“Whenever I was a child I wondered what if my name had changed into something more productive like Roscoe,” sing the band Midlake on their haunting, bucolic 2006 song ‘Roscoe’. When my then girlfriend and I were listening to the song in spring 2012 and decided to name our new kitten in honour of it, it seemed vaguely fitting for two reasons – early signs suggested that the kitten, who had the cartoon appearance of a masked feline supervillain, boasted a scrappy tomboy character, and, having adopted a couple of male cats with female names previously, it seemed only fair for me to even the score – but it has turned out to be more apt than we could have ever imagined. Roscoe is the most productive of cats: an animal who, when not asleep, has a permanently businesslike air about her, always seemingly involved in some important hedgerow admin or undergrowth-based clerical work. When I have been in my garden and been lucky enough to find myself greeted by her – often with a double-paw high five – her white paws offer the sense that I am talking to someone very industrious who wears running shoes in order to move more quickly to and from meetings.

Roscoe loves the rugged countryside surrounding my house and roams much further into it than any of my three other cats, but she has not always had an easy time in the two years we have lived here. For the first six months of our adventure in Devon, a big dumb stray ginger cat called George made it his mission to dry hump her. Horrified by this, Roscoe began a series of escapes to my local pub. I found this out on a day when I myself visited my local pub and saw Roscoe hanging out with some rugged-looking men in the beer garden. “I’m afraid it’s not the first time,” a lady sitting on an adjacent table told me. “I’ve seen her up here quite a lot recently, rubbing herself against blokes.” 

George went off to live a life of bliss with my parents in Nottinghamshire in November 2014, where, having finally been honest with himself about his true sexual orientation, he met his gay lover, Casper, a sensuous white cat from nextdoor who enjoys nothing more than having another cat’s tongue deep in one of his ears. Roscoe then experienced ten months of respite before another even larger stray, who – largely because nobody could stop me – I dubbed Uncle Fuckykins, began to seek her out with similarly randy zeal. “COULD YOU NOT GET HER ONE OF THOSE FALSE NOSE, GLASSES AND GOOFY TEETH MASKS SO OTHER CATS DON’T FIND HER SO ATTRACTIVE?” my dad has suggested.

From this point Roscoe seemed to have two modes: asleep on my bed, or as far from home as possible. Fleeing from a techno-based party on Halloween in my bafflingly techno-obsessed local town, I was startled to hear a familiar meow behind me on the river path, over a mile from my front door. Roscoe has always had an unmistakable, panicky sort of meow, which seems to me to have never quite fully developed. “Have you learned to meow properly yet?” I have often asked her in the past. To this she has replied “Eweeugh” when in all honesty a simple “No” would have sufficed. Here, so far from her usual territory, near big roads and techno hippies, the meow seemed doubly insufficient. Shaken to see her in this foreign area, I picked her up, held her tight inside my coat, and walked her back to my house, moving off the lane a couple of times to hide in the undergrowth when teenage Halloween revellers came the other way, lest she freak out and escape back towards town. She has always been a wilful and intrepid cat, but I knew this was more than that: she was being driven away from home in terror. The stray cat would have to be caught.

The worst day of Roscoe’s life occurred just over a month after that, when she was viciously attacked: not by the sexual predator Uncle Fuckykins, as I’d first assumed, but by a dog, behind my garden hedge. It was only after she had dragged herself in through the catflap, bleeding, and I’d rushed her to the vet that I remembered how the day had started and began to piece the probable events together: the panting sound of a man behind my garden chasing an animal that had woken me up that morning, his frantic and pathetic shouts of “Oscar! Oscar!” It all seemed a little too much of a coincidence. I got home from the vet’s and found the spare bed, where Roscoe had initially retreated upon getting herself home, covered in blood.

For the next week, the news seemed to get worse and worse: Roscoe’s abdominal wall had been damaged more severely than first suspected; an operation took place to repair it and her intestines were threaded back inside her body; but infection took hold again, and another operation followed. Reading between the lines of what the vet told me, I sensed her chances of survival were 50% at best. I walked and walked, deep into the Devon countryside, not knowing what else to do to stay sane. I managed to trap Uncle Fuckykins, get his microchip read by a veterinary nurse, find out he was actually called Mogs, resist eloping with him and return him to his original owner, seven miles away in the slot machine-orientated seaside town of Paignton. I visited Roscoe at the vet’s. So much of her side and rear and undercarriage had been bitten, then cut into, there didn’t seem a lot left to work with. The vet confirmed this by saying: “There isn’t a lot left to work with.” In the small bit there was left to work with, two unsightly surgical drains protruded from Roscoe’s skin. But when I saw her, she headbutted me with affectionate violence and I clung hard to the hope that this conveyed.

As a teenager, I most admired professional sportsmen, then musicians. Nowadays, the people I most admire tend to be in the medical profession. This feeling has been reinforced since the attack on Roscoe. I am aware not all veterinary clinics are quite as conscientious and kind as my local one and I feel blessed to live near it. Another good thing about the clinic is that it is based in the same building as a local brewery. I did not quite turn to drink during my visits to check on my sick cat, but it was comforting to know the option was available close at hand. 

