Hello!  My name is Viktor, and I am a black and white cat.  I live with a nice old Army colonel and his wife, a beautiful artist. 

ViktorPeople tell me that I am a very ordinary Belgian cat, such as you might find on any Walloon farm in the province of Hainaut, where I live.  I always listen patiently to comments of this kind, and I never correct the people who make them.  After all, how can I convey to a person; whether he speaks English, Flemish, French, Walloon, or German; that there is no such thing as an "ordinary Belgian cat" here in Hainaut?  Apart from this, strictly on an aesthetic level, how can anyone take me for ordinary?  Yes, I am predominately black in colour, with a clean white shirt front, but my shoes are white slippers.  White boots, such as my mother has, are much more common for cats like me here in Hainaut.

  I was born here, on this little farm, in this little village of Bauffe.  Bauffe is so small and (officially) so inconsequential that we do not even have our own Burgomaster.  For political and administrative purposes we belong to the larger town of Lens, some three miles distant.  Nobody minds this, as the Lens Burgomaster is a kind man who loves animals.

  My mother is also a black and white cat, now smaller than I am (I admit that I am a fine and strapping young fellow).  She was less than a year old when I was born, in a closet amidst the Colonel's socks and undershirts.  Three of us were born, but mother was young and small.  When the Colonel opened the closet that morning to find three kittens, only I remained in this life.  I was given the name "Viktor" for my early victory against the death that claimed my brothers, and I have to say that I was pampered in every way as a kitten. 

  I found the environment of our little farm very agreeable.  I was free to roam as I liked in the countryside.  There were no important roads nearby, and the traffic mostly consisted of loud and ponderous tractors, engaged in the agricultural affairs constituting almost all of the commerce in Bauffe.  The people are wonderful.  I have to say that I never met a person in Bauffe who was not kind and friendly to me, and my latest adventure tested and proved this. 

  Last week, while the Colonel was at work in his bunker, I went out to explore the fields and woods.  There are so many interesting things there!  I saw a fox mother with three young cubs, playing in a mowed field. They could have been kittens, for all their antics.  The Colonel told me later that foxes are seen in a different light, by people who keep chickens.  But, at the time, I enjoyed watching them, before they retired to their lair in the forest.  I kept on my way---after all, it was night by now, and my next appointment (for breakfast) was several hours off.  I followed a path in the grass (my nose told me that foxes had made it, although others used it) toward a farm.  I was not interested in the chickens that I knew lived there, but rather in the rats that I could always catch near this farm.  They were attracted by the chicken feed, and I could generally bring one or two back for the Colonel, who always complimented me extravagantly on such occasions.  Perhaps my mind was too concentrated on the prospect of catching a rat or two.  At any rate, I was not as alert to the moment as I should have been.

  I followed the path, barely noticing a small heap of leaves and loose soil that was not there the previous day.  I walked across it without paying the least attention.  This was a mistake. 

  I heard a metallic "snap," and in an instant I felt a firm bite on my right rear leg.  Instinctively, I pulled away, and it hurt more.  I stopped pulling and the pain grew less.  I decided that the best thing would be to wait quietly for someone to help me.  Among the many smells on the path I noted the scent of man, and all people I had ever met were kind.  When the next man came and saw me, he would surely free me from what the Colonel later told me was a trap for foxes, set up to defend a farmer's henhouse. 

  I could not tell how much time passed, but I was thirsty and hungry.  When morning came, I was still alone and immobilised by the trap.  Then I heard the clumsy, but familiar approach of Chippy, the dog from the nearest farm to ours. 

  I called out, and Chippy approached, sniffing as she came.  She sniffed a pile of leaves and then approached me.  I heard a sound that I had only heard once before, as a fox trap closed on her right rear leg.  She yelped in shock and pain, trying to pull free as I had done.  But the pain only made her more desperate, and she pulled and pulled.  The whole world must have heard her yowling.  Finally, she was free!  But how she bled as she limped home.  I knew that she could not tell the Colonel that she had seen me, or where I was, but this was not her fault.  The Colonel can never understand anything that she says. 

  Time passed.  The sun rose and set, more than once, and the moon illuminated the field.  I saw the fox family again, and was impressed with the care that they gave to their progress towards the henhouse.  A short commotion and they were back, dragging a hen.  They avoided the traps, steering wide of the little leaf piles. 

  It was daylight again.  I had slept a bit, dreaming of breakfast (my favourite meal).  Now I heard the unmistakable sound of a man ---- heavy, careless, and stolid.  My heart leapt ---- all people are kind, and one was approaching!

  Presently I saw him.  He wore the green rubber boots of a Belgian farmer, with cotton shirt, cap, and overalls.  He looked down at me and commented in a disappointed way.  I meowed and looked up, quite still.  He gazed at me a moment, and said "bon."  He grasped my neck (I stayed quite still ---- any movement hurt in that trap) and he tread on an iron lever at the end of the trap.  The trap opened, and I was free!  He patted my head, made some comment that I did not understand, and I was off. 

  I went straight home, to a wonderful breakfast.  I ate two, and drank two bowls of water.  The beautiful artist made a great fuss over me.

  It was good to be home. 

A Cats Purr

"Cats make one of the most satisfying sounds in the world: they purr ...

A purring cat is a form of high praise, like a gold star on a test paper. It is reinforcement of something we would all like to believe about ourselves - that we are nice."

Roger A Caras

Sponsored Advert