Her name was Black Beauty, christened after her owner’s favourite childhood book. A black cat with a few rebel white hairs on her chest, she could purr as if auditioning for a talent show, a melodic whisper of other worlds. In her eyes, little moons shone, black cat magic in her veins.
It was Halloween. Black Beauty gave birth to five black kittens while children roamed the streets dressed as ghosts. However the real magic was here, in Black Beauty’s safe space cupboard. Her poor owner had no idea she was pregnant, believing her to be eating too much and under the false impression that the stray she had adopted was neutered.
The surprise could wait for morning. For now, Black Beauty enjoyed her private time with her little balls of molten magic.
Far away, in the Scottish Highlands, a wildcat also gave birth. Five perfect kittens, little black wildcats with black coats and even darker black stripes. History had been ignited, a new flame that could not be extinguished. The black wildcats would learn magical abilities, the power to protect, the spirit of a superhero.
Black Beauty’s kittens were all rehomed, and became guardians to the child of their new family, a young person to protect and guide.
The black highland kittens would likewise become protectors. They would find a farm with children, visiting each night, silently prowling and guarding the young souls sleeping behind the quiet windows.
Halloween was in their hearts, a time of year when they would release their true superpowers. The black cats would patrol school backgrounds, spreading their feline spell. All school bullying would stop for the day, even for the entire month after their visit. The school children loved the cats, who in turn became a Halloween urban legend, Halloween black cats who would appear once a year like magic.
Meanwhile, the black Highland wildcats would spread their own Highland magic every Halloween, moving along roads and onto farms, allowing themselves to be seen and admired from afar. A highland myth of magical black Highland cats was born.
Each Halloween eve, a magic portal would open to a midnight forest glade, glistening in soft moonlight, pine needles creating a carpet of fresh fragrance, a safe space in a distant dimension. The black cats would meet there, in a land beyond time, and share their stories. The light of a full moon would stroke their fur, as their eyes shone with fierce fire. This was their time, and their place. Halloween, their birthday, a night as magical as they were. Halloween, a night to run free, a festival of feline lore.
Sarah’s three cats relaxed by the fire in a way that only cats can, a tapestry of black and white woven together in to a feline spell. Alice, Amy and Arnold brought untold joy; Sarah was so pleased that she had attended the Cats Protection open day the year before, looking for a kitten but taking home three adult siblings instead. A blessing in fur and whiskers; a vision of contentment and catnip fun.
However fun fled that night as Arnold disappeared. He did not come for breakfast the next day; he did not come for his evening meal. Still he did not appear the following day, or the next. Weeks passed, mutating to months, hatching as years. He was gone.
Sarah dreamt of him most nights. He was standing, still and regal, in a stone circle. Then he turned and was gone, merging in to the dreamlike mist all around.
With quiet desperation she searched online for stone circles in the area. There were three in a ten mile radius. She visited the first two to no avail; however at the third circle she found his red collar. Sarah ran through the surrounding woods, calling his name. But there was no sign of him.
Arnold sniffed his way round the stone circle, the air alive with feline wisdom. Shivering in a wind that felt as cold as centuries old snow, he could hear ancestors whisper in his ears. It could have been any day, but it was this one. A day that destiny would devour, like a vulture on its last meal.
The temperature suddenly changed, from cold to warmth in a second. Arnold sniffed the air, surprised. The day felt … different. A black cat approached from the other side of the circle. Its eyes glittered in reflected sunlight, like mirrors to another world.
Cautiously, they sniffed noses. “I am Adele, and I have come to get help from this magic stone circle. A cat who lives on my street told me about it. The circle sends you to another time. Watch, I will leave now and I will disappear, to find a better home.”
Adele walked slowly between two of the stones, and was gone.
Suddenly, Arnold was back at the first stone he had sniffed. Time shifted beneath his feet as the world plunged into darkness, stars above like the light of better futures, beacons of hope for the lost soul.
He began to sniff his way round the circle again. Another cat approached, eyes like full moons in the dim light. “Hello, I am Jasper. I have come to this magic circle to be free.” Jasper then walked out of the stone circle and was gone.
The grass moved beneath his feet, and he was back at the first stone again, the world spinning as grey daylight overtook the night. A light rain fell.
A grey cat who matched the sky above approached slowly. “Hello stone circle cat, I am here to request its magic. A new time and a new owner!”
“What is this magic?” asked Arnold.
“All the local cats know about it, not happy with your current home, you come here. You will find a better one on the other side of the circle.”
“But I am happy in my home,” pondered Arnold. “What will happen to me?”
Arnold skipped round the circle, then returned to the first stone, to begin his exploration anew. He did not know that he was in a time loop, but he sensed that something was not right. It was like he was trapped in the largest cat basket ever, he could see out of the circle but he could not walk free.
Sarah stopped her search for Arnold. He was gone. She learned to live without him, but would never forget, another feline footprint in that part of her heart that almost but did not break. How could it break when there were still two beautiful cats to look after?
So Sarah, Alice and Amy continued their lives together, curling up at night to dreams they did not remember, meeting Arnold somewhere cold, a frozen feeling in their hearts that evaporated with the dawn.
Years passed; Sarah’s hair turned grey as the cats’ whiskers grew white and their eyes saw less and less. The arthritic felines still slept each night on Sarah’s bed, the slumber of the old, a sleep from which one day they might not awaken. Then that day came, both cats sleeping their forever, bodies still and cold. Sarah awoke to the pain that all pet owners must one day face. She picked up a stray whisker, as the tears fell.
Arnold had been in the stone circle for days now, and finally pangs of hunger broke through the mysterious unease in his heart. He must eat.
A white cat approached him across the circle. “I am your guardian cat angel,” she purred softly. “I have come to send you home. Exit the circle by that stone there, then go home.”