In the two and a half weeks that Roscoe was in this warm and caring cat hospital, the vets and nurses at the surgery got to know her extremely stubborn yet extremely affectionate character, and became attached to her. They became familiar with her headbutts and the special low rumble she makes from her nose when she is being a major dickwad. One of the nurses admitted that, after their works Christmas drinks do on the 22nd, a group of them had gone back to the surgery, purely to say hello to her. Roscoe has always been by far the most independent of my cats, and I had often taken the view that she was “usually off happily doing her own thing” but I was surprised how keenly I felt her absence in the house: the little spaces she occupied so resolutely. What I missed most included:

1. Her habit of burrowing into my side as I slept. Then, when I moved away to try to get more comfortable, doggedly pursuing me to the other side of the bed in slumber, and burrowing into my side even more forcefully – once even to the extent that I fell off the mattress.

2. The way, despite being barely more than half his size, she would twat Shipley in the face with a karate paw when he stepped out of line (or sometimes even when he didn’t).

3. The pillowcases and clothes, previously hung on radiators, that I would find on the floor, after she had reached up to pull them down to the floor so she could sleep on them and soak up their warmth.

4. Her habit of walking on her hind legs when she was elated or hungry, and waving her paws around, as if celebrating a strike in a tiny cat bowling alley.

5. Her subtle love affair with my 20 year-old cat The Bear, which largely manifested itself with her periodically sleeping on his back.

6. Her addiction to the texture and aroma of wet towels, especially when one was wrapped around me.

On Christmas Eve, one of the two excellent vets who had operated on Roscoe, Dermot, said she could come home for a trial period. I was amazed. Dermot said that although the infection seemed to be clear and the surgical drains in her skin had now been removed, there had been a major breakdown of tissue around one of her bigger wounds. I was warned by both him and the nurse who handed Roscoe over that it looked “very gory and gruesome” but they assured me they were happy with the way it was healing. It was not until I got home with Roscoe that I properly had chance to look at it and I was initially convinced that she had sustained an extra, life-threatening injury in the ten minutes we’d been in the car. It was worse than I’d expected: a deep, gouging hole, right into her insides. I was supposed to rub manuka honey and gel into this thing. Surely, if I did, I would injure her further? But no. On Boxing Day when I took Roscoe back to see Trevor, the other vet who’d operated on her, he said he was pleased with the way she was healing. She was healing? The last time I saw something like this, I was watching a Wes Craven film.

This, then, was my festive period: finding stealthy ways to con Roscoe into taking four antibiotics a day, squirting a carefully measured quantity of painkiller over her meals, rubbing ointment in her wounds, getting out – but not for too long – for walks, sitting in her room – which was once my office – and watching her wobble over to me (a little more steadily, each day) and look into my eyes and let out a piercing, bargaining meow. Taking pity on her, I let her sleep on my bed, even though her open wound left unsightly stains on the duvet cover. I watched her stretch herself along the bottom of the radiator, pressing the wound against it, and worried she would glue herself to it with her own blood. When she moved, the wound made a wet, unpleasant noise. As if in sympathy, I burned myself, sustaining a painful wound of my own – though no doubt not half as painful as Roscoe’s – and got ill in a couple of other ways. It wasn’t what I would have chosen, but at least it imbued our time of incarceration together with an extra feeling of solidarity.

She returned to the vet, again, three more times, and they told me the wound had shrunk, but I could not quite convince myself it was true. As other cats in the waiting room let out their eclectic meows – stuttering meows, guttural meows, yob meows, spoilt boarding school meows, meows that sounded like Leonard Cohen might, if Leonard Cohen meowed – Roscoe remained silent and newly philosophical. “Shush your whining,” her cartoon button eyes, viewed from between the bars of her wicker prison, seemed to say. “You don’t know what hardship is. I freakin’ live here.”

Roscoe has been energetic and bright for nearly a fortnight now: she stretches her muscles more than she used to, no doubt due to the wear and tear where the surgery took place and her damaged, diminished tissue, but even over a week ago, she was hurling herself enthusiastically at a catnip mouse. Yet it was only on Saturday that I looked at that wound and let myself believe how much it had healed. I had let myself believe before, when I thought Roscoe’s first operation had been a success, then been crushed by the news of reinfection, so I wanted to keep my guard up extra firmly. But now the evidence is incontrovertible: the wound has scabbed over. That skin has done this itself, and it is a miracle. “Isn’t skin amazing?” I keep thinking, as I look at it.

Her bad side – which I have avoided showing on the Internet, out of respect to her – is currently a patchwork of bare skin, stubble, black tufts and scars which, when viewed from a distance, gives her an odd look: part Holstein, part cat, part Batman. The vet tells me the fur should come back, with time, but might not quite look as it once did. But, then, Roscoe has never been vain; she’s always been far too focussed on her career. That Nine Lives folklore about cats doesn’t come from nowhere, but I do wonder if a particular single-minded feistiness in Roscoe is responsible for her recovery: that same single-minded feistiness that means she has never been a cat who’s liked being picked up, that same single-minded feistiness that of an idle afternoon will prompt her to remove between two and six drying items of clothing from their places and turn them into small warm campbeds. On Tuesday she was signed off from the vet, antibiotic-free. This evening, I walked into my bedroom, ready to change the covers on my bed, and found one of the pillowcases I’d been drying on the radiator relocated to the floor, with Roscoe on top of it. It felt like the final solid sign of her recovery, so I left her there. It’s ok. I have another pillowcase.

