Monday, 28 January 2013


     He came one day, quietly and goldenly, about six years ago and sat on the wall outside the office, half hidden by greenery. He was large, with a face like a teddy bear, and that's how he got his name.

 He always turned up at the same place once a day.
In summer, around 9 in the evening and in winter, around 4. Later he came twice a day, and much later, he just stayed.

He would eat as much as I could stuff into one plate. He looked as if he already had some of it stored in his cheeks, they were so big.

His age was a mystery to us but by the way parts of him seemed a little bent and worn we guessed he wasn't  that young.

His eyes were bright green and penetrating, and in the sun they looked as golden as himself. He was one of the few cats who would look you in the eye directly. Cats dont normally like to do that. They think if you look at them - eye to eye - you're challenging them.
Maybe he was challenging me ....."I dare you to get even more food into that plate!".......

He used to eat it right off the wall, and soon enough, wherever I was, I'd hear "clunk" and would go and see Teddy leaning down to look saying, "Pick it up please". So I'd pick it all up and give it back to him, and he'd say, "Thank you very much." 

A very courteous cat.

 His favourite food was "mixture" - meat and gravy mixed with bread, and to wash it down, a large helping of milk.

  I realised he didn't have strong teeth as he couldnt eat big pieces of meat. I dreaded any tooth trouble because I wouldn’t be able to get hold of him, or take him all the way to the very far-off vet.

But so far, so good.

  He never let me touch him and always looked a bit lofty and intimidating so I didnt try for some time. When I did, I realised he was just a big kitten at heart and wouldn't hurt a fly.
Still, all he ever let me do was touch his cheek or chin. More than that and he'd instantly back away.

  He never came off the wall in public, so for ages he'd be sphinx-like on the wall.

Until he was ready to eat, he'd sit far back almost out of view. But when he was ready you'd know, and there he'd be. Large, golden and gorgeous - shining in the sun - ready to receive an audience.....

 If I was late with his food, or if he was early, I'd see this crouching figure looking through the window from the wall, head lowered, staring in. And when he spotted someone, he'd give a soft plaintive miaow.
  Whenever we appeared, he'd hiss. First we were rather offended, but then thought that perhaps it was a defence mechanism - or else his mother taught him the words wrong, and he thought he was saying, "Hello gorgeous"........[Or maybe she said, “greet them with a kiss”, and he thought she said “hiss”……]

  I never knew where he slept since he'd always disappear and would never be in any of the cat boxes.

  He had a strange relationship with the others. He tried a few token attacks on one or two of the other males who hated him ever after and avoided him. But he soon stopped that anyway.

  He adored "Mother", another cat who had turned up earlier as a kitten. We were convinced they were related because she had the same teddy-bear face.

Mother or Mama Kitten

They used to sit near one another on the wall, but if he tried to get too close he'd get a bop on the head for his pains. She was very happy with him as long as he remembered that.

  She used to come to the door miaowing frantically and we'd go out to see what was wrong.. She was telling us that Teddy had come and "will you hurry up and give the poor fellow his food - he's hungry! [And so am I.]"

  Their relationship was uncanny....close yet distant.

  Coco, Mother's daughter, was another matter. Her territory was round the corner at the back, near the vegetable patch. I think she was his daughter too.........same large size and teddy face, but tortoiseshell, and with her mother's peppery temper.
Pretty, Peppery, Coco
   Every now and then Teddy could be seen on ground level, at the back, adoring her from afar. [We thought her spaying operation probably lacked some fine-tuning.] But try to get within a yard of her and she'd be off in a hurry. And if he ever did get too close he'd get a slap in the face.

  It was really funny seeing them. His moves were very quietly done in  gentlemanly fashion, but must have been very irritating to her. As soon as she moved, he'd move - from the quarter roof,  to the coriander patch, to the garage.....then finally, Teddy all alone in the spinach.

  Matilda, the eldest, was quite content to sit on the wall, at a distance, but facing him. He was one cat who didn't scare her at all.

Gentle Matilda

  And once in a while, you'd spot him on the front wall, Anneka's territory, surrounded by green leaves and white blossoms that set off his gold very nicely, thank you.

  "Ladies are you looking?"

 But the ladies were usually busy being beautiful elsewhere, so Teddy just had us to admire him. I'm not sure we were good enough for him.......

