THERE is a cat called Jimmy. He is the same colour as Donald Trump - burnt orange - and he lived in our street (the cat I mean not the POTUS) but then his people moved away.
Jimmy packed up his collection of fur-balls and moved with them but within a few days he was back seeking to take up residence with us.
This was tricky. He was not our cat. We already had Sgt Pepper - a small black cat who had a come to us as an abandoned pet and he was getting a hard time from Jimmy who was something of pugnacious character always ready with a swipe of the paw at a passing adversary.
Sgt Pepper was coached in the age-old skills of cat boxing - always keep one paw up in front of the nose to fend off such sudden strikes but he struggled with that move and instead resorted to hissing and running.
Sgt Pepper took to his bed and stayed there all day, which is clearly not a problem for a cat but there was concern he was becoming traumatised by the unexpected pouncing and Jimmy's aggressive approach to territorial competition.
We took Jimmy back to his own home but he soon returned to camp outside our back door. After consulting the original owner, it was decided we would not give him any reason to believe he resided with us. This failed miserably and every time he was returned to his 'home' he came back.
Jimmy was persistent. He would hang about and try to get in and eat Sgt Pepper's food, ignoring rank and any sense of proprietary. There would be snarling, hissing and it would be all on.
With the coming of winter and no sign that Jimmy was likely to change his mind we provided shelter for him so he could eat his food and sleep in a warm dry spot at the back door. He accepted this with a royal wave of the paw and continued to patrol the property in order to assert his dominion over the front lawn and back garden. Sgt Pepper became nervous about leaving the house. He often required an escort to go out and meet the call that nature makes on creatures great and small.
Over time Jimmy took to lying on the bench at the front door checking the ID of all who came and went, ever mindful of any opportunity to sneak past and a check out the indoor options. This required hasty drafting action on our part to allow one cat in and keep the other out while juggling keys and groceries.
The cat spats have recently evolved into a cautious truce. Both cats now share the front porch, keeping a suitable distance from each other as they sleep in the warm sun or shelter from the rain. They are not buddies but they do seem to have negotiated an arrangement that suits them both.
The other night there was a catfight . On investigation, it became clear that Jimmy was seeing of another cat - not one from our street but a stranger who had wandered by to suss the neighbourhood. ]
He left in a hurry and was last seen heading north at great speed while Jimmy stood in the road looking triumphed.
Jimmy the belligerent knock-about had taken on the mantel of guard cat, patrolling the street to ward of interlopers and protect the local menagerie from intruders. If cats can change there is hope for all of us.
-Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a local writer, musician, social worker and failed cat herder.