“Home? My own home? Not a new home like all these other cats I have met?”
“Your home,” said the cat with her deep green eyes on his. “Go now.”
Arnold ran and ran. He could not wait to leave the stone circle behind. Then he was there, at his house and sprinting through the cat flap.
Sarah sipped her cold tea, then heard the sound of the cat flap. She froze. It was a week now since Alice and Amy had slipped away. Who then was coming through the cat flap?
Slowly she walked to the kitchen, then stopped in disbelief, turning to dizzy delight. It was Arnold! Looking not a day older.
Sarah hugged her cat as though she had not seen him for years, as indeed she had not. “Arnold, my Arnold.” Grief melted as happiness hugged her heart.
Tears streamed down Sarah’s face, joy and grief intertwined like the ribbon of life. Arnold sniffed her hair, his knowing eyes sparkling. Magic misted the air around them, as miracles unwound in their hearts. It was a day of destiny; it was another chance at love; it was a cat spell in freefall.
A few miles away, a stone circle sparkled under the sun, secrets hidden deep in its stone, mysteries silent as the sky above. Slowly, a stray cat entered the circle, hope in his heart. A better destiny would dawn.
Five year old Adele lay on her bed in tears. Her best friend, her tender soulmate Theodore the Teddy had disappeared. Without him, she was bereft. Her heart hiccupped with grief.
Then she heard it, a low meowing. At her window.
Slowly she opened the curtains, and smiled in sudden delight at the sight of a white cat on her windowsill, one eye amber and one eye blue. He was a dream cat come true.
As Adele opened the window, the cat picked up something in its mouth. Why it was her teddy!
Adele clapped her hands, happiness painting her features with sunshine.
The cat dropped the teddy in to her waiting hands, rubbed around her body, then jumped back through the window and was gone. She never saw him again, her angel feline.
Snow White Sam ran though the garden, right in to the arms of his next mission.
Children were at the heart of most of his adventures, new souls who could – who would – achieve so much, but who sometimes needed a gentle paw to push them onwards.
Janine and Tracy were in the village park, tears abundant as they shared their woes. Sam ran up to them and rubbed around their legs. It was time to take them somewhere special.
He began to walk, looking behind and meowing. They took the bait, and followed, their blonde ponytails swaying in the wind, whispering in their ears of a better tomorrow.
Two streets away, a green garden door led to a secret space, a piece of public land hidden and forgotten. Sam scratched at the door, which the girls obligingly opened.
A petite wild garden confronted them, with an old well, like a vision of a magical world on the edge of reality.
It was a wishing well. Sam led them to it, and jumped on to its rim.
The girls hastily pulled on the old rope, as the bucket ascended to their eager eyes.
The bucket was full to the top with parched yellow envelopes, ancient letters from a distant past. Sam pawed them playfully. The girls chose a letter each.
Tracy’s letter implored her in old-fashioned ink: “Speak telepathically to the cat next to you.” She stared at the paper in disbelief. How was this possible? Then she tried it. “Hello,” she whispered in her mind. “I am Sam,” was the reply. “I help children.”
Janine’s letter however was more exciting. It depicted a treasure map, featuring their village and its wild paths that snaked deep in to the countryside. There, in a copse of trees, was an X. At the foot of the map, almost illegible writing proclaimed “X is a magical dragon egg. Whoever finds it, will gain a magnificent companion and guide for life.”
“What are you waiting for!” screeched Tracy over her shoulder. “Let’s follow the treasure trail!”
Sam was left alone, as always. He gazed in to the magic wishing well, and wished for a family of his own. Perhaps one day he would find it, the day his adventures were over, the day he could just enjoy being a fun feline for a while.
He pushed open the green door. It disappeared behind him, leaving an unmarked wall. Hidden from the world, the garden’s magic would continue nonetheless.
Sam continued on to his next child. There were still hours before dusk. Many minutes to play with, seconds to save a child’s fate. For the children are the future, and their destiny danced safely in Sam’s soul. It was time to play like a six year old, as the kitten in his heart awoke. It was time to be a child.
Avril looked out her window, boredom pulsing like a headache within. Then she saw him. A white cat with different coloured eyes. He jumped on to her windowsill, and with joy replacing the headache she quickly let him in. Having a cat of her own, she even had some food she could give him. The cat ate with the hunger of days. She laughed, a new feline friend is always fun.
A prayer of playfulness filled the room, as Sam purred with a cat’s contentment.
There were hours still before dusk, and magic to sing in meows. The day was as young as a perfect white cat’s heart.
Billy and Teddy’s eyes shone in the moonlight. The black and grey cats crouched close together. The garden was still, a light wind whispering in the trees, like secrets being shushed before they were spoken.
Ambrose regarded them with his patronising eyes. He was the giant ginger cat who had orchestrated their previous adventures. “Tonight, I share with you my story. This time, we travel in the time capsule together.”
“Where or when are we going?”
Ambrose’s eyes sparkled with an inner sun. “You will see!”
The moon kissed the capsule with its silver light. It whirred and came to life. Then it was gone.
They had arrived. Billy and Teddy were astounded at the desert all around. They had never seen anything like it. A towering and half feline face looked down on them.
“We are in Egypt, and this is the Sphinx,” explained Ambrose. “You are here to learn its, and my, secrets. The knowledge you gain tonight, will make you the most powerful cat healers this world will ever know. Follow me.”
Ambrose strode confidently towards a giant Sphinx paw as a door opened before him, the stone groaning like an old man. “Hurry up!” screamed Ambrose telepathically. “This door is secret! We can’t have it open and in plain view for a second longer than we need!”
The three cats entered a dimly lit chamber, flickering candles throwing light around them, shadows circling their feet as wonders hit their eyes like arrows from a crazy adventurer.
