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Ragamuffin, or 'Rags' to his friends

28 February 1998 — 15 April 2003

There are no ordinary cats.

Rags, 1999

Rags had a larger-than-life personality and was a marvellous companion.
His zest and enthusiasm for life were tragically cut short in his prime.


The really great thing about cats is their endless variety.
One can pick a cat to fit almost any kind of decor, income, personality, mood.
But under the fur, there still lies, essentially unchanged, one of the world's free souls.

—Eric Gurney

NOTE: a desktop wallpaper of this image of Rags is available: you'll find some more of our feline friends there too.

More about Ragamuffin . . .

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When I went to the local rescue centre to seek a companion for Thomas in August 1999, Ragamuffin — renamed from 'Scruffy', which I thought rather uncomplimentary although I could see how it arose — seemed to choose me, rather than the other way round! As I went to his pen he couldn't have made it clearer that he didn't want to be there: he wanted to come with me — so that's what happened. He was always the most open and friendly of cats, and it was obvious that he just thoroughly enjoyed life.

He and Tom got on well from the start, which made life easier, and Rags, as he became known, soon set about a thorough exploration. It didn't take long to find out that he was an enthusiastic hunter; whether one likes it or not, that's what some cats do. Apart from the usual prey we sometimes had baby rabbits, and once a full-grown pigeon; I still don�t know how he got it through the cat-flap. His summer routine was to have a meal in the late evening, before I went to bed, and then go off on his forays. He would usually reappear at about 5 a.m. and demand breakfast! — then I could return to bed and he would curl up by my feet until it was time to get up. In the cold winter nights he'd stay in till the early hours, then go out, and quite often I'd be greeted by him chirruping and dashing across the lawn to greet me when I opened the back door in the morning. He was totally fascinated when we had some snow and spent time romping in it.

But then Rags did everything with enthusiasm: eating, purring, exploring, being affectionate . . . and what a character he had. As a long-haired cat, by springtime each year his coat would tend to be full of knots and tangles, and a couple of times he had an anaesthetic at the vet's while it was sorted out. One year — I think his last — we decided to try doing the job in my presence, but without the anaesthetic. I held him, while the vet set to work with his small electric razor; bless him, Rags was very good, if somewhat wide-eyed! — and the job was completed with no problem. It's not something I would have tried with many cats.

A little while after Tom's demise I took on Pushkin, another, older, black male. I don't recall any problems; although 'Push' was perhaps more aloof than Tom had been, he and Rags seemed to get on fine. But tragedy was getting poised to strike again, and the two had only about a year and a half together.

I was just going to sleep at about 11 p.m. one night in April 2003 when the phone rang. It was the vet; Rags had been found on the main road, several hundred metres from the bungalow. Some very kind person, to whom I remain indebted because otherwise I would never have known, had taken the trouble to move him and to alert the vet, seeing that he was wearing a collar. I'm no longer a fan of cat collars, but on this occasion it proved its worth and enabled him to be identified. His body was recovered and I had to make the sad journey to collect him next day, having not had much sleep.

All our cats are special to us, but Rags had been very special indeed to me; it was hard to believe, and to bear, that this prince among cats had been taken from me in the prime of his life. I suspect that it was his love of hunting that was his downfall, as there were rabbits in the field across that road and that's why he would have been there. He was probably on his way back home for his evening meal. I combed and brushed his coat for the last time before burying him in the garden he loved. There is a rockery — 'Rags' rockery' — now over where he lies, with the appropriate small plaque to mark his life. I still remember him often.

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