The Were-Cat’s Revenge

By Gil Hale – corbidae@yahoo.com

Disclaimer: All usual disclaimers apply.


A terrifying (tail x) tale from Tibbles

Nobody could call me a vengeful cat. I prefer to approach life with a level of dignified calm appropriate to my age and status. I’ve always treated Dora with benevolence, even on the appalling occasion when she called me ‘momma’s ickle pussums’ in company. But I have my limits. There are some crimes against the cat which should not go unpunished.

I’ve mentioned my neighbours to you before. They’re an oddly-matched pair, the human equivalent of a powerful pedigree cat sharing space with a scruffy street tom. Big Jim is everything any feline would admire: sleek, strong, and with senses a jungle cat might envy. He’s also a proper carnivore, who doesn’t forget his friends when he cooks a roast. The other one, Blair, is my worst nightmare. It’s not just his appearance, though it’s clear his mother never taught him grooming when he was a kitten; it’s not even his peculiar taste for kibble that is green and smells. No, the really appalling thing about Blair is his total failure to understand the importance of FEEDING THE CAT.

My problems began when Dora’s friend Mabel won a holiday for two on the coast in Florida. You might well think, as I do, that beach holidays are hardly appropriate for females of their age. Much better to stay in the pleasant routine of home, enjoying the cat’s company and attending diligently to his needs. I tried to suggest as much to Dora, but she is sadly slow-witted. She and Mabel were quite ridiculously excited. It was as unappealing as a mature and well-built cat rolling on his back to have his stomach rubbed. (I need hardly say that this is behaviour I would never indulge in.) Dora even purchased items of clothing that made me fear for her safety, though I find it hard to judge human behaviour in this context. Would Dora in a bright orange two-piece swimsuit inflame the passions of a human tom? Judging by Big Jim’s reaction when he saw it, possibly not. However, Jim is quite cat-like in his tastes, and the two piece was only on the chair. With Dora inside it, I was not sure what might happen.

However, I’m digressing. Dora did in fact come back safe and unmauled , but not before the DISASTER that prompted my campaign of revenge. As she and Mabel would be absent together, Dora asked Jim if he and Blair would take on the honour and responsibility of caring for me. She always stresses, quite rightly, that it is an important task, to be carried out according to the rules, and Jim has never failed to follow these. Unfortunately, Jim is not always there. The big brute of a black tom who leads Jim’s pride (the one who treads on cats with inhuman cruelty) sometimes keeps him out hunting all night. Even the best hunters have to stalk their prey for a time; I understand this. But when Jim is out hunting, the vitally important task of feeding the cat falls to Blair.

It’s important to mention at this point that neither Blair nor Jim have been to the V.E.T. and so their lives are still complicated by what Dora calls ‘urges’. It’s obvious to the most casual observer that for both of them this is usually a cause of disaster. Even Jim doesn’t show his usual intelligence when it comes to selecting a female, and Blair has all the discrimination of an alley cat.

All of these elements contributed to the most outrageous case of cat abuse you are ever likely to hear about. Jim had to be away from his loft for a whole day and night, hunting. I knew about this in advance, because with his usual consideration Jim explained it to me, with an apology (and a rasher of bacon).

“I hate to tell you this Tibbles, but Blair is taking over the cat feeding tonight and tomorrow morning. Simon needs me on a stake-out.” (Simon is the cat-stomper, and a stakeout is something like lying under a bush swishing your tail while watching the birds.) “I’ll make it up to you when I get back,” Jim added. “If he forgets, you should be able to make yourself heard.”

The prospect of yowling outside their door until someone served my meal was horribly undignified, but as a last resort it was better than missing dinner. I have, in extremity, had to do this before, and almost surprised myself by the volume I achieved. Resigning myself to Blair’s very inferior care, I strolled elegantly along the halls and enjoyed a couple of naps until the evening.

Blair, of course, was late home. He knew about his duties; I’d heard Jim reminding him of them, but as usual he failed to realise the seriousness of the responsibility. When he did arrive, it was, as I’d half-expected, with another atrocious choice of female. This one was not only distracting Blair from the one important task of his evening, but actually had the temerity to let out a shriek when she saw me.

“It’s a cat!” she yowled, as if she had never seen one before. “Quickly, open the door so I can put the darlings inside!”

“It’s only Tibbles,” Blair said. “I don’t think he eats gerbils. He’s more of a delicatessen sort of guy.”