“These candles are magic,” explained Ambrose. “They light themselves whenever anyone enters the chamber, which is very seldom indeed, in fact we are probably the first for centuries.”
The light danced in their eyes, then slowly settled like a flock of startled birds coming back to earth. They could see seven sphinx statues, cat like beasts with mysterious eyes. Billy arched his tail nervously. A deep magic sent an electric current through them. The statues were silent however seemed to speak, so strong was their presence.
“These sphinx statues contain timeless secrets. The most dramatic secrets however, are in the heart of the main sphinx whose paw we are now in. But that can wait for another day. Today, let me introduce Avalona, Miracle, Destina, Oracle, Golden, Wisdom … and finally, Ambrose.”
“Yes. This is a statue of me in my former life. I was a sphinx in Ancient Egypt, and I was a guide to a king. We have all reincarnated as cats, but one day we may return as sphinxes. The day that cats are once again revered on Earth as gods, is the day the sphinxes come back. And that will be the start of paradise on Earth.”
“So sphinxes were real?”
“Very much so, we contain the wisdom of ancient worlds, and will one day birth the secret to a new heaven here on Earth. Today, I will introduce you to the statue Golden. All sphinxes are unique, and all meow to their own molten magic.”
Ambrose rubbed his head around Golden’s sandstone paw.
Immediately, the sphinx’s eyes lit up, launching two golden beams of light across the cavern.
“Come closer,” commanded Ambrose. “This light will attune you to the golden healing ray. It is very special, with the power to increase intelligence, rejuvenate brain tissue and impart wisdom. You will now carry this ray of light, and can heal all you come in to contact with.”
Billy and Teddy closed their eyes as golden rays caressed their minds. As often happens half way through an adventure, they suddenly felt like a nap, and lay down at the golden sphinx’s feet.
“What are you doing!” roared Ambrose. “What a pair of heroes you are! Wake up! If you look in to this sphinx’s eyes, it will relay a timeless secret to you. It is actually possible to connect to the feline sphinx’s soul through its eyes. This is the soul currently residing thousands of years ago in Egypt. This whole crypt is a time travel tunnel of telepathy.”
Billy and Teddy did as instructed, their brains tingling as they stared in to the enigmatic gold eyes before them.
“A secret word. It will transport you to Ancient Egypt whenever you are in danger or need help … We will be there and will come to your aid. This is the word … ”
Billy and Teddy grinned as only cats do, by closing their eyes. The message was clear, they had powerful new friends. Would Ancient Egypt be their next adventure?
“Time for home,” instructed Ambrose. “But we will be back! In time, you will be introduced to the secrets of each sphinx here … even one day, my own mysteries. There are seven sphinx statues here, you will get to know each one. One day there will be nine statues, to represent the mythical nine lives of a cat. But time to go.”
Back home, Billy and Teddy finally succumbed to slumber. A golden meadow stretched before them, and they chased golden butterflies and nibbled on golden grass.
As they slept, many miles away day dawned in Egypt as the Sphinx suddenly shone gold. Early tourists stared in amazement. Then the sphinx reverted to its normal sandstone hues. The moment passed, decreed to be a trick of the sun.
In the Sphinx’s ancient eyes, secrets burned like invisible suns. Billy and Teddy stretched in their sleep, dreams like jewels in their heart. When they awoke, they felt refreshed … and did they really feel more intelligent? Something had changed in their brain, it was easier to think. As they left their bed, a golden whisker shone in the sun. Then it changed colour back to black.
They agreed that this had been the best adventure of all. Gold energy lit their hearts as the sun rose higher in the sky. It was time to play, to be a stranger to strife and a friend of fun. It was time to be normal cats … until the next adventure beckoned.
Far away, seven sphinx statues emitted a low moan, however there was no one to hear. Billy and Teddy continued to play, the mysteries of their world sleeping … for now. The early sun shone as though night could never come, and summer never end. Billy and Teddy chased contentment, not a care in their golden hearts. One day, sphinxes might return to Earth, bringing their promise of paradise. A new tomorrow would dawn, and with it a feline destiny of golden hope.
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (director: Will Sharpe) is a first class and fascinating film which portrays the life of genius artist Louis Wain (1860 –1939). Uplifting and moving, the film charts Wain’s rise as a renowned illustrator of cats: depicting felines with oversized eyes and latterly in larger than life psychedelic detail. An incredible talent, Wain’s marriage, widowhood and final descent in to madness are relayed with sensitivity and stark detail.
As a cat lover, Wain served as president of the UK’s National Cat Club, and contributed to the global rise in popularity of feline pets. To him, felines everywhere owe a debt of gratitude.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy excel in the star roles of Wain and wife Emily. Wit tangoes with wisdom, emotion waltzes with enlightened monologues. The film is at once life-affirming and sad, a journey through love, notable achievement, fame and finally the fog of mental illness, a mist that shrouds a life with mystery and regret.
This film is a must see for art and cat enthusiasts alike.
Irina walked slowly through the old house, brushing her wanton dark curls from her face, brown eyes glowing with fervent fire. The creak of ancient floorboards sung a story beneath her feet, the beat of time sending shivers up her legs. Old pipework groaned, a poem of the passage of life. The new house was medicine to her soul, a powerful place in which to finish her novel.
Her beloved tabby cat Tabitha had peacefully passed away only weeks ago. The novel would be a celebration of her life; the story of a cat lover and sanctuary manager who learned to talk to cats, using the ancient language of telepathy.
Walking down the stairs in time to its creaks, Irina suddenly stopped. She could hear a cat purring. Irina hunted through the house. However there was no cat. An imagination on fire, that was all.
That night, Irina awoke abruptly, jumping as if she had heard a shot. She had felt a cat kneading the blankets next to her. She turned on the light. Nothing there.
Over the next few days, a pattern formed: distant purrs and night-time kneaders. Never a cat in sight. Was the house haunted by a feline soul?
