As my girlfriend sat in my kitchen, stoically informing me of the demise of her cat, I knew he would become entwined to some degree with our family.
We needed another cat like your trusty old tinny needs rust.
Of course my girlfriend was in fact trying to 'do the right thing'. She was moving to a remote Indigenous community with her young family where her husband was to teach. The could not take the black and white moggy with them. And seriously, who wants a fully grown rousabout these days anyway? She had asked around, got no result and had booked his 'cessation' appointment for the next week. The shelters are all full, she felt it was her responsibility to deal with the situation rather than dump the cat on someone else.
No sooner had she told me I could hear the sneaky words pop out of my mouth; "We will have him for you, it is only a year, and then you can have him back."
Scotty is not a cat man. Yet he was quite tolerant of the new 'temporary' addition to our house.
So the black and white farm cat came to live with us.
In his weeny months he had been christened Beryl, until he had been taken for 'the op', at which point he became Errol.
By the time we acquired him he had been left to roam about enough to believe he was actually a wild cat and possessed the tendency to ambush you, claws a strew, ready for warfare.
Thus he became affectionately know as 'Feral Errol'.
He settled well into our house, including my usual clever cat assimilation ritual - upon which I might write another time - Young Oliver, our resident 'meow', as the children called him, was very tolerant of the invasion and seemed reassured with my "darling, it is only a year, then he will be gone."
It just so happens that I am quite strict on my cats. They are absolutely NOT allowed to bring their claws out around the children, and in exchange the children are absolutely NOT allowed to tease, or frustrate the cats.
There was a significant period of adjustment for poor old Errol, and several out on your tail moments accompanied by a series of guttural Aht's from me.
In the end the great amount of petting I gave him when he was being good by far outweighed his inner crazy-cattedness and he became suitably placid and gentle.
At around this time Errol became a 'fully grown' cat.
I had always thought he was an adult cat when he came to live with us, and yet, he suddenly seemed to get bigger.
Until Errol outgrew his natural parameters of 'cat' and became a small and heavy set dog!
He then became dubbed 'Fat Errol' which was a most unfortunate, and politically incorrect term of course. It was all very funny in the safety of our own home, until of course one of the children meeting a rather large friend of mine named Errol piped up, "You must be fat Errol.
Oh Blush Blush, shame.
I quickly adapted the three little people to an Icelandic phrase, and we now call him Errol The Pthungar, which translated, and with the correct Icelandic characters, might mean something like HEAVY ERROL.
When that year passed, and his old family came back, they took one look at this great, contented, large cat and asked if we would like to keep him.
There was a family consensus taken, and even the handsome husband agreed that Errol should stay. Even Oliver seemed to flick his paw up in a token 'yes'.
Each time I walk my working dogs, a particularly fast moving, crazy and intense type of dog, Errol comes with us.
He walks with great pride, whacking the dogs on the nose appropriately should they venture too close or get too cocky. His great belly heaves along in an ironically regal manner as we wander over paddocks and up through the creek.
If I get too far ahead of him, he sends a great, piteous 'mmmmeeeeeeewwwwwwww' across the way to me.
And to be honest I would feel quite lost without him.
It seems he feels the same way. At night as he lays sprawled across the kitchen floor, just as I brush past him on my evening mission of something or other, he spins around quickly to catch my leg with both his paws, pulling me firmly, yet gently in for a pat. At which point I will scratch his back and he will throw his paws around me to become The Cuddling Cat.