THE CAT/THE**~@ **^@# CAT.
Father, mother and nan were in conclave. We had mice. Up went the white smoke. A solution! We need a cat. See dad’s cousin Sam.
The tame household pet
Cousin Sam duly responded, arriving
the next Sunday evening bearing a cardboard box heaving ominously. Dad opened the top carefully. At first all was quiet but then exploded out a spitting, clawing, totally malevolent ball of fury. It streaked around the room looking for an escape. Finding none
in the kitchen it shot into the scullery and under the frame of mum’s ringer, defying anyone to even approach it, let alone get it out. It was The Cat.
First to find his voice was Sam…”I know my mate found the litter in a field but he reckoned they were tame!”
“Tame be buggered!” exclaimed dad, It’s bloody feral! “Take you that thing back!”
Awkward pause, but who was going near it? Nanny to the rescue…” At least it would be a good mouser! Why don’t we keep it until the morning and give it a chance to settle down? Leave it a saucer of milk…”
Good idea-in theory! Next morning we looked into the scullery to find the lace curtains hanging in ribbons. The Cat had tried to make good its escape by clawing its way up them and getting out of the window. It had failed and was now seething with rage in its hide out. All we could do was open the back door, poke at it with a stick and leave it to its on devices, sink or swim.
It shot out in a streak of black and white fur. We heard no more of it for two whole days until the sound of a scratching at the window. The Cat had returned, demanding entry. He had even brought a peace offering- a rat he had mauled about killed. He was let in, the rat stayed out!
He came into the kitchen, gave it (and us) an airy inspection before doing us a favour by stretching out in front of the range.
The Cat's Philosophy of Life
It gave us the opportunity to look at him. He was black and white, muscular thin and we got the first hint of his simplified view of life…”The Three F’s”… you either Fed on it, Fought it, or F***k*d it. He was already missing part of an ear, the end of his tail and a slash scar across his nose. (I suspect that the latter was self inflicted to make himself look hard. If he could have got tattooed and picked up a small enough German helmet, his preferred image would have been complete). To avoid confusion, his notional name was “Tommy” but he became simply The Cat, with a gap for any victim to add a suitable word beginning with “B” or “F” between “The” and “Cat”
Ownership and Paternity suits
There thus began a crime sheet to rival that of the Krays. We soon noticed that he would disappear for indeterminate periods of time but to where? The mystery was solved in a post office queue. Mum was talking with a lady from along our passage who happened
to say she had taken in a stray cat. “He’s a black and white Tom, lost a bit of an ear. Scar across his nose. He int half got an appetite!”
At which point, the lady standing behind them broke in, “If you don’t mind, that is our cat. We took him in to feed him. Comes round regular ‘ee does for a good feed up, poor little mite!”
With the mystery solved, mum made a strategic exit.
Then paternity complaints started. Litters of distinctly uniform black and white kittens began to appear in rapid succession. By now traced to us, there were all manner of Ugly Threats levelled at The Cat. These involved sharp knives not necessarily wielded by a vet.
Clearly sensing that there was something in the air, The Cat seemingly took a three week vacation.
No sooner had he returned, however, than the Great Jackdaw scandal broke. Neighbours three houses along had captured a jackdaw, imaginatively called “Jackie” and were attempting to teach it to talk. One morning they found the cage open with only a few feathers remaining. The neighbour naturally blamed The Cat and came round to remonstrate with dad. Not a wise thing to do.
“And where’s your proof?” dad demanded, “Got any witnesses?” Receiving no reply, dad went on the offensive, “Well then, put up or shut up you kipper.” “What do you mean kipper?” the neighbour whimpered.
“You’re a Grimsby man aren’t you and you’re all alike…two-faced and gutless!” All the time, there was dad gently kicking a pile of black feathers out of sight behind our dust bin. The Cat sat watching, imperturbable and enjoying the proceedings.
Sadly his next exploit was an horrendous injury. He came back one night demanding to be let in. It looked as if he had been hit by a car so badly that a leg was cut to the bone. Once in, he dived under the wringer stand and refused to let anyone help him. All he needed was milk and the copy of the Daily Mail dad bought him specially to crap on. All The Cat did was lick the wound and within three weeks it was better but with a romantic scar as a further attraction to his lady friends.
"Ride him cowboy!"
Once again mobile he went about his old illicit ways. One night we kids were playing on the road when there was a fearsome and terrified barking from the nearby passageway. Suddenly a large and clearly terrified dog appeared running for its life…but on its back, riding like a jockey, was The Cat! His claws were well dug in as the dog roared round in circles to cries of “Ride him Cowboy!” from my contemporaries, before making off down Trafalgar road and tearing off round into Danby Road at a fast rate of knots.
The dog was never seen again, but The Cat was, having now developed an insolent, all-conquering strut- or could it have been the aftermath of his leg wound?
On the positive side, however, even his most vehement critics had to admit he was a first class mouse and rat-catcher- certainly more efficient than “Sergeant Roedean” the council pest exterminator and he did not drink.
A very embarrassing moment
Then came a Very Embarrassing Moment. Failing to look where I was flopping down, I sat on him. He sprang up outraged at such an affront to his dignity. He made for the door throwing curses over his shoulder as he went.
I should have been on my guard. This was a cat that enjoyed revenge as a dish served cold.
I was then at an age to show an increasing interest in girls and inveigled one of them home for Sunday tea. Mum was out the back preparing the traditional salad, I was plotting how to get my evil way, when in walked The Cat.
He sized the situation up instantly. Sensing our adolescent awkwardness and fear of embarrassment, he deliberately sat down on the rug in front of the fire. With a dreadful leer he raised his hind leg then slowly and luxuriously began to lick his Naughty Bits! As intended, we died a silent death. He then wisely absented himself for a few days.
As time went on, however, That Cat developed cult status. His fecundity became a source of neighbourhood pride as increasingly more households claimed ownership and provided homes for the swelling number of black and white cats.
Sadly his career was brought to an untimely end by a motor car. Now getting on in years, The Cat’s eyesight was beginning to fail him. I found him dead by the side of the road. Carrying him home on my hand cart for a decent burial I pictured him crossing the road having found a compliant female when the accident occurred. His mind had clearly been elsewhere…
I later saw his end rather like that wished for by many a human male…to live to 120 and then get shot by a jealous husband.