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The Tiger Who Came To Tea

January 2002

My father has always professed to hating cats. No specific reason has ever been given, but for years there has been continual sniper fire in the cats versus dogs war with my mother. My mother's revenge has been to surround him with cats of all varieties from elegant orientals to feral cats. There have been cats in the house, the stables and digging up his garden for as long as I can remember. There has also been my father's dachshunds. Despite their diminutive size these assertive little dogs were adept at bossing the goats, chickens and even the horses. The cats remained rather aloof to this however and only bothered with the dogs if they wished to tease them a little. My father was noticeably unsuccessful in all attempts to train the dogs to chase the cats.

Over the last winter my parents recognised that they were ageing and that their outdoor lifestyle in remote, cold, Aberdeenshire was no longer suitable. So they decided to sell up and move to sunny Cyprus. Sadly my mother decided to leave her (also ageing) cats with neighbours as she felt the move would be too hard for them. The dogs were to be flown out under the pet passport scheme. Before they left, this autumn one of the dogs (my father's favourite) and my mother became ill. They lost the dog, she had an incurable illness, and my mother had to wait in the UK for an operation. Then the Cypriot authorities decided that the dogs could not enter the country until the garden was well fenced enough for home quarantine. My mother and the dogs duly stayed in the UK and my Father went on ahead to fence the garden.

Prior to the operation my mother went out to Cyprus for a week and discovered... my Dad had a pet cat. It had, my Dad excused himself, invited itself in (as cats do) and had never left. My father claims to have no part in this process, but the man who can't cook and won't cook, was cooking liver and meat nightly for his uninvited guest! The cat is a slightly built tabby with huge eyes. She has been named Tiger - the Tiger who came to tea. But this one, unlike her fictional namesake, will be staying. The dogs have arrived, but Tiger has made sure that they know their place.

Alice Matthews  

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