Apologies for this as it harks back to three Christmas's ago, but I just saw a Certain Ginger Cat and the nightmare came flooding back. It is quite a long story so bare with me.
To set the scene, in the October I had come back with a very cute tabby kitten who from my observations was being tortured in her previous home so I rescued her. My kids were all totally besotted with her. We had another cat, George, but he was (still is) big and tough, and doesn't take too kindly to 'this pampering nonsense' but little Sophie just loved all that and the kids all loved her.
About a week before Christmas two kids come to my door who I knew slightly. Their parents had a certain amount of local fame having appeared on The Trisha programme talking about the horror of crack addiction, which was followed two days later by a drugs raid on their home. Who says the police don't have their ear to the ground ehh?
So anyway, the youngest says to me that they are goinga way over Christmas for a few days and desperately needed someone to look after their beloved kitten whilst they were away. At which point any sane person would have said 'Away to F**k with you' (as indeed I later learnt many sane people had already said when asked the very same favour) but I looked at this piteous child and said 'Well, if you really can't find anyone else - I will have him, but please keep looking.' They promised to do this and I forgot about it.
The NEXT day I am at work and H rings me. It is a very upset and angry H demanding that I come home AT ONCE and get rid of 'That horrible cat'. 'What horrible cat?' asks a distracted mother, but it soon becomes apparent that Christmas has come early for the owners of Marmalade (for that is his name), they have delivered Marmalade along with all his worldly belongings into my house and gone off on 'holiday' themselves. And the answer to why is he horrible is that he has immediately set about world domination by beating up our beloved Sophie.
I go home and it is like entering a war zone. The kids are furious with me for inflicting this monster on their lovely sweet kitten and there is the sound of hissing and meowing for help in the distance. I decide 'I Am Not Having This' and chuck out Marmalade figuring he can find his own way back to his house which was only a couple of hundred yards away to my right*, and I would leave food out for him. Cats are of course notorious for their homing instinct. Unluckily for me, after a mere three hours or so in my house, Marmalade's homing instinct was informing him he now lived at my house. Cue pathetic and insistent crying at my kitchen window which eventually lead to his readmittance into the house. Which was when the fighting recommenced.
That first evening consisted of Marmalade being evicted and readmitted at regular intervals and me deciding I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I thought that there was No Way I could put up with this over Christmas and resolved to try and find another temporary cat sitter for him the next morning. That night I did put him out but he sat outside the front door and made such a terrible noise I was afraid for the neighbours (the neighbours int he next village two miles away) so it was after a sleepless night that I went to the village shop to implement my get rid of this bloody cat plan.
NOT GOOD. The woman who owns the local shop in whose window I planned to place a card saying 'Please look after this cat for one week only, thank you' lives in the same street as Marmalade's owners. I told her the story. She looked at me with a cross between pity for the inflicted, and disbelieve at the depths of my stupidity. 'You do know' she said, 'that they are not coming back?' She had watched them move all their furniture out the day before. The card that went in the shop window was altered to read, 'Good home for life wanted for young ginger cat.'
Days ticked by towards Christmas and no one had come forward for the cat. I had rung the rehoming service who could help, but not till after Christmas. I was becoming resigned to a Christmas from hell as the bullying of our Sophie had continued without respite. (George meanwhile had moved in next door for a few days in protest but the kids weren't too bothered about that.)But then on Christmas Eve, about 6.00 in the evening, a Christmas miracle occured. A woman called Linda rang me. Linda lives about 200 yards to my left**. She said she was feeling really bad because all her daughter aged 7 wanted in her Christmas List to Santa was a kitten. Linda admitted to hating cats but..... I felt her weakening. I pulled out all the sales spiel I could about what a truly marvellous cat Marmalade was and three hours later Marmalade, henceforth to be known as Chivers, moved once again with all his worldly belongings to be the much loved cat of Linda's daughter.
And so it came to pass that the little girl awoke on Christmas morning to find her wishes had been answered and she had the kitten of her dreams. And they all lived happily ever after.....
Until ten days after Christmas when Marmalade's original owners turned up on my doorstep to fetch him back to his new home in Cornwall.
To be continued..........well I did warn you this one was a bit of a saga!
* Important local detail.
**Another important local detail.
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