The Story of Satine, My Cheshire Cat
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
― Christian Moulin Rouge
Satine – of French origin.
Satine – the name of Nicole Kidman’s character in Moulin Rouge, is, by definition beautiful, satiny, smooth.
So, this is where I found “THE” Cheshire Cat, or more appropriately, “MY Cheshire Cat.”
I moved from New York to the United Kingdom in September of 2005 for a new job assignment. I was beyond excited, but needed time to settle into my new country, new job and new surroundings, as well as to find a place I could call my new home. My new world was in a town called Altrincham in Cheshire County in the UK. Yes, the first thing that comes to mind is “is this where the famous CHESHIRE CAT originated?” Being most curious, I needed to find out first hand for myself. It took me some time to get settled, but once I did, my mission was clear. I recognized I was mostly happy, except there was a big void in my life: I needed animals in my world. You see, I was born and raised with, and surrounded by dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, steer, cows, birds and you name it. So, I set off one day all full of hope from my flat located at a historical property called “The Sycamores” to find my purrfect Cheshire Cat.
Upon arrival at the Peggy Henderson Society for Abandoned Animals, I was a bit nervous and apprehensive. I did not want to get my hopes up, but I also wanted to find a little companion that would complete me. I felt something in my heart that told me she was there waiting for me and I would find her. I am not sure why I knew it would be a “her” but something intuitively told me I needed a girl kitty to bond with.
She, (soon to become named as “SATINE”) was not a cat I would have typically picked. In fact, she was the complete opposite. Perhaps that is what made her all the more special in the end. I walked up and down the aisles of cages, peeking in to catch a glimpse of the kitties they had up for adoption. I did not feel any connection until I saw this pile of black and white fluff all curled up on a perch. It intrigued me so. Upon closer examination, I realized she was not truly white and black; rather she was layers of colors, the most beautiful colors I had ever seen. The colour I had originally assumed to be pure black was actually a variation best described as a rich chocolate, velvety Sable with black highlights. There she was on her perch, curled up sleeping but all I could see was long, rich, perfect fluffy beautiful fur. Black & White I said to myself? Hmmm. But, she looks regal and royal and special and ALOOF! She picked up her head briefly and gave me “the look,” the “Cat-ti-tude” look with her big green-gold speckled eyes that said “I really cannot be bothered with you right now, but perhaps I could try to make an effort…”
The shelter assistant asked me if I wanted to see her and I said yes, if you can possibly wake her up from her nap. Well, it took a little prodding but after a bit of fussing about and stretching she came out of her cage and she gave me another look, a look that could kill, while she gently rubbed up against my legs, as if she was testing me to see if we were a good fit. Her actions, full of contradiction, intrigued me. As if to say, “well you awoke me from my nap,it had better be for something good.” And I looked into those beautiful green-gold eyes and knew instantly that I was in love, she had already stolen my heart. She was deceptively petite and graceful, covered by layers of full, long beautiful fur and the biggest white “putty” taws I had ever seen! She was also full of confidence, grace and independence – a reflection of myself. She was a survivor as she had been found picking food out of a trash bin, scrawny and desperate. A local family noticed her and called the rescue society. I asked the assistant how old she was and she said, “we think about 3 years, and she seems to be growing each week.” Well, I knew instantly if she grew into those big paws I would be in a great deal of trouble for sure! I had never seen or imagined paws so big on such a sophisticated, beautiful cat. Those paws had big beautiful tufts of extra fur, making her more special.
At one point, she walked away from me and she exposed her “pantaloons” on her back legs that were to be admired. Oh how lovely they were, all white and full as could be. She walked like a lady too, a lady of high society and sophistication. She carried her tail very high, just as she carried her head. I immediately filled out the adoption form and as the shelter had given her a completely unflattering name, I knew immediately I must change it to give her a proper name that screamed aristocracy. SATINE!
I named her SATINE. Pronounced “Sah-Teen.” As in SATINE from Moulin Rouge starring Nicole Kidman. She was that beautiful and precious and she deserved it. And she knew it. She was worth her weight in GOLD and DIAMONDS. ALL 14 lbs. of her!
In 2005, I re-located back to the US and Satine came with me. She was a trooper and handled the long flight across the Atlantic as well as US Customs and ultimately endured two more flights to reach our final destination, San Francisco.
She was quite the character and everyone who met Satine adored her. She was a very sociable cat, often the life of the party at the many get togethers with friends I hosted while living in Nob Hill. Her soft taps on my nose with her paw each morning to wake me up were absolutely precious. No matter what time day or night when I would arrive home, Satine was sitting in the window looking down and the instant she saw me come through the gated entrance, she would run to the front door and greet me with her soft meows. Satine always spent her afternoons napping in the sun in her favorite red silk chair.
Satine died suddenly of heart failure on August 2nd, 2010. She will forever be missed and always in my heart. My home is full of Memory Hearts to remind me everyday how very special and beautiful she was, as well as to cherish the unconditional love and joy she brought to my life. She was and is my inspiration for all of the volunteer animal rescue work I do and in creating this company.
About the Society for Abandoned Animals History
The Society for Abandoned Animals was originally established in 1966 by Peggy Henderson and her colleagues to deal with the large numbers of animals displaced by the housing clearance in the Hulme area of Manchester, United Kingdom. Peggy’s aim and that of her friends and local residents was to find new, permanent and loving homes for the homeless animals. In 1994, the Society for Abandoned Animals relocated to a larger facility, Mosley Acre Farm in Cheshire, United Kingdom and was re-named as “The Peggy Henderson Animal Sanctuary.”