Disappearing cat has the last laugh

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THERE’S nothing sadder than the stricken eyes of a sick spaniel, and one such dog of my acquaintance has been sadder than most these past few weeks.

The boisterous boy had not been himself for some time and a visit to the vet confirmed he was suffering from some manner of intestinal obstruction. He had to suffer the indignity of a succession of enemas before it was determined he had eaten something rather large and furry which was lodged in his gut.

Large chunks of grey fur and much bony matter were eventually disgorged, in such a mangled state that the vets were unable to determine what the creature had been, although a large rabbit was the most likely source of his discomfiture.

However, around the same time, the dog’s owners’ large and lazy grey cat had vanished without trace, so the finger of suspicion was pointed at the doleful dog. The pair had not been the best of friends, and a case of catricide was not deemed to be out of the question.

While it was conceded that the dog would undoubtedly have come off second best in a fair fight with the cat, there was a suggestion that the fat feline may have died of other causes, and the dog had pounced on the corpse.

It is well known that farm dogs will eat anything that hits the deck in their vicinity, as evidenced by the collie that ate the tip of a Cumberland farmer’s nose after he accidentally sliced it off when stumbling whilst carrying a newly-sharpened hay knife.

Opinion was sharply divided, with the dog striking a tragic and woebegone pose when questioned about the matter.

But this week, he was completely exonerated when it turned out that the missing cat was not dead after all, but living a life of luxury in the vicinity of the local pub, doubtless sniggering like Muttley over the fact that the dog with which he shared a home was facing a murder rap on his behalf.

But I have always found that cats are like that, quite happy to create chaos and confusion as they saunter elegantly in and out of people’s lives.

Take my niece, a mother of four, and owner of a rather handsome tom cat. Some weeks ago, her two youngest children came rushing in in floods of tears with the sad tidings that the cat appeared to have been struck by a car, and was lying in state on the grass verge outside.

My niece went out to confirm that the last one of the cat’s nine lives had expired, and the children went into a state of advanced mourning.

They demanded a full state funeral for the deceased moggy, so my niece scooped up the furry bundle, dug a hole in the garden, and laid the late cat to rest with due ceremony, which included flowers, hymns and the erection of a small cross.

Later that night, they were all watching television when the cat flap flipped, and in strolled the cat, looking somewhat smug.

My niece dashed outside to check the grave from which the cat had apparently risen in Uma Thurman mode from Kill Bill, but the soil was undisturbed, and it slowly dawned on her that she had buried someone else’s cat …

The kids were quite keen to exhume the dead cat as an imposter, but permission was refused, and the children have been sworn to secrecy not to mention the second coming of their cat at school. As far as I know, no-one has yet come round seeking the missing cat.

Whilst I would not deliberately hurt one, I am not a great lover of cats, which I regard as sneaky slaughterers of birds and other wildlife, purely for pleasure.

Yet I accept that others adore them for all their faults, including my sister-in law, who has five confused kitties flying through her cat flap. Roger and Kevin are both females, and Clementine is a boy, with Willow and Byron not quite sure, I believe.

They instinctively know of my distaste for felines, so when I sat on the wooden seat outside my sister-in-law’s home during the recent hot spell, all five of them came swarming over to sit on my lap or wind themselves sinuously around my legs, purring like a flock of Matchless G12s.

And yes, despite my cat antipathy I could not help stroking them all, one by one, for the whole afternoon.

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