We let the cat out the other night. Now I’m aware if I sent that opening line to a publisher and requested a multimillion pound seven-book deal off the back of it, they may decline, on the grounds of it not being the most enthralling opening sentence in the world. However, bear with me for this column does get better. Not by much, but slightly.
Why letting the cat out merits a mention is because normally after staying out all night, he – Percy Canavan – will be perched on the doorstep the next morning, ready to come in and use the facilities, ie guzzle a shed-load of food, use in his litter tray (though due to severe directional issues he consistently manages to deposit at least three-quarters of the contents of his bowels on the kitchen floor), then slump on the armchair in the lounge where he’ll spend the entire day flaked out. Then, when evening comes, he beggars off back out and the whole cycle begins again.
But on Saturday morning, when Mrs Canavan went to the front door and did her daily ‘chush chush chush’, our only son was nowhere to be seen.
Mrs Canavan ran back up to the bedroom and said in alarm: “Percy hasn’t come in, it’s not like him, I’m worried.”
“Oh, I forgot to mention,” I replied, “he was run over last night. I’ve put his splattered body in the shed. We should probably stick him in a bin bag and bury him today otherwise he’ll start smelling.”
I don’t think she appreciated the joke for she called me a cretin – which I think is her pet name for me, as she uses it all the time – and went downstairs to carry on chushing.
I opened the curtains and saw the ground covered with a layer of frost.
“I’m worried that he may have got too cold being out in this weather all night,” Mrs Canavan shouted up the stairs.
I told her not to be pathetic.
But then I paused and realised I had no idea whether or not it is actually safe for cats to be outside in freezing weather. It’s not something we learned at school, certainly not in Home Economics.
Suddenly feeling uneasy, I Googled it and read on the first website I came to: “People commonly think the cats can survive in cold weather but they can’t. Between temperatures of zero and -15 cats quickly become hyperthermic and will die.”
I gulped slightly and checked what the overnight temperature had been. Minus 4. I gulped again and began to regret my earlier jocular comments about Percival dying.
Now panicking I had visions of our beloved cat lying stiff as a brush somewhere in the undergrowth.
I then had a flashback to the previous evening when I had returned from playing football about 9pm and Percy had run up the path as I was entering the house. But instead of letting him in, I shut the door in his face, thinking I’d let him in later before I went to bed. Alas I’d forgotten to let him back in, so, in short, I was entirely responsible for his death at the age of four-and-a-half years.
I quickly took off my satin nightrobe with matching pyjama bottoms, dressed, then headed outside calling his name in, I’m afraid, quite a pathetic manner.
“Percy, darling,” I shouted.
“Daddy’s sorry for last night. Come out wherever you are, we’ll even give you two sachets of that Felix with trout you like for lunch.”
Two of our neighbours down the road heard my cries and insisted on joining in the search, then suddenly – just as I was about to dial 999 and report a missing juvenile – Percy nonchalantly emerged from the grass, happy as Larry, and trotted towards us without so much as an icicle hanging from his chin.
I stroked him (he allows me to do that when he knows food will follow) and noted that he felt as warm as he would have done had he spent the night in side by the fire.
The lesson I have learnt from this is that no matter how cold it gets, I won’t hesitate in shoving him out the front door.
Italian fat cat still can’t beat our Percy
Have you heard about the cat that’s worth a cool 13 million quid?
Tommaso, he’s called, and it won’t surprise you to learn that he’s the richest moggy in the world.
A couple of years ago a 94-year-old Italian woman named Maria Assunta left her entire fortune – the aforementioned 13 million – to her pet.
Apparently Mrs Assunta was widowed and childless when she adopted a flea-ridden stray cat she noticed roaming the streets of Rome.
She and the cat became inseparable, and upon popping her clogs she left every last penny to the moggy, leaving instructions to her nurse to look after it.
Now, to ensure they aren’t besieged by fortune hunters, nurse and cat live in an undisclosed location – though the cat is easy to spot; he wears a gold collar and drives a Lamborghini.
It made me feel a bit sorry for my Percy, who, when I pass, will receive a couple of hundred quid, three badminton racquets (two with broken strings), and a VHS tape of Bury’s Best Goals from the promotion campaign of 1997/98.
That said, Percy will probably find it easier to stay grounded and have a better knowledge of the offside rule, so every cloud.