This Christmas and its feline-themed presents.
Two years since I hung up my mop bucket and broom, I remember fondly a decade and a year of volunteering at the local cat shelter. So many feline friendships, some fleeting, some etched in time like a memory engraved on your heart.
I recall gentle grey giant Tyson, an elderly gentleman later diagnosed with thyroid disease; the turbulent team of Spritzer, Tango and Morgan – the most charming feral kittens ever, the pens were their playground and fun resounded in the air; dignified black and white Cleo and Jess, the longest residents when I first started in 2002; playful kittens Bubble and Squeak, and so many many more.
But the sweetest memory of all was meeting my own cat Tessa, so shy and startled when first at the shelter, nerves and affection competing as she pondered each new volunteer to enter her pen. She has blossomed over the last few years, confidence clawing away the debris of trauma. There can be no greater joy than the love of a pet.
Here Tessa is with her catnip mouse.