Friday, 13 March 2015
Ian happily acknowledges rock'n'roll genius Chuck Berry for the title, the significance of which will become apparent at the end.
-had been on his own for at least two years, surviving by being fed regularly by an elderly lady who lived in a ground floor flat just round the corner from Sunderland's bus station on the edge of the city centre. The lady -let's call her A- had been helped by me some time ago and got in touch with me again because George had been in a fight and come off badly. I was able to check him and arranged for for treatment at the vets. He seemed friendly enough and the more I thought about it the more I realised I could do for him. The wound on his leg wasn't too bad and easy to treat. I then had him vaccinated and neutered and took him home with me.
My intention was to keep for three weeks until his vaccination and then move him to our re-homing centre where he would find a permanent home. That night I wrote on Animal Krackers' Facebook page that he'd spent his last night out on the streets. Next morning those words came back to bite me on my bottom. George had burst through a locked cat flap and disappeared.
I borrowed a cat trap from a fellow cat rescuer, more in hope than expectation. But basically I felt like shit about it and never expected to see him again. I moped about for the morning then around one went upstairs for a nap.
The phone woke me after about half an hour. Social Services. A woman had been found dead in her house that morning. She had no relatives nearby and there were no friends to take her cat. Half asleep and a little depressed, I agreed to come and take him. The location was Hetton-le-Hole on the outskirts of the city about five miles from me and where I'd once managed their branch library. When I got there there were a lot of people milling around including a nurse and policeman. She'd been ill for a while and regularly visited by Mari, the nurse. Only 53, she'd been found that morning, the cat sitting outside wanting to be in. He was about 7 and called Hitler because of his moustache and, I was told, very friendly. He also only ate sliced chicken and some cheap cat food.
They were right about him being friendly but, far from picky, he ate pretty much anything I put in front of him. I had him checked out, vaccinated, given flea and worm treatment and had his knackers removed -sorry, I mean neutered. I also became very fond of him very quickly. He loved being cuddled and would snuggle into my shoulder. I would have kept him too but he was frightened of my other cats, though never aggressive towards him.
I decided not to change his name, hideous as it was, because he'd had it for so long. I regularly posted on AK's Facebook page about his progress and got feedback, specifically (words to this effect): Change his name, you stupid sod. So I did, following a cat cuddler's suggestion of Tash.
Incidentally and much to my surprise, George turned up back at A's place. How he found his way there is beyond me but he did. I just left him where he was happy until it was time for his second vaccination when I got him done and took him to the re-homing centre where's he's been now for a couple of weeks.
Eventually the time came for Tash to go there too, the day after George as it happened. I didn't want to let him go but I had no choice. While he liked me he wasn't really happy stuck in the conservatory watched by other cats. On the sheet at his pen, I wrote that he would be best off as the only cat in the house, no kids, and best with an older person or couple. Mari, the nurse who had visited his owner and knew him, kept in touch through Facebook and asked about him regularly. Eventually she offered to take him home.
As she was youngish with another cat and a ten year old daughter, I didn't really think her home would be an appropriate environment for him. Eventually I thought, what the hell. I didn't ask for a donation or to fill in an adoption form because I was sure it wouldn't be long before Mari brought him back.
During the course of the same evening, Mari posted a series of photos of Tash in his new home. Tash eating cat treats next to Mari's other cat. Tash snuggling up to Mari's daughter. Tash resting against Mari's husband's chest. Tash not going anywhere.
This is the second time this has happened recently. Another cat I fostered went to a home I didn't think was suitable (a nice home but wrong for the cat) and she settled in immediately. It was my conservatory that was the wrong environment.
So, a certain 66 year old old folk says, "C'est..."