I have known lots of cats, as a kid I remember a particularly evil brute that attacked the butchers delivery boy. I don’t know if or what the cats name was, and have no idea who fed it. I have no recollection of either my father or mother ever feeding the wicked animal. When I was 9 we moved to West Hendred, we, well my parents were the landlords of The Hare. We acquired a particularly evil cat. As I recall it had no name, mice were its diet and for fun it would beat the crap out of the Black Lab that we had adopted.

Fast forward several decades, I had been ‘cat free’, not that I had ever been a cat person. Jan’s mom and dad Ronald and Bobbie were old and their health failing. They asked us to move in with them so that Jan could help them. Neither were able to drive so Jan was already doing the shopping and errand running so it made sense for us to move in.

Ronald loved all the wild animals that came to visit every night. I never saw them because 3am was just a little early for me. I was intrigued by the tales of Racoons, Possums, Armadillos, and goodness knows what else. Back then I was a smoker, and as Bobbie was on Oxygen there was no smoking or open flames permitted inside. So I had set up office under the car port.

I didn’t want to upset Ronald, and certainly not steal his ‘critters’. After a few weeks I plucked up courage and asked him if it would be OK to put a small bowl of food out for the ‘critters’ in the front of the house in the hope that I could see them in the early evening.

It did not take long, critters were regular visitors, well dressed Racoons and scruffy Possums. Their they were, just 6 feet from me. I realized why Ronald enjoyed feeding them. They were untamed, they were what they were. But they also adhered to a code of conduct, the scruffy pair of possums would eat together, the more refined Racoons were different, the larger (I am guessing male) would eat first and then the smaller female would have her share. I found this interesting, the Possums went for volume while the Racoons went for style.

A stray cat started turning up, she had no use for people, she was a ‘eat and run’ cat. She was unusual because she had a mere stump for a tail. I asked Ronald if he had seen the strange cat with no tail? He told me that yes he knew the cat, he had named her ‘Nubs’.

I am sure that at some point Nubs had had a home, but now she lived by her wits. Over time she came closer and closer to my desk. One day she was right next to my chair, I reached down and stroked her. I was expecting a flurry of claws into my hand, but Nubs took it in the fashion it was meant, an act of friendship, not control.

Several weeks later Nubs disappeared, I didn’t see her and assumed that she was no more. Some animal had killed her.

Not so. One day Nubs turned up with a Jet Black little kitten. There was no doubt in my mind that the little black kitten belonged to Nubs.

For weeks Nubs and the kitten came each day to visit. Nubs would brush up against me and I would stroke her. The kitten was a different beast, he would not get in 10 feet of me and had no interest in people. I called him Vincent Black Lightning. It is a reference to a 1950’s British motorcycle, I called him ‘vinnie’ for short. If you just looked at Vinnie he was gone!

For several days I did not see either of them and then one morning Vinnie turned up. I have thought long and hard about this. Did Nubs somehow tell the kitten that he could find ‘safe harbor’ with me?

It was amazing, inch by inch the skittish little creature came closer each day. I made no attempt to make friends with him, I sat at my computer and watched him with humor. Eventually he rubbed up against my leg and I reached out to stroke him, he took off at the speed of light.

It took some time but eventually he let me stroke him. One day he jumped up on the table beside me, clearly he had made a decision, I was an OK human. I watched in amazement as he slowly climbed down onto my lap. I stroked him and he gave a contented purr.

I was the only human that Vinnie would have anything to do with. Visitors would see the little black cat and remark how pretty he was, make a move to pet him, and poof he was gone!

What happened to Vinnie? The answer is I don’t know. I had planned on bringing him with us when we moved, but with all of the mayhem he had made himself scarce, it was a shame because he would have liked it here.

I know he is doing just fine. Sure he ate the food we put out for him, but that was more out of politeness than anything else, Vinnie was a born hunter. Most cats hunt for fun, this one hunted to eat. His diet was Lizards, Birds and Squirrels. Yes you heard that right, Squirrels. One day he came walking past me with one in his mouth looking very happy with himself. He went under Jans car to enjoy his lunch and I went back to work.

Later that day Jan went to the store and I looked in disbelief, the only remnants of lunch was a Squirrel tail.

Yes Vinnie was an apex hunter but he was not the only one. The local thug was a large ginger Tom Cat with a huge wound on his neck that had never quite healed, I called him Neck. He was too big to be a hunter he was a more of a brawler, stealing other cats (and probably dogs) food. Neck had no friends, he had no home, he was just a huge bully.

Neck was much bigger than Vinnie, but Vinnie had speed on his side. Every week the same story would play out, Neck would chase Vinnie around the house, the pair would dash by me and Vinnie would be 20 feet up the tree to my right. He made Squirrels look klutzy, it was with one fluid motion that he made it to his favorite branch. Neck would try to follow, but never made it above 4 feet. He was too out of shape.

I liked Vinnie, oh sure you can say that I liked him because I was the only human he would trust. You would be wrong making that claim. Yes I was honored to be his friend, but what I really enjoyed was his sense of independence, he came and went as he wanted and would be controlled by no-one.

When we moved we inherited a cat, she is a harmless little thing, a needy little thing, without humans she would die. No hunting skills, if abandoned she would just fritter away. Which cat would you prefer? I’d take the little black monster every time.



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