It was New Year’s Eve. Irina sat alone but not lonely, her fictional characters chattering in her head, a strange solace. Absent-mindedly she moved her hand to stroke Tabitha, and then stared at the empty spot on her lap as tears finally formed in her eyes.
Then she heard it, punctuating the quiet atmosphere of the house like a drum.
A miaowing coming from her bedroom. She ran upstairs. However, despite searching the entire room, including removing all boxes from the wardrobe, there was no cat to be found.
That night, Irina again felt a cat kneading her blankets. This time, she did not even bother turning on the light.
On New Year’s morning, a crimson sunrise greeted her. As she set the coffee machine to go, Irina turned round in soul-slapping surprise. Someone – something – was scratching her back door.
Nervously, she opened the door. A large tabby cat confronted her, marching in as though he lived there. Irina smiled. Was this her ghost? But how could he have hidden from her?
Irina named him Zac. Despite attempts at advertisement, no owner materialised. Her local vet scanned for a microchip, but there was none. He was hers, and how her heart hiccupped with joy at the prospect of keeping him!
The midnight miaows, nightly kneading and distant purrs all disappeared. In their place, a real live cat had claimed her heart and secured his food dish.
Irina finished her novel. She typed the last line, then bounded down the stairs, Zac in tow. Time to relax. Zac curled on her knee, as a crimson sunrise shimmered in her chest, rays of celebration in her heart.
In Irina’s office, the computer keyboard lay lifeless, until one black whisper fell on the letter T. A sound of purring whispered in the room, and then all was silent. The room was empty. An old soul lingered for one minute longer, eyes glowing with supernatural gold. Then it was gone.
Downstairs, Irina’s smile was stuck on her face like a stamp. She thought of the last lines of her book, and wondered whether she should reword them. “A love of a cat endures long after their death, like a a sun that can never burn out. Feel that love, and you will never be alone.”
A stray draft tousled her hair, then was gone. Zac slowly licked her hand. Peace claimed the house, like a cloud of serenity, raining down silence. Irina closed her eyes, contentment caressing her heart. It was a new year, time for the ghosts of yesterday to go home. New days would come, and with them new dreams. Zac began to purr, a song for tomorrow.
Noah lay in bed, tears rolling down his cheeks, a heavy stone turning in his heart. This was his first Christmas without Cheetah, his much adored Bengal cat. He had written to Santa asking for a kitten, however his mother had informed him that Santa did not give out living animals as gifts, and in fact no one should, as Christmas gifts may end up in an animal shelter after only weeks or months. “A cat is for life, not just for Christmas,” she intoned solemnly. “Besides, we will get you a kitten in the spring.”
However for once in her life, his mother would be proved wrong.
Noah awoke to feel something moving next to him. He stifled a scream, his six year old body quivering, his ginger curls standing in electric shock.
Tentatively, he opened his eyes.
A white kitten lay curled up before him, deep yellow eyes begging him to play.
Noah giggled. Had Santa really brought him a kitten?
A piece of paper lay on his bedside table, with lyrical old-fashioned writing like a missive from the past. “Love him like a glittering jewel, his feline power is beyond priceless.”
And so began a fifteen year relationship of fun and frolics. He named the kitten Miracle, as that is what he was and always would be.
Noah’s Mum was speechless. Had her husband bought the kitten without telling her? However, she quickly resigned to the presence of the new feline.
Noah grew in confidence and hurtled feet first in to a new happiness. Miracle lit up his heart like an inner candle of joy. He began a new hobby, football, and in-between practice spent happy hours with his cat.
Little did he know, that Miracle really did suit his name. He was a magic cat, chosen by Santa just for Noah. Every time Miracle looked in to Noah’s eyes, he imparted deep and ancient wisdom. Noah grew in more than just size, as maturity and magic magnified his mind.
The football hobby eventually turned professional; Noah had realised his dream. However, the day after his first record-breaking goal, the sixteen year old Miracle died. He had delivered his mission; Miracle had helped Noah grow in to the man he was and the man he would become. Miracle had furnished a new future, just as Santa had hoped and had foreseen.
Noah became famous, a pin up poster boy for young teenage girls. At the pinnacle of the young man’s stardom, dark times threatened to devour the planet. War whispered on the horizon, world peace as frail as a one hundred year old piece of paper.
It was during this period that Noah delivered the speech of his life during a routine TV interview.
“I have a heart to hope, and a soul to cry. Let’s choose the tears of friendship, and scrub out sobs of war and terror. Let’s choose peace over war, let’s create a paradise not a graveyard. Let every man and child, everywhere, live to see the sunset rise again in the pinks and reds of a brave new dawn. Let’s leave our children a better, a safer, a more peaceful world. Let’s begin now. Alight the flames of love in your heart, look at your brothers and sisters, feel their pain, share their hopes and fears. Remember we are one, one human race, one planet. The future is ours to set free. Set it free to be reborn like a phoenix from the flames, set it free to deliver happiness and health to all, set it free to pulse to the quiet drum of peace. Banish the dismal drums of war forever. The future is ours, it is ours to mould like clay, let’s become master potters and mould the world we really want to see. Let peace perfume our world, a fragrance for the future of all time. Let love light our souls. Let compassion calm our rage, and empathy erode our divisions. It is time to stand united. It is time to say, enough, no more. It is time to create a paradise right here on Earth.”
Noah’s speech went viral. His message struck a chord at the heart of each nation, and the people knew a fresh hope.
Father Christmas watched with a silent smile on his lips. He had chosen Noah well. Miracle had performed his purrful magic to perfection.
However there was no rest for Santa. It was time to choose a magic Christmas kitten for yet another child. Santa’s smile grew wider.