Roscoe is a total delight right now, who dances out of her room every morning, eager to greet the day head on. She looks at me like I am someone she is grateful to as she plays passionate, silent piano on my shirt. It’s a brand new look. Even when she seemed most keen on me in the past, she always gave the slight impression that I had been responsible for all the hardship in her life, and that at best she only wanted me for my damp towels. 

I want this honeymoon period to last but I know what the next stage is. A total stranger has already been along to one of my social network pages and instructed me that Roscoe is to be an indoor cat from now on. I didn’t respond but maybe if the total stranger has had a rabbit who was once sick from eating cheese, I will try to find the total stranger’s postal address and write her a letter to say that I will not on any account permit her rabbit to eat cheese again. I understand the total stranger’s line of thinking, but that’s not the way that this works. A new all-indoor Roscoe is not the future. She’s a free-spirited cat who thrives on fresh air, grass, hedgerows and small rodents. I have become newly wary of dogs since her accident but I also try to remember that not all of their owners are irresponsible tiny-dicked fuckends. Dogs have been walked near my house every day since I moved here and this has only happened once. Part of me wants to take all four cats to a new place where I know they will live life to the full but be guaranteed to be safe in the process but I know that place does not exist.

When Roscoe goes back out into the great outdoors – and it won’t be just yet, because I am being cautious – she’ll find it’s a bit different: it will still have its dangers, but one hulking, ubiquitous tabby one will at least be gone. Hopefully this will make her a bit more of a homebody, a bit more content in the in-between spaces she was previously avoiding. Able to walk around in those spaces authoritatively, knowing she is their Queen and that she does not need to stray beyond them. But who can tell? As I said, she’s a tough, determined, fiercely independent little cat. It has got her into a fair bit of trouble but it might well be the reason she is still here today.

Listen to me talk about Roscoe on my latest radio show.

80 thoughts on “Roscoe

  1. Thank you Tom for sharing Roscoe's story. If I could count the times we've said to each other at home 'I wonder how Roscoe's doing?' Great to hear she's making such good progress

  2. Awww I'm so happy Roscoe's making such a fantastic recovery! That's brilliant news.

    And you're quite right: Roscoe will determine herself where she goes from here.

  3. It is a bit weird how fond one can become of a bunch of kitties that live on the other side of the world that I have never met but your words and your photos make me feel as if I know them all. I am so happy to see that little Roscoe is on the mend, I thought about her often while she was recovering.

  4. Good to read about her continuing recovery. I 100% agree on the going out thing, cats tend to enjoy the outdoors so much and should have that option, although I appreciate not everyone agrees. Your cat, your rules, which have her best interests at heart

  5. A lovely piece Tom and thank you for filling in some of the background of Roscoe's misadventures. She certainly seems to have turned the corner now and you seem to have been fortunate in your local vets!

  6. There was a tuxedo kitten in my life who said, "Eweeugh", too. She only graced my life for a very short time, succumbing to wet-form FIP at less than 3 months. Hope and pray Roscoe enjoys a safe, long, happy, healthy, loved life with you — and I guess it's already been said, but she really does belong indoors only (like all cats who aren't feral).

  7. I have had an operation or two myself and come close to dying on occasion. Indoor cat? I should cocoa! Life is for living not being the prisoner of someone else's fear.
    Two high fives to Roscoe. 🙂

  8. This makes me happier than I can say. Thanks so much for the update. I have thought of Roscoe a lot. I have 5 cats, and 2 would rather die than have to live an indoor life (and I live in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, with coyotes, cougars, and racoons). I decided long ago that I wanted them to have happy lives, even if they were shorter lives. After all, would I want to be locked inside all the time? I do make sure they are safely locked in every night though.

  9. WOW, she looks amazing. And she looks just like my cat, Boots. Well, you never know she might chose to say at home after her attack. Or not….I just hope that any future adventures are good ones. Oh I almost forgot, Roscoe deserves a fancy low heated bed after all of this trauma, she wrote me and told me so LOL.

  10. It's great to read the whole story, and more detail, in your inimitable style. So very wonderful to know how brilliantly she is recovering. As for making her an indoors cat – um, how? (especially with three outdoor cats in the house) On occasions when, for good reasons, I have attempted to keep any of my cats indoors, the damage to doors, furniture and my eardrums meant it didn't last long. While she's still not fully back to her hedgerow work, she may be happy to stay in, but it won't last. She clearly has the strength of character to pull herself back from the most awful possible brink; long may that continue.

    And yes, good vets are just extraordinary. Their ability to understand what's going on and deal with it is awe-inspiring.