This is actually one of the more perceptive comments I’ve heard Blair make, but my attention was on the object he was carrying, which on closer inspection proved to be some sort of transparent container topped by a cage, with what looked like a couple of white mice in it.

“He’s staring at them!”

I was, actually. So these were gerbils. Frankly, I wouldn’t eat one if you offered it to me on a plate. They looked nasty, chewy little things, and anyway I prefer my meat cooked and sliced. The thought reminded me of the fact it was past my mealtime. I pointed this out to Blair with a reproachful meow.

Blair ushered the female into Jim’s loft and rudely shut the door in my face. I thought of Dora, inflaming unsuitable passions in her orange two piece and forgetful of her cat. I wondered if I would ever forgive her for this.

I listened without a great deal of hope at the loft door. Perhaps the female would not be staying. She appeared to be giving Blair instructions rather than going through any mating preliminaries.

“As well as their food and water, they need cleaning out regularly and of course some cardboard to chew. And don’t, whatever you do, let that cat get in!”

Big Jim does not pick females who give orders in that tone of voice – though his are often unsatisfactory in other ways. Blair appears to choose them by some process unfathomable to me; he was practically purring to this one, giving assurances I could have told her were completely worthless.

“Don’t worry. I’ll take good care of them.” He actually said this while I stood at the door starving! Rodents though they were, I felt sorry for the gerbils.

“We’ll have time to drop in at the party before I take you to the train,” he went on and my heart sank. He was going out again. Without feeding the cat!

I waited right outside the door where he had to trip over me to exit. This might have reminded him, but the female started shrieking again, as if my only aim in life was to extricate her creatures from their cage.

“Shoo, Tibbles,” Blair said, and stepped over me, slammed the door and hurried her down the stairs. I had not realised even he could sink to such depths. ‘Shoo’ ? Who did he think he was talking to? And how long would I have to wait for supper?

Too long, it turned out. Suffering horribly from hunger pangs, I prowled the hallway until it seemed all too likely that Blair had returned to the party he’d mentioned after ridding himself of the gerbil-owning female. I was not completely without resources. A young couple, Mike and Molly, had moved in recently on the floor below ours, and even Jim could take lessons from Mike in how to choose a mate. Molly understands cats. Begging is beneath me of course. Titbits offered are gratefully accepted, but I do not scrounge. However, I thought this would be a good evening to stroll past their door a few times.

As bad luck would have it, they too were just going out, but Molly proved her worth by hurrying back inside to bring a small piece of cheese for me. It would be an exaggeration to say it saved my life – you would be surprised the hardships I can endure – but it sustained me a little for a very long wait.

Blair came back at two o’clock in the morning. This is eight hours after the time my meal is served when the household is well-regulated. He was not accompanied by the screeching female, but he fell out of the lift and then tripped over his feet. While not agile like Jim, Blair isn’t usually so clumsy, but I have noticed this and a tendency to sing when he returns from parties. I suspect something like catnip.

I meowed sharply. The time for reproach was past; this was a severe rebuke. Blair looked around vaguely, as if I might be perched in mid air. I increased the volume and pushed against his leg. This was a mistake. Blair fell over and I had to move out of his way. There is a time for persistence though. As soon as he was up I twined myself through his feet.

“Damn it Tiddles,” Blair grumbled. Tiddles? That must have been seriously good catnip.

I turned the meow into something approaching a yowl, a fervent reminder that my stomach was hours behind schedule.

“All right, all right, I know, feed the cat, Dora says it, Jim says it, the blasted cat says it…”

After a few attempts he opened the door, stumbled in and let out a louder yowl than mine. There was a crash and a clattering noise, and I saw – my eyesight, like Big Jim’s is good in the dark – that he’d fallen over the coffee table and dislodged the gerbil container. The metal part separated itself from the base, and the two gerbils streaked across the floor.

Even on an empty stomach they didn’t look appetising, but Blair made a strange wailing noise then went, “No Tibbles!” in a voice the screecher would have related to. Adding to his crimes, he then seized me around my empty stomach and threw me out. A series of thuds and crashes and panicked mutterings suggested he couldn’t find the gerbils. The thought of the female clawing him for this lightened my mood very slightly.

Only very slightly though. Time passed. I yowled. The noise of furniture moving inside continued unabated. I yowled more loudly. Humiliating, but my stomach was shrinking and I felt quite weak with hunger.

