Puss in residence.

A ginger cat has adopted us. One night, I came home and there he was, sitting on the doorstep; since then, he has taken to sleeping on a shelf above the woodpile on top of a jute bag and my gardening gloves. We had never seen him before and although, as a family, we have never owned a cat, he (we don’t know whether he is a boy, but genetically most gingers are male) has become a welcome, if slightly wild, friend to all except the astonished terriers. I wonder where he has come from?

As a boy, I had a cat called Whisky, which disappeared one day and we presumed the worst. Two years later, while hacking out my horse miles from home, I spotted a cat that looked just like Whisky and, on an impulse, called out ‘puss, puss, puss’, which we shouted out at feed time. She ran towards me and I knew it was her. It turned out that she’d been found in a snare and, disorientated, had lost her way home.

She came back to live with us, catching many mice for a further five years. Our ginger friend is taking over the household and now gets a saucer of milk in the morning from my daughter. I’m reminded of the quote: ‘Dogs have owners, cats have staff.’