Blueboy and Old Mother Bobtail

Jonathan Joseph wasn’t our only cat. A cat with a fine blue-grey coat started to hang around the house. There were often cats without owners in those days. He was very shy and would run when people came too near. Mum began to feed him and after a few months, she could pat his smooth back. Nobody else ever could get that close. Mum named him Blueboy.

Blueboy as always a loner except when fish was on the menu. My father loved to fish and caught many from the shore and from his boat. He would gut and filet them and give the heads to Mum for the cats’ dinner. She boiled them up in her pressure cooker and all the time, they were cooking, Blueboy and Jonathan Joseph haunted the back porch. In fact they attached themselves to the door and stayed glued to the screen when the door was opened and shut. Mum used to place the cooked heads on the path where the cats flipped them over until the flesh was cool enough to eat. I don’t remember to BLueboy. After a few years, he disappeared.

Old Mother Bobtail was a very prolific stray who liked to have her kittens in Dad’s boat shed. We called her bobtail because she had a stumpy tail which we assumed was the result of an accident. But when we noticed she had some stumpy-tailed kittens, we realized that she was probably a Manx cat.¬† As a child, I didn’t think about where all the kittens went until I found my grandfather drowning a batch in a bucket of water. This upset me and when the next family appeared, I persuaded him to keep them. We managed to give all away except two. The brother and sister went out of town, going all the way to Mahia to be adopted by Mick Neal, a local fisherman and eccentric.resident.

Uncle Alan drove me, my sister and the adoptees to the beach. The kittens cried so pitifully n their box that we persuaded my uncle to let them out. One promptly jumped for the driver’s side window causing poor Alan to swerve violently. He just avoided landing us all in a deep drain. The kittens were returned to the box.

I can’t recall the female’s name but sight unseen , Mick had named the male Mr. Tompkins. When Mick examined the bobtail kitten, he instantly became Mrs. Tompkins. From then on, Mick gave us a hard time about not being able to tell the difference between girls and boys. Mrs. Tompkins and her sister joined Mick’s cat family. They all lived on fish and ate from a row of saucers in the shack’s lean-to. So at least two o Old Mother Bobtail’s progeny had a good home.

I don’t know when Old Mother Bobtail disappeared. Possibly, she vanished after I went away to boarding school. But she wasn’t the last of the cats. Next week I will write about¬† Stevie and Ming.

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