Teddy and Irises....both beautiful and shimmery gold
The only time he ever demonstrated bad manners was when someone else was getting fed and he wasn't. [But Teddy, you just ate!]
 He would literally barge onto the scene of the crime like a steamship that mows everything down in its path. Like a U-boat homing in on its target. No-one stood a chance.
 He'd be received with spits and snarls, flattened ears and flashing claws - but no matter, he just kept on coming. Quite placid, no aggression at all, but no question about who got the food!!

 After quite a long time, he started getting obvious tooth trouble. One day he turned up with a fang twisted across his mouth and we couldn't figure out what on earth he'd done.
Of course no-one was allowed to touch and he just hid in the most tangled up part of the foliage he could find. After a while he decided to try a little milk and managed to suck some up, so that was good.

  Two days later he turned up again and the fang was gone.Thank goodness!! After that the food had to be softer than ever......
  Around that time, March or April, changes happened.
First of all, a thin, wretched looking charcoal-grey cat came looking for food. He caught sight of me and shot off as if the banshees were after him. I kept leaving something for him to find in case, and after days he would come again. But one glimpse of me and off he'd be.

  Finally I spotted him in the front garden outside the gate, staying very still, pretending to be part of a bush.
I left some food there and just managed to watch him through the side of the gate as he gulped it down. I was sure he was the kitten who had tried to find shelter in a catbox last winter and we surprised him by mistake and scared him away. He never came back.
I was positive this was him, not just because of the colour and shape but because of his style - scared to death at the sight of a human and tearing away in a panic.
This pattern carried on and he gained a little confidence. I called him Sylvester  cat since he was like my old favourite cat, Sylvester. Then he became Silver-cat, then Silver. He had a slight squint which gave him a rather quaint look.

 Sweet Silver
Soon he started appearing on the wall and ate there instead. Teddy spotted him from the other wall and did a token attack...after all Mr. Gold  had to show Mr Silver who was boss.

  He never bothered again, preferring to just yell out "Goldfinger" now and then from his wall, while strains of "Silver Moon" came from the front.

  The other advent that Spring brought was Daffodil. She came to the gate miaowing so desperately we called her Desperado at first. She only came once a day to the gate, ate and ate, and went off.
Then gradually she stayed longer and made her way to the side wall - where she rubbed heads with Teddy.

He never looked back......

  We realised she was a very young nursing mother, and the most affectionate cat Teddy had ever seen. We waited, trembling, for the inevitable kittens to follow. We guessed they were living on the KBs roof - always a hospitable birthplace and nursery for lots of our cats and their kittens.

Sure enough, a tiny grey one turned up, and then another. Male and female. They climbed up from the tree outside the office, made a beeline for the foliage where Mummy was, saw Teddy, and instantly said, "Daddy!!"

 Suddenly Teddy had close family and he was in seventh heaven!
 Those summer months were the best he'd ever had. I would see these four heads peep out from the foliage - all together - all adoring each other. If a kitten came on the ground and got scared, he'd dash up the tree and Teddy was "home".

  I re-named the mother Daffodil because she was grey, had appeared in springtime and had two tiny gold slivers above her eyes. I had been dying to call someone Orlando after the actor who played my favorite elf in Lord of the Rings. And we'd never had a Wendy so that was the kittens. 

  But one look at them and we knew who the real daddy was.......Silver!

Silver at the head of the table
Still, we didn't tell Teddy or the kittens. Daffodil kept her secret and Silver stayed a happy bachelor on the other side of the house, getting fuller and handsomer. [I think he's found Coco because I've heard her getting rather angry. He's not as polite as Teddy.]

  Feeding was easy  because the kittens were quick  to grab their share before the steamship arrived. But if he did, far from getting a sock on the jaw, he'd be welcomed with open arms and a quick kiss on the head as he stole their food.

  He sometimes got lonely when they all adopted the chair in the porch for suckling. Teddy would have been a little out of place there [and out of room] but he hung around them, sometimes sitting underneath or on the steps.

  He took to sitting just at the edge of the front patio  in front of  the yellow irises. He knew how to show off his best side to advantage.......

 At night he shared the side verandah with them, actually sleeping in a cat box properly for the first time, and by day often staying on the outside kitchen ledge with them around him.

