The station has adopted a cat – or at least, a cat has adopted the station. Any time of day or night you’ll find him, prowling around the garage, stalking the corridors, outside the front door waiting to go in, or inside the front door waiting to go out. He couldn’t be more reassuring if he had a peaked cap and a torch. More often than not, though, he’s a little more sedentary, curled up on the chair that’s been set aside for him in the kitchen, cushioned on a white cell blanket, close up to the radiator. If he’s not sleeping, chances are he’s working his way through a pile of meat or biscuits in one of the bowls put down just below the chair. He obviously approves of the catering. He’s already twice the size he was, looking less like a scraggy neighbourhood tom and more like a happy, party balloon cat with stuck on fur.
‘Have you fed Cat A this morning?’ says Rae, putting her stuff on the truck.
‘No. I don’t think he needs it, though, the size of him.’
‘If you’re going in the kitchen can you just have a look?’
And of course there he is, curled up on the chair. There’s food in the bowl, so he’s obviously not in any distress. I stroke him, he grunts, and throws a look back at me, something between a smirk and a smile, like he’s taken a call half way through his shiatsu and is toying with the idea of telling me his bonus has gone through. He stares at me a while, his eyes barely open, decides to let me continue in ignorance, gives the nearest paw a couple of licks, then sighs and relaxes down again.
‘Is he all right?’ says Rae, when I come back with two cups of tea.
‘He’s fine,’ I tell her, handing her one. ‘I didn’t give him any food because there was still some in his bowl.’
‘I get the impression that everyone’s feeding him. Soon there won’t be room in the kitchen. They’ll have to clear the top garage and keep him up there. Feed him with a snow shovel.’
‘Yeah?’ she says, and takes a sip. ‘You sure you checked the bowl?’