I am Bilbo. I pwned you

A tale (tail?) about my cat, Bilbo. The hardest cat in the universe.
Bilbo

Tap, tap, tap, CLUNK. Tap, tap, tap, CLUNK. Tap, tap, tap, CLUNK.

That was the sound Bilbo made as he moved from one warm spot in the house, to find another even warmer spot. Or, perhaps to check if the food bowl had been refilled. And, if it has been done so with Whiskers, to give you that look that said "Where's my steak, motherfuckers". I don't think he ever checked the water bowl - he was more or a Jack D on the rocks sort of cat. Bilbo was, in the vernacular, hard.

To rewind somewhat, I grew up in an animal loving household. As long as I can remember, we had pets. The first was looking after the school gerbil. Who then escaped and had to be recaptured with the 'food in a walking boot' method. It then died, so my parents had to go out and buy another to avoid the shame of admitting this to the school. Turns out they weren't the first to do this, and as far as anybody knew, The School Gerbil was over 30 years old because the cunning bastards only died during holiday times.

The first two cats were named in the convention of my gran, who named animals after characters from Winnie the Pooh. So Kanga and Roo it was. After this, the naming convention changed. From now on my parents decreed, being hipster rockish dudes that came of age in the 60's, cats will be named after characters from Lord of the Rings (Frodo and Pippin followed). Obviously this didn't apply to pets belonging to my brother and I. I had four mice - Gin, Tonic, Whiskey and Brandy (showing my interest in alcohol from a young age). And a hamster - Hammy (showing my lack of creativity, also from a young age). We also had two goldfish won, as was traditional back in the day, at the school summer fair (and if you call it a fayre we can no longer be friends). Goldfish have less personality than other pets, so we called them Goldfish 1 and Goldfish 2.

But I digress. Back to Bilbo. Bilbo had a personality bigger that the biggest thing you could imagine. Doubled. His exploits include:

  • Being so determined to get into our car that his paw was trapped in the door as my dad closed it. Causing my dad to phone the vet and say "I've just caught my cat's paw in the car door" only to have the receptionist reply "What, don't you like cats?"
  • Nicking the Sunday roast left overs until he was stuffed and then knocking the rest to the floor for Bonnie the dog to polish off. In the full knowledge that Bonnie would get the blame for the whole thing.
  • Refusing to let us leave without him on a family holiday. All packed and ready to go, we drove off. Only to be waved down by a neighbour half way up the road saying "You do realise you've got a cat on your roof rack?" Yep, Bilbo was car surfing before it was fashionable.
  • Waking my best mate Alex, who wasn't keen on any animals at all, by lying on his chest and licking his nose with tongue hairs fully raised. When that failed, Bilbo took a proper extra sized bite of Alex's nose. That did the trick.

So it was around 5 o'clock in the afternoon and I was alone in the house. I'd already been home for a few hours and seen Bilbo asleep on my parents bed. Perhaps not the warmest place in the house, though I admired how he was marking out his territory for later on that night. He was thinking "Parent's bed? I disagree. I may be quite small in comparison to two fully grown humans, I think you'll find this whole bed is mine." He was good at playing the long game.

The doorbell rings. I hope this isn't a surprise to you - it's their main function. I answer the door to a woman who is clearly distressed. She explains that she was driving down the road in the morning and thinks she hit a cat. She thinks it ran away, but isn't sure. Could this have been my cat? "Bless you", I say "not my cat, he's safe and well upstairs."

Other than thinking what a lovely act this woman had done by going knocking on doors up and down the street, I thought nothing more of the incident. Until about 9 or 10 o'clock. I just had one of those 'something isn't right, and I don't know why' feelings. So back upstairs I went. There was Bilbo in the middle of the bed. With his mate Pippin next to him. But there was something about Bilbo's look that wasn't right. Something weak and vulnerable. I moved to put my hand to him. He growled at me. He's never growled at me before, unless I'm interfering with his food or trying to remove the still living bird that he's caught from his mouth.

Ignoring the growling and Bilbo's implied "I could have you killed, just say the word" attitude, I investigated further. His leg looked a little odd, so I poked it (yes, as a trained first aider (doctor perhaps), this is how I operate!). He squeaked in the only way that people and animals can do when they're in severe agony. Which was when I realised he was the idiot cat that threw himself in front of a car many hours before, and had been in agony every since. Poor fucker!

So Bilbo was was bundled into my car post-haste and off to the vet. Who confirmed that his leg was broken in four places, and needed many lots of pins to fix it (Bilbo's leg, not the vet's). A quick call to my dad confirmed he was good for the vet's bill - Bilbo's a cat so not covered by the (at the time of writing still free at the point of contact for hoomans) NHS, though a much loved member of our family.

A few weeks later we got Bilbo back from the vet. I think he was quite pissed off about this as he was enjoying the heated cabin and the attention from the nurses, one of whom he was onto a 'sure thing'.

And so back to tap, tap, tap, CLUNK. Bilbo's right leg is now in plaster. As 'damaged goods' and having been away for a couple of weeks, his status as top cat in the neighbourhood is up for grabs. Or so we thought until we saw Bilbo square up to his main competitor. They looked at each other. Circled around each other for a while. Hissed and growled at each other. They put tails straight up in the air, arched backs, and prepared to do battle.

Bilbo takes his stare away from his mortal enemy. He glances down at his right plaster-clad leg. Looks at his enemy, and again glances at his leg. He holds his enemy's eye for a second and then, with a half wink and almost at the speed of light, completes a right hook twatting his competitor full in the face.

Bilbo's mortal enemy can't even run away, though he knows he's beaten and just seeing stars. Bilbo comes back into the house, looks at his food bowl, and says "Where's my steak, mo-fo."

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