Tag Archives: Alfred The Great

Menagerie – 31 days of writing prompts!

Do you have animals in your life? If yes, what do they mean to you? If no, why have you opted not to?


Look at him, all cute and sleepy. You wouldn’t believe that he wakes me up every morning by attacking me with his teeth and claws, would you? Well, if you’re a cat owner, you would!

Alfred the Great was never supposed to be with me. He belonged to a colleague who rescued him when he turned up, underfed and limping, in her parents garden. They live very close to farm land, and she thought that he was a feral cat that lived on the vermin there. He wasn’t socialised to humans at all, but she couldn’t bear to leave him, so she adopted him. When she moved into her own house, he went with her.

A few years later, she got offered the chance to work abroad and that meant re-homing her beloved cat. When she first sent out an email appealing for help, I thought about adopting him but hesitated. I’d had two cats previously, a brother and sister from a litter that all ended up dying young. I was so upset after losing both of my beloved cats that I couldn’t think of having any more.

She found people to adopt him, but there was a problem. They were due to finish buying their own house in a few weeks, but she would be leaving Britain before that date. They couldn’t have him before then, and he hates other cats so much that staying in a cattery would be just miserable for him. I, rather rashly, said that he could stay with me for a while, until his new owners could collect him.

It was only going to be a few weeks. It’s not like I was going to get attached, or anything, especially not to a great big bruiser of a cat that still bites and scratches humans because he doesn’t understand how to communicate without drawing blood.

Yeah. That was three years ago now and he has well and truly made himself at home.

My heart went out to him. He had been unloved since birth, and then just when he had found a loving owner who tolerated his less than social countenance, she was leaving him behind. It wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t be given to a shelter to be re-homed, because who would adopt a cat who doesn’t like snuggling with people and couldn’t be trusted around children?

His owner liked the fact that I let him have his space and that I have a garden that he can prowl around at his leisure. She also wanted him to be a Welsh cat, as he would have gone to Bristol with her friends. It would be easier for her to visit him on her trips home if he stayed in the same town.

Living alone can be lonely, and I was ready for company again. I have goldfish – well, two orange orandas and two black moors, to be specific – but as relaxing as watching the fish is, fish aren’t the same as cats or dogs. I’d love to have a dog, more than absolutely anything, but I just don’t have the lifestyle that would allow me to take the best care of a dog. My heart went out to this enormous, annoying, aggressive animal. He didn’t have anybody else, and neither did I.

So, Alfred the Great came to live with me and we haven’t looked back. I very much dislike his way of scratching at me or nipping me to get out of bed in the morning, and my wallpaper and leather sofa definitely have borne the brunt of his displeasure. But this unsocial cat, that spent so much time on the opposite side of the room from me to start with, now is known to sidle up to me and lay in the crook of my arm or tucked behind my knees. I get greeted when I arrive home (albeit with a demand to be fed) and I can identify the meanings behind at least three different miaows.

We’re an odd pair, but somehow we work together. As long as I keep the Dreamies coming, at least!

Journal prompt: tell us about your pets!


I think that anybody owned by a cat has suffered this kind of fate every time you have to round up the buggers and take them to the vet, but this is so reminiscent of the struggle I have with Alfred The Great that I had to post this very funny video. Please check out more of this amazing illustrator’s work, in both video and book form, You won’t be disappointed!

My cat is Alfred The Great, a large, neutered male grey tabby cat of indeterminate age and volatile disposition. Alfred isn’t my cat, technically; his owner, who rescued him from a semi-feral life after he’d been injured, has moved out of the country to work in the Middle East. She needed somebody to look after him temporarily – a week, possibly two – while two of her friends finalised the sale of their new house and they could adopt him.

That was three years ago.

Once Alfred had settled into the house, enjoying free run of all the rooms (none of the doors shut properly) and establishing his ownership of the garden (by biffing next door’s dog on the nose and chasing her back over the fence), it was just easier to leave him here.

It’s safe to say that Alfred has mellowed since moving to my humble abode, although as he will still bite you for no apparent reason, pounce on you when you’re carrying plates and glasses and take on two other cats at the same time in a vicious fight, it’s safe to say that he isn’t a nice cat. If I hadn’t let him stay with me, he’d have had to go to a shelter, which would have been terrible for him as he hates other cats with a passion. He also would have been very unlikely to have been re-homed, due to his lack of interest in playing nice with humans. I certainly wouldn’t trust him around small children.

He was never an indoor cat, we think. From when he was born until when he appeared in my friend’s garden, limping and in pain, he had to fend for himself. He’s not really used to humans, and how to play with us. When he bites and scratches he is trying to play, I think; he just draws blood and leaves scars. My furniture and wallpaper bear the brunt of his claws, although in the spring and summer he’s happy to be outside in the garden most of the day, patrolling his territory and failing absolutely to catch birds, butterflies or rodents. I was told that he brought down a seagull once. I’m very glad that he doesn’t love me enough to present me with one of those!

He does love me, in his way. For the first year he’d not get very close to me at all, but now he’ll sit very close to me on the sofa. Not in my lap, however; Alfred the Great is most definitely not a lap cat, and he’ll fight anyone that thinks otherwise. He is, however, a secret snuggler, and has taken to getting into bed with me at about five am for a cuddle. Only in the summer, though, when a large, furry hot water bottle is the very last thing you want. To do that in winter would be unthinkable!

His owner called him Alfie, I lengthened it to Alfred the Great, after my favourite Saxon king. It also suits his ego, which has him strutting around the place as if he owns it!


True to form, just after looking up at me with those adorable yellow eyes, he bit my hand. This is the cat that literally bites the hand that feeds him, folks, mostly because he knows that the hand is attached to a soft hearted idiot who loves him anyway.