The station was divided.
Some liked having a station cat. It was comforting, homey, good luck. Some were quietly annoyed that he took up two seats and walked on the kitchen surfaces. Some were allergic. Whatever their feelings, though, it was hard to deny the kitchen had started to smell bad. Worse, at least. Keeping it clean had always been a challenge, with so many people in and out all times of the day and night. The fridge was particularly bad. No-one in their right mind would open it without gowning-up. But lately even the toughest nose had to admit Cat A’s meat bowl was making the place smell like a condemned abattoir. Something should probably be done.
Cat A was taken to the vets to be scanned. He wasn’t chipped, so returning him to an owner was ruled out. Discouraging him from hanging around by not feeding him or even using cat repellents was simply impractical. More direct action was needed.
The email that followed was straight-forward enough. A list of reasons why Cat A had to go: Hygiene, Allergies, Station security, company policy etc. Could anyone take him? Otherwise it was the RSPCA.
The majority of responses fell into either camp, Shame or About time, although one was surprisingly emphatic: Is there no end to the things you’ll do to make this job unbearable? it said.
There were reassurances, updates, claims and counter-claims, everyone copied in. The only one not stirred by any of it was Cat A, of course, who carried on snoozing on his blanket spread across two chairs, nosing amongst the dirty dishes in the sink, or wandering through the station looking for someone to fill his bowl.
And then a more definitive email: Cat A has left the building.
To the RSPCA after all, (with certain re-assurances about its euthanasia policy). Any contributions to the cost of vaccinations and other treatments gratefully received &c.
A few more emails, tailing off until the final one, a couple of days later:
Ahhh! Cat A! it read. And then a single emoticon:: /