I did not go looking for these two boys. Some years ago and a year apart, each of them appeared in the hay barn, thin, with dull, dirty coats and scared yellow eyes. Hunting for mice and finding shelter from the cold.
The Ginger Man came first. I had seen him several times that winter. Up in the woods, as I rode or walked on the hill. A frightened streak of ginger and white that ran across my path. I thought that he must be a feral cat from the farm along the lane. He appeared in the barn in early spring. Terrified and hungry, he would slope off into the hedge with ears flat against his head. It soon became apparent that he was injured. A raw, red wound that showed beneath his left front leg and stretched up into his armpit.
I decided that food was the best way to catch this poor little cat. Plates of best cat food tempted him down from the hay. He learned to come to the rattle of a box of cat biscuits. Within a few days, we had progressed to meal times in the greenhouse, where I put a cat bed lined with old jumpers and he soon learned that this was a place to eat and sunbathe in safety. Gradually, I was allowed to touch him and give him a gentle stroke.At last I persuaded him into a cat carrier ( one nasty cat bite to my thumb later!) and off he went to the vets. They sedated him in a "cat crush" cage for feral animals and then he was operated on under anaesthetic.
Ginger Man never looked back. He was introduced to the house and gradually learned to live with the dogs and my other cats. It took him five weeks before he purred for the first time, and I almost cried. He is my most faithful cat and is there on my lap, or on a chair beside me, wherever I am in the house. He is still terrified of men. He tolerates my OH, but a sudden movement and Ginger Man is gone! We tried to trace his owners but no one had reported him missing. He was,most likely, dumped in a forest car park and left to fend for himself as the winter came.
The Forest Cat also came from nowhere. A much more confident cat, but thin and hungry, with nowhere to go home. No one had lost him, no one reported him missing, so he came into the house and stayed. These two boys are still young cats. They are the greatest friends. They play chase up and down the stairs, they race around the garden together and then curl up together to sleep in the same warm bed. Forest Cat loves to wash the Ginger Man`s face. Together they tease old Mrs Cat who slinks off to sleep on her own. Ginger Man pats her bottom as she passes and recieves a disgruntled hiss in return.