The first of many …

The first of hopefully many cat-ish short stories to populate this blog. This one has a special place in my heart, my first “properly” published short story and based on a real rescue cat Dot who suffered a terrible dermatitis problem, eventually managed through diet and lots of TLC. Published in spikethecat’s Adventures in Time and Space (Vol 1), here is Lucky Black Cat:

Lucky Black Cat

 By Rachel Grant

The scientists worked with furious fervour. This was their prize product. It would make a firm fortune for “Design Your Own Pet.” This was the cat that would go down in scientific history. It was a money mill.

The lucky black cat.

One of them mieawed, demanding attention. He looked at her and saw the dollars exploding. He grinned. They had bred ten of these wonder cats so far, but there were still problems. It was the skin.

The luck energy was burning them up inside. Their skin was erupting in ugly ulcers, sores scarring what should have been beautiful designer bodies.

They would never sell like this.

But already work was being done on medication, a pill to combat the negative effects of the raw energy inside them.

The lucky energy that would make the company millions. It was scientific magic, the discovery of energy that could create good luck. And filling black cats with this energy was nothing less than inspired genius.

A million dollar lucky black cat.

……………………………………………………………………

All was quiet at the Cat Shelter, the six pristine pens royally scrubbed each day for their lucky inhabitants. A sanctuary for cats, a temporary reprieve from life.

However the air was fraught with tension. The cats strolled restlessly.

Something was coming. All the cats could feel it, senses poker hot.

Something…

…unnatural.

……………………………………………………………………

Number eight would be the guinea pig. The medication had no side effect that they were aware of, but you could never be sure…

He approached her grinning. They were so close to the jackpot now. His luxurious retirement was secured, ten times over.

“Come here puss,” he crooned. She regarded him with suspicious disdain.

The pill was silky smooth in his hand. He wondered what it would do. Soon find out…

The cat growled. He grabbed her neck. She hissed hysterically. Viciously she delivered a scorching scratch. She growled again, with boiling fury.

“You little bitch!” he exclaimed in anger. Furiously he grabbed her and tossed her in a large steel box. He closed the lid with frozen finality and pressed a button.  “We’ll soon see who’s so clever!” Coldly he laughed, a chilling echo in the room.

Another of their inventions in progress. A time travel capsule.

“Let’s see how you like it one hundred years ago!” The room reverberated with his icy laughter.

……………………………………………………………………

The lady from the Cat Shelter pulled up at a fish and chip shop in Bucksburn. Reports had been received of a stray cat. Realising too late what a bad idea it was to enter a chip shop on an empty stomach, she pushed open the door. A bell rang merrily above her head. She winced.

“I believe you’re feeding a stray cat? It’s Wendy from the Cat Shelter.”

“I’m new,” stammered the woman behind the counter feebly. “All the regular staff have just left. Their lottery syndicate hit the jackpot.”

……………………………………………………………………

“What have you done!” screamed his boss with venom. “You can’t go firing one of our prize products in to the past! We must find and retrieve her. Get searching the internet. Any lucky wins one hundred years ago. We should be able to trace her. Get on to it. Now!”

 ……………………………………………………………………

Wendy arrived at the cat pens. The black cat was a sorry sight. Her neck and half her head were a fiery volcano of livid lava and putrid pus. She groaned. This one needed urgent tlc.

She only hoped the skin condition was something simple easily remedied. Perhaps a flea allergy.

Or merely the stress of stray cat survival.

The cat mieawed for attention, her past a slumbering secret in her eyes.

 ……………………………………………………………………

“Well? Have you found anything yet?” demanded the man’s boss.

He grinned sheepishly. “Oh yes. You’re going to love this.”

 ……………………………………………………………………

They called her Dot. Her eyes sparkled with starry fire. All the volunteers loved her.

As did the vet. He tried everything he could for her.

Gradually the special bland diet worked and her fur grew back. Slowly she metamorphosed in to a glowing beauty.

Wendy smiled. All their work was worth it, when you saw this tentative transformation in progress.

Then she sighed. Who would want to take on a cat who needed a special diet and constant monitoring?

Someone would, she decided. That special person was always out there.

Someday, somewhere.

 ……………………………………………………………………

Sometime.

The man laughed humourlessly. “You know the Cat Shelter, our biggest enemies?”

“Of course.” His boss glowered at him. “Their campaign to stop our work is gaining momentum. What about them?”

“Just look at this. It will stop them in their tracks.”

Time seemed to stop as they both laughed.

 ……………………………………………………………………

Time ticked slowly on.

It had been six months and still no new owner for Dot. She gazed piteously at the cat pen feeders. Each and every one loved her, ignorant of the intense irony of a million dollar designer cat going free, and still no home.

However they were aware of a crazy coincidence: each volunteer who had bought one of the recent raffle tickets on sale for another local rescue charity had won a prize. Justine, the Pens Supervisor, won first prize of £1000, and instantly donated half back to Cat Shelter.

Dot purred on, benign bliss glowing from her eyes.

She knew she was special. She tried to touch each volunteer who entered her pen, rubbing her head madly against them.

She knew what she had. Her wordless stare could tell so much, but there was no need.

The magic worked anyway.

……………………………………………………………………

The man’s boss giggled uncontrollably. “The idiots! Defying our project! And all the time – look at this!”