  11. I'm happy that she's doing so well. What a little fighter she is. You're a good man, Tom. You've done well with her through this whole thing. It was a lot with you having to do it all by yourself. But she's a little love bug now and I hope that keeps up. Thank you again for all of the updates when I know you just wanted to be by yourself. We've all appreciated it. Kisses to Roscoe and hugs all around.

  12. I've been following your cats' adventures for some months now, and I'm so glad to hear Roscoe is recovering. I'm sure she'll find out a balance between outdoors and indoors from now on. My indoors-only, apartment cat Bergamot says hi!

  13. Good to hear Roscoe is doing better. My cat would relate to her being an outdoorsy cat who would (usually) prefer not to be hugged. An outdoor cat is an outdoor cat. What they want they get. And after all your cat is Batcat, she probably does indeed have important business to attend to.

  14. What about building Roscoe an outdoor pen? We enclosed a long patch of grass under our deck where our three cats can go out and play, catch rodents, eat grass, and stay safe. The cats love it and we feel good knowing that they are safe. Glad Roscoe is doing so well in her recovery.

  15. I really enjoyed reading your loving and beautifully written account of Roscoe. It is strange how much her life seems to revolve around alcohol – hours spent at the pub, her vet in the same building as a brewery. I envision her hanging out next in a wine bar. I have a great team of vets who have saved the lives of my animals many times over the years so I agree with your appreciation of them.

    Roscoe is your cat; you live with her, and you know what makes her happy. Best wishes to you, her, and the other cats from your fans in NYC.

  16. Wonderful update! I keep my cats in, only because one is a big ginger nut who likes running under cars on our busy street. The others don't care for outdoors, even when I have let them out in the past, coming in a minute later and not even poking their head out of the open back door. Pet owners can make their own choices, and frankly most outdoor cats I have known or owned have lived as long as any indoor cats. Roscoe will do what she wants, and I hope she lives a long happy life. Love from me and my three furry miscreants, who are all surrounding me as I type.

  17. I'm so happy to read this. Roscoe looks extremely similar to my boy Buddy, she could be his Good Twin (he would be the Evil Twin, not because he's overtly naughty, but because he's kind of sneaky naughty and then acts all good, which is the most tricky kind of Evil Twin). Anyway – I feel affectionate toward Roscoe because she seems so familiar and so I'm so pleased she's ok. As for not keeping her indoors – I hear ya. One of my other cats, Zorro (a Cat of Very Little Brain) has developed this very unusual habit of sitting in the middle of the road outside our house and staring at the neighbours. It's a quiet street but on occasion cars have had to stop for her – on the times I know for sure she is doing it, I keep her in (an hour or so after dinner) but there are so many times I don't know if she's doing it and I have to let her live her life and hope she's being safe. It's gutwrenching (maybe if you didnt have any cats you'd think that was an overstatement, but it's not). I am always scared she'll be killed or injured even though 90% of the time she's asleep on the couch. But, she will never learn to be safe if I don't let her explore and she needs to be her little cat self and mix it up in the neighbourhood and I have to trust her instinct as much as possible. Anyway – a very long comment and you probably won't read it all but I wanted you to know that you're not alone in these hard decisions of how to best let our cats live their lives, and that I'm so pleased your little one is on the mend.

  18. I'm so glad that Roscoe is getting better. The feeling of accomplishment and relief in watching the slow mend of a creature loved is incomparable. On another note, I can't believe I'd never heard Roscoe before. What a great song. Thanks for introducing me.

  19. I may have been that well meaning stranger that said Roscoe should be an indoor kitty. And not out of any disrespect to either of you. More out of concern. I lost one kitty to Feline AIDS that was both indoor and outdoor. And another to a car. That one I didn't know about til I received a condolence card from my vet – he went with an ex when the relationship failed. He was also indoor and outdoor. They took a piece of my heart because I felt somehow responsible. Kitty that I have now for many years is indoor only. Maybe she missed out on hunting birds and bringing me trophies. I'm very sorry. I wish nothing but happiness and a long life for you and Roscoe. And you know your furbaby better than I. She's a smart cookie and deserves her freedom. Keeping her indoors would be a punishment for something that just happened. Thank you for enlightening me. Again my truest heartfelt apologies.

  20. What a beautiful, warm and lovely piece. I so love reading your work and especially knowing that Roscoe is on the secure road to recovery.

    I have five cats, all barring the youngest (because to my mind he's jus too young at 9 months for the countryside he has open to him – which includes the M6 within 1.4mes….) go out. They love it. They wouldn't be who they are without it. If they'd never been outside it would be different, but they're rescues who've been dumped outside at 6 weeks old or been dumped outside in winter to have her babies or a feral who as it turns out, just really wanted a quiet warm corner to be his solemn, quiet, beautiful self. All are rescues. All love the outside. All have access to it.

    I had a blind cat – he went out. Only in a prescribed small square garden area and under supervision – but as he'd been a seeing cat for 10 of his 14 years – he made it clear that an indoor life would make for a depressed Cougar Bear (his name). The night before he died from a heart attack he'd been out with his friend the hedgehog and had come in with bushy whiskers, sparkly eyes and a purr that always slayed me. He was ill with thyroid issues but his little trips to his little garden kept him happy and bright and engaged. He was a cat that seemed to know the worlds ills, like a wise man. That liked dead mice. Or live ones. Whatever.

