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My Warrior Cat

by Rory Lewis, aged 8

My Warrior Cat by Rory Lewis

Read by Neet Mohan from the BBC Radio Drama Company.

Charles is grumpy and unsociable. His fur is matted and turning grey in patches. It sticks out in random spikes giving him the appearance of a startled hedgehog. He hasn’t let a comb near him for months.

He has a fixed stare, his one cloudy green eye seems to scowl at me while the other, stitched shut with taut stitches, oozes puss like lava from a volcano, streaming down his nose and leaving crusty yellow stains.

He no longer purrs. His voice is a raspy, wheezy hiss. He bolts his food ravenously, as if he hasn’t eaten for days. He doesn’t have a full set of teeth and the juices dribble through the gaps, down his chin and onto his knotted fur. He cannot retract one claw on his front right paw and wherever he goes, a tap… tap… tap… menacingly announces his arrival, often accompanied by an unpleasant aroma of rotting fish.

Bad weather is his accomplice. He hunts in the rain, under sombre skies. I have never witnessed his murders, but I think of him as a pirate captain, holding his razor-sharp cutlass claw aloft. He doesn’t bother with an eye patch. I have, however, seen the remnants of his massacres. He must take a feverish delight in tearing his prey apart. A mouse’s dying shrill squeal is music to him. He delights in playing with the carcass, flipping it into the air before devouring the juiciest parts. It is uncomfortable and chilling to watch.

Yet Charles is my champion cat, my hero. I forgive him his murderous ways, his cantankerousness, his musty stench and surliness. He was not always curmudgeonly and grouchy. Once he was a sleek, stealthy panther: King of all Cats. Midnight black, with glistening emerald eyes, he hunted in the dead of night, in the silvery light of the full moon. A silent killer on soft, pink, padded feet. Charming, valiant and admired.

Charles sacrificed all of this for me. One summer evening, I was asleep in my pram when an evil Siamese tomcat started to attack me. As quick as a lightening bolt, Charles launched himself at the Siamese to defend me. Mrs Gulliver reported that she could hear the cacophony from two streets away. The fight was vicious; the cats were tearing at each other, snarling and caterwauling. The piercing screeches got louder and louder until…

Nothing. A heavy silence descended upon the garden. My parents thought Charles, like the Siamese, was dead. They carried him gently in their arms, and rocked him, like me, back and forth in their arms, willing him to survive. Thankfully, he did, although he had to be stitched up, like my favourite blanket. The event changed him forever.

I sometimes catch him staring wistfully into the garden. He seems melancholy and resentful every once in a while. But to me he is the best pet in the world: I love him with all my heart. Beneath his mangy fur, I know he loves me back.

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