Charlie turned over in bed, excited for Christmas Day, wishing it were here already. As he closed his eyes, a whisker fell on his pillow. A ginger kitten sniffed his hair, and curled up in the arch of his legs. Charlie would awake to a new friend … and the world would one day know a new leader. A man with the love of a cat colouring his soul. A leader with the innate instinct of a cat, and with feline secrets in his heart.
Teddy woke up, his eyes twitching with dream-driven excitement. He had met King Teo, Ruler of Tigers. A huge tiger with twinkling wise eyes. “I am giving you a mission,” intoned King Teo. “Save the Highland Wildcat.”
Teddy meowed softly. Billy raised his head, whiskers twitching. “We have a new mission,” said Teddy.
The two cats stared in to each other’s eyes, their previous adventures roaring in their hearts.
“We need to help the Highland Tiger. I guess we should ask Ambrose what to do.”
Ambrose was the regal Cat Elder who had assigned all their previous adventures, a large ginger cat with a vicious sense of humour. They had never attempted to summon him before. Using feline psychic powers, they blasted him a message using a mystic wavelength. Cheaper than the phones their parents played with! “Ambrose, we ask for a mission to save the Highland Wildcat!”
Billy and Teddy looked at each other, a cat grin lighting their eyes as they heard the familiar whirring of Ambrose’s time capsule.
Then it was time to explain about King Teo. Ambrose regarded them sternly. “You boys have been up to unsanctioned mischief! The time capsule is not for frolics and fun. But yes I will help you.”
Ambrose’s eyes lit up with inner fire as he mentally planned their adventure.
After several minutes, he spoke (in cat telepathy of course), with a determined demeanour.
“Do you recall the healing energy I attuned you both to so many cat moons ago now?”
“How could we forget,” said Teddy drily.
“I have a new magic energy for you. You will be Feline Healers Supreme! And there are so many more adventures that could use this energy … “
Ambrose jumped in to his time capsule. He returned as violet smoke filled the room, emitting from the capsule like a swarm of ferocious fireflies.
Billy and Teddy felt their eyelids droop, as the smoke of a thousand senses massaged their minds.
“Wake up you fools! The smoke is attuning you to rejuvenation energy. You can impart it to anyone you rub around. It is a longevity pill. For a cat, you will gift them an extra two or three hundred years to live!”
“What about our humans?”
“This energy is feline, it only works on cats. But cats are magic. Heal the right cat with this, and you heal the world.”
“Okay, so how does this help Highland Wildcats?”
“There are beautiful feline souls I visit often, resident at Highland Wildlife Park. Alas, they are not wild and free. But these wildcats have the perfect chance to produce kittens. The longer they live, the more kittens there will be, kittens who will be released in to the wild and will repopulate the Scottish hills and glens with our feline poetry in motion, stanza in stripes cat – the Highland Tiger.”
So the three cats climbed on to the sofa and planned, purred and planned. Then it was time for Billy and Teddy to weave their molten magic.
Wildcat William slept in his pen, deep within the Highland Wildlife Park. He dreamt of a beautiful princess, a wildcat named Leiana with mystic powers. He purred as he slept, a perfect dream of a better tomorrow. Then the sound of a bizarre today awoke him. A strange silver machine had landed in his pen. He growled grimly.
To William’s surprise, a small black and an even smaller grey cat emerged. Their eyes beamed hellos … and something else. “We have come to save the Wildcat.” William appraised the two felines, wondering whether they were fools or heroes. “We only need to rub around you, and your life will become so much longer … “
William regarded them with disdain. However, something in his heart fluttered at the thought of living longer, surely something they would all like to do.
“How much longer?”
“Two or three hundred years, during which time your offspring will take over all the highlands and ensure that wildcats continue for centuries.”
“If this is the case, I have one wish. Return in two hundred years, and set me free! I wish my last days to be there, in the wild, where we all at heart belong. The song of Scottish streams and the murmured poems of trees, these are in our blood. The land is just an extension of us, we are the soul of Scotland. Yes, come back and set me free.”
“And there will be a surprise when we come back,” declared Billy with a twinkle in his enigmatic eye.
So William the Wildcat lived in the Highland Wildlife Park for two hundred years, never aging one year, his sleek healthy body the wonder of scientists. Tourists from all over the world came to Scotland just to see William. He was an international supercat-star.
A religious group famously worshipped William, recognising him as a son of God, and conducting an annual religious gathering in Aviemore. Other groups made William their honorary chair. A cuddly William replica became the mascot of many sport clubs. William children’s novels and William animated films were adored by children the world over. William was truly an inspiration to any and all.
Sometimes William thought of Billy and Teddy, but not very often. The years soldiered on, days turned in to months then years, time flowing like a river that would never stop. However life did not improve, it just went on and on. Was this the magical life Billy and Teddy had promised?
One day at sunset, a strange whirring sound broke his slumber. It was them. They had not forgotten their promise.
“I am young but weary, healthy yet so tired,” pronounced William. “I am ready for my final days, and it is time to be free!”
“We have a special surprise.”
Billy and Teddy transported William to the place and time they had deposited Princess Leiana, Highland Wildcat princess with magical powers, so many adventures ago. “She will be near,” they advised William in reverent telepathic tones.
“The legendary Princess Leiana is real? We tell all our kittens her story. But we never believed it.”
With that, William walked proudly in to the woods, a solitary figure in the light of the setting sun. Freedom fired his heart. The scent of the wild filled his lungs. The spirit of Scotland shone in his eyes. This land, his home, his legacy. From the undergrowth, the eyes of his many offspring watched shyly. A king was in their midst. And as the last Wildcat King, he would be remembered forever. For memories do not die, they live in stories, in happy endings that enchant children and in the poems of tomorrow. Memories are feline meows deep in the heart, a Scottish song of a thousand better futures, a ballad of beauty and unwritten wisdom.