The 2008 newspaper article glared at them from the screen, grinning defiantly with its insane story. “Cat Shelter Branch Wins Lottery Jackpot.”

“It has to be,” mumbled the man’s boss. “It has to be our cat…You have to go back. Go back and find her!”

 ……………………………………………………………………

It was the Cat Shelter Open Day. A fierce frown fingered Wendy’s face as she regarded Dot. It had been a year now, and no home. Surely today … Dot’s time was well overdue.

The first visitors began to arrive. Luck was on their side. It was a gorgeous day, the sun kissing the pens and licking it inhabitants in a humid haze. They should see good numbers today.

A tall man in a suit was staring at Wendy. He looked out of place among the casual Sunday crew. Slowly he walked over.

“Er … any black cats?” he barked.

She instantly disliked him. She could not tell why. “Yes, just the one,” she replied in a monotone. This gentleman, she decreed, was absolutely not going to be Dot’s new owner.

 ……………………………………………………………………

There were more articles. “Lucky Black Cat: Jackpot Winner Cat Shelter Offers £250,000 to New Home for Special Needs Cat.” It grew steadily worse. According to the article, the Cat Shelter were running a competition to find the most deserving owner for their special needs cat.

Special needs indeed. She was a designer dream.

The man began to laugh. “I just have to meet these idiots.”

……………………………………………………………………

The man produced a tiny camera from a back pocket. Wendy glared at him. He ignored her while he madly took photos of Dot.

Wendy sighed. Please tell me he isn’t a journalist. Mind you, any press was good press.

……………………………………………………………………

“We need proof that this is one of our cats,” declared the man’s boss. “We’ll leave her in the past to weave her wizardry. All we want is the proof. Then we can shut the Cat Shelter up once and for all. We are after all their saviours!”

“We could even do a deal with them,” decided the man. “They could screen  homes for our cats. We could give them a miniscule per cent of our profits. That should raise our profile with all the animal righters! Get the whole lot of moaners off our backs!”

“Good thinking, good thinking … Now all we need is the hard evidence.”

……………………………………………………………………

The man had left. Wendy was relieved that he had not offered a home to Dot. However, neither had anyone else.

The poor cat did not seem to have any luck.

……………………………………………………………………

In her pen, Dot slept. Waking briefly, she wondered how many people had touched her that day. Not nearly enough.

But she knew they would forget her. Luck would lance their lives while she became a meaningless memory.

Just a black cat in a cat shelter, a sad story to be tossed away with yesterday’s news.

……………………………………………………………………

Wendy sighed. It had been a long day.

“I’ve been thinking,” said Moira, another volunteer, approaching her. “Why don’t we start a lottery ticket, just for Cat Shelter? I’m sure we could afford one pound a week. And you never know…”

“No,” declared Wendy vehemently. “That was what that strange man suggested to me. And any idea of his … a definite no no.”

“Oh well,” shrugged Moira. “Just an idea. We probably wouldn’t have won anything anyway…”

……………………………………………………………………

Dot stretched in her sleep. Time ticked on as the future froze.

 

 

 

 

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Playtime Paradise at Cat Pens

Another Sunday morning scrubbing our cat pens for the souls in our temporary care, sanitised and re-sanitised, cat infectious bacteria does not stand a chance! Mia the Delightful full of manic mischief, bouncing around the outer corridor when her turn to play, sadly also pacing frantically. Out of them all, she is in most desperate need of a home with a big garden, but a one year young mottled tortie should surely entrap someone’s heart very soon

Beautiful Molly sedate and dainty, a long-haired tabby, she is the picture-perfect cat, with a serene temperament to match.

New boy Marty is full of affection and headbutts, he is no stranger to love but is a stray, someone surely is missing him, somewhere.

Poppy and Maisie, sweet tortie and white girls, pleased to see me and ready to play in the cat tunnels. Likewise Trixie: the cat tunnels belong to her alone, so she thinks, she adores dashing through them.

Finally poor Milo, recovering from a bacterial gastro-intestinal upset, and hence cleaned last, and not allowed out in the corridor to play. He is a sweet white (with black spots) cat, a gentle soul who hopefully very soon will put both his illness – and homelessness – behind him.

Resident feral Aaron around for his breakfast, over the years he has slowly learned to trust us all. I don’t know how old he is now, surely a teenager, but a healthy one.

And then home to play with my own gorgeous moggie, Tessa! She is a rescue who I met at the pens.

Tessa

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Tessa

Here is my secret treasure, my cherished companion Tessa. Expect lots of updates about her over the days (hopefully weeks, months) to come. She is a rescue puss, but is very much at home now. This is her in her favourite chair – we all need one of those don’t we?

Antics at the Pens

Hello and welcome to my new blog! I will start with an update on my volunteer role at a local cat shelter. Six comfortable pens pristinely scrubbed: seven cats royally petted. Mia a bundle of boisterous fun, she is desperate for a large garden to play in, and being young and beautiful (a dark tortie girl) I have no doubt this wish will shortly be granted! New cat tabby Molly gracefulness incarnate; the embodiment of feline poetry. Trixie adventurous as ever, another one with a large garden in store. But poor Milo not allowed out of his pen to play, due to a stomach infection – seems on good form though, as friendly as ever! And that was my feline-ful Sunday morning.