You can take the cat out of the underworld...


I am now very worried about Captain Kangaroo, the gangster cat we saved from the mean streets of Cheltenham. Some horrible person in what passes for a "hood" in these genteel parts had shot Roo – we eventually adopted him and gave him what we thought was a happy home in the hills above the town.

Early signs were not promising; although incredibly affectionate towards me, Roo was not thrilled to see any other animal in my presence. Labradors were chased from rooms and left as nervous wrecks cowering by the fire in the kitchen muttering to themselves about how the household had changed since the "townie" came to stay.

I hoped that things might eventually settle down but then came Lemminggate. We were having a party and guests were just arriving when Huxley, the elder statesman of our dog fraternity, was seen to jump from a first-floor window. Guests screamed in horror and we feared the worst. He was very unsteady on his feet for a couple of days but thankfully made a full recovery. We couldn't think why he would jump from such a height? It was not something he had done before and very much out of character as he is a highly intelligent hound.

Then one of the kids mentioned that they had spotted Roo in the same room from which Huxley had jumped, and we started to wonder whether there might be a more sinister explanation? Could Roo have decided to take out the leader of the pack to stamp his authority on the household once and for all? The kids started imagining Roo holding a small pistol and giving Huxley an ultimatum – "Well, what's it going to be Mutt? A bullet or the cold concrete?"

I told them that this was a little prejudicial as, although it was clear that Roo had hung out in criminal circles in his past, he had come to us with a clean sheet and should not be judged for supposed past crimes. That was before the cats disappeared …

Before Roo's arrival we had two cats – Dr Pepper and Colonel Mustard. Pepper was a tough, no-nonsense black cat who could occasionally be affectionate but very much at a time and place of his own choosing. Mustard was a birthday present to me from the family, and was a very sweet kitten but grew up to be quite unpleasant. This is the risk you take with cats, and both were very much part of the family … until Roo's arrival.

Within a day he had pretty much banned both of them from their own house by squaring up and doing this weird sideways walk with arched back that put the fear of God into our innocent moggies. Then, one morning, they were gone. We searched high and low for them, in the barns, the neighbouring fields, asked around the village but they were nowhere to be found.

As we searched, Roo could be seen sitting in the window staring down contentedly at our fruitless search. "You'll never find them," he appeared to be saying. When the search party returned Huxley looked up at us with a hollow look in his eyes. It changes things when you adopt a gangsta' cat.

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