Another animal story, but this one is highly confidential as it includes cruelty, identity theft, actual theft, kidnapping, lies, trickery, and deception. Tell no-one you have read this.
One day two summers ago, a cat walked in my front gate, proceeded up the long driveway, turned left at the pathway that leads to the front door and sat down on the front porch. I watched this happen through the front window and was strangely moved by the cat's nonchalant self-possession. It looked like it had been here before. But I was sure it hadn't.
I invited it inside. You don't usually invite cats, you just let them in. But this one had such a debonair personality I felt a more formal approach was appropriate. The cat accepted my invitation and marched in regally, walked to the kitchen and sat down expectantly at the refrigerator. This was a cat that knew what it wanted. I fed it.
The cat was a complete male, confident and fat and sleek with soft, small fold-over ears and shifty oriental eyes. Its coat was grey with stripes, and it had a white chest and an orange nose. It purred deeply. It had no name tag. I supposed its name would be Buster or Sam Spade or Mr Wilson or Hammer.
It came back the next day. I fed it again and gave it some milk. It slurped the milk noisily and sailed straight back to the front door without a backward glance and waited for me to open it. When I did, it walked away languidly like a diner leaving a French restaurant after having eaten a chateaubriand and drunk half a bottle of Beaujolais.
A few days later, a lady who lives a few doors away flittered past my house as I was collecting the mail. Have you seen a cat?, she asked. I've seen plenty in my time, I replied. This one is grey, she said. Yes, I've seen it, I said. I've fed it too. It visits me. I hope you don't mind. She didn't mind.
It gets out, she explained, a little unnecessarily. She told me its name was Fluffball. I felt a vague sense of disillusionment. Fluffball?
Summer passed and I didn't see Fluffball for a while. He reappeared one night in early winter. He had lost weight, and he limped, quite badly. He started visiting again, and still took food, eating lustily each time. He had developed a habit of head-butting me, a pokerfaced form of affection. He would stalk onto the verandah, head straight for my leg, lower his fat grey head with the floppy ears and ram me like a goat. And she calls him Fluffball? Ludicrous.
Months passed. He came and went. Then I had a visit from another neighbour. This other neighbour works in animal care. I knew what she wanted to talk about. She wanted to talk about Fluffball.
to be continued