Our big, powerful, black cat called Rum Tum was the Mike Tyson of the cat world. He regarded it as his sacred duty to thrash every cat in the street. Nights were for fighting and in the morning the driveway was covered with tufts of an intruder's cat-hair. Rum Tum was king of the patch and had the moth-eaten ears to prove it. One neighbour complained. "Your cat came down and beat up our dear little Tiddles in our own driveway. There was fur everywhere. I had to take her to the vet." I apologised and offered to pay but it wasn't any good - that was the end of another beautiful friendship!
One day when I was gardening I noticed a small, thin grey cat on the driveway. Rum Tum spotted him too and let out a growl that would do justice to a panther. He puffed himself up to twice his size and sped off to deal with the intruder; circling the grey one in a sideways manner and emitting occasional snarls.
I called out to our new neighbour who was watching the performance with interest. "You'd better rescue your cat. Rum Tum will murder him."
The man grinned and called back. "Don't worry, Ollie can look after himself."
What happened next shocked Rum Tum to the core. Ollie looked him in the eye and deliberately yawned! Rum Tum had never been yawned at before. He sat down abruptly in confusion. Adding insult to injury Ollie stretched himself out on the path and gave himself a good licking. He delicately nibbled a flea on his tail, thoroughly licked his tum and finished with a good face wash. Then Ollie delivered the coup de grace - he opened his mouth and let out three megaphone meows. I don't think Rum Tum had ever heard anything like it. Certainly the creature in front of him was something from outer space and should be avoided.
Rum Tum carefully got to his feet and started moving backwards as if treading on eggs. But Ollie moved with him and in a playful surprise attack leapt on Rum Tum's tail and seized it in his mouth. Rum Tum exploded like a hissing firecracker and whacked Ollie over the chops. He raced off down the drive with Ollie in hot pursuit.
This was the beginning of beautiful friendship! Ollie never left Rum Tum alone for a minute. He tried to sleep with him, eat with him and play with him. The place rang with hisses and snarls. If Rum Tum went to sleep in his favourite spot Ollie went to sleep with him, getting as close as possible without getting a clout. Ollie won in the end of course, he always does, I next found them sleeping together, nose to tail. When Rum Tum died Ollie was inconsolable. He searched for him for weeks.
One day two sobbing children arrived at my door. "Your cat is killing my dog," one of them wept, "can you come?"
A hissing, yelping tangle of cat and dog was rolling down the drive. Presently a white poodle peeled off from the tangle and raced whimpering down the street with Ollie in pursuit. Ollie didn't go far. He came back and inspected the bits of poodle and poodle hair in the driveway with deep satisfaction. Then he sat back and smirked. A star had been born. Ollie was King of the Patch.