold it feels.


            • Thank goodness for humane societies everywhere. I agree, on the street is no place for an animal, and most certainly not in your climate. They simply can’t survive that. It’s far worse for dogs than cats, too. Cats seem better equipped at finding shelter, but dogs are just lost souls on the street, wandering around looking for their pack. Makes me sad.

              We have so many rescues here, in addition to the Humane Society (which is now a no-kill, state of the art, 17,000 square foot shelter). Nike animal rescue, NARF, Friends4Pets, etc. It’s not enough, but it is a far cry from what it once was. Educating people away from puppy mills, un-neutered animals, etc. is key to bringing down the unwanted population. Preaching to the choir here, I know.


              • That sounds so fantastic for your community to be so proactive. There are many here too. I just don’t understand the reluctance to fix your pet. Most people I know who have pets, have more than one. So it’s like ‘the caring masses’ putting bandaids on the ‘careless few’. Hopefully people are getting smarter. It’s always good to put your thoughts down, who knows who’ll come along and be impacted by reading them. I’ll sing in this choir all day long 🙂


                • Good point. Some people just don’t realize the impact even one unneutered/unspayed cat can have on generations to come. all these different rescue groups help in the long run, since they ensure animals are spayed and neutered and they make an effort to really screen the new family.


                    • I couldn’t do it either. Writing a check and supporting fundraisers is the way to go for me as well. I would be crying or tucking all the misfits in my bag to bring home. I’m grateful for the vets, doctors, rescue workers and others that can do those difficult but necessary jobs. We are lucky to have them.


  4. Alsy, I have shared Slinky’s tale with others and loved the home you set up in the garden and was so happy to hear that he had moved into the house. He was so lucky to end upin such a loving home and I too am keeping a good thought for the test results.


    • Betsy! Thanks so much for commenting. You are one of the few to have seen Slinky’s “apartment.” Thanks for sharing her story with others.

      Thank you, too, for your loving comments. Still now word from the vet but I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.


  5. Pingback: All’s Well with Slinky | gardeningnirvana

  6. I’m deeply touched by Slinky’s story, and by your Haiku in tribute to her. I find encouragement in your account of how Slinky came to be more trusting, eventually recognizing and accepting your gestures of peace. She found her guardian angel. It’s a comfort to know that her remaining years, despite failing hearing and eyesight, will be ones filled with love. I’m sure she realizes she is safe with you, that you’re helping her, and has decided that she is much better off now.

    I’ve recently rounded a corner myself, with Dusty, living in our house since I rescued him from the junkyard last Sept. Quite feral, he was so fearful, dislplaying much of the same behavior as Slinky did early on. He now welcomes my petting, purrs contentedly, and actively seeks companionship. We make progress every day. I’m tremendously relieved to have him here, safe, and not in that dangerous environment of the junkyard — or anywhere outdoors. He’s starting to get the hang of life as a pampered housecat!

    Thank you for sharing the heartwarming and inspirational story of Slinky’s evolution! As ever, you and yours — two-legged and four-legged — are in my thoughts.


    • CC, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I know you’ve really had your hands full with all the caring you do for family, friends and felines, along with your advocacy work.

      Great news about Dusty. I know you’ve worked tirelessly to bring him around. I think they do calm down and eventually realize things are pretty good. It’s the constant reassurance over and over again.


Please join the conversation by leaving a comment, below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.