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11th December 2018
The Violent but Adorable Story of My Cat, Mr Scratch
[Advent Calendar 2018]

If you've visited The Sudden Stop before, you may have seen mentions or photos of a cat. Recently we've had some developments with this cat which I wanted to write about in today's advent calendar post as it's a pretty nice story, and has a Remedy aspect to it.

For our first advent calendar on the site back in 2013, our articles mentioned a cat from time to time. The cat then was called Tabbs, or Lord Tabbs of Londonium, to give her the proper title, and she was an absolute sweetheart. She was very fond of ham and prawns and loved snuggling next to people. She was also co-owned with my neighbour who sadly passed away the following year, and her family was desperate to keep her. She was in our lives for about thirteen years and while she was getting elderly, clearly no one had told her that, as she was as agile and as friendly as she was as a kitten. She was also a proud and mighty hunter and killed possibly half of London's mouse population.

When she left for new adventures, we apparently had a cat shaped vacancy and the reluctance to get another cat... So Scratch decided to move in.

I had seen her around the neighbourhood as a kitten, demanding pettings at school leaving time, but as a grown cat she had the confidence to stroll in through an open door and sleep on our laps. We have a cat friendly neighbourhood here so while we all know everyone, we also know everyone's cat. Some people are more willing to let the other cats roam around, but most just give them little treats every now and then or pet them on their way past. So having this cat visit wasn't a big thing, and she wouldn't stay long.

Then suddenly a series of things happened very quickly. First, although no one knew at the time, her owners moved out and left her behind. Second, soon after they left, the cat got very seriously ill. Third she left while we were arranging help for her. She suddenly stopped visiting and while no one said it aloud at the time, everyone knew she had died.

So. It was a little bit of a surprise when alive and well she turned up on our doorstep again, six months later, and walked through like nothing had happened.
After a while, and after trying to locate the original owners, it became clear that she was looking to move in. She then got a name, Mr Scratch, named after the adorable but deadly antagonist from the Alan Wake series, but these days it's been shortened to "Scratch"... or if you're my Dad, "Her Royal Fluffiness".

Naturally with the move, we decide to upgrade her meals from a wandering cat to a permanent cat, and got her toys and cat-related things which cats needs. We believe that a local animal organisation had taken her in during that time and released her back in the neighbourhood where she was found in the hope of reuniting her with her owners. During her stay away, her fur had become heavily matted from where she had been too weak to groom to shed the winter fur. And while it was definitely the same cat, she had also developed a semi-violent behaviour. She would have occasional episodes where things become disoriented for her, and on top of that she would also have trust issues, both would end violently if she felt she wasn't in control.

When she returned after disappearing for six months:

A year later:
As I write this, a little while ago we checked her for a microchip. The laws, at least in the UK are a little weird, but boils down to this; if you have a microchip you have a cat. Even if you've been looking after the cat for years, if they have a microchip, they are not your cat. It gets a little foggy if the cat was abandoned but a lot of animal charities are required to contact the original owners marked on the microchip, as cats are considered as property. Other organisations such as the RSPCA can get involved if there's an abuse case to be made but it's another thing to deal with, and it can be stressful. So I was really hoping that she wouldn't be chipped, and fortunately the reader agreed with me.

Turns out, I have an unplanned cat now! Officially she's called Mr Scratch (but is referred by my neighbours as "Scarlet", Stanley" or "Fishcakes"), and she likes chicken, tuna and Felix cat treats. More than anything though, she likes her blanket which was originally a new throw but I didn't have the heart to correct her, so she has a blanket. Because of her I also part-time at an animal charity as a Social Media Volunteer to help other owners and other cats... and a little bit to check out adorable cat photos.

So that was my Mr Scratch story! As I write this, it's just after 2am and she is huddled by the fireplace on her favourite blanket and slightly snoring, and I am very okay with this.


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