16/ Family Cat

Thinking of cats, the family cat has gone missing again. 

Named Zorro because of its domino mask, it is a handsome, long-limbed, lean, mean, hunting-machine - but possesses none of the finer moral instincts of its namesake: defender of the oppressed. Instead it ruthlessly slaughters any smaller creature it can pounce upon carrying their bloody bits in through the cat flap as grisly trophies.  I lament this butchering of the innocent but have to acknowledge the efficacy in rodent control.

Zorro is my wife’s cat and this really is her story.  She found Zorro, or rather, it found her. 

My wife was driving slowly and warily along a boreen in County Kerry when a tiny, bedraggled kitten appeared in the narrow road ahead.  She honked the horn but the kitten stood its ground.  She got out intending to shoo it away.  But, by the time she had got round to the front of the car, the kitten had vanished.  Back in the car she turned on the ignition and was surprised to hear a faint mewling sound.  She checked around fruitlessly and decided to continue on slowly the short distance to the small town which was her destination.  With the help of a curious passer-by the noise was investigated.  The kitten was duly discovered under the bonnet sitting on the engine, seemingly unscathed by its unconventional journey, but in desperately poor health generally.  Over the following six months she conscientiously nursed the audacious creature back to well-being convinced that hitching a lift had been the neglected kitten’s last desperate cry for help.

Now grown into a magnificent adult the cat has kept its wild and fiercely independent nature, sleeping and eating in the house as and when it chooses.  Leading a life in parallel to our own as most cats do.  Disappearing for days on end.  For me this is a relief.  It’s my job to clear up the messy bits and anyway I find the taut, feline ferocity faintly perturbing. 

My wife paces the garden calling its name enticingly. 

It’s as well the children didn’t get their witty way to commemorate the cat's intrepid exploit by naming it 'Taxi'.

©Benóg Brady Bates


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