Here is the story I wrote when we bought Snickles, not long after Briagha died.
THE ARRIVAL OF SNICKLEFRITZ
In the last issue, I told you the tale of "Briagha" and how his death had left a hole in my life the size of a crater and how silent the house was without him. Well this story is to tell you how that crater was filled by a very small black feline and how noisy our house is again!
After Briagha died I was devastated, but I very quickly realised how much I needed an Oriental in my life, even though I still had the other 4 cats. Leyla, our younger Somali queen was expecting her first litter of kittens in a couple of weeks, so Barry and I decided that we should wait until her kittens were born and well established before introducing another kitten into the household. I felt that, although I wanted an Oriental, I wasn't ready for another Havana and, having always admired the Blacks, I decided I would look for an Oriental Black. When my kittens were three weeks old, I looked through Cat World and found Margaret and Neville Gibbon were advertising Oriental kittens, including a Black. So it was that on a Sunday at the end of March, Barry and I set off for the Gibbon household to see the kittens. We arrived to a household of Persians, who were all doing a very good impersonation of floppy cushions, until Margaret brought the Oriental kittens into the room - my goodness, I didn't know Persians could move that fast! The kittens who, at 8 weeks, hardly looked any bigger than my 5 week old Somalis, were flying around the room like jumping jacks, being followed equally as frenetically by all the Persians, coupled with a dog which obviously had a personality complex and thought it was a cat as well - it was bedlam and I loved it! About 4 hours and 2 cups of coffee later we left, me still undecided about the Black because she was a female and I was looking for a male. However, I eventually decided that I had to have her. Margaret hadn't registered the kittens yet and told me that I could choose her registered name if I wanted. I chose Snicklefritz, which is a German term of endearment for a young energetic child as, having seen this Black bomber flying around the room, it just seemed ideal. When I 'phoned Margaret and told her the name I had chosen, there was a long silence on the other end of the 'phone which left me feeling that she didn't quite share my delight at this name. However, when I explained the meaning of the word and Margaret had a chance to recite it to herself a few times, she was won round and we both decided that Saitan Snicklefritz had rather a nice ring to it and was definitely out of the ordinary, which turned out to be rather like the cat herself!
On the 23rd April 1993 my son Iain and I collected her from Margaret and Neville's and brought her home and she hasn't shut her mouth since!!! We quarantined her in our bedroom for 2 weeks, just as a precaution, as we had young unvaccinated kittens in the living room and my intention was for them all to eventually integrate together. Those two weeks were hilarious, she turned out to havesuch a delightful character, I couldn't wait to get home from work to see her and it was a joy to go to bed each night to spend time with her. When we wound her up and got her really excited, she would fly around the room with such enthusiasm, running into walls, furniture etc and regularly fell off the bed because she was being so silly, her eyes would be enormous green globes and her little tail like a bottle brush. She recognised her name in a very short time and, regardless of whatever she is doing will always answer us when we call her.
She simply adores to have her bottom smacked - as soon as your hand reaches out she does a forward roll onto the floor and drags herself round in circles by clawing the carpet while you smack her bottom, purring all the time and if you gently pull her tail at the same time - ecstasy! All our regular visitors know this little quirk and almost all of them smack her as soon as they walk in and she just loves it!!! And what a purr! As soon as a hand is laid on her the motor starts running and she purrs and purrs. There is a touch of the Kami Kazi syndrome to her personality, however, as her favourite trick is to run ahead of you on the stairs, do the customary forward roll (often falling down a couple of stairs in the process) and await the bottom slapping to start. This is not a problem, when we are going up the stairs, as she is obviously at our eye level, but it is decidedly dodgy when coming down. She has come very close to having her skull crushed, or should I say, we have come very close to breaking our necks falling down the stairs trying to avoid her. She is also a better retriever than the dog. Roll a piece of paper up and throw it for her and she will bring it back and demand you throw it again - if she's in the mood to retrieve and we aren't aware of it, she will tip over the litter bin, mooch around all the rubbish, spreading it all over the living room floor in the process, (a habit she has already taught our latest litter of Somali kittens - goodness help us when hers come along) and select a piece of paper to bring to us, demanding in her loudest voice that we throw it for her.
