This is Gandalf
Isn’t he a charmer. Look into those eyes. One of God’s most beautiful creatures. Loving, friendly, affectionate. Look at the cute little bell around his neck. Notice how well he looks and how he is obviously well looked after.
Look at those cute little paws. The paws that can turn into murderous pin sharp razors at the flick of a tail. Note the rip in my favourite chair that was caused by little old Gandalf when he was dreaming one day.
Gandalf is no more my cat: He never was.
The story begins in late May of this year. This pitiful white feline turned up in the garden absolutely soaked through. It was raining steadily (and still is) and I made the serious error of making eye contact with him and, as I opened the conservatory door, he ran up the steps and made straight in. He immediately started to make himself at home, stretching out on the carpet and pulling himself along using his claws – the cutlasses could also be adapted to grappling hooks. He was wet through and obviously very hungry.
I am not a cat person. I don’t dislike them but neither am I particularly fond of them. They have their world and I have mine. And as long as they keep to their world the can be assured that I will not interfere with that world. This was how it always was but no longer is. The cat decided to make himself at home. I went to buy some cat food. When I returned it finished off a whole tin of cat food as if it had never eaten before. It then curled up on my favourite chair and settled down to sleep for the rest of the evening and night. In the morning it ate another tin of food and then decided to leave.
When I returned hom in the early afternoon he was sitting on the wall near my front door. It was genuinely glad to see me. I wasn’t particularly glad to see him. I say him because I now know it is a tom but at the time I didn’t know what its gender was. I had a suspicion that it was a female because of the pink collar around its neck. I called it simply “Cat”. Cat ate another tin of food and then settled down to sleep. Outside it was raining hard and I couldn’t simply throw this defenceless animal to the mercy of the weather. It slept and ate for the next week. I came home one day and found it cowering from the rain underneath the bushes in the garden. It had no shelter other than my house. I began to make enquiries as to what one does with a cat that is obviously homeless. “Take a picture and print off some ‘cat found’ posters suggested one friend.
“Excellent idea” I thought and immediately set about discovering how useless it is to try and reason with a cat to co-operate in a photo shoot. They don’t obey! They are pointless! You’d swear this was his house and he was doing me a favour by allowing me in its presence. Eventually I got a picture and printed off some ‘cat found’ posters, laminated them and started to distribute them in local shops, tied them to lamposts and even got one displayed in the local police station. The posters had the picture of the cat, an appeal for its rightful owner to get in touch and my telphone number. I waited for the call.
It came during the evening of the second day that the posters had been distributed. It was from a lady whose friend had telephoned her to inform her that there were pictures of Gandalf (for that was his name) posted everywhere with an appeal to the cat’s owner to telphone my number.
“Do you live locally?” I asked.
“Just around the corner from you” she replied.
“Have you been wondering where he or she has been?” I asked
“It’s a he and I’ve been wondering why he has not been eating his dried cat food” she responded.
“You mean he’s not lost?”
“No – he keeps on doing this to people. He just invited himself in and takes advantage. You are now the fourth house that he visits regularly. Please stop feeding him and just ignore him”.
“I will” I assured her as I caught sight of the cat preening himself on my chair. “But tell me, why has he got a pink collar on if he is a boy?”
“Because of the bell. We needed a big bell to warn birds and other stuff that he is around. The biggest bell we could find was pink. Has he brought you any presents yet?”
“Yes, dead mice or birds” she explained.
“No” I replied.
“That’s his next move” she explained. “If you refuse him entry he will start bringing you little gifts”. I shuddered.
The cat stared at me as I made my way towards him. “Well Gandalf” I said, “The game is up. Off you go” I opened the back door and put the cat out. It was the first time I had picked him up. He looked at me as if to say ‘what the hell do you think you are doing?’ It went away. This was the third week of June. It was the start of a battle of wills. He has sat on my garage roof in torrential rain. He has greeted me almost every time I got home, he has cut a pathetic sight by scratching at the conservatory door. He has mewed incessantly in my garden but all to no avail.
This week he has tried the bribary. Two dead birds, three disbowelled mice and one vole have all been deposited outside my garden studio door. As I write this he is looking at me – no, staring at me, through the vertical blinds of the sliding doors.
He will not come in!