Black and white cat Molly looking up at camera

Stray cat turned lockdown companion

Amanda and Molly looking to camera
Amanda fostered Molly when the first lockdown hit

Sometimes the best things come along when you least expect them. And when Amanda Hartley welcomed Molly into her home, little did she know how much the “tatty stray with stained paws” would become part of her life.

Back in March at the beginning of the first national lockdown, Amanda offered herself as a cat fosterer to Blue Cross.

Two days later, 15-year-old Molly arrived at her home in Witney, Oxfordshire, from our rehoming centre nearby, in Burford.

Amanda, who lives alone and had never fostered before, said: “Here was this 15-year-old, tatty, stray cat with a ripped ear, damaged eye, knotted fur and stained yellow paws.

“I’d been warned, and fully expected, Molly to be nervous in her new surroundings, so I provided her with her own bedroom; a place where she could feel safe when she arrived. I left her exploring under the bed but minutes later she surprised me by coming out of the room wanting strokes and cuddles.”

Since then, Molly has continued to provide Amanda with love and companionship and rarely leaves her side.

Amanda, who is half American and in her 30s, said: “Just at the start of lockdown I received a call to say my grandfather in the US had died.

“I was very sad not to be able to travel over to be with my grandmother and family and provide support. It was very tough to deal with as due to lockdown, there was to be no proper funeral either. That was hard to get my head around.

“Molly came along and she has been a real comfort. If she’s not sleeping, she’s following me around everywhere, snuggling against me or climbing all around me when I’m doing my physio exercises. I fell in love! A little lonely in lockdown and mourning my grandpa’s death, I realised I needed her as much as she needed me.

Molly taking a snooze

Molly met Amanda’s family and boyfriend over Facetime or Zoom calls during the lockdown.

“I’d described Molly to my sister, and she told me: ‘She sounds just like you Amanda’ and I agree she has so many traits that are like me. Really loving and playful, sometimes a little needy, but with a feisty side.”

Usually a super active and social person, lockdown coupled with debilitating sciatica had also left Amanda feeling down and lonely.

But Molly was by her side - even for home physio and exercise sessions, as she worked to get the painful condition under control.

Amanda giving Molly a kiss on the head
Amanda soon realised she needed Molly just as much as the stray cat needed her.

"Molly is there wanting my attention, rolling around under me as I do press ups or chasing my toes when I do certain Pilates moves," Amanda said.

“When you’re having to work from home on your own it can get lonely. I’m used to seeing lots of people day to day. Seeing people baking with their families on social media, with lots of children keeping them busy, made me feel lonely. It’s so quiet in my flat and days feel a bit odd when you’re a people person. Molly has been such a great companion.”

Amanda, who grew up with animals, moved back to Oxfordshire from London a few years ago, seeking quiet and to save up for a home of her own.

“Once I moved here, I thought about a cat or dog, but the timing wasn’t right, my place needed some renovation work at the start and then with me being out at work each day, I just didn’t pursue it.

“When Molly came along, I didn’t expect to keep her, I just wanted to help Blue Cross during lockdown, but I don’t think I realised I needed her as much as she needed me!

Molly laying on grass in the sunshine
Amanda says Molly is 'so loveable and playful'

“Her personality is just so adorable. She's playful, cute and very loveable. She’s so fluffy now. I’ve cut away and brush out a lot of her knotted fur, and gradually her grubby, stained yellow paws are turning back to white.

“She loves the sunshine, curling up and rolling around in whichever is the warmest spot, at different times of day. I could see how happy she was to have a home of her own.

“She’s not interested in playing with any cables or clothes if they’re lying around. I think one of the great things about older cats is that they’re quite content to lounge around, have some cuddles, chase some toys before snuggling up for a nap again – she loves her room which I call Molly’s Room – she goes in there often to sleep.

“When Blue Cross called me to ask whether I would like to keep her it was actually my birthday, and it was a no brainer. I couldn’t bear the idea of being parted from Molly.

“It’s the weirdest thing not knowing anything about her past life, she is just so loveable and playful for a 15-year-old cat, but I do know her future is here with me.”

Molly exploring garden
— Page last updated 08/02/2021