    What I'm saying is, you do what's right for the cat. I'm terrified that JJ, Murdock, Finley, Riley (our girl) or Ralph ( her son) will be hurt or injured or attacked. But access to the outdoors on the whole makes them happy. To change that would be wrong. Almost selfish.

    So pleased Roscoe is well, love to you, Roscoe, the Bear, Ralph and Shipley x

  21. Oh Tom your writing always gladdens my heart, reduces me to tears and gives me hope…..this piece on Roscoe's recovery does all this and more. I understand your reluctance to open the door and let her venture out….perhaps keep her close a little longer yet. I have prayed daily for you both since the incident and hope that she continues to grow in strength and health and to reward your love for her with love for you.

  22. Thanks for the full story on Roscoe, full of warmth and affection as well as your inimitable humour! I was so sad to hear what happened to her, but have been eagerly awaiting your updates on Twitter. I am so pleased for her and you that she is almost well again. It makes me hold my cats close and give them a squeeze and a kiss (reactions range from a claw in the chest to a cloud of fur up my nose).

  23. Thank you Tom for the lovely story of Roscoe's progress.

    My cat policy is indoors at night (aka between 12 and whenever my cat paws my face in the morning) – I wonder if all those people who keep cats permanently indoors have ever watched a cat in the garden, or up a tree, or savouring the night scents and sounds……..or even just watched a cat. Permanent indoor life is safe but not much of a life.

    My record weird and unexpected place for finding your own cat is up mangrove tree twenty feet off shore, whilst I was on a short walk near my home. It was low tide and she called me but not to invite me over – just in a sort of 'fancy meeting you here sort of way'.

    Hope Roscoe is back outdoors surprising you (in a good way) again soon.

  24. Thank you so much for opening up and sharing the full details about Roscoe's recent troubles and triumphs. I think of her every day, and I cried tears of joy when I read about how well she is doing. I have a cat who once went over a week locked in a garage without food or water, and I also attribute his recovery to his uniquely stubborn and determined personality.

    I'm guessing the random stranger telling you to never let Roscoe out again is American. Here, cats are often abused, tortured, or killed for fun by teenagers. People think that shooting stray cats is okay. There is also a horrifyingly pervasive attitude amongst dog owners that it is not only acceptable, but natural for their dogs to attack or kill cats. I would never let any of my cats outside because I know how Americans treat cats. Here, you are considered irresponsible if you let your cat out, and people imply that you deserve any resulting misfortune. Thankfully, you Brits have a much different attitude. If I were there, my cats would roam freely.

    I'll be thinking of you guys every day as Roscoe continues to heal and ventures back into the great outdoors.

  25. SUBLIME. Roscoe the Muse…

    she headbutted me with affectionate violence

    Roscoe has never been vain; she’s always been far too focused on her career

    spoilt boarding school meows

    “You don’t know what hardship is. I freakin' live here.”

    she plays passionate, silent piano on my shirts

  26. What a lovely piece, thank you for the update. Cats are comical creatures, they seem to know when I trip them up accidentally, and accept my forgiveness: even the grumpiest will.

    In the States, our cats were indoor only. Here in Yorkshire, all our cats have been indoor/outdoor. We have a walled garden, so the garden walls act as a cat superhighway, and unless the gate is open, keep the dogs out.

    I'm sure you're right, that it's Roscoe's spirit which kept her going: that, and your devoted attention, and that of your vet. Good vets are worth more than gold dust, so pleased you've been so fortunate in yours.

    Here's to the further adventures, indoor & outdoor, of Roscoe. I look forward to reading more about her in your next book. In the meantime, I have Roscoe's calendar to look at.

    Listening to your show as I type this.

  27. Wonderful news Tom! And you are quite right about Roscoe and her future. I have a female cat very similar. I say we half own her because she is always out 'doing'. I don't know where these 'doings' take her but in summer she can disappear for up to 5 days. Many times I have tramped across the back fields calling her. Laid awake at night listening for her return and twice been half through putting posters up in the village. I hoped she'd settle down as she aged. No chance. At 7 she shows no sign of changing.
    I have accepted that she is living how she wants to and that part of loving her is to let her live her life as she wants…..worryingly though that might be.
    You will worry about Roscoe, but she needs to be happy. You know what that entails and you love her. Enough said.

  28. We too have a tuxedo puss who speaks 'eweeugh'. We rescued her after she was abandoned by her owners after being hit by a car….on the parts of her body where she suffered injuries her black fur has grown back white….maybe this will happen to Roscoe. I love your writing Tom and thank you for sharing so much with us.

  29. We lost our cat a few weeks ago to illness. I am so glad to hear Roscoe is on the mend. We couldn't bear the quiet and stillness so we are going to to adopt another one. Keep on going Roscoe!!!

  30. What a joy filled, wonderfully written story, thank you! Its a bit mad to love a cat I have never met but how can I not? Letting her go out would scare me, but I know it has to be. Little Roscoe has hedgerows to manage, and places to be. I am SO glad she made it.