William’s disappearance from the wildlife park prompted many conspiracy and religious theories. His statue at Edinburgh Castle gazed disdainfully at his fans, fools and heroes both. And in his granite eyes, secrets simmered and died.
Dedicated to my mother, who inspired my love of both felines and fiction.
Olivia gently stroked the tiny white cat, its little black patches like rainclouds in a summer sky. She would call her Sammy. A mystery cat, found in the village and never claimed. Olivia could not resist, her heart melting when she met the little stray in a neighbour’s house. Mrs Russell was more than happy to hand the cat over. “I have quite enough cats already!”
Soon after Sammy arrived, Olivia bought a notebook and fancy pen. She did not know why, an impulse on the wind. Then the dreams came. Every night, deep in sleep with Sammy next to her, the dreams rained a river. They would not stop. It was a story with no beginning or end, but a tale she must tell.
Every morning before getting ready for work, Olivia would spend half an hour just writing. The words flowed, a deluge of drama. It was a soap opera kind of story, beauty and betrayal, love and lies, fear and fights. She could not stop. Then one day, the novel was finished.
The next day, Sammy went out as usual, and never returned.
James found the tiny white cat on his doorstep, shivering in the dawn cold. Despite notices in local shops, no one in the town claimed her. So she became his new best friend.
He had never owned a cat before, and was surprised how easy – and how rewarding – it actually was. There was a hole in his life since his wife left him for his best friend. At least little Tabitha would never betray him like that.
Then the dreams began.
Each night, a story playing in his head. Each dream started where the other one finished. Eventually, he could stand it no more. So he began to type on his laptop each morning, recording the dreams. The story grew and grew.
One day, the 80,000 page manuscript was finished. James sighed with relief. Perhaps the dreams would stop.
And they did. The same night Tabitha disappeared. He never saw her again.
Eileen awoke to find a white cat on her doorstep. Perhaps it’s meant to be, she mused, still mourning the death of her beloved feline Lottie.
The new cat – Natasha – was small and quiet, with a soothing purr. Eileen slept each night to the music of purrs, a song that slid in to her soul and softly told a story.
Eileen began to write. There was a story inside that just must be told.
One day the novel was finished. On that day, Natasha went out the catflap never to return.
Two years later, three novels were released by different publishers. They caused a sensation in the literary world. They acted, together, as prequel, main story and sequel, featuring the same characters within the one unfolding story, although all written in very different styles.
The novelists denied any collaboration. Who would believe them? It was a modern mystery.
Five year old Sabrina climbed in to bed, their new white rescue cat beside her. She had called her Snowdrop. As Snowdrop purred, Sabrina slept. In the morning, she found a notebook, and wrote. She wrote and wrote, all day, and secretly at night. It was a story about a stray cat with many owners, and many lives. When she had finished, she hid the notebook in her box of treasures.
Snowdrop lived with Sabrina for ten years. Then one night, when Sabrina was fifteen, she disappeared, never to be seen again. Sabrina cried, then forgot.
Years later, the eighty year old Sabrina found her old childhood box at the back of a cupboard. Tears of joy ran down her face as she read her childlike story. She had never forgotten Snowdrop. And now she had a piece of that magic time to cherish, forever.
Eventually, she published the children’s story, to great acclaim. “To Snowdrop, international cat of mystery” declared the book’s introduction.
Sabrina chuckled. For the memory of a great cat lives forever, hidden in the words of our stories, purring from their pages as though really there. A cat’s memory is like treasure in our hearts. It is a jewel that can never be lost, or stolen. It is literary love forever.
Recap: A tall figure attired in green leaves stood before them. “I am Elliot, Master of the Maze. I am here to take you to a far-off magical land, a place where all your dreams come true and where fairy stories are real! But you must stay here in the maze. It will take us all there.”
“We are ready,” said Billy simply. They stepped in to the maze, as it twisted and danced around them. Magic kissed them with a silken mother cat tongue. Despite themselves, they purred. For cats can never resist magic. They closed their eyes. When they opened them, it was like every dream of theirs had come true at once. They began to purr in earnest. In fact, they might never stop purring …
They were still standing at the entrance to the maze, now in sunlight rather than darkness. But what lay ahead now interested them: purrs welled in their throat like tears of intense joy.
A forest held out its hands like the embrace of a proud mother cat. Paths wound their way to deep within, pawprints to poetry, paths to paradise … or so it seemed to their activated sixth sense. Feline freedom was before them.
They ran as only cats can, graceful and fluid like sea waves coming to shore, purposeful and poetic. Soon they came upon a large forest glade.
In the middle, rising up like a blossoming flower seeking the sun, a wooden hut on stilts regarded them with tinted window eyes. Every window was a different colour, and there were many windows, as if the hut was a magic lantern, and would light up the forest at night, colours spilling on to the glade like a party of paint.
Billy and Teddy climbed the wooden stairs to the half open door. What lay within?
Rose pink light painted the top step, drifting from inside in a dreamy haze. Mesmerised by the soft light, Billy and Teddy strode slowly through the door.
And stopped in their tracks. The hut was bigger on the inside.
A cat tree stood in the centre, complete with beds, stairs and hammocks on different levels. In the corner, a lamp was emitting the pink light. Above and all around, windows looked out on changing views, of where they knew not.
Plates of cat food lined the walls, as though an army of cats was due to arrive. Wooden branches snaked the walls, more climbing opportunities. The hut contained hours of fun. But it did not interest them. Instead, they moved to the back wall, where three tiny TV tablets (like their parents’ ipad) stood on the floor, looking up at them with winking lights. Then they came to life.
Are you ready to play? Choose a game! Shouted neon lights in cat language.
There were three choices. Which should Billy and Teddy choose today?
