Feral aristo-cat gets a taste for indoors
One day in the summer of 2001, three feral cats started to hang around our garden looking for scraps. The male tom, Lord Strathpaw, once caught, found a happy home in a house where the occupants wanted an outdoor cat.
The Countess of Purriton was pregnant, so she was taken by the local cat charity. But the third feral avoided this cat catcher long enough to give birth to three kittens in a concrete pipe.
The charity, happy to take kittens, wouldn't take their mother, saying the policy was to release feral cats, after spaying them, back into the wild. She sat on the other side of the Perspex cat flap, sometimes in the pouring rain, mournfully aspiring to the luxury lifestyle afforded to the two cats inside, but would skip away if we came too close.
We couldn't leave her outside and we didn't want her to go back to the wild, as we had become rather fond of her tenacious spirit - so ZaZa, Lady Marmalade bustled her way into our lives and decided she really liked it there.
At first, she was suspicious and would only sleep in the flower beds, under the rhododendrons. But as the weather cooled, I tempted her into the garden shed.
When our granny found a sheepskin rug for her to nestle on, she took up residence in the coal cellar. Eventually, she came into the boiler room and made it hers.
She needed a fair amount of medical attention and although my arms have been lacerated on numerous occasions, at least her teeth are no longer troubling her.
Once the vet confidently told me he could handle a wild one, no problem. But as I was leaving the surgery, I heard an almighty commotion behind me, as a certain cat was seen leaping up the venetian blinds in a bid to escape.
Some years after her arrival, she finally leapt on to my wife's lap for no more than a second and leapt off. Over the course of the winter, she spent longer and longer there, enjoying the head rubs like the aristo-cat she had undoubtedly become.
She now demonstrates a strong sense of entitlement and bosses everyone out of the way if she wants to get a particular tasty piece of fresh turkey or pole position in front of the fire. And if she doesn't get her fur stroked with a soft bristle brush, she will stare in regal disdain until it happens.
They say you can't tame a feral cat, as apparently they cannot be domesticated. But ZaZa, Lady Marmalade and I would beg to differ.
Name: ZaZa, Lady Marmalade
Finest hour: Going from feral cat to lap-cat royalty
Likes: Stroking with a bristle brush, having servants
Dislikes: Not getting fresh turkey
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