The first time I met him, he was sitting by my windowsill, staring out into my garden. He seemed quite confident for one who had not been invited in. It’s in my nature to think the best of everyone, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt, and thought he must have just lost his way – ending up in my house. With no great ceremony, I picked him up and took him back to the garden.
Then I looked at our two cats. Why had they not noticed this intruder?
They were both about 18 years old. One of them blind and deaf, the other still able to work out when it was tea time, but neither had felt up to challenging this enormous grey cat.
We did not see him again for ages. Not until the aged pair were in their last weeks. Then suddenly he turned up regularly, snatching their uneaten food and departing at leisure unless he was spotted.
When my two tabbies had given their all, and passed on, I was momentarily uncertain what to do with their remaining catfood. That’s how it all started, I guess.
Soon we found him sitting by our pond, watching the fish, on a regular basis. Like a fool, he seemed the perfect solution to the leftover food. He never stayed for long, rarely wanted to come in, now the old cats had gone, but always brought with him a few twigs or leaves woven into his coat.
I took to brushing him and he soon became glossy but the matted quality of his fur, meant several arguments between the two of us as to how long he was prepared to put up with a grooming session. At times he would lie on his back and kick hard with his back feet: then you had to beware, or carry his badge of a long scratch along an arm!
Sometimes he wanted to sit on an armchair, but only if we left the door to the garden open. As soon as it closed he stood up and demanded an exit. For weeks on end he failed to turn up at all. I missed my old cats; the house seemed empty without them, but this massive grey cat neither belonged nor settled with us.
“It’s no good,” I said, “I want more cats.” I phoned round and found two kittens, brought them home straight away, even though we had builders in and it was hardly the best time for little kittens.
Just as soon as the kittens came home, the big grey turned up again. More determined this time, confident to prowl through the house, stay for longer. The cat with no name was so dignified, so aloof that we began to call him ‘Mr’: short, of course, for Mr Cat. “This is crazy,” I moaned to John, “I didn’t want three cats. He must belong to someone…”
So we made notices, asked around. Everyone seemed to know who I was talking about. He’d been seen in lots of people’s gardens, but no one knew where he came from. An idea struck: maybe he had a mircochip. Just over the road is a vet who could check.
Sure enough, the chip revealed he lived just around the corner from us. We knocked; no answer. We tried the next day and the next, until after a week, I despaired.
“One last try, Mr.” Bingo!
His name was Simba, he lived with three other cats and a baby of about 2 years (and a couple with an 11 year old) He did not like the baby, who rode him like a horse. He did not like the third cat who had joined the family in the past year. I could have him if I liked.
Outraged, I came home. I could have him if I liked? Didn’t they care? That’s how Mr joined our family. Clearly he felt at home when other cats were around. I wish you could have seen him when he first realised we had the kittens. One was asleep in John’s lap and Mr came in, barging in to sit in prime position, he simply didn’t notice the little ball of fur, until he sniffed and sniffed and nosed the kitten into movement. The ensuing hiss was incredibly alarming, although no fur was ruffled, our nerves were!
Mr made friends with the builders, all of whom greeted him each morning. After the hissing incident, and knowing his sudden rage, if we so much as stroked him the wrong way, we decided to separate him from the kittens initially. Mr still disappeared for a day at a time, but now always turned up for tea!
So that was it! Three cats!