Catnip maze – scroll down
Catbed heaven – scroll down
Cat jungle – scroll down
Billy pressed the catnip maze picture. The wall of the house fell down, and before them lay a purple and perfumed maze. The scent of catnip massaged their minds.
They ran in to the maze. It was huge. The catnip brushed against them , a feline fragrance on their fur.
Sensory suffocation overpowered Billy and Teddy. They stopped, panting for breath. “It’s a maze, or a puzzle,” said Billy. “Is it a test to find the middle of the maze?”
Immediately a bubble appeared over them, and relayed Yes in cat telepathy language.
“That answers your question then,” said Teddy. “Which way will we go?”
They ran down tunnels, backtracked, ran down some more, backtracked again, then realised they were completely lost in the maze.
“I am going to try something, trust me,” said Billy. “Everything about this maze is magic, perhaps the catnip is magical too? Watch this.”
Billy reached in to a catnip bush, eating its leaves, and purring as the perfumed poison suffused his senses. Then he sat still, closing his eyes.
“I know how to get there, to the middle of the maze. The catnip has enhanced my psychic powers. I can see it, a heart shaped centre with a pink bush of catnip! And that pink catnip will certainly have an effect if we eat it!”
Billy stood up and then ran, Teddy in pursuit behind. They seemed, at least to Teddy, to go in circles. Then they were there.
The heart shaped centre of the maze was as welcoming as it was strange. A large bush of pink catnip towered in the middle, with a plaque in front commanding: “Say the magic word and summon the golden lion!”
“This pink catnip is special,” declared Billy. “Let’s eat some and see what happens!”
Cautiously, they approached the pink bush, its scent teasing their nostrils like a sweet spell.
As they nibbled on a leaf, a rush of energy roared through their bodies. Exhilaration encapsulated them. A burning sensation played with their shoulders. They looked at each other in alarm. They were both growing pink wings!
They flew in to pink clouds which had formed over the centre of the maze. Then they exited the clouds above a telephone pole, a small kitten crying piteously on top. Billy helped the kitten to climb on Teddy’s back, and they safely deposited him on the ground. They flew back in to the clouds, then descended once more to rescue a cat lost in the countryside. Using their enhanced psychic powers, they again helped the cat on to Teddy’s back, and flew him safely home. And so it went on. Everytime they descended from the pink clouds they hoped to return to the maze, but no there was another cat to save! Having superpowers: not easy! They were reluctant heroes, but mighty knights to the felines they helped on this Day of the Cat.
Finally, they descended back to the maze. As they landed, their wings retracted and were gone.
“I don’t think I will eat any more of the pink catnip!” proclaimed Billy.
“I concur,” agreed Teddy.
“But what about the golden lion?”
“I would like to meet a golden lion,” said Teddy.
“But what on earth is the magic word?” wondered Billy.
“How about PINK? Or CATNIP?” shouted Teddy telepathically.
They would never know which word it was, but they no longer needed to.
A spinning cloud of gold descended from the sky. The cloud dissipated to reveal a mighty golden lion.
His eyes sparkled with golden orbs, a window to a soldier soul within.
“You have uttered the magic word. I am here to help you, Billy and Teddy, dynamic duo of feline fame. I am the keeper of all feline knowledge, of Planet Earth and the whole of our cosmos. Secrets reside in my golden heart; words of wisdom whisper in my mind. I will give you one secret today, just ask the question.”
“Why do cats love catmint?” blurted out Billy.
“Really? That’s your question?” hissed Billy.
“That’s a very good question,” affirmed the lion. “It is extra-terrestrial, designed by cat loving aliens to help the cats of Planet Earth. Humans have this notion that aliens may visit Earth to spy on them. There are some who don’t – they simply love cats, and wish to monitor them, and who wouldn’t. They couldn’t care less about the humans. Cat mint is a gift from the gods, the advanced aliens, for your pleasure and healing.”
“Wow,” muttered Billy.
“Would you like to go home now?” asked the lion. “I can take you.”
“Yes please!” chanted Billy and Teddy.
The lion roared. A cloud of golden dust engulfed them. Then they were back, at the space capsule, safe where they had left it.
“How do we program this to arrive back earlier in time?” asked Billy.
“Don’t worry, we’ll just be late,” said Teddy. “And next time, please ask the lion who Ambrose really is.”
The space capsule whirred, as Billy and Teddy closed their tired eyes.
Billy pressed the catbed heaven picture. Why couldn’t they have an adventure where they just slept, for once? The wall of the house fell down, and before them lay a green meadow littered with catbeds of various colours and sizes. Billy yawned. An afternoon nap, what fun.
Billy and Teddy ran among the beds, testing each, trying to find the perfect one.
Billy eventually chose a bed in the shape of a large mouse. Feline fun sparkled in his eyes.
Teddy chose a bed designed to be a tiny house, with a doorway and an elaborate turreted roof. His own little castle. He snuggled in to the soft blankets within.
Billy drifted in to a delightful dream, the glow of relaxation unfurling within like the most beautiful flower in the world. He was in a large garden with various cat climbing frames and other feline comforts. In front of him, a toy mice spun on wheels. “Chase me!” it squeaked. Billy pawed it happily, a toy that could speak! And without the wild animal smell of a real mouse.
Meanwhile, Teddy dreamt of a castle, a magnificent mansion with room after room to roam. He ran over plush carpets, sinking in to them like sand, and up spiral stone stairs. Then he found another cat bed in one of the bedrooms, like his own, a miniature house with blankets inside. In he went, and drifted off to another dream, within a dream. Again he was in a castle, and again he found a new bed. And so it continued.
Billy grew bored of the toy mouse, and strolled over to a bush of pink catnip, breathing in its sweet perfume like the scent of heaven. To his surprise, a pink cat jumped out of the bush!