When we came to sell our Somali kittens a month after she arrived almost everyone who came to see the Somalis would have bought her as well - I guess I missed my chance there! At least two of those 5 owners, have asked if they can have a kitten when I mate her and another went out and booked a Black from another breeder - now that's personality plus!
We took her to Durham show when she was a day over four months and she behaved impeccably. She sat demurely in her pen during the morning and slept most of the afternoon and we thought "what a lovely little show cat we have here." Ha, Ha, what a joke! 2 months later we took her to Chester and North Wales and she yelled her head off all day, she grabbed everyone who stopped in front of her pen and the owner of the cat penned next door was lucky to have any blouse left by the end of the day, as Snickles kept grabbing at it every time she leaned towards her own cat! However, Northern Counties '93 is the show that will go down in history as "Black Saturday" - she had begun her first call on the Thursday and obviously she is not going to be the kind of cat who shows better when in call - she was furious! She nearly took the judge's finger off when her attention was distracted during judging and we heard her screaming from the other side of the hall when another judge took her out. I must say it was extremely kind of the almost finger off judge to put in her show report "rather upset, could not examine bite" - I would have thought "extremely obnoxious, nearly felt bite" would have been much more accurate! She yelled at everyone who went past, grabbed her "Do not Touch" notice, tore it into shreds and tossed it into the litter tray and didn't just chew her rosettes, she decimated them!!! At Carlisle she was fine - mouthy, in fact very mouthy, but back in her usual good spirits. However, at Edinburgh (which is a show most of us would like to forget!) she decimated the pen before judging even commenced and, during the afternoon, the lady whose cat (another Oriental!) was in the next pen said to me "By she's got a mouth on her, hasn't she!" and I just said "That's my Snickles!!!" By the time we left the show, she had hardly any voice left at all, she was as hoarse as a human with laryngitis.
Me, I just love her so much, I could eat her! I often call her my little bit of Black Magic, "the nigger in the woodpile" (she is the odd one out in our feline family), Mouth Almighty and, occasionally, the Black Bitch, but always with affection. I cannot walk past her without picking her up and kissing her, which of course she simply loves, but the ultimate accolade was when my son Iain, about 6 weeks after we bought her, said to me "Mum, if you had gone out deliberately to buy another Briagha, you couldn't have got one more like him than she is". I still miss Briagha naturally, he was very special to me, but the deep hurt has gone. I look at his pictures and watch him on our videos and smile to myself with my memories, but Snickles' personality is such that she has taken over and more than filled the crater in my heart and my sincerest thanks go to Margaret and Neville Gibbon for her.
So nowadays, when people ask me what cats have I got, I just say "I've got one Aby, three Somalis and an Oriental Loudmouth!"
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Unfortunately, Snickles was not a successful breeding queen and after 2 caesareans she was neutered. As a show cat, she was successful as a kitten, but her promise was never fulfilled when she matured and she just wasn't good enough to show. She suffered from what I referred to as "nice legs, shame about the face" syndrome. Her head just didn't develope correctly with maturity and she was rather short and, once neutered, fat to be a good Oriental show cat, but she had and still has the most fabulous coat I have ever seen on an Oriental. She is ebony black (so black she almost looks blue), her coat is short and solid black right to the roots, but good coat is not enough and so she became a much loved member of our family.
She no longer lives with us as she moved to live with our daughter in 1999, but she was in our home for 6 years. When our daughter married in 1998 she desperately wanted to have a cat, preferably two, as she had obviously been brought up with animals. We agreed that she should take Snickles and her daughter Kosta to live with her, as they had never been separated and had always got on so well together. Her temperament has never changed, she still loves to have her bottom slapped, still retrieves (as do all her children and grandchildren) and still demands all the attention possible! Obviously I still see these two lovely cats as members of my family because we see them so often.