Happenstance, Coincidence, and Fate – Part 01
There have been two times in my life when I’ve encountered events of such synchronicity that I’ve come to hold them aloft as examples of fate. Only twice. Some people find fairies at the bottom of their garden, such as Elsie Wright in 1917 – who actually cut out some pictures, stood them up with hatpins, took some photos, and went on to fool the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Kodak – whereas, in 2010, I found what turned out to be a very hungry three-legged, half-eared cat.
As I’m a keen supporter of garden wildlife I always have an eye on the cats passing through the garden. Thus a newby who seemed to be limping got my attention and I was soon able to temp him over with a handful of biscuits. He ate the lot. The same with the second and third handful. And it didn’t take a vet to work out that he had good reason for his limp. He was missing a leg, some ears, and both testicles. I was a bit concerned because another local cat’s missing an eye and it was almost as if someone around here was gathering parts to build their own Frankenstein-cat. After this introduction the cat seemed to stick around, turning up in the garden every day, and sleeping time away in the sun. Which was all fine until suspicions grew and we started watching him properly, around the clock, and between me and my parents we chalked up almost a clear 24 hours of sightings. It turned out that he was living in the garden.
Addressing the D-word you may have a lot of preconceptions, and he may have a lot of bits missing, but he was definitely not disabled: I’ve seen him jump up fences taller than me and leap off shed roofs and take the impact on his one front foot. There was really nothing which he could not do although the jury was still out on how he’d cope with stairs as I imagined a milk stool descending and it always ending up arse-over-tit. And that’s whether you imagined a pigtailed milkmaid sat on it at the time or not.We spent four months trying to locate anyone who was missing him before we decided to adopt, in advance of a harsh winter, as some nights he would clamber up to look at us through the living room window with sad eyes like Tiny Tim peering into a pie shop. Adoption wasn’t going to be easy as we already had a houseful of cats who didn’t take kindly to strangers.
The vet checked him over, declared him middle-aged (about 8-ish), and that had been very well looked after in his life. He bore no missing-leg scar and so I imagined he’d been born this way, but as he has a socket it was apparent that this did indeed herald from some mystery incident. The only clue to his other mystery, as to his identity, was the family heirloom he brought with him around his neck on a grotty collar like some Dickensian urchin cut adrift from its gentrified background. Something with his address on might have been more use but instead he came with a silver bell. Silver coloured. If his life were a film then it’d this hot-prop which would prompt recognition of, and reunion with, his first family at the end.
And so began a process of integration, cleaning his filthy black ears, and only then his other problems became apparent. We have a cat shed where our cats spend time outside and we moved the newby in as a permanent fixture. To bring him inside caused him to panic and to explode into a fountain of foam, like a rabid fire hydrant, and the panic of all this only cased him to panic more until soon, with reactionary head shakes, he was knocking his junk about all over the place. I myself got slapped in the eye with it like an ill-fated porn star. And once he was going off there was no stopping him.Outside he didn’t enjoy the company of cats, who he’d been ambivalent to the week before, and as a result he wouldn’t get down off his high shelf to use the toilet. Literally. All this went on for a good while and the worst part of his failed assimilation into the family was hearing his pitting whimpers at night when he was left out on his own.
The outcome to all this was perhaps inevitable, there’s only so many times you can put a cat bed in the washing machine, and one day we decided, with much regret, to release him back to the wild.
The three legged, half eared cat walked away from me forever as if to the sad music at the end of every episode of The Incredible Hulk.
The only difference was that, unlike David Banner, the cat didn’t move onto a different town but just sauntered across the garden and went to sleep on a bush.
The experiment was over, and all hope was lost, but the fickle finger of fate was only just warming up and beginning to point my way.
You do know that this has a happy ending don’t you?