The cat has acquired a thick winter coat over his padding of fat but I worry about him. Why does he go out at night just on bedtime? The nights are getting cold, and the poor little darling doesn't have a sleeping box. For some reason he is shunning our nice warm beds.
When Ted came around yesterday after an absence of several weeks I spoke to him about it. "Could you build Ollie a proper little sleeping box?" I asked Ted.
Ted was being swamped with love by an over-effusive cat. The yowling had gone on all the way up the drive. Now Ollie sat on Ted's chest with a paw on either shoulder and his face tucked in under Ted's chin.
"Of course I'll build the boy a sleeping house," he said. Ted made a vain attempt to reach the lip of the coffee cup across the cat's head.
But the next day more of Ollie's secret life was revealed when I heard a conversation, punctuated with cat howls, going on behind the shed next door. I listened and caught the tail-end of it. "You didn't have to hog all the bed last night, Ollie." What, I could hardly believe it, Ollie was sleeping with the people next door!!!!
It's strange how when the seed of suspicion is planted it takes root and flourishes. Just who was Ollie sleeping with? How many beds was he in? Did he share himself around the whole street? Did he go to the next street? After all I had found him one day, streets away. Was there no limit to that cat's perfidy. If Mr. or Mrs. Big lived nearby would he go and sleep with them?
It was time to put on my detective's hat and begin investigations. Suspicion immediately fell on elderly couple who always take a morning constitutional. I watched from behind a shrub as they held an animated conversation with the cat. I edged closer, - couldn't quite hear. Curses, Ollie saw me and bounded over. Elderly woman, looking at the cat indulgently, "he's a lovely cat." She was no doubt wondering why I was hiding behind a tree
Me, looking guilty,
"yes, er er, nice to meet you." I hared it. How can you ask people if your cat sleeps with them? I imagined Ollie curled up between their plump bodies. I had caught a wiff of perfume from the woman, - bingo, so that was why sometimes the odour of cologne had drifted into my nostrils when I'd hugged the cat.
The grubby looking teenager with the crew cut was my next candidate. I noticed him sitting on the front verge talking to the cat. I blanched, surely Ollie wasn't sleeping in his bed, why, his hair looked as if it hadn't been washed in weeks. I began to scratch behind my ear.
During the course of my investigations I noticed that several people spoke to the cat over the next few days. There was the thin woman with acne and the kid chewing bubble gum, (I'd found some gum stuck on Ollie's fur once), there was the rubbishman who lived around the corner and a man from three streets away who liked running around the block. I was aghast at the extent of his relationships. Were all those people taking turns at sleeping with the cat?
In the end I closed down the investigations. I rang up Ted. "Don't bother with the sleeping box, thanks," I told him, "I think Ollie has made other arrangements."