A fat ginger Tom Cat lumbered in through the cat door and hissed at the woman standing at the sink scrubbing pots.  He hissed, calling her a filthy name that should have gotten him a good slap across the ears. Instead, she stopped what she was doing wiped her hands on a tea towel and bent down to stroke his head. 

He swiped his claws up her forearm drawing blood.  ‘Where’s my dinner?’ he screeched glaring at his bowl.  ‘This is third night in a row I’ve had to wait.  Don’t be surprised if there is something stinky deposited in a place you can’t quite find tonight.’

Sheila, small dark and catlike herself, whimpered.  She raced to the bathroom to swab the wound with disinfectant.  Why was he so nasty? 

She loved him. 

She treated him like a king. 

A gigantic spongy cushion for him to snooze on, the best dry cat food Monday to Thursday, fillets of fresh salmon on a Friday, a mound of minced steak Saturday and chicken breast on Sunday.  She looked down at the criss-cross of scratches on her arms with tears in her eyes.  Why?

Tom Cat stood next to his bowl and screamed again.  ‘What was going on? The service in this place sucked.’ 

He wanted to be fed now so he could be asleep when the other human came in, the male one with large calloused hands and big heavy black boots.  He’d grown wary of that human, with the deep gruff voice, which rumbled just below his superior feline hearing and hurt his ears.  Best to be avoided he decided, licking his paws. 

She rushed over and poured food into his bowl and just to be a pain, he stuck his nose into the mix early and sent a shower of tiny pink star shaped biscuits pinging across the floor. 

Sheila laughed and patted him finding his antics amusing. 

He hissed deep in his belly wanting her to piss off. 


As twilight descended over the back yard, a tiny black cat slunk along the top of the fence.  The only safe place since the ginger tom had grown too fat to jump that high.  She crouched low and peered through the kitchen window; her yellow eyes filled with yearning as she watched him scoff down his food.

That afternoon he’d stolen her dinner, a gecko she’d caught under the house.  He didn’t need it and he certainly didn't have to hurt her.    But he had just for fun.  At first she’d managed to  dodge his clumsy punches, jumping this way and that, but then she too-ed when she should have fro-ed and he swiped the delicate membrane of her left ear, tearing it. 

She hadn’t fought back.  She escaped and ran, as fast and as far as she could, stopping only when she was completely sure he wasn’t behind her.  She spent the rest of the day and most of the night beneath a dense green hedge licking her wound.  It still stung and she hoped it wouldn’t get septic and lead to the stinking green infection that killed one of her siblings.

She was getting too tired for this life and survived more by luck than aptitude.   Now she spent most of the time hiding and hunger sucked the energy from her soul.  She was losing her edge.


Sheila’s husband Albert didn’t like cats much but he knew when he met Sheila she was potty about them and since he was potty about her he’d indulge her anything.  But her cat was a nasty little bugger.   If she weren’t quite so in love with it he’d quite happily drive it somewhere far, far away and throw it out the car window.  

At the door he almost trod on the dead mouse which lay dead and stiff on the door mat.  His stomach turned over.  He didn’t like dead things.  It must be the Cat’s idea of a gift; Sheila told him cats did that as a sign of affection.  He shuddered, grimaced and kicked it into the garden.

 That’s when he saw the tiny black cat, crouching on the fence.  It leapt down and swallowed the mouse in one gulp, sucking down the tail as if it was a tendril of spaghetti.   For a few moments it stared at him with huge incandescent yellow eyes.   Then it darted away so quickly he wondered if he’d imagined it. 

But no, he remembered those eyes.  For some reason they reminded him of Sheila’s large soft hazel eyes that he loved so much.  A ball of warmth engulfed his heart and he felt all giddy.  Gosh, he loved his lady.  With lightness in his step and a song in his heart he burst through the front door.

Tom Cat found the most perfect luxurious position on his human’s squashy settee.  The human woman tried to pet him again.  He’d had to claw her again.  She was so needy.  Couldn’t she tell he wasn’t interested?  Couldn’t she tell he couldn’t stand her?  Was she stupid?  If the food wasn’t so good and regular he’d leave.

 The arrival of the big male human caught Tom Cat by surprise.  He jumped and tumbled to the floor yowling. 


Albert, shocked by the screeching butter ball of fur landing at his feet almost fell into the blazing fireplace.  He reached out blindly to stop his fall he swiped two of Sheila’s favourite china ornaments off the mantelpiece.  The crash bought Sheila skidding into the room.   Twisting around Albert toppled toward her.   The rest was a blur as woman, man with big heavy boots and cat were caught in a terrible collision.


At the clinic Albert embraced his wife and she shook with sobs.

The vet walked out into the waiting room. 

‘Will—will he be all right?’  Sheila whimpered.

The vet shook his head.

‘Oh no, it was all my fault,’ she cried.

‘No, it was my fault.’ Albert muttered.

‘No, it was mine,’ she retorted.

‘It was no one’s fault.’  The Vet interrupted.  ‘It was clearly a terrible accident.  Things like this happen all the time, please, it is much kinder to put him out of his misery.  He’s obviously had a good life, and was much love.’

Sheila burst into fresh tears.

Albert grimaced.  ‘Thank you.’


They buried Tom Cat under his favourite tree wrapped in his cuddly blanket with his clockwork mouse. 

For weeks Sheila stood at the kitchen sink for the next few weeks staring at the mound of freshly turned soil, crying.  Her heart ached and she felt a cold emptiness in her stomach.  She tried to keep herself together but it was just too much.  She’d always owned a pet of some kind, all of her life, cats, dogs, birds, mice and even insects when she was very, very small and desperate for something to take care of. 


Even Albert felt something akin to loss apart from the pain of witnessing his wife’s desolation.  He didn’t really know why.  He had never liked that animal but there was a hole in the fabric of their lives the ginger butterball ad filled since their kids left home.  Now they just had each other, and a great big silent house in which to potter about in. 


Sheila caught sight of the tiny black cat one afternoon when she was hanging out the washing.  At first she didn’t know it was a cat she just saw huge yellow eyes staring at her from the top of the fence.  They didn’t move, even when she stepped closer.  The cat, a bedraggled little thing, sat still with a pensive expression on it’s face.

That evening Shelia left out a bowl of minced beef and saucer of kitten milk.  In the morning it was gone.  So she left another and another, not really knowing if the strange creature was the animal devouring the food.  Then one afternoon she saw it cautiously make its way to the bowls.  So she moved the bowls a little closer to the house, then closer it was at the cat door.  Then she placed the food inside and propped the cat door open with a tin of baked beans.

Now the little cat was spending time inside.  She even allowed Sheila give her a wash and put a few drops of flea treatment on her.   


One day Albert came home to find the little animal curled up in a ball in front of the fire fast asleep

Sheila heard him come in and came through from the kitchen.  ‘How was your day?’

‘Not bad … not bad!’ he smiled.   He kissed her cheek tenderly. ‘It looks like that Cat has made itself at home.’

Shelia smiled back happily. ‘She sure has.’


The tiny black cat pretended to sleep while she listened to her human’s soft mewling and gruff mumbles.  She had no idea what they were saying but it sounded very nice.  She was glad she left all those gifts on the front door step, hoping one day she would be invited in, to lie here, in the warmth, where she was right now.

The End

Dedicated to Boof Head, the biggest baddest Ginger Tom ever.