The 9 lives of a cat

This true story must come with a warning to those with a delicate disposition as it contains graphic descriptions that are probably outrageous in this PC world of today. However, at the time that this took place it would have been considered quite a normal way of dealing with things. Be warned!

Tim’s 9th life. Mickleton Circa 1956.

When I was very young we had a tabby cat called Tim. He was big, perhaps 10 or 11 years old and a real Tom cat. Unfortunately poor old Tim took a turn for the worse and suddenly became very old, lying around all day, drooling and when on the move he bumped into things. He lost his appetite and looked well past his sell-by-date. The decision had to be faced. It was a difficult one because he had been such a good pal and Roger Kinchin Snr. was called. Mr Kinchin worked at Collett and Hubbard whose market garden fields were behind the Junior Playing Field. He volunteered to take the old boy and dispatch him with kindness and give him a decent burial in these fields. This was all very sad but necessary in order to release Tim from his sufferings.
The day – or evening as it happened, arrived and we all said our farewells to Tim. Mr Kinchin arrived with a sack and a big spade and Tim was picked up and put in a sack with no objection by Mr Kinchin who took him away. An hour or so later there was a knock on the door and Mr Kinchin was there. Presumably to report a job well done, but no, something had gone wrong.

Tim racks up one of his 9 lives

He explained that all was well carrying his burden to the fields with not a sound from the cat. He laid the sack on the ground and proceeded to dig a nice cat sized grave. This would have been an exceptionally good grave as Mr Kinchin, amongst other things was the official Cemetery grave digger! Once this was completed to the satisfaction of a professional’s eye, the bag was opened and poor old Tim removed. It seems as if the cat was so unaware of anything that he just sat and looked around in a bemused manner. It was at this point that the grave digger became executioner and the spade that had dug the grave now became the executioners weapon of choice. Up it went and down again with the strength developed over years of grave digging and general hard work – flat onto the top of poor old Tim’s head! Now Mr Kinchin was also the church bell Captain and he described the sound of the spade meeting head as similar to ringing the tenor bell. One loud clang! Job done, or so he thought.
It appears that the cat went down, got up again, shook his head and gave Mr Kinchin a dirty look before legging it into the night. The poor old cat had obviously managed to take himself off and find somewhere to call it a day.

Happy families

Sadness and worry reigned for a few days but a stray female cat that we called Sue appeared in the garden and it seemed that she was looking for a home. A couple of days later after deciding to stay she started bringing the first of several kittens, some of which were tabby. A really good end to a story you might think, but no! It gets better.
Some two weeks after the fateful night and a week or so after the new family had moved in who should appear at the door but Tim. He was dirty and skinny but looking quite well with not a sign of his previous ailments. With all of his faculties intact he seemed happy to be home (cats being very forgiving animals) and seemingly pleased to meet Sue – most likely not for the first time. Old Tim went on for a further 4 or 5 years before finally hanging up his boots, but not before ensuring that the village would have a good supply of young tabby cats.

If you keep an eye open you may even spot one of his descendants roaming the village.

Monty Marsan 2021.

Editor note: does anyone else recall how different a life – for good or ill – our animals lived in those days?

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