    Are you working on the next book? I am going to have to read the other books all over again soon if you cannot give me a fix.

  31. We have woods behind our house which is cat heaven. My 17 yr old skinny black female cat who has always been fiercely independent & particularly loves it there came home 18 months ago with her back leg badly broken. Turned out someone in the woods had shot her with an air rifle & completely shattered her femur. She ended up losing this back leg & I was devastated. Terribly worried if I should keep her indoors in future. However she is now flying along on 3 legs, chooses herself to be mainly an indoor cat & just pops out for short breaks in my garden only. Maybe it's scarred her as she was always off for hours before or maybe her age & disability makes her more of a home cat these days but she is very happy & it's amazing how she's bounced back. I'm very proud of her! Did make me so nervous letting her out but cats have to be who they are. Plus they did catch the teenager with his Dad's air rifle who has learning difficulties. Air rifle got rightly converscated by the Police. Parents were obviously absolute f**king idiots. Other cats he shot were not so lucky. Good luck on Roscoe's recovery & you'll probably find she'll decide how far & how often she goes out after this horrible event. Some cats are happy being indoor cats but to others it would be Hell. I decided to let my cat herself choose, after all they are the Boss. ?

  32. So pleased to learn that Roscoe is recovering well – as others have said you may find that she chooses to become more of a homebody after this but it will be her choice. May she continue to do well and be back on hedge patrol when she is ready x

  33. So pleased to hear how well she's doing. I also have an Admin Cat so I understand Roscoe's determination to get back to work – no doubt she's worried about delegating and doesn't trust the others to perform her checks as thoroughly as she does herself, I'm sure she'll be back in the hedgerow with her small clipboard in no time at all 🙂

  34. So happy to hear she's doing well. That picture up there of her sitting on the fence post while looking like she's delivering a PowerPoint presentation is possibly one of the best cat pictures ever.

  35. Roscoe and The Bear cuddling, it's almost more than I can take in this early in the morning!

    Love the descriptions of all your cats' unique vocalizations. I used to have a sweet little tuxedo cat who meowed in more of a scrapey chirp than an actual meow. Our current overlord talks almost nonstop at a volume you almost can't believe, though when he's especially happy there's a sort of cooing undertone as though he's swallowed a pigeon.

  36. That is such lovely news that Roscoe is on the road to recovery. I have been following Roscoe's recovery story through Facebook and Twitter and am so happy that she is getting back to her usual feisty self!

  37. So pleased to hear how Roscoe is recovering! I don't think you'd be able to keep her inside, even if she wanted to be there – she must have quite the hedgerow admin backlog by now.

  38. So glad to hear Roscoe is recovering. My cat Samson has very strong views on the indoor/outdoor question.
    If raining, snow or windy, an exclusively indoor cat.
    Sunny or 10pm an outdoor cat.
    Birds spotted occupying the hedge an outdoor cat.
    Ginger Tom in the garden, an indoor cat.
    He is permanently exasperated at his humans inability to open the door without being asked. He has a cat-flap which is for looking through only and his human should understand this.

  39. Hedgerow admin , so that's what they do I know they are always busy I have so often wondered . So lovely to read this , you and your furry family have been in my thoughts and many others often during the last few weeks.

  40. Roscoe will do exactly what Roscoe wants to do. First, she's a cat. Second, she's a female cat. Third, she's a female cat with a personality and a domain to rule over. I've spent countless dollars on getting Smudge (female, calico, 9lbs of sheer "piss off" attitude) repaired and mended. She believes she ten-foot tall and bulletproof and attempts to show this with every other cat in earshot, even when the poor buggers just want to stop by and meow "Hi, what's up?" Each time she comes back from the vet, she looks at me like I'm the best thing since tuna and catnip, then proceeds to walk straight back outside and start the fun all over again. Piss on the "well-meaning" folk who want to tell you what to do with Roscoe. You can only love her and look out for her, but at the end of the day, Roscoe will do as she pleases. As cat-loving humans our lot in life is to worry endlessly about them while they couldn't give a f**k about our lack of sleep. My Mum once told me it was like being a parent. I agree wholeheartedly. I also will not be having children. Anyway, you rock, your cats are brilliant, all the best to you all.

  41. I really liked the way you wrote this piece, sharing insights about Roscoe and her singular character but telling of other things too: the techno hippies, the kindly dedicated vets (one of my friends is a super skilled surgeon who can even put an owl leg back together, amazing), the constant care and worry when you are nursing a sick animal. Truthful, heartfelt, but always with an undercurrent of humour. Thanks, and I am looking forward to the next post, whatever it is!

  42. tom – thanks for the update on roscoe. my partner and i never stopped rooting for her and are very happy about her progress. go roscoe! thank goodness for you, the vet and the care she's received.

  43. Thank you for this post Tom and two high fives to Roscoe. I'm so glad she's doing well. I have two cats (and a dog, who doesn't go for other animals) and am very fortunate to live in that single, isolated place where harm doesn't befall them. You can't keep her in but with luck she'll stay a bit closer to home and build a new garden based career. The pictures are lovely and the piece very heartwarming.

