Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Bloody hell it's cold. I know it's September and all, but come on. I mean, really.

Was snuggled up to at the team meeting yesterday. "For warmth" apparently. Hmm.

It's still about 4 weeks too early for the heating to get switched on at home but I might light the fire* tonight, and see if the chimney still works ok.

Thinking about mice made me think about our old house a lot yesterday, probably the first time in almost 6 years that I've given it much thought. Odd.

But, what I was reminded of was the "Accidental Cat Theft" story. Are you sitting comfortably?

One day I noticed a strange cat in our front garden. It was sat very still, looking as if it was in some discomfort. I went out and stroked it a bit, and felt that it was very skinny, so I took it out a little dish of milk.

I left it in peace and went back inside. Later on, I looked out and the cat had moved slightly so it was still sitting in the sun, but was now sitting with its tail in the dish of milk. Now I don't know a lot about cats, but I didn't think it was very well to be doing that.

Mr WithaY came out to have a look and agreed with my assessment that the cat was not right. His view was that we should leave it alone and it would wander home when it was ready.

I watched the cat for a while longer and eventually decided that we had to take it to the vet as it was obviously poorly. Mr WithaY agreed** so I wrapped the skinny mog in an old towel, we put it in the laundry basket and drove to the vet's.

The vet had a look and said "Oh dear. This cat is very old indeed, and is probably just waiting to die."

I was quite sad to hear this as I had already decided that if it survived I would keep it. The vet said she'd keep in in overnight, give it a few vitamin jabs and so on, and clean all the fleas and things off it, and if it made it through the night, she'd call me.

Mr WithaY then flew to Scotland for a week for work, and I went about my lawful business. When I got home from work the next night, one of the neighbours, the matriarch of the huge extended family who lived in the street (and several other surrounding streets) was stood in her front garden, looking troubled.

"Have you seen moi cat?" she demanded as soon as I got out of my car. (Uh-oh)

"Um, maybe. What does it look like?"

Visions of dozens of her scary relatives wielding pickaxe handles filled my brain momentarily.

"She's little. And grey. Moi cat sleeps on moi bed every noight. She din't come home last noight! Oi'm worried sick!" By now I had a very, very bad feeling about this.

"Um. I think I stole your cat. It's at the vet's. I'll call them. I'm really sorry, I thought it was a stray." Because it was skinny and covered in FLEAS you terrifying old crone.

I rang the vet. Thank fuck, the cat didn't die in the night. I told the vet I'd be sending the rightful owner over to pick it up as soon as possible, and went out to tell my neighbour the good news. That her cat wasn't dead, I mean. Not that I'd stolen it. She knew that already.

Scary neighbour duly retrieved her cat, but then came round waving the vet's bill at me. "Oi've got this huge bill now! Oi'm an old age pensioner you know!"

I took it off her and exercised all my considerable natural charm to assure her I'd pay the vet's bill (if you tell your terrifying family not to come and burn my house down, ta). Sent the cheque to the vet, and then had an outraged phone call from them.

"I can't believe she's making you pay this bill! Her cat was neglected! I've got a good mind to call the RSPCA! etc etc etc".

I begged the vet not to do that (visions of a wicker man being built on my front lawn had started forming in my mind's eye by now) and eventually the vet hung up, very grumpy.

An hour later there was a knock on the front door. I opened it gingerly, expecting pitchforks and blazing torches, but there were several of the less scary relatives with a huge bunch of flowers for me "for saving our Nan's cat". Aaah.

And two days later I got my cheque back from the vet's with a lovely note saying they were going to pay it themselves as they felt it was unfair to take my money. Aaah.

However, the whole experience left me scarred.

House policy now is that if we ever see an animal sitting in the garden for more than 10 minutes we're to hit it with a shovel and lob it over the fence.

*not a euphamism. We have a fire in the sitting room. In case you were wondering.

**reluctantly, mind. Not a cat person.

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