“She’ll kill me, she’ll kill me,” Blair was muttering inside. It was clear he was still looking for the wretched gerbils. I summoned all my remaining strength and let out a piercing howl that even he could not ignore. A minute later he came staggering out, and we headed – at last! – for my food bowl. I could tell he was distracted, what with the catnip and the gerbil problem, but even when there was a strange dry rattling that did not sound quite right, I never suspected.

I pushed past him and stared in disbelief for just too long. Blair was already slamming the door to the loft when my eyes convinced me of the awful truth. Blair had filled my bowl with gerbil food!

I will not describe my sufferings during the rest of that night. Fury and hunger kept me awake. I yowled again at the door, but there was a snoring noise from inside – from the floor, it seemed — and nothing brought Blair out. I paced the halls; I even cried plaintively outside Mike and Molly’s door, but no one was there. I could not get out into the street; everything was locked up. If I’d reached the street, would I have searched trash for scraps like some stray? We do what we have to, to survive!

I was rescued from this dreadful situation not long after dawn, by Big Jim, the hero. Jim, like the mighty hunter he is, had fallen on his prey more rapidly than anyone had expected. When I heard his steps in the entrance, I knew my luck had turned. I rushed to meet him before the elevator could arrive. “Hey Tibbles,” Jim said. He always talks to me man-to-man because he knows at heart I’m a hero cat. “Did that idiot forget to feed you?”

He was looking slightly battered and very pleased with himself. It was clear he had just won a fight. I hoped that perhaps he had taken on The Brute and replaced him as Alpha male in the pride, but sadly this later turned out not to have been the case. I meowed to him on a note that conveyed patient suffering. Jim hoisted me up – respectfully of course — and I couldn’t help a purr rumbling up (a manly purr of course).

It is a mark of Jim’s sterling quality that there was no nonsense about going into the loft first. Jim understands priorities. He placed me down gently on my floor, and stared at my food bowl. “What the hell?”

Exactly. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

“Hang in there, Tibbles, and I’ll get rid of this rubbish.” He tipped out the insulting gerbil food, strode to the loft, opened the door and after a moment I heard, “Sandburg! What the f*** is this?”

Dora says that the f word is very bad, but she does not have to live with Blair. Jim shut the door; I heard raised voices inside – well, Jim’s voice was raised, Blair’s was more of a sort of groan. Jim did not keep me waiting though. Within a couple of minutes he was striding back into my domain with a frying pan and a pack of bacon shouting over his shoulder, “And get those gerbils back in their cage now! I’m going to have breakfast with Tibbles!”

This is why I love Jim. Perhaps he could move in with us? Dora has never cooked me bacon for breakfast. Perhaps Jim might be tempted if she wore the orange two-piece when he called around… Then again, perhaps not.

We ate the whole pack of bacon. Jim had been without a meal for as long as I had; no doubt he’d endured it just as heroically, but we both felt a great deal better for having full stomachs. Jim sat in Dora’s most comfortable chair and dozed; I sat at his feet, then on them. Jim opened one eye. “Up you come, then,” he said. “Mind the left side; my ribs are bruised.”

For perhaps an hour, we dozed in blissful comfort, then the door opened again and Blair said in an irritating whine, “Jim, you’ve got to give me a hand here, man. I can’t catch the damn things on my own. I’ve cleared up; it’s all ready for them, but they’re too quick and my head’s pounding, and I’m worried they’re chewing through some cables.”

The latter remark was probably just an evil ploy to galvanise Jim into helping him. With a sigh, Jim got up and I followed.

“Don’t bring Tibbles in!” Blair said.

“He’s probably better at catching gerbils than you are,” Jim pointed out. “Anyway, you owe him an apology.”

“It won’t hurt him to have missed a meal,” Blair said callously. “He’s too fat anyway. Come on, Jim. Marrakesh is going to kill me if I lose them.”

“You’re dating a girl called Marrakesh?”

“I think her mother was a belly dancer,” Blair said vaguely. “Tibbles! Go away!”

It was after this conversation, that I knew my past tolerance had been a mistake. Blair had gone too far! I turned my back on him haughtily, and returned to my nap, but before I dozed off, I began to think about revenge.

I thought about it again when I woke up. I did not want to make a hasty decision about how to proceed. Blair had made me suffer for hours and hours; whatever I did to him should be equally prolonged. And then there was the consideration that the loft was Jim’s territory. Several possible cat campaigns against a neighbour were ruled out by that. Revenge had to be on Blair and Blair alone.

