There was a mighty howling on the far side of the hedge last night - the sound of two cats locked in bitter battle. I rushed out, calling Flad's name but the feline challenges and swearing was so loud that my anxious cries were ignored.
In the end, my partner lobbed a chunk of firewood over the hedge in their general direction, not intending to hit them but just to distract them and shortly afterwards, even though the door was open, a black and white cat with a tail like a fox's brush shot through the Portus Felides (cat flap in Latin? I hope so!).
He sank to the rug in the corner of the living room, panting and licking his lips. His paws and fur were covered in dirt. It looked as if he had been held down by his rival, a stripy tom that I call (excuse the language) Tabby Bollocks, because even his male accoutrements look like huge humbugs. Poor Flad has none at all, stripy or otherwise. When he appeared as a half-grown stray in the garden ten years back, they had already been removed - or, we suspect, had never dropped, which would explain the fact that he can't meow but can only issue a high-pitched Eek.
It was soon apparent that he had sore paws, a sore mouth and was feeling very sorry for himself. Today he is still limping and he is also completely silent. Not even the tiniest squeak. I fear his beating-up has traumatised him. Will he ever be the same cat again? The glossy-furred, golden-eyed boss of the household who ousts partner from office chair and bashes me on the leg for the entire hour that leads up to the time he gets fed? I will let you know. Meanwhile, he sleepeth on the sofa, twitching in his slumber and probably giving Tabby Bollocks a poke in the eye.
2 days ago