Local man, Martin Shuttlecock had given up all hope on the family's only remaining cat last week. The cat, Scrappy, daughter of the legendary Beryl, suffered a serious trauma last Tuesday, spending all night in the back garden and refusing all attempts to coax her back indoors.
Early indications suggest that she had been bitten, although there were no immediately obvious injuries.
At some point last Thursday, the cat, although in no obvious distress, but clearly shaken, took herself off somewhere, seemingly to die.
Shuttlecock had abandoned all hope by last Friday, and had resigned himself to the fact that he would never see the cat again.
"She was fifteen years old," Shuttlecock said. "A fantastic cat, always gentle with the kids, but ruthless when it came to catching vermin. She acted more like a five year old cat than a fifteen year old, and she was one of the smartest cats I've ever known. She could open doors, eat cat food out of a tin with her paw. She was brilliant."
As the days passed, Shuttlecock resigned himself to the fact that "Mi Scrappy Gatto" wouldn't ever be coming home again, and comforted long suffering wife Anne, the couple sharing their mutual loss.
However, on the eve of their wedding anniversary, the night of the 18th of May, as Shuttlecock and Anne sat relaxing, a noise emanated from the cat-flap in the back door.
When Anne asked Shuttlecock what it could be, he replied that it was probably just the wind. Eventually Shuttlecock went to the back door and opened it.
And there was Scrappy.
Shuttlecock himself takes up the story:
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "Mi Scrappy gatto was standing there, I could have cried me bleedin' eyes out because I'm a right soft bastard really, when it comes to animals. The wife was amazed, and I think she shed a tear or two as well."
Shuttlecock and Anne immediately set about providing food and water for the cat, then laying a thick bath towel on the floor for the cat to rest on.
"We got her a bowl of water, and some sliced chicken," Shuttlecock said. "But I'm not altogether sure she'll make it. She was in a terrible state when she came home, so we just made her as comfortable as we could. She's all skin and bone at the moment, and she's coughing, but she's still alive and that's what really counts. I'll sit up with her and try to coax her to take some nourishment, but she's in a bad way. If it looks like she's suffering in the morning, I'll have to take her to the vet. If there's anything he can do for her, we'll accept it. If not, it may be her last trip. But at least we can take some comfort from the fact that she hasn't died alone, shivering in the rain under a bush on some Godforsaken railway embankment. I'm just praying that she pulls through, because she's been a brilliant pet, and she's got a couple of good years ahead of her if she can get through this. I hope she makes it - but whatever happens, we're not having any fucking rabbits."
The vigil continues.
More as we get it.*
*Update: A fighter to the very end, Scrappy continued her battle for life. There were moments of hope, but sadly her condition deteriorated rapidly in the early hours of Monday, May 23rd. An appointment was made to have her put to sleep at a local veterinary surgery, but Scrappy didn't live to make the appointment. She died peacefully at home on Monday, at lunchtime. The Shuttlecocks took some consolation from the fact that she hadn't expired alone, cold, and frightened. A dignified ending for a treasured family pet.
RIP Scrappy - 1996-2011 - Off chasing mice in cat heaven.