I began with a trivial move, but one that gave me some satisfaction. Judicious listening from a warm spot in the hallway told me when the gerbils were going home. Slipping into the loft was a slight challenge, but I’d refrained from showing any interest in the gerbils, and Blair – as you might have expected – was getting careless. I took the first opportunity of the day, which I guessed would involve a prolonged wait, but Dora was home by then and I made sure I ate a hearty breakfast. Blair often struggles with the door on his way out, as he carries too many things at once. I was waiting, and nipped in as his pile of papers slipped. I was out of sight before he steadied them enough to lock up. Jim was already gone, so the loft was mine.

Naturally, I treated it with respect. I never go up to Jim’s room, and wouldn’t dream of setting a claw to the furniture. I enjoyed a doze in the sun for a while, then concealed myself under Blair’s bed (an interesting place, where one can slum it in comfort among the dropped socks and dust bunnies).

I am quite capable of sleeping with one ear open. Actually, my sleeping capabilities are highly developed in all areas. I paid no attention when Blair came home and groomed himself (inadequately). I waited until the doorbell rang. I can move fast when I want to, and it was the matter of a moment to leave my hiding place and get in position.

“I’ve really enjoyed caring for the gerbils,” Blair lied as he greeted the female. He’d only cleaned them out because Jim has a sensitive nose. “They’ve been…”

He broke off then, because it was quite apparent that far from returning his smile, she was drawing breath for a horrified scream. As she let it rip, he spun around and saw what she was looking at. On the coffee table, my face an inch from that of a completely untroubled gerbil, I sat peering into the cage.

I must say I enjoyed the results. I left rather hastily, because females are unpredictable. I saw one throw a shoe at Blair once, and another hit Jim with a kipper. I felt slightly vulnerable while this one was shrieking, “You horrid, horrid creature!” However, once safely back though my cat door, I was able to listen to the chaos with unalloyed pleasure.

She gave him hell.

It was so entertaining that Dora opened the door a crack, and we watched the female leave, still going on at full volume, while Blair followed behind, pleading. We haven’t seen her since. It was only a small beginning, but I felt my campaign had gotten off to a good start.

My next moves were more subtle. Blair is interested in what Jim calls weird stuff. Jim and I would not deny weird occasionally exists, but it’s generally better avoided. Blair is enthusiastic about it, and this made him an easy victim of my next ploy.

This one is really ‘spook your owner’ 101. There can’t be a cat that has never used it. However, I like to think I’ve brought it to a fine art. It involves standing somewhere in an empty part of the room, staring into the space as if you see something there. It’s generally best to twitch your tail. Once you have their full attention, you can add finer details – maybe arch your back a little, or crouch as if you’re about to pounce.

I am a master of this. The true art of it in this case was being careful only to do it to Blair when he was alone. It took time and patience, but I am a cat of leisure, and patient about things other than empty food bowls and the V.E.T. I made a point of pursuing this part of my campaign in the loft. With the gerbils gone, there was no need for me to be banned, and Jim was generally welcoming. I think he was pleased I’d ensured no return of either the gerbils or the female.

After a fortnight, I had Blair where I wanted him. Edgy. Watching me, in case I suddenly started eyeing an empty corner and twitching. I began to step up the intensity of it – one day I hissed and backed away. It’s a pity no one knows enough about my talents to offer me a TV role.

That night, Blair wanted Jim to use his senses to see if there was anything weird in the loft. Jim said the only thing weird was the absence of his dinner – Blair had forgotten to cook – and he was going to Wonderburger. While he was gone, I tried a little variation; just when Blair had sat down with his laptop, I leapt from the couch as if something had terrified me and shot out of the door and down the hallway. It was rather tiring, but worth it. When I came back Blair was calling a friend who apparently could pick up on ‘strange manifestations in your home’. Jim said that’s what Blair was, and shared his Wonderburger with me.

The friend burned some particularly vile smelling herbs in the loft, so Jim went off to see Simon, and I decided a floor away would be better for my nose, and called on Mike and Molly. Molly had a cream pot which needed licking out, so I obliged, and listened idly to their conversation. Mike was talking about Halloween , which I must say is usually completely ignored near us.

“It’d be a good opportunity to get to know a few more of our neighbours,” he said. “I won’t ‘trick or treat’ as such, but I could dress up and give out invitations to come down to us for a drink and snacks.”

“It would be lovely,” Molly said. “But I’m not sure that people like Dora would want a vampire at the door.”