  44. You're a good, good man. I can understand how you must have felt when it was touch-and-go with Roscoe. I'm SO glad everything turned out fine in the end!

    Keep doing what you're doing, taking care of kitties and such. You're a rarity. 🙂

  45. Such a sweet cat and such a beautiful story, sad yet full of hope. I´m very happy she made it, after the attack, the surgeries, the infection. The story about walking for Roscoe on Christmas was so heartbreaking, and now this wonderful outcome. Both you and Roscoe deserve all the best.

  46. I am so glad your baby is recovering. Perhaps she will choose to stay closer to home after all she's been through although, having cats of my own, I completely understand the concept of "important cat business". I just want to offer a thought for those who think indoors only is the safest place for kittys: it isn't always. Especially not for the young ones. There are so many places for a curious kitten to find misadventure, I unfortunately know this first hand as of just a week ago. I'd give anything for her to still be here, I regret not letting her go outside when she so badly wanted to (I was trying to prevent pregnancy as she hadn't been spayed yet), anything that could have happened outside would have been far less heartbreaking than what actually did happen. Anyhow, I wish you and your family the very best, I am so very glad that Miss Roscoe is finally on the mend. I look forward to hearing more of you family's adventures in the future.

  47. Thanks for such a moving account. I hope Roscoe's recovery continues apace. Her care for The Bear is so touching. Do you think she understands he's a bit old and wobbly? As for going outside again, every time I worry about our little prince heading off into the night, my husband says, "He's an independent, adult cat", and that's the point. We're just there to buy the cat-food and pay the mortgage – the LP does what he wants, coz he's a cat, and that's the way it should be (and then snuggles up to us at 7am, so we're not allowed to get up!). And he puts up two claws to the three incarcerated cats on our street.

  48. If you feel the need to keep a cat indoors then you shouldn't have a cat! The breeder from whom I rehomed a beautiful Maine Coon Tom was horrified when I reported he'd gone missing only 24 hours into his new home. She came round and spent an hour calling for him. He'd never been outside on his own. After 24 hours his very recognisable call was heard outside our garden door, none the worse for his adventure. He continued to be an outdoor cat until he died in a neighbour's garden, only 4 but at least he'd had 2 years of living like a cat and not in the garden shed that used to be his home as a breeding tom (at which he failed miserably) and show cat thereafter (failed again, stud tail which she told me she hadn't been able to "cure" with anything!)

    You wouldn't keep a child penned into the house, it would be considered cruelty/neglect/abuse, neither should you a cat. If you don't consider your environment safe for a cat, don't get one! As Kat put it so aptly, "Life is for living not being the prisoner of someone else's fear."

  49. It has been my experience that female cats are always more independent and less enthusiastic about being held than their male counterparts. As the only cat qualified to be the dominant female in your home, she has a lot of weight on her shoulders. She seems to be a natural for the part, though.

  50. So glad to hear shw is doing much better. I think probably the person who said to keep her in was like me a North America. We are told by our Vets and shelters to keep csts in . When I read Your Cat magazine that I get from the UK you have a different way of doing things. I bet Roseco will be wiser now best to you all . Love your books

  51. We lost Dash Kitten to a dog attack three years ago – we miss him every day. I'm just glad Roscoe made it. I agree with your sentiments (US people often find it harder, having more 'indoors' cats). Roscoe needs the fresh air – be safe pal. Get well.

  52. Tom I am so glad about Roscoes recovery. Of course you have to let her be the cat she is supposed to be,outgoing and free. Like all cat parents you will worry when she's out but she's been through the worst and come out the other end. Love all your books and cats. Anne – Cardiff.

  53. Such a beautiful love story. I'm so relieved that Roscoe is doing well. Reading this has made my day. Thank you, Tom!

    And, yes,Roscoe must be allowed to go outside. She's a cat after all. Why would you not let her be one?

  54. While I can sort of understand the thinking behind people making comments about making Roscoe an indoor only cat (it certainly leads to a longer life, and a much lower risk to health and happiness), the truth is that it's somewhat cruel to force a cat long used to wandering outdoors, to be an indoor cat.

    If you raise a kitten as an indoor cat, it's no hardship and indeed it's the nearly the best thing for the cat to do (surpassed only by having a fully fenced in and enclosed large outdoor space that cats can indulge in, also).

    But cats are creatures of habit, and if they have grown up wandering or prowling the neighbourhood, suddenly confining them to the indoors only can feel like punishment and a severe loss of stimulation (and can cause depression).

    So, even after a scary event such as this, you sort of have to accept that the die has already been cast.

