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The Cat-alyst For Change

Daisy sat down on the sofa in the conservatory and stretched out her legs, revelling in the warmth of the morning sun. This was the best part of the day, when the house was at its quietest and before the hours began to drag. Jenny had already bustled off to work, leaving in her wake a hurried promise to buy them both a treat for tea. Jenny liked to buy things for Daisy, although her latest gift was not one of her best. It was a custom printed cushion – with Daisy’s name and face emblazoned on it.
  ‘I bought it from Unusualgifts.com,’ said Jenny as she had presented it to her. Daisy had stared at the distorted face staring back at her. It reminded her of a nightmare she had once had, but she had thanked Jenny and made a promise to herself to use it often, as Jenny was her friend.
  She had met Jenny five years ago and a firm friendship had formed. A year later Daisy had moved in and a new phase in their lives had begun – two middle aged, single females, fiercely independent, yet muddling through life together. They had a lot of fun in those early years, but there were sad times too. Both suffered broken hearts from failed relationships and they took turns to offer comfort to one another when it was needed.
  Daisy’s thoughts turned to Bob, the main source of her heartbreak. Bob had been handsome and persistent. His charm offensive eventually wore Daisy’s resistance away and she grew to adore him. Unfortunately, he was a rogue as well as a charmer.  She lost count of the times he stayed out all night only to come home with cuts and bruises from an unruly fight. He was also a terrible flirt and chased every female in sight. He eventually ran off, to Jenny’s delight.
  ‘You are well rid of him,’ Jenny told her as she served her a generous slice of roast chicken. ‘He was a terrible boyfriend and that is saying something when you look at my track record.’ She heaped another slice on Daisy’s plate. ‘We rub along together alright, don’t we Daisy? We don’t need men in our lives.’ She poured a generous glass of red wine and toasted her across the table. ‘Two against the world,’ became Jenny’s rallying cry, although her smile did not quite reach her eyes.
  A low rumble dragged Daisy from her memories. It was a removal van parking opposite. Daisy sat up, her interest piqued. Life on the street always seemed so much more exciting than hers.  The house had been empty for several months and it appeared a new neighbour was about to move in. She spent the morning watching the removal men carry the items into the house. Daisy noticed they had a nice sideboard, a sturdy table – and a scratching post. Daisy’s heart sank. They had a cat.
  Daisy had had enough of cats living in the neighbourhood. There had been Fizz, at number 25, who would foul everyone’s garden but her own, Tommy from number 15, who had the unsavoury habit of leaving half eaten mice on everyone’s path, and then there was wild Selby, who scratched and hissed at the slightest provocation. Over the years, they had all moved away. The street was peaceful now and that’s how Jenny liked it. She would not be happy to find out a new cat had just moved in.

Two weeks passed before Daisy saw the new cat. She was in her garden examining an infestation of greenfly on her geranium plant, when his lithe, black body emerged from behind the house. She craned her neck around the blood red blooms to watch him.  Unperturbed of his new surroundings, he sauntered down the path, his back ramrod straight and his black tail held regally aloft. He occasionally stopped to sniff a budding flower, a blade of grass and watch a low flying swallow cut a swathe across the garden.
  He’s a little tubby, thought Daisy, as she watched him study a butterfly resting on a leaf, but he appears to have a gentle temperament. In fact, Daisy realised with a start, she quite liked what she saw and wondered if Jenny would too.

‘My talents are wasted at the estate agents,’ announced Jenny, smiling broadly at Daisy as she kicked off her shoes. ‘I should be a detective.’  She flopped down on the sofa in the conservatory and encouraged Daisy to join her. A crimson hue bloomed on Jenny’s cheeks. ‘I’ve been talking to our new neighbour about his cat. I have your best interests at heart, you understand.’
  Daisy understood. Jenny always had her best interest at heart. It was why she loved her so.
  ‘His cat’s called Wilbur and he’s eight years old. That is about …’ Jenny did a mental calculation in her head, ‘… forty-eight in human years. It is the perfect age for you. He has also been neutered so his philandering days is well and truly over, unlike that wild rogue, Bob.’
  Daisy climbed onto Jenny’s lap and purred her appreciation. She was glad that Jenny had made friends with their new neighbour. In recent months she had become concerned that Jenny was feeling lonely too.
  ‘Wilbur is just the sort of friend you need,’ said Jenny, tickling her under the chin. ‘He is handsome, friendly and gentle, just like his owner.’ Daisy rolled onto her back to allow Jenny to stroke the soft waves of her tummy fur. ‘His owner has offered to cook me a meal tomorrow evening and he’s invited you too. I think our future evenings and weekends might be a little busier from now on, Daisy. It is time we embraced life, rather than hiding from it. Perhaps I should buy him a gift as a thank you. What do you think, Daisy?’
  ‘I recommend not a custom made cushion,’ meowed Daisy in reply.