“I don’t have to be anything gory,” Mike said. He looked at me and was inspired. (I find this happens to people.) “I know. I could dress as a cat. Gary at work has a cat suit – Tibbles’ colour actually. It doesn’t have a mask, but I can get something to paint whiskers on.”

“Is that spooky enough?”

Mike grinned. “If anyone questions it, I’ll say I’m a were-cat.”

That was when I was inspired. I wasn’t sure how long it was till Halloween; I tend to count time by the meals. More than a week of them, anyway, by the way they were talking. Time to take my campaign to the next stage, and then use Halloween for the grand finale.

I stopped arching my back at nothing. Instead, I made a point of behaving really oddly whenever Blair was around. There were a number of ways to achieve this. One was to flatten my ears and crouch when he passed me in the corridor, sometimes making as if to pounce. Another, which was surprisingly effective, was to extend the tip of my tongue a little, so it just protruded. Blair seemed to find it unnerving, especially as I never did it when anyone else was around. One evening I slipped in when he did, and waited outside the bathroom. As soon as I heard a certain noise begin, I yowled and screeched as if someone had trodden on my tail.

It was that night Blair said to Jim, “Have you noticed anything… odd about Tibbles? I mean seriously weird, spooky odd?”

“Nope,” Jim said, tickling me in the perfect spot, just behind the ear. I purred, the very picture of normality. “Is that why you’d left him on the doorstep?”

“It’s only happened since Matt purged the room,” Blair said. I think by this he meant the revolting burnt herbs.

“He’s not doing it again,” Jim said firmly.

“I wasn’t thinking of it. It’s just… do you think there’s any chance that whatever was in here somehow went into Tibbles?”

“Not unless it was edible.”

“Jim!”

“There was nothing here, Chief. And there’s nothing wrong with Tibbles.”

“He’s kind of crouching at me these days, and wiggling his ass.”

Jim laughed so much his coffee went down the wrong way and the conversation had to be put on hold while he coughed.

“What I mean,” Blair said at last, “is that he looks ready to pounce. He doesn’t do it to anyone else.”

“Well there you are then,” Jim said. “It’s you that’s the problem, not Tibbles. He probably hasn’t forgiven you for the gerbil food yet. Have you apologised?”

I held my breath. It would be a shame to have to end my campaign just before the grand finale.

“Oh, come on, Jim,” Blair said impatiently. “A third world village could live on what that cat eats! Anyway, I don’t suppose he even remembers it now. It wasn’t that big a deal.”

Hah!

I felt fully justified in proceeding with my plan. Blair hadn’t yet met Mike and Molly. This is not because he’s unfriendly. He’s too sociable if anything. It was just they kept different hours, and Blair’s social life had been busy as he attempted to find a replacement female. This last stage was tricky, though. I didn’t want them making friends, or even speaking to one another.

I’d been watching Mike very carefully, and fortunately he seemed a man of routine, especially in the morning. I worked out what I believed to be a foolproof plan. Owing to some faulty quirk in its mechanism, whenever anyone calls the elevator it comes up to our floor and opens before it descends to theirs. Mike calls the elevator at the same time every morning. I just had to attract Blair’s attention.

Luckily, he’d been taking a greater interest in my movements since he developed his ‘evil possessed cat’ theory. The first morning I failed, but on the second he looked out to call after Jim, and I seized the opportunity. I hissed at Blair and then slunk away suspiciously to pace at the end of the hallway. He’s quite gullible really (female criminals love him) and I had him hooked. The pacing was a bit tiresome, but I was near the stairway so I knew I’d hear Mike saying goodbye to Molly when he went. If Blair looked like losing interest I did one of the weird cat stunts that had worked so well before. I have to say, I could have been a master criminal (heir to Macavity) if I wasn’t naturally the hero type like Jim. My plan worked perfectly. I heard Mike, I heard the elevator, I made a sudden dash for the door and leapt in just as it was going to close. There was no danger of Blair getting in with me. Something nasty happened to him in an elevator once, presumably the human equivalent of a caught tail.

On Mike’s floor, I got out as Mike got in. I kept out of sight, but I heard Blair hurrying down the stairs just in time to see the elevator open and Mike, on his own, walk out. Blair looked as if he was thinking hard, and I was not surprised when the next day he looked out about that time – and saw me take the elevator and a stranger get out at the bottom.

