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Me and My Pet - Sharon Longcroft

PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 February 2017

Sharon relaxes with Moth after a long day in the shop

Sharon relaxes with Moth after a long day in the shop

Archant

Boroughbridge shop owner Sharon Longcroft feels lucky to have such characterful animals in her life.

Fabulous Flossie and Gretchen – black and white chickens with colourful personalitiesFabulous Flossie and Gretchen – black and white chickens with colourful personalities

My love of cats started when I was adopted by a lovely black and white cat with four ears (from fighting). He was called Maxi and lived next door to me when I was nine. Feeling honoured to have been chosen, we became great pals until we sadly had to move a couple of years later and he decided not to come with us.

As I was brought up in pubs, our home life wasn’t a great environment for animals so I had to make do with my father’s tropical fish until, in my mid-twenties, I was able to find a friendly landlord who let me have a very fluffy golden hamster called Edie (after my paternal grandmother). A delightful, low maintenance pet, her only real excitement came from disappearing behind the back of the gas fire, emerging unscathed four days later.

Following a succession of wonderful characterful cats, including tiny, timid Lily, Coronation Street-watching Cleo and a high maintenance tabby called Flake from London, I wasn’t able to have any pets due to work commitments. Then I met Hugh and moved to Boroughbridge.

His first pets, by contrast, were a huge Doberman pincher called Inca and a Siamese cat called Tunku (an Asian word for princess). When he and his family lived in Ireland in the 1970s they had a menagerie of cats after Ming and Chiang had several litters. The whole family, cats, kittens and an Alsatian included, could often been seen travelling through Ireland in their caravan during the summer holidays.

Stanley returns from one of his long weekends awayStanley returns from one of his long weekends away

Our life together has always featured cats, including the rather possessive Lara who ninja’d me when she thought I might be ‘taking her man’, as well as the lovable Pepper and Floyd.

We currently have two cats and two chickens. Stanley is a mixed heritage runt of the litter who we call our ‘Northern Soul Boy’ due to his regular disappearances on Friday and Saturday. He is a proper boy cat though, defending the house and eating everything in sight, including the occasional bowl of cream.

Moth, on the other hand, loves to be indoors with as much attention as possible. She refuses to eat meat, preferring biscuits and gravy but, unfortunately, likes catching beautiful butterflies in the summer to bring in as ‘presents’. We call her ‘Strawberry Champagne Truffle’ because of the lovely pink minky tone to her fur. Perhaps this is what inspired Hugh to actually pick up some of the very same chocolates on his travels to stock in our shop.

I find it very relaxing to sit with the cats on my lap after a long day and maybe even watch the odd nature programme, which the cats enjoy as well.

Our chickens Flossie and Gretchen were a birthday present from Hugh five years ago. White and black light Sussex hens, they make me smile every day as I watch them lifting up their bloomers to run around the garden. They’re also brilliant at eating up any leftover fruit or veg from the shop.

I think Hugh might be hankering after a dog but, for me, the fact that cats are so independent makes them the ideal pets to fit in with our busy retail life.

Sharon Longcroft and Hugh Fink run fine food shop Fink and chocolate boutique Sweet Fink on Boroughbridge High Street. For details, visit thinkfink.co.uk

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