The Bagnalls were not looking for a cat. The cat was not looking for the Bagnalls. Yet, Willow, was to become the Bagnalls first cat. Willow’s story began around Christmas. A black cat, thin and scrawny looking wandered into my friend’s (Bobby) house during the hiatus betwixt Christmas and New Year’s day. There had been a house fire further down the street and so Bobby thought that this was a temporary situation until the owners returned. But they did not return and they did not claim the cat. That is how it would have stayed except that Bobby wasn’t staying in his house and not wishing her to be made homeless once again he felt obliged to rehome the cat.
I knew that another friend of mine, Alistair, was looking for a second cat to keep his cat company while he was at work. This seemed like an ideal solution and both Alistair and Bobby were up for the exchange. Unfortunately, neither Bobby nor Alistair can ‘legally’ drive and thus I was to be the conduit between the two. That should have been it, but life is never quite that simple, and never for the Bagnalls! Bobby had to move out on the 4th April and Alistair could not take the cat until the 10th April, add to the mix that I was only able to make the journey to West Bromwich on the 1st April and then drop off the cat to Alistair the weekend after the 10th. It didn’t quite work, there would be a fortnight gap where the cat would effectively be homeless and so the Bagnalls agreed en masse that we would temporarily home the cat until Alistair could take her.
I met Alistair at work and he provisioned me with cat basket, litter tray, bowls, food and all the essentials required to look after her temporarily and he suggested that the Baguettes draw up a shortlist of names to help him name her. That was the plan. The cat had other ideas.
We were not going to be the long-term owners, so we did not take her to the vets straight away, but mindful that she was in a new home in a completely strange area we ensured that she stayed in the house. She, obviously saw this as an opportunity and began to ingratiate herself with the family. As the week wore on, it was becoming apparent that she was not going to go to a fourth house in as many months; she was going to become a Bagnall cat.
A list of names was drawn up and for a while Ezra’s suggestion was in the lead for a couple of days, however, Éowyn was not a fan of Mojo-Jojo-Jo and therefore vetoed it – this house is a true democracy when it comes to the naming of pets. We all agreed that she needed a suitable name and one that suited her appearance. She is a completely black cat so we thought that she should have a witchy name. We worked our way through a list of literary witches before finally settling on Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s, best friend Willow and she was christened.
With the decision thus made, we took her to the vets for a cat check-up. I explained the situation and the course of events that had led us to becoming cat owners and asked the vet to look her over. She was a little underweight and had a skin irritation at the base of her tail but apart from those minor ailments, he said that she was in relatively good health. He gave her an injection for the skin irritation and asked us to bring her back in a fortnight for her yearly boosters. I asked him to check her for a microchip and with the second model of microchip reader, he found one and wrote down the number for me. I took that number to the receptionists and asked them to see what it revealed about our new tenant.
She was born in July 2008, making her a couple of months older than Éowyn. She was a rescue cat from the very start; she had been spayed but had not been reported as missing or lost; and her given name was Paris. There was an associated contact number and so I said to the receptionist that I was happy for them to try to contact the original owners to see if they wanted their pet back, it seemed only fair and something that I would like to think a stranger would do for one of my pets. Fate intervened again: the number no longer existed, it seemed that kismet was dictating Willow’s (we are not going to call her Paris) path to Bagnall manor. The receptionist furnished me with a Petlog transfer form and we left. I phoned Petlog and the lady on the helpdesk was quite happy to transfer ownership to us, for Willow had not been reported missing in four months and thus it was likely she had been abandoned. I paid my £16 and she became a Bagnall, officially.
Willow is now settling in and exploring her new territory while we have ordered all the cat essentials so we can give Alistair his loan items back. Never owning a cat before it will be a learning experience, but with a mild-tempered, good-natured, mature cat, like Willow, hopefully it will be an easy learning curve.