Unfortunately the next couple of days Blair overslept. The best I could do was to make sure he didn’t see me once he was up. On Halloween itself, I gave my best performance of them all, slinking to the elevator as if I hoped to get there unseen, and standing on my hind legs as if to push the buttons just before the door closed. Cats can’t push buttons of course. It’s one of those irritating facts of life. But I’d got Blair to the stage where I felt he might believe almost anything.

The one thing I had no control over, was the time Jim might return that evening. I strolled down to see Mike put on his cat suit. He was quite right – it was exactly my colour. If you inhabited what Big Jim calls the Sandburg zone, this is what a were-Tibbles would look like. To my relief, Mike decided to start on Blair’s floor, mostly I think because they do know Dora, and he thought she would appreciate his costume. I waited until he was safely inside our apartment. Dora likes to chat, so no one gets out again too quickly.

Outside Jim’s loft I gave a yowl and then scratched at the door. I never do this, and I knew it would get Blair to his feet. As soon as I heard him at his door, I dashed for mine.

“Tibbles?” Blair called, sounding unnerved.

I thought Blair would have gone back to the loft by the time Mike handed over the invitation and left Dora, but I must have spooked him too well. Mike went out rather hastily – before Dora could start another topic of conversation – and I saw Blair standing there in the hall with Jim’s plant spray in his hand. With impressive presence of mind I gave exactly the hiss I’d been giving whenever I saw Blair recently. Blair yelled and leapt backward as if he’d seen a ghost, lost his balance and fell over. Mike, a good natured guy if ever there was one, naturally stepped forward to lend a hand. Blair shrieked something strange and sprayed Mike, which had not been in my plan (it’s something I strongly object to myself) and Jim arrived at a run.

I felt it was time to intervene. The sight of Blair when he saw Mike coming out of Dora’s had been the perfect pinnacle of my revenge, but I didn’t want anyone else to suffer. Luckily Mike was already saying, “Hey, I’m so sorry. Molly and I thought a cat suit would be a safe bet not to startle anyone too much…” and if Jim had been about to savage him, he stopped in time. I hastily purred around Mike’s ankles. Apart from anything else, I didn’t want to miss the extreme embarrassment on Blair’s face. He was still on the floor, so I had the best view of it. He refused to tell them what had startled him so much – or why he was carrying Jim’s plant spray with what I suspect must have been holy water in it (Dora watches what she calls ‘those lovely boys’ on Supernatural, so I know about these things). He went a shade or two redder though when Mike explained to Jim how he’d thought he’d have to claim to be a were-cat in order to count as spooky at all, and was only here to invite them for a drink.

“Where Sandburg’s concerned, the explanation usually makes less sense than the event,” Jim said. “I’ll come with pleasure. Your cat phobia going to stop you from dropping in, Chief?”

“Ha ha, very funny, man,” Blair grumbled, rubbing his rear, where he’d landed. “I was just… anyway, I’d love to come, Mike. Just don’t ask me to sit next to Tibbles!”

I had finished my campaign though. I behaved entirely normally at Mike and Molly’s party, and plenty of people remembered to slip some titbits in my direction. Molly does something very nice with prawns; I hope Dora got the recipe. Blair is not unintelligent, and I could see him looking at me and thinking hard on several occasions during the evening. It grew crowded enough to be rather a worry to anyone with a tail, and when Jim slipped out I followed him and found Blair had come too.

“Too much tonight?” he asked Jim.

“A bit. It’s been a long day. We had a bust go wrong in the department – not Major crimes, but guys I know.”

“And you came in to hear me yelling,” Blair said apologetically. “Sorry.”

Jim pushed open the loft door. “You ever going to tell me what that was really about, Chief?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Blair said. “Definitely not, in fact.”

“Well, if you and Tibbles haven’t settled your differences, take it outside. I want some peace and quiet.”

Blair looked at me. I looked at Blair. Blair would never say it, but he thinks Big Jim is a hero as much as I do, and neither of us wanted to disturb his peace tonight. I knew it was up to me, as the victor, to make the first move. I gave a soft rub around Blair’s legs. Blair scratched behind my ear. He never gets the spot quite right, but he was trying. I purred anyway.

Blair sat cross-legged on one arm of the couch, and I curled up by Jim’s feet. Jim leaned back and relaxed, and I was glad to doze. It had been remarkably hard work for the last few weeks, but worth it, and now that honour was satisfied it was pleasant to sit here as friends. The gerbil incident could be forgotten – but I doubted if Blair would ever forget the Were-cat’s revenge!