  55. I enjoyed reading this and am so glad she is recovering well. I had a very, very special cat too, also black and white, and he too was attacked by a dog. It was devastating. He too had been struggling with a bully cat (a bengal) and had taught himself to not run away from the danger as it did no good. As a result I believe he did not run from the 3 racing dogs who had been let off the lead. My poor Benz did not have a chance. Fortunately my mum and I were there and I lifted him, as gently as possible – with his leg (clearly broken) hanging down, and took him to the vets. The vets knew him well and understood how special he was but all I could do was say "Please don't let him be in pain." I wanted him to live just so much but it hurt to think of him being in pain and that was unbearable.
    An x-ray confirmed two punctured lungs, shattered back lag and a broken spine. I heard him try to purr as he was put to sleep and stroked him through the tears until he was no longer with us. I went back from one more kiss and then we buried him in the front garden.
    This was all in 2013. I still miss him so much.

    Like you, I am nervous of dogs but he had lived in that house for almost 10 years and this hadn't happened before. I have now married and moved a few miles away, actually facing farm land but with very many dog walkers. I still have my other cat, a little madam who seems to be ageing well a part from the arthritis – poor little thing. But I can't help being anxious of dogs, foxes and all things that could happen whenever she goes out.

    I am so happy Roscoe has made it through and continues to do well. I am sure she will be cautious of dogs and being outside while still managing to enjoy the outside world as she did.

  56. So glad Roscoe has finally recovered and that you plan to let her be the free spirit that she is.

    I have two cats back home in India. Unfortunately, we have lots of street dogs that don't make it ideal for house cats to roam outside. One of my cats, Kiki hurt her leg really bad when she tried to jump over my 4th floor balcony to venture out. She was always the curious one. Poor thing broke her leg in the process and the next day i found her outside someone's door on the third floor. She must've jumped to their balcony. I was told by the vet that her leg would have to be amputated. This was heart breaking. Kiki was barely 2 yeas old. She loved jumping on things, toppling them, breaking them, chasing her sister Mumble around the house. I took her to another Vet and asked them to see if they could save her leg. I was so relieved after the operation when they informed me that the operation was successful and they've managed to fix her leg. She took about a month to fully recover and was back to her nutty self. Although Mumble's too scared to step out even if i leave the door open, but Kiki does like outdoors. I'm torn between letting them out and keeping them safe at home.

    I had adopted 3 cats before Kiki and Mumble. Pixie got hit by a car, Fifi was mauled by dogs and Jojo never came back. I still don't know what happened to him 🙁

  57. Such a great read and so happy all turned out well for Roscoe.

    Also, I found a typo in the second paragraph, " Horrified by this, Roscoe began a series of escapes my local pub."


  58. It has taken me a while to put this down. I lost a beautiful cat 18 months ago, because I let him be an outdoor cat. And reading your most recent book, and your post above, has convinced me that letting him out was the right thing to do. Harvey was a very shy oriental cat, who had been bullied by other cats before he was rehomed with me. He decided after about six months indoors that he really wanted to go out, and after pottering in the yard with me watching he bolted out. I panicked, but he came back soon. And over the next few months we built up an understanding that he could go out when I was at home, and that he would shout at me to tell me he was home and what scandalous behaviour he had witnessed in the neighbourhood. He was a transformed cat; he went from nervous and jumpy indoors to being the king of the world. We gradually sorted out his dispute with the neighbouring cat, negotiating my over-protective nature.
    And then one moonlit night, he went out and didn't come home. I found him cold and still beautiful stretched out by my gate (I think a neighbour had moved him off the road for me). I hated myself for letting him out. But then I realised that he had had 6 months of real life being himself and being ecstatically alive, which was far better than 10 years of being an anxious, nervous shadow indoors.
    So no, don't keep her indoors.

  59. My parent's black cat, Morticia, was bitten by a dog a while back. The fleshy wounds weren't as bad as Roscoes but the bone was badly mangled. Still, they managed to put a bunch of little plates in her leg so she was half bionic (at least in our minds) so we called her Robocat (she had the fiest for it). Her recovery was not without problems, I learnt what luxating patellas are and we lovingly referred to her as The Surgery Junkie. It took a while for her to get back to normal, but she recovered. As a country cat, there was no way she'd become an inside cat but she didn't have to; as you say, dogs have been walking by there for years without issue, same with Morticia, and she gained some extra street smarts and bragging rights along the way.

    Cuddles to Roscoe, you'll be right, girl.

  60. I know I'm a bit late commenting on this but I came across the post via a Twitter link. Your Roscoe is gorgeous and certainly a fighter! I hope she is still well and has been keeping away from unruly dogs and their unfit owners!
    That's Purrfect

  61. Thanks for sharing!
    I lost one kitty to Feline AIDS that was both indoor and outdoor. And another to a car. That one I didn't know about til I received a condolence card from my vet – he went with an ex when the relationship failed. He was also indoor and outdoor. They took a piece of my heart because I felt somehow responsible. Kitty that I have now for many years is indoor only. Maybe she missed out on hunting birds and bringing me trophies. I'm very sorry. I wish nothing but happiness and a long life for you and Roscoe. And you know your furbaby better than I. She's a smart cookie and deserves her freedom. Keeping her indoors would be a punishment for something that just happened. Thank you for enlightening me. Again my truest heartfelt apologies..

  62. Glad Roscoe is doing great, I love your stories, keep them up. As general dogs body to three feral cats that adopted me, I know how it feels. They won’t stay in.

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