|Jerry in his prime|
We saw him again not long after, in a terrible state. He was holding one back leg out awkwardly, and his left eye was full of blood. We couldn't get near him.
|He was a terrible fighter - you should see the other guy|
Then after the big move we began to see more of him. We called him Abri, short for abricot after the colour of his fur and because he liked being in a warm shelter (abri) from the weather. Baron and RonRon accepted him with surprisingly little rancour, and he began to come in for regular meals. He was escorted outside at night, though, and slept in the barn. We treated his parasites, tended his frequent wounds, and made a fuss of him, which he loved. From the start he was the most amiable, easy-going cat. Slowly he grew from a skinny feral moggy to a fine-looking tom with a splendid ruff.
He had two shotgun pellets under the skin, one on his back and one on a foreleg near the elbow. How he got those goodness knows, but he must have been a good long way from the shooter, and he probably wasn't the target. Much closer and either pellet would have crippled him.
|He spent much of the day asleep, preferably with company|
Winter came, and we hadn't the heart to kick him out into freezing temperatures. After a few accidents he started using the litter tray, and apart from the bad habit of spraying he was becoming a house cat. He was particularly fond of the underfloor heating, even more when there was a rug to lie on.
|My last picture of Jerry, taken in April|
It was only when talking to Alex and Nicole about cats in general and particular that we worked out that he was originally their cat, one of two brothers named Tom and Jerry. While they were kittens things were fine, except that Nicole and their daughters were allergic to them. Then they grew up, there was an immense fight and Tom drove his brother out. That may be what you get if you name a cat after a mouse. Anyway, we called him Jerry after that.
Alex told us that the kittens were never house cats, and weren't taught to use a litter tray. Jerry had learned that by himself, by watching the others and finding they didn't get yelled at if they did their business in the tray. In return, Baron learned that widdling outdoors was allowed. He was a proficient hunter - once we saw him with a water vole in his mouth - but he was content to clear up Baron's prey after that picky animal had taken the choice bits. He would eat anything in the catfood line, which gave us the chance to dispose of tins that our two had taken an aversion to.
You may notice that we are referring to Jerry in the past tense. We haven't seen him since Easter. He often used to vanish for up to four days, and come back looking battered or smug or both. These disappearances often coincided with long bank holiday weekends, or ponts. We have speculated as to what happened to him - he could have been run over, or shut in an outhouse of a second home, or a new admirer may have taken him back to Paris with them. We'd love to see his teddybear face at the front door first thing in the morning as usual, but we don't hold out much hope now.
Here's to you Jerry, in this world or the next. It was nice knowing you, and we miss you - all four of us.