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When one of my cats was younger and a lot fatter, he came bowling in from the garden with an almighty crash. Looking slightly stunned, he'd arrived into the kitchen having ripped the cat flap from the door and was still wearing it as a cat-tutu. Did I mention he was quite fat?

In honour of Jake, a well loved cat, who died on Wednesday, tell us your pet stories and cheer us up.

(, Fri 8 Jun 2007, 9:15)
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My cat Leonard
He's got to be in with a shout of being the best cat ever.

Shortly after moving into our house in 2000, Ex-Mrs PJM and I decided to get a couple of cats so off we went to the local cat rescue. I clocked Leonard fairly early on as he was sat there in the middle of a pack of cats just watching me. Some cats would hiss and spit, others just hurled themselves at you but he cooly sat there biding his time, never taking his eyes off me. He was a common or garden British shorthair with very fine blue/grey fur and the sort of demeanour best described as unflappable. Indeed he was as chilled out as a cat could be without either being aloof or comatose. As soon as my attention was diverted, he sauntered over to me and greeted me cooly and from that moment I knew I had been adopted, he was coming home with me. Ex-Mrs PJM chose this bedraggled bundle of black fluff which she named Jasmine. Without much further ado, both cats were in cat carriers and homeward bound.

Both cats were very different characters. Jasmine started to eat like a cat possessed and just grew, becoming a massive bundle of affectionate fluff in no time. She also suffered from an unfortunate flatulence issue which made her stink to high heaven, never has a name been so ironic.

Leonard meanwhile quickly began to reveal his persona. The whole laid back thing was a bit of a ruse to cover up the fact that he was a devious and clever little feline. First night we brought our cats home from the cat rescue, we shut the cats in the kitchen for the night. I was woken at 2am by the unmistakeable sound of purring in my ear and was immediately blamed by ex-Mrs PJM for letting the cats out. This happened at least three times during the night before we figured what was going on.

Yep, Leonard knew how to open doors.

This habit had many drawbacks, worst of which was the day I got home early from work and engaged in some sofa based sexytime with the then missus. Rather annoyed that no-one was on hand to let him out, Len indignantly decided to open the front door and head out that way instead, which treated the entire street to a view of my pale arse rocking like a fiddlers elbow. Bastard. Whenever we went out, we had to make sure doors were locked so they couldn't be opened from the inside. Neighbours thought we were nuts.

However despite these occasional acts of mischief, he was extremely affectionate, he'd follow me around the place like a dog and had his favorites amongst my friends, one of whom he'd greet at the door and not let out of his sight until my friend went home covered in cat fur. Being incredibly inqusitive, he loved people and indeed other cats, dogs and all sorts of passing fauna with equal devotion.

He befriended a neighbour's German Shepherd dog who used to jump over the fence into our garden which never fazed Leonard one bit, he'd just wander up and say hello. He'd also bring home random feline friends too, much to my amusement. In all the time I had him, he never raised a claw in anger, despite having to be bathed more than once on account of coming home covered in something unsavoury. He even seemed to enjoy his visits to the vet, despite being jabbed with a needle, he'd turn round and start purring at the vet, only to jump up, open the waiting room door and attempt to escape when the vet's back was turned.

The little fella would spend hours studying you, watching what you were doing if it was of any potential interest to him. Rather than let the cats out of the back door every time, I'd open the kitchen window and let them figure it out. However it wasn't long before I found him trying to paw open the handles on the windows when he wanted to go out and the door was locked.

One particular act of feline genius stands out. I returned from work to find him lying on the floor, drooling like a mong with his tongue hanging out, surrounded by green herbs and the remnants of a plastic bag.

"Honey, why is Len stoned?" I asked

We'd been giving him catnip for a while and kept a large bag of it in a drawer in the spare room which was always kept with the door shut. Len had figured this out and waited until we were both at work before hatching a plan and managing to break into a spare bedroom, climbing onto the chest of drawers, opening one and finally retrieving a bag of strong cat narcotics.

The little dope fiend was properly mullah'd for the next 24 hours before falling victim to a major case of the munchies.

There really wasn't a nasty bone in his body. Some cats catch and kill stuff, but not Len. Oh no. The only gifts he brought back in the house for me were frogs, which were physically undamaged but often understandably traumatised. He'd sit at the doorstep making a strained meow noise until I opened the door to see him sat triumphantly holding a frog in his mouth as if to say "Daddy! Guess what I've got for you?". I'd then take froggy and release it (again, totally unharmed) into the garden. Five minutes later Len would appear with the frog as if to say "Daddy, you carelessly lost your froggy, but it's okay, I've brought him back for you".

Being such a gentle soul, he'd insist on sleeping on my bed (and would expand in such a way as to seemingly cover an entire double bed in cat). If it was cold, I'd wake up to find him under the duvet suggled up with his back to me and without fail at 07:30 he'd wake me up with a subtle touch of his paw on my cheek. Actually, he used to do the latter in the middle of the night if he was bored and wanted a fuss. Bless.

When I briefly lodged with my builder mate Phil, Len was part of the deal and quickly befriended Phil's feline-phobic Springer Spaniel. I recall one Guy Fawkes night when the Springer, utterly terrified of loud noises, guns and bangs as befitting a carefully bred gun dog was curled in my lap shaking with fear. Upon seeing this, Len decides he's going to curl up on top of both of us and comfort the terrified hound. He never left the dog's side all night.

His most popular party trick was that he could be taught and trained like a dog. Guests were incredulous that we had a cat who would not only sit on command but would beg and also High Five me when requested (and bribed with a treat).

All in all, he was a damn fine cat but sadly he was run over three years ago. I'm not ashamed to admit that in all my life, including one divorce and numerous nasty relationship endings I've never cried so much as I did that day. Len was a cat in a million and remains much missed.
(, Fri 8 Jun 2007, 10:13, closed)

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