by Mandy Kerr
I knew that today was going to be one of ‘those’ days when I ran headlong towards the cat-flap and stopped short as another pair of eyes stared back at me through the cloudy plastic. I jumped back in surprise, my fur instantly bushing out. I’m aware it’s not my best look, and I’m pretty sure it’s not fooling anyone into believing I’m a large, ferocious predator, but it’s all I’ve got.
The eyes blinked slowly, curiously back at me. Deep jade, ringed with black and surrounded by long dark lashes.
I retreated to a sunny spot on the patio to take stock, and mulled over the facts I knew to be true in my world; at night I patrolled my area, warning off would be interlopers and half-heartedly looking for mice. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what I’d do if I caught one, I was rarely hungry and put myself firmly in the ‘I’m a lover not a fighter’ camp. A further truth to be told was that I wasn’t doing too well in the lover stakes either. In the morning I always came back for breakfast and the cat flap always afforded me entry. I always finished off my human’s cereal and always sat helpfully on her laptop at the table when she was working because I knew she really appreciated my support. It was one small thing I could do to repay my board and lodging.
I scanned the small courtyard garden which was my territory and domain. It had recently been renovated, and my humans had placed fragrant pots, strung fairy lights, erected an arbour and created a grotto which although pretty during the day, transformed into a twinkling, magical oasis at night. It made me feel quite peaceful and Zen chilling on the squishy cushions, the tinkling of water and the soft amber glow from the lanterns lulling me to sleep. One ear always open of course, after all it was my job to protect my home. The thought of my home snapped me awake, not that I’d been asleep of course, just resting my eyes for a bit. I was shut out and it was time for breakfast!
There was movement inside the kitchen and seconds later the back door opened. I tentatively crossed the threshold. So far today nothing was happening to plan and I was very wary about what might be in store next. I was relieved to see that my human was in the kitchen. That was something normal at least. But I was not relieved to see what she was holding. It was the owner of the jade eyes, a slim, caramel-coloured, exotic looking creature who was gazing down at me as if in triumph. That is how I perceived it anyway.
“Simon, meet Purdey; we’ve adopted her from a rescue centre and she’s coming to stay with us. It’ll be nice for you to have a playmate won’t it?”
She put Purdey into a basket on the floor and bent to pick me up. I was seriously displeased to say the least at this point, and in no mood for a cuddle, so I slunk under the table and crouched there growling. I was aware that I was being a bit petulant, but you have to draw the line somewhere or before you know it your home could be awash with waifs and strays of all varieties. I was drawing my line right here, right now.
I protested further over the next few days by refusing to eat, but soon realised that I was only really punishing myself. Not my human, who carried on eating her cereal in the mornings, and certainly not Purdey, who tucked in with gusto a few feet away from where I’d ensconced myself under the table.
The line I’d drawn begun to blur. Purdey was gentle and sweet-natured, and tried to approach me with a hopeful look in her green eyes, but I turned my back and grumbled to myself under my breath about personal space and boundaries.
A few evenings later I became aware of frantic activity going on around the chair I was curled up on. I’d surrendered my defensive kitchen table position by now. If I was going to protest, it may as well be from a position of comfort. The humans were calling Purdey’s name and searching the rooms of the house. Maybe she’s given up trying to be friends I thought, and moved out. To a friendlier, more welcoming household, to somewhere she has a playmate to pass the long hours with. I thought of my solitary existence, patrolling and sleeping, sleeping and patrolling, and felt a twinge deep in my chest.
I wandered into the grotto to take stock once more. I found it much easier to think out here; it was a good stock-taking environment. It wasn’t long before a plaintive mewing reached me. I recognised that voice. It was sweet but scared and the strange chest twinge thing happened again. I knew my territory like the back of my paw, so it wasn’t long before I identified the source of the sound. I approached the storage shed at the back of the grotto and peered through a crack in the door. It was piled high with junk; old deckchairs, a barbecue, a folded-up table tennis table, one bat long lost, the other now shrouded in webs on the floor. Purdey was quivering in the corner, a deckchair having fallen over and wedged the door closed. But I knew all the nooks and crannies in my homestead and wriggled my way under the shed and up through a broken floorboard. I emerged, dusty, dishevelled and probably not looking my best, but feeling heroic. I looked into jade green eyes which reflected gratitude and relief and as we wandered back to sit together in the grotto, transformed and magical now that night had fallen, the twinge in my chest swelled.
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