Feline the strain



I’ve never had a pet. To be honest I’ve always wanted one, but allergies run in my family. So the thought of having a snotty nose and itchy eyes always outweighed the desire for a pet (other than goldfish… they’re hypoallergenic-ish). 


Then the other day my better half Pia came home from a long training ride in the Ardennes with a tiny ginger fluff ball that was a kitten. Turns out she was getting close to the car and she saw what she thought was a ginger ball of rubbish move of its own accord. She stopped, picked the little Chapette (thats a small chap) and carefully put it up her jersey as her mothering instinct kicked-in. As she began to make her way back to the car where she had started the ride she came across another car with a woman looking for kittens and to her horror the woman began to tell her the story of how the kitten came to be on the road.



Turns out some heartless b@#tard was driving down the road throwing kittens out the window. Unfortunately the brothers and sisters were not so lucky….I struggle to understand how humans work sometimes especially when I hear a story like this but to every Ying there is a Yang. The Yang in this situation is my girlfriend. She stopped at the nearest pharmacy and bought some baby cat formula and tried to feed it (with half from the infamous Calvert Churchill cat whisperer extraordinaire).



After feeding she asked me what I thought we should call it. My first thought was 'Wallie the Walloon' because she found him in Wallonia. Pia suggested 'Wanty'. With me worried about my street cred I didn’t fancy naming our cat after my team, so we met in the middle ground and decided to call him 'Wantje'.


Pia found little Wantje on a Saturday, so we couldn’t get him to a vet to get checked over until Monday. So we winged it, making him a makeshift bed out of an old towel, a cardboard box and a hot water bottle, and we followed the instructions of the baby cat formula (which by all accounts has the same nutritional values as recovery drink!) 


As we got to Monday we got an appointment early in the morning and took lil’ Wantje to the vet to get checked out. Turns out he might actually be a she (so its a good job we gave her a gender-neutral name or it could lead to some difficult conversations later on in life). All in all she was pretty healthy but quite under-fed and underweight. Unfortunately she had fleas which when you only weigh 100 grams is quite a big problem as you can’t afford little fleas to be drinking what little blood you had. So the vet recommended some anti-flea treatments, and to carry on what we where doing with the feeding and general looking after.


Turns out looking after a week-old kitten and bike riding don’t go together so well. The little Chapine (female version or Chapette) needs feeding every three hours, 24hrs a day. But it's somewhat rewarding. You give it food, a clean bed and warmth, and in return it purrs gratifyingly. Apparently its 50/50 whether young kittens survive even when reared by their mother, but she seems to be progressing well as we do our best to give her the best chance to turn into a full sized cat (we’re a little worried she may actually be a tiger as her paws are massive!).



I dare say many of you are wondering why I’m harping on about the new feline edition to our little family but like most things in life, including cycling, they ask a lot of you and in return they can fulfil you in different ways. So whatever you do make sure you put your best into it to make sure you have the most chance of whatever you’re doing to succeed, be that winning the sign sprint on the local chain gang, bettering your PB or looking after a baby lion!

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  • When you look back on your life decades from now, you will realise that what matters is the love you give, and the love you receive. You are infinitely lucky to have Pia and that kitten. Cherish both.

    • Ted Burke