Alas, dear readers, this week’s column is even more cat than usual. In fact, it is all cat. This is the story of a cat and two couples who were long-time friends and next door neighbours. If it weren’t true, it could make its way into a children’s story book. Some names may, or may not, have been changed, in order to protect the cat and the four individuals involved – none of whom are innocent!
The setting is a large town in England. Westmeath man, Sean, is married to Englishwoman Kathy (this may not be her real name, but she spells it with a “K”). Kathy, like many English people is an avid animal lover. Sean and Kathy’s next door neighbours were (note “were”!) another English couple called Ron and Anne. (These are their real names, as this column has nothing to fear from Ron or Anne)
Ron and Anne owned a huge tom-cat, whose name has not been released to this column – so we shall just call him Tom. Kathy and Tom struck up a beautiful friendship, on account of her English-style hospitality – feeding cats.
One evening the door-bell rang and Sean answered the door. It was Ron and Sean was surprised when he declined the invitation to come in. Ron had a complaint to make: Both he and Anne – especially Anne, he was at pains to point out, were upset because they felt that, as Tom’s owners, their role was being undermined by Kathy feeding Tom.
Anne suspected that Kathy was attempting to entice Tom away from his lawful family, Ron concluded, apologetically, as English people do. Sean did not wish to get heavily involved and he also needed time to think, but he knew this was a big one. He did say, however, that it was the custom in Ireland, that when a visitor called at meal-times, they always shared a bit of what was going.
Ron was too much of a gentleman to point out that this wasn’t Ireland, but he did ask that the custom be discontinued where Tom was concerned – and Sean said he would talk to Kathy. Good neighbourly relations were restored – for the time being!
Tom couldn’t take the new arrangement at all, at all. He continued to visit, meowing and pleading with his eyes, which never left Kathy. After ignoring him for several days, Kathy’s soft heart got the better of her hard head and Tom began to receive the odd tasty morsel, on the sly! Now Tom was totally confused. The fact that rations were restricted, caused him to spend even more time in the wrong yard, begging pitifully from Kathy.
Then Anne caught Kathy feeding Tom and as they say, ‘all hell broke loose’! The previous six years of warm neighbourly relations just counted for nothing.
A week later, Sean could not believe his eyes, when a large ‘FOR SALE” sign went up on the house next door. It ruffled him a bit that the guy who previously couldn’t drive a nail without asking his opinion, now moved house without even waiting for the sale to be completed or mentioning the fact. Ah well, at least the problem of the cat was solved and he had managed to remain fairly neutral in this tragic love triangle.
But the problem was not solved. Kathy missed Tom! ‘Happy wife – happy life’ thought Sean, and like all good husbands, he searched his brain, till he arrived at a solution. He would buy Kathy a cat of her own!
Perusing through the local newspaper, Sean settled into ‘pets’ on the classified page. Sure enough, he found what he was looking for. Not only did it list a cat for sale, but there was a photo of the cat – this is how it is in England. Sean called the number and wasted no time in calling to the address given, where he inspected this big friendly feline called “Flake”. Why anyone would call a cat “Flake” has not been disclosed to this column.
The asking price of £200 was handed over by the grateful Irishman and a caring husband arrived home to a now happy wife. Soon Flake settled in as if she had always been a part of the family, but Sean noticed that she was getting fat. “You are feeding that cat too well”, he scolded Kathy good-humouredly, but in reality, this was now a happy house, in a household which shall be nameless.
Now, the story takes yet another twist! Flake was under the wood-pile and wouldn’t come out. By the time Sean came home from work and dismantled the logs, he discovered that it wasn’t over-eating which had bloated the cat – Flake was now the proud mother of sextuplets!! Kathy was over the moon!
Sean wondered what sort of a return he would get on his £200 investment, when the kittens were old enough to go their separate ways. A few weeks later he broached the subject with Kathy, who looked at him the same way that Queen Herod must have looked at her husband when he announced he was going to kill all the innocents! No, Kathy could not bear to part with a single member of her large cat family. ‘This cannot get any worse’, thought Sean to himself. It could and it did!
Through the window, on a Saturday morning, as he enjoyed his bacon and egg, Sean observed the kittens circling playfully around their mother in the back garden. But there was something strange going on here. There was robust commotion. Then the bacon stuck in his throat and the egg ran down his chin. There was this hunk of a cat, in the middle of the garden, who was just entering a relationship with Flake. It was Tom!! Tom was back! He had left home, several miles away, to make his own way in the world and was moving in with Flake! This is where the story rests and the moral of the story is; don’t feed the neighbour’s cat!
Laughter is to life what salt is to an egg.