“I am Magenta, guardian of the pink ray,” said the cat. “I can teach you to heal using the power of pink. You can heal your humans, they will never suffer a cold again! Then you can walk your street and send the pink healing light to all your neighbours. Everyone who meets you, will be blessed.”
“Well, I am up for that,” purred Billy.
Teddy woke from his tenth dream within a dream, to find a white cat licking him. “Hello,” she said softly in his head. “I am Reflecta, an angel of dreams. You are deep within your subconscious, in a many layered dream state. I can answer any question. You may not remember when you awake, but the knowledge will come to you again when you most need it.”
“Okay,” said Teddy. “I would like to know who Ambrose really is, where he comes from, and that question of all questions …. Why did he choose us?”
Reflecta began to speak, as Teddy descended to his dreams once more.
Billy and Teddy awoke at the same time, and came together, sleepy eyed, dreams dripping from their whiskers. “Did you dream?” asked Billy. “It was very special,” said Teddy. “I met a white cat angel. She said something very important, but I can no longer recall.”
“You have awoken!” It was Elliot, Master of the Maze. “Are you ready to go home, or would you like to learn about the secret of the maze first?”
Will they go home?
Will they learn the secret of the maze?
If you would like to learn the secret of the maze with Billy and Teddy, keep reading.
Elliot escorted Billy and Teddy to the heart of the maze. They ran down never-ending corridors until they were there, the centre of the mystical maze. A wishing well was in the middle.
“This well,” confided Elliot, “holds the energy of all children’s dreams and wishes, on Planet Earth. It keeps them safe. Drinking its waters: all your dreams may come true. It is a magic well. Sometimes we take children here, the lost and the unhappy. Then we return them, with the power to realise all their dreams throughout their entire life. But mostly we just tend the well. It becomes deeper all the time, as more children are born. If you jumped in there, you would fall for hours. And when you reached the bottom, you would be in a child’s dream, with the power to help it, change it, or destroy it. This is why this maze, and our forest and meadows, are in another dimension. We keep dreams secret and safe. Do you dream, Billy and Teddy?”
“Yes,” said Teddy sarcastically. “I dream about being back at home, and no more adventures.”
“That we can arrange,” said Elliot. “Come back with me now.”
Cat Jungle shouted Billy telepathically. The screen changed, to reveal a variety of large cats. Choose your avatar, announced the screen.
“What is an avatar?” wondered Billy.
“I think we choose a cat character to be. Look – a tiger!”
Teddy touched the tiger on the screen. The wall of the hut fell down, to reveal a rainforest, beautiful, exotic and utterly enticing. Teddy raced in, as he turned in to a large tiger!
Billy surveyed the screen thoughtfully, and then touched the lion cub picture. He too entered the rainforest, turning in to a golden cub.
Teddy raced through the rainforest, enjoying his strong and supple body. Then he stopped. Another tiger approached.
“I am King Teo. I am Ruler of Tigers, everywhere. You are Teddy, are you not? Enjoying your avatar? I have a special mission for you, if you dare.”
Teddy’s eyes sparkled with an adventurer’s angst. “Of course I dare.”
“Save the Highland Tiger,” said Teo. “Your Scottish mini-tiger. They are endangered, as humans would say. There are very few left in the Highlands of Scotland.”
“But how can I help?” asked Teddy.
“Ask your friend Ambrose. Tell him hello from Teo. Oh, and watch out for the dinosaurs. This is an adventure playground – with all the thrills of a scary fairground ride! Take care, my friend.”
With that, Teo was gone.
“Highland tigers?” mused Teddy. “We already had an adventure with them.” Princess Leiana, the most beautiful cat he had ever seen. Read about this adventure
Then he heard a roar. Fright flamed inside, as he ran from the terrifying tyrannosaur rex. Of course it was not real, he was in a pretend reality, he knew. He looked round. The tyrannosaur swooped over him, and then was gone in a puff of smoke. In the sky, the words “8 lives left” appeared. Great, thought Teddy. Eight more deadly encounters to go.
Meanwhile, Billy ran through rainforest, like a mouse chased by a cat. Then he saw her. His mother.
She lay in a tree cavity, cubs around her. “Welcome, Billy,” she intoned softly in his head. “We have been waiting for you. We knew you would come one day. My children and I, we would like to visit your planet. We have heard of all your adventures, they are the stories I tell my children to send them to sleep. Thank you for coming.”
“What is this place?” asked Billy.
“This is a dimension between dimensions. It is a playground where many lessons can be learned. All the cats here, we police it and keep it safe. There are dinosaurs here too, but they are not real. They enhance the learning experience, that’s all.”
“Can I join you?”
“Of course, come lie here.”
As Billy lay on top of the other cubs, sleep reached out and claimed him, the mother’s loud purr like the music of a thousand church choirs.
When he woke up, he was back in his normal body, and in the hut once more. Elliot towered over Billy and Teddy. “You’ve awoken at last. It is time to take you two intrepid explorers home.”
“Did you see a dinosaur?” asked Teddy.
“No, I just slept.”
“You two,” scolded Elliot. “You are the most lazy adventurers ever. I hope to see you both again, and something tells me I will!”
“What do you know about Highland Tigers?” asked Teddy.
“Scottish wildcats are the most magical felines on Planet Earth. If you are called to help them, you must, it will be the most rewarding adventure of your lifetimes.”
“I have no idea how to help them,” complained Billy.
“In time, you will see the signs. You will know what to do. Humans need to wake up and value their native creatures. Highland tigers are the most magnificent wildlife in Scotland. One day, their true worth will be known. But for now, hometime …. And knowing you two, that means more catnaps!”
“Roll it on!” sung Billy. “My catbed awaits.”
Deep in the Scottish Highland forest, a wildcat stood still. He could feel something coming. Something … good. What was it that glimmered in his heart? It was hope.