  One day he turned up with a mouth full of blood. Again, we couldn't figure out what had happened, but this time, inspired by new family, he let me sponge him up a little, without actually letting me handle him.

 After that, he started looking a little thinner as he couldn't eat as much as before, and I was never sure if there was trouble with the mouth, the lungs, or both.

  Suddenly one day, I saw one of the little ones dash up to the milk plate. Then I looked again, and did a double-take….. Daffodil had both hers with her!
Who was this!!??
He was unmistakenly Daffodil's. No doubt about it. He was Wendy's brother. He knew them and they knew him.  He drank a bit of milk, spotted me, yelled “Aaaagh!”, and dashed off.

 Days later, it happened again. Finally, I managed to lure him to the side and fed him properly. Very soon he stayed. He became my little shadow, as affectionate as Daffodil, and starved for affection. I'd pick him up and he'd just lie there, nuzzling my chin. He wasn't ready to forgive the others - yet - for losing him.
I named him Willy, because it went with Wendy and they were definitely twins, although she and Orlando were always together.

 When Willy discovered Teddy, they took to each other like long-lost soul-mates [and helped with each other's food]. They would sit together on the kitchen table, Willy nuzzling Teddy, [saving a little for me] and Teddy lapping up all the attention.
 It was as if Willy knew he was sick and vulnerable. And because he felt vulnerable and insecure too, the bond was strong. Teddy also sensed that Willy was alone and stayed near him rather than with the other two.

  A few weeks later I looked over the wall and thought I saw Wendy. But no, it was Willy. Wait a minute, Willy was down below, butting against my legs!  I blinked.....saw he was still there - and  called out "Winky" as natural as you please.
 Wee Willy Winky! [Wendy should be glad she wasn't called "Wee"]

  Just how many of her sons had Daffodil lost!!!???

    He showed up now and then and I'd throw him food. The only time he ever came up on the wall was when Teddy was there too.
  But it seems that Winky wasn't ready to stay with the family who lost him - even though Orlando spent a lot of time keeping him company in the cold on the other side of the wall.
  Even Willy and Wendy tried. I tried. But Winky would not come. And by then Teddy had almost stopped going to that side so even he wasn't there.
 As autumn came, Teddy dwindled fast. He still barged as much as he could but he was weak. The irony was that now he was letting me handle him, and I could pick him up if I wanted, I knew that any trip to the vet would only mean one thing - putting him to sleep.

  But he wasn't in too much pain, and as long as he could swallow some form of food he was happy.

  I sponged him and he loved that, and he made up for all the stroking he'd missed out on.
 He used to come up to me and peer into my face and lean against me. Never had his green eyes been so penetrating as then.

  So I let him be. Guard of the kitchen, custodian of the food - and happy daddy!
Happy Daddy Teddy, with Wendy, Willy, and Orlando
One day I went out, and came back in the late afternoon. I saw him sitting on the grass, and knew he was dying. I've seen that look before...when everything looks hollow and sunken, and they sit on their haunches in front of a plate, unable to drink.....It was just a matter of time.

 He still had the others near him, minus Winky, and I was just wondering whether it was a good idea to bring him in, separating him from the ones he loved best, when I realised he had vanished, and I couldn't find him anywhere.

I went out later from the front door to have another look and he turned up there. I picked him up, light as a feather, and put him in the chair, but he instantly jumped down, quite animated, rubbed against my legs, and turned the corner. 
I thought he was going to the others. But when I looked he wasn't with them. I never saw him again. 

I looked and looked for days but there was no sign anywhere.

 So our Teddy went off in a golden blaze - departing alone, as he had arrived. 
But in-between, he found all the love he could handle.

 He was a happy Teddy.........


  1. The very first sentence caught my attention and I was utterly absorbed in the tale. LOVE how your tall tale is trimmed with details so fine that readers at first do not recognize a pattern in the tracery of word on golden word.
    Keep em coming Noshe and maybe one day we will compile them into a book.

  2. This was beautiful Noshi. I felt I was a part of Teddy's life. Hope he is in his happy place with a plate full of his favourite food.

  3. Thanks both of you! Teddy was around for some years but this last part of his story was 2003. The night he vanished I wrote this in pencil in an old copybook....Later put it on the computer. Miss them all.....