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Author Topic: Farewell Sunny the Cat  (Read 3500 times)

Paul Cumbleton

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Farewell Sunny the Cat
« on: June 20, 2015, 04:42:01 PM »
Any regular visitors to Wisley over the years, or readers of the Log, would remember with fondness Sunny, the cat who lived in the Alpine Department. I sadly have to report that Sunny passed away this week. In her old age she had retired from Wisley to be loved and cared for by Chloe Wells, one of the Alpine Team, at her home. Around 20 years old when she died, she had had a good, long life for a cat. As well as missing Sunny, we should also spare a thought for Chloe who is clearly most upset after being Sunny's adoring carer for these past few years.

Paul
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Maggi Young

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2015, 05:02:27 PM »
My word, yes, Chloe will be most distressed at the loss of her  old friend. I am sure I am not alone in always having enjoyed seeing Sunny pop up - or lie snoozing - in photos from Wisley over the years and there will be many who actually "met" her.  She had indeed had a good long life and earned her status as a famous veteran of Wisley. How kind of Chloe to have given her a pleasant retirement.
Paul, I hope you will pass on our best regards to Chloe, in thanks for her kindness and in recognition of her loss?
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


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Lesley Cox

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2015, 11:38:23 PM »
That is very sad news but given Sunny's ripe old age, not unexpected I suppose. Chloe will be feeling horrible as one does in these circumstances but she has the knowledge that Sunny's long life was enriched and enhanced by their time together. From the picture above, it would be hard to imagine a more contented cat. I hope the time of her passing was as warm and sunny as her name.
Lesley Cox - near Dunedin, lower east coast, South Island of New Zealand - Zone 9

Greenmanplants

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2015, 05:21:49 PM »
I know I have some pictures somewhere of Sunny....as I recall was she not one of two who used to loiter, basking on the plant bench without disturbing any plants! She always had a welcome for anyone who took the time to scratch her head.
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Ziria

