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Puss-Puss was a lovely black-and-white female cat. For a while she shared the house (and her talent) with Smoggy. Here is her story:
I came home from school one day and as I put my school-bag on the table, I noticed a cardboard Tayto box at the other side of the table. This was not unusual but what was a little strange was the slight wailing sound that I was hearing. I asked my mother what it was but she said she didn't know, however she was smiling somewhat as she answered me. Again the strange miaowing was heard and it seemed to be coming from the box. Mother suggested that I investigate and I pulled out a chair and climbed up to get near the box. Ever so carefully, I lifted up the flap on top of the box and peered in. Well what do you think I saw in the darkness of the box but two little green eyes looking back up at me. Just then there was another miaow revealing a little pink tongue. It was a kitten and it was very frightened looking. Mam and Dad encouraged me to take it out so I reached in and very carefully lifted out this miaowing little ball of shiny black fur. I rubbed it's head gently and the miaowing changed to a gentle purring. The little cat seemed to be saying "thank you for getting me out of that awful dark box and, by the way, I'd love a little drink of milk". We got a saucer, filled it with lovely cool milk and put on the floor in front of the new arrival. Her little tongue lapped it up and when she was finished, she turned and started to purr again and looking up at me I'm sure she was saying "this is a nice place, can I stay here". Well she did stay and stayed for many many years.
At first I called her Puss but this caused some confusion:
Funny story. May not have happened.
One day, I came down the stairs and Mother said "Gerard, your puss is filthy! Go up and wash it." I went up the stairs and sought out the cat. "Hmm," I said, "She does look a bit tatty." I picked her up and took her to the bathroom. I put her in the bath and filled it up. She was miaowing at an awful rate to get me to stop, but I continued washing. When I was finished I pulled the plug and took the dripping kitten down to Mother. "Gerard! What have you done to the poor cat?" she demanded. "And your face is filthy. I thought I told you to wash it." "B-but," I stuttered, "I thought you told me to wash the Puss." "I meant your face," she said, "now give me that cat and wash your face!"
After this escapade, her name was duly changed to Puss-Puss
Puss-Puss was a very good-natured cat and I was very attached to her. We became great friends and I always looked forward to getting home to see her. She enjoyed the freedom of the house and ranged widely over the countryside outside. Many years later and unknown to me, the powers that be, decided that perhaps Puss-Puss deserved to be offered early retirement.
Early in the reign of Puss-Puss she had a litter of kittens. As there was a 'Mister Cat' out there, somewhere in the farm probably, Puss-Puss was given an alternative name, 'Mrs. Cat'. She never did introduce us to Mister Cat, but she did present her offspring to us. She set up a nursery in the old bakery building at the back of the house. It was a great source of wonderment for us young lads. Ironically, we all felt that the tiny kittens reminded us of mice. The kittens eyes were still closed and they seemed to 'mew' constantly as they squirmed around in the box beside Mrs Cat, looking for food and warmth. There was a huge variety of colours to be seen among the kittens as they wriggled and clamboured over each other. We discerned that there was one jet black among they, the image of the mother. This was a busy time for Mrs Cat trying to care for everyone and we helped by delivering the food and milk to the nursery.
When I came home from school one day, I found that the number of kittens had been 'rationalised'. Only one kitten remained, the little black one. Mrs. Cat didn't mind, she seemed to be concentrating on providing best of care for the singleton. The 'authorities' were happy enough too, the cat population was sustainable. We were happy because, very soon, the mother and soon moved from the nursery into the house, where the little one began to open his eyes and his fur began to make him look like a fluffy little black ball. As a future family member he needed a name. The committee decided on 'Sooty'. Apart from referring to a popular cartoon character, the name reflected the cat's natural colouring.
In time Sooty found his feet and got to be very playful. Puss-Puss was a very good mother. It was lovely to watch her grooming the little fellow, washing him all over with her long pink tongue. She could be firm with him too, giving him a clatter in the ear with her paw, if he mis-behaved.
Sooty grew into a fine young cat but sadly he was to be out-lived by his mother. One habit that this guy developed was very memorable and unique among the generations of Keyes cats and, indeed, probably among the wider cat population in general. Sooty had a fascination with water. Whenever there was a pan of water around he would meke his way over and sit beside it. Then he would dip his paw in and swirl the water around and would sit there staring in. When it settled, he would stir it up again with his paw. We could only begin to imagine what the cat saw in the swirling water. Furthermore, if you turned on the tap to fill the pan, he would put his paw in the stream of water and try to play with it. Surely Sooty was a very strange cat indeed.