A few days later the cat was outside again and as I struggled through the doors of my flat with my double buggy (scraping the tops of my feet with the bottom of the heavy, outside door and bruising a hip in the process as usual) I noticed that the poor mite had one completely grey eye.
"Oh you poor thing!" I said to it.
As I took a closer look I could see that the thing was really manky. Underneath its long black and white coat (what was left of it) it was really quite skinny. Its skin was scabby, its coat matted and it was utterly filthy. I realised that this cat didn't belong to anybody at all.
It just sat there and looked at me, out of its one good eye.
Whilst standing there talking to a cat and two children and neither of the three having anything intelligent to say, a neighbour came along and we struck up a conversation. Then the Polish lady from upstairs lent out of the window.
"It won't eat." she said
"I feed it and it won't eat. He's been there maybe two weeks?"
With two children eagerly awaiting their trip to the park I had to leave the poor thing, telling it "I'll deal with you later."
The cat wasn't around when I returned and after misguided phonecalls to the RSPCA and the Cats Protection League and back to the RSPCA again, it took me 24 hours to get any useful information out of anybody.
"We will collect it" said the woman at the RSPCA "but you'll need to catch it for us."
Despite explaining that I lived in conditions similar to a tenement yard at the turn of the century, still she asked if I had a 'spare room'.
"No, love." I wanted to say to her. " I do not have a spare room. I have two kids under 5 in a two bedroom flat with the same square footage as a walk in wardrobe. Spare room my arse."
On Tuesday morning the ground was wet. I went outside to throw out the morning's nappies. There was the sodden cat, who didn't look any cleaner for having had a rain bath.
"Right," I said to the cat. "don't move."
I ran over the road to the builders merchants and got the biggest box I could find. I grabbed a box of dry food and a pouch of wet food. When I returned the cat had done exactly as it was told. With a bit of coaxing and not much trouble I managed to box up the cat. It had food and water in the box and I made breathing holes in the box with a knife. It was like one of those magic tricks where half naked women have sharp things poked at them. The cat was so petrified it didn't make a sound. I left the box in the hallway, just outside my front door.
I went inside and called the RSPCA. My job was done. I just had to await their collection of the cat.
As I stepped out side the house to ferry my son to nursery I discovered that the fucking manky thing had escaped and was sitting by the front door. Then a kind of French farce developed where I was trying to keep my kids at bay and a neighbour was trying to leave the communal hallway and the cat was hissing and my kids were screaming and I was chasing the cat round the hallway with a towel.
Bushman came outside wearing nothing but a pair of tracksuit bottoms and tiring of the saga said purposefully "Mi get di damn cat."
"NO! You'll kill it." I said "I'll get it."
As I went near the cat the it hissed at me quite ferociously.
"OK." I said to Bushman "I give up, you catch it"
Towel in hand, my half naked Bushman walked over to the cat and despite its howling and hissing and spitting just took it by the scruff of the neck, picked it up and put it in the box.
I was quite surprised at how his half-naked mastery of this wild creature sent shivers down my spine. Had I not have been so preoccupied with the children and the neighbour and the cat and the RSPCA I would have bedded him there and then.
Anyway, although this has the potential to develop into some bizarre Mills and Boon scene, I shall bring us crashing down to reality with the fact that whilst being captured by Bushman the cat pissed everywhere. Bushman and I then spent the next ten minutes taping up the box so that the thing could not possibly escape again. The hallway reeked of cats piss. Then came another call from the RSPCA.
"Really sorry but there's no one available to come out to collect the cat. Can you take it to the nearest vet?"
I explained to the kind lady at the RSPCA that I had two kids and no transport and that I was actually supposed to be at work and I didn't even know where the nearest vet was but she kindly informed me that there was one within walking distance of my house. The words were welling up inside my mouth and then fizzled out as the image of the poor, half-blind cat came into my head and I resigned myself to the fact that I was just too fucking soft to let this cat fend for itself.
Next I went out to buy twine so I could carry the damn thing. One end of the box had somehow got soaked (cat piss? water?) and I had to transport the cat a quarter of a mile down the road in a box which might give way at any moment. On top of everything else I started to itch.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I was buzzed in to the air-conditioned vet's room and set the box down. A young girl behind the desk chewed gum and eyed me up and down. I explained the whole story and told her how the RSPCA had advised me to bring the cat to the vet.
"But we're nothing to do with the RSPCA." she said blankly.
So did she.
I started to lose faith in everything. I looked down at the box which had been taped up and stabbed at in equally wild measure. What the fuck was I supposed to do now?!!!
Sensing my frustration, the young gum-chewing receptionist relented.
"I'll get Jackie." she said.
Jackie was a gritty, bottle blonde with dark roots and a heart that money can't buy. She took the manky cat out of the box and pressed it to her chest. It melted. She kissed its stinking head. It was love at first sight.
Then she looked in its mouth. "This cat's fucking ancient." she said. Instantly I liked her.
"My son named it Supercat." I told her.
She checked the cats genitalia. "Its an un-neutered male. Been out on the street for years."
Turns out that Supercat was covered in fleas and lice. Jackie said that in ten years of being a vet this was only the second cat she had seen with lice. Supercat had the beginnings of liver failure which they could control, but amazingly was FIV (cat AIDS) negative. He was blind in one eye. His teeth were broken and rotten. He was seriously underweight.
Today Supercat is eating like a trooper and has had a good sponge down. Jackie loved him so much that she took him home with her.
"Not even the Pope would give this cat a home." she said.
I told her that there was a Jamaican singer called 'Supercat' who came from a rough neighbourhood. I told her that my children's father was Jamaican and that I had no idea how my son came up with the name but that I felt it was quite appropriate.
Thankfully Supercat doesn't have to hustle on the streets anymore. Who knows, maybe he can get those teeth fixed with some gold replacements? Hopefully he can spend his last days nestled in Jackie's bosom purring with delight.
God Bless you Jackie.