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2015, 11:20:07 PM »
I was very sorry to hear that Sunny the Cat had died back in June; she’d had quite an innings. I was there the morning two kittens were spotted in the Model  Vegetable  Garden when the Rock Garden staff were arriving for work.
Two tabby and white kittens were found in the Tomato Greenhouse and were brought through to the Rock Garden Shed. The mother had managed to escape capture at the time; luckily the two were old enough to leave her anyway. It was a gorgeous sunny day, so Gill Skilton AKA “Skilts” named Sunny after the weather and Tommy after the Tomatoes where he was discovered. (Skilts was one of the staff members who built up the bulb collection from scratch in the late eighties and nineties).
It was the period when Arthur “Dead” Cat had gone into retirement due to old age, living with Annie from the Dept.  in her Garden Flat. The Curator, Jim Gardiner, had a deputation arrive at his office to ask if the two kittens could stay and much to everyone’s surprise, he said “Yes”.
A plague of voles or shrews had been ravaging the Alpine Section, probably due to the fact Arthur “Dead” Cat wasn’t about. A firm of pest control had failed to get a grip on the problem; weasels had even been seen amongst the pans in the Alpine House hunting the rodents much to the horror of visitors. A few weeks after the kittens were adopted and allowed to roam, the department was free of the pesky rodents and the cats started to spread their wings, looking for prey in other areas of Wisley Garden.
I came into work one Sunday morning and was immediately met by a weird sight; Tommy the Cat by now nearing a year old, was covered in pond mud with his collar rammed into his mouth, held firmly in place by a front leg stuck inside the contraption. He had obviously been hunting by the pools, had gone in after his prey and failed miserably in the attack. Somehow he had got back to the frameyard but had he not been found I doubt if he would have lasted much longer. Cleaned up and fed, he was almost back to normal the next day, one life gone and a propensity for using them up. Some years later he was found run over on the concrete road near the exit by the tiny house, the “Wren’s Nest”.
Sunny has probably been photographed by visitors from all around the world, sometimes she turns up in far flung websites etc. Her Mother was finally caught up with at the end of the year. She had been seen moving kittens towards Weather Hill Cottage, the Curator’s Office at the time. Christmas came and no sign of them anywhere, all was locked up and left for the holiday. On our return there was still no sign of the stray cat and her kittens, then Marion (in charge of the Seed Department) suddenly had an idea. The old garage which was now used for storage was re-opened; Marion ploughed through the sea of boxes and finally found three kittens and mother at the far end. They had been locked up for days but Marion and her department soon had them back in good condition. Aya, a Japanese student named the mother cat “Yuki”, Japanese for snow as she was mostly white. The three new kittens were homed, one to a member of the Trials Dept, two went to a staff member in Weather Hill Cottage and the mother went to a lady working in the bookshop.
Arthur, had turned up as a young neutered cat in the late1970’s, one observer had seen him crossing the footbridge over the A3 leaving the defunct Wisley Airfield behind him. Arthur Turner worked on the Glass House Department and initially took the young cat under his wing, the cat was later named after him. Arthur was mostly black with some white markings and similar in habit to Sunny, he would appreciate attention from visitors during the day.
Arthur’s system for being fed was never realised until quite late in his life. He would arrive at mess rooms around the garden when staff were eating, looking extremely hungry, so sandwiches were shared and cat food was brought in especially for him. Not only did he visit all the garden staff but it was later discovered that he’d found the bookshop and plant centre staff were a source of food too, along with visitors, especially around the restaurant area.
Arthur helped keep the number of rabbits down, he would catch young ones and eat them. Once devoured, Arthur became comatose and slept off his meal almost anywhere in the garden. It was a very deep sleep and staff were constantly being told there was a dead cat in the garden. When visitors were informed it wasn’t dead they became quite indignant, “We’ve prodded it but it doesn’t move!” came the reply. This could happen numerous times a day at the weekends, many a time I had to get Arthur in a standing position and push him forwards, making sure the visitor/s observed the two leg movements before he collapsed again to continue sleeping. His favourite spot for a rabbit induced nap was on top of a cushion plant just inside the landscaped alpine house, before it was refurbished. A Scleranthus if I remember correctly, the plant had the sunken impression of a cat permanently on show. The plant never seemed to mind its sleeping companion and never died. Arthur was even older than Sunny when he finally passed away, well into his twenties.
We’ve found this old photo, “Happy Days – Sunny and Tommy patrolling the Rock Garden”.


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Maggi Young

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2015, 12:23:05 PM »
My, what a really lovely memory  of the Wisley Cats!  Thank you so much!
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!


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Paul Cumbleton

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2015, 04:31:48 PM »
Thank you so much for sharing this - not only are these lovely memories to remind me of Tommy & Sunny, but you have filled in quite a bit of the history that I didn't know. Arthur was before my time at Wisley but I had heard a few tales about him from Gill Skilton.

You mentioned weasels and I remember one morning coming into the potting shed to find Sunny with a dead weasel in her mouth. That must have been an interesting fight, pity I missed all but the outcome. Sunny had a favourite spot in the Alpine house that, like Arthur of old, also produced a plant with a permanent indentation - in this case a Raoulia. She also had a love of Teucrium subspinosum, to which she reacted as if it were catnip, going into an ecstasy. My own cat at home reacted the same way to this plant.

Anyway, happy memories, thank you so much!!!

Paul
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Naoto The Zombie

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2016, 08:45:23 PM »
R.I.P.....I wish I could have met her Sunny in person.  :'(
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astragalus

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Re: Farewell Sunny the Cat
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2016, 12:19:41 PM »
I met Sunny, although I didn't know her name, during a visit to Wisley on the pre-Nottingham Tour.  She was sunning herself on a raised bed outside the glass-covered tufa garden.  She was so sleek and well cared for and so at home in her surroundings that I had to take some pictures.  I hope Chloe has some comfort from how much Sunny seemed to enjoy her long life.
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