Last week out walking with the hound late, we were enjoying the stars. The fields are a bit damp at the moment, the frosts haven't hit hard enough long enough, to make night walking pleasurable. So we were looking at the sleeping village in the dark. It's usually just the two of us.
That evening the Universe had done a sterling job with the stars. Lots of twinkling but very little moon. Sparkling pavements. It was quiet, the sort of "eerily quiet" demonstrated on Dr Who before the Tardis arrives. (It hasn't so far) It's a beautiful peaceful experience without noisy interruptions
There was a frost that evening, a harsh one. We were about 5 mins in. Bouncing along Primo was bursting from one smell to another. There is a turning point where we enter another part of the village, a different set of houses and there is patch of grass here that if we pass Primo must at all costs investigate. A long thorough investigation, the smells there must be particularly fascinating.
As his servant that he leads along I was standing patiently waiting. I could hear a strange snorting sound. It was odd and I couldn't place it for a while as this particular spot is a bit of an echo chamber. Eventually we moved on a few steps and the noise continued. Eventually I located it. There on a wall was a funny looking creature coming towards me. It looked a bit like a very scruffy owl with 4 legs. It was light on its feet.
It saw me and jumped down onto a lower wall and continued to stare at me snorting,
By this time I had worked out it was a cat. A rather distressed one. Decision time, do I walk on, come back later without hound or approach now with the hound and risk frightening the cat away.
I approached the cat. I got very close and could see and hear it was in a very sorry state. Long haired and horribly matted, so that sitting down or lying down must now be very uncomfortable. Dog on lead in right hand. Again decision time. Do I risk putting my hand out for a savage scratch. How will the dog react. I looked down. Primo's tail was wagging furiously but he had his mouth pursed forward - he was about to wake the village with his hound ROOO ROOO ROO.
Shut up Primo! He looked surprised but he did. I reached out and touched the cat. He turned his face and looked up at me. Hard to breathe and with eyes running. He let me touch him and just looked at me. His face spoke of sadness, his body of slow starvation, A bone bag with fur. Primo increasingly interested danced at my side.
I pic up the cat and he fell against my body relaxed through weakness. All the way back the cat rests and Primo dances along looking at it.
When I get back into the house I take a proper look. So does the dog. He is very interested and talkative with it. The cat looks even worse in a good light than he did before. Very compliant and wide eyed.
Since then he has eaten bits as I've given him small amounts, drunk. He has spent the day at a vets whilst they check him out and remove some of his knotted hair. He now looks worse, if thats possible as he is partially shaved. They couldn't get to the rest he was too stressed, but we will return next week for round 2.
The local cat people network has been alerted to see if we can find the owners. In the meantime he is here, takes the odd stroke with dignity, navigates the other cats, and regularly leads me to his dish.
Going to be an interesting few days