I decided to spend new year in the highlands with my friend Tommy who found himself with the weekend free after being most graciously ‘let out’ of his monthly obligation to cook the rats their Sunday dinner, as was the agreement after losing the battle of Tankerton Castle last summer. When Rastius called Tommy last week he predicted that everyone would probably be too partied-out to even get out their pyjamas on New Years Day, let alone get down to the castle for a full roast.
After spending a relaxing first evening in front of the fire reading through old journals written by Tommy’s ancestors, we decided to expand our education with a trip to medieval England for a spot of cat jousting. It seems points were awarded for presentation, so to give ourselves a good advantage we spent the best part of Friday searching out and polishing the finest harnesses of armour from the castle wardrobes. Not having any steeds to speak of, on Saturday morning we paid a visit to Morag in the Angus Glens to ask if we might, for a few days, borrow her kittens: Angus MacTabby and Archie Fishface. Morag said she’d be delighted for us to take her sons from under her paws after they’d driven her up the wall over Christmas and that it would give her a chance to pay a visit to her sister in the Cairngorms who didn’t like kittens. MacTabby and Fishface, being purebred Scottish wildcats, were quite a handful but after being warned by their mother that the eating of domestic mice would cause them to be violently sick, we felt quite safe in their company.
Considering we’d had no prior experience, Tommy and myself discovered that we were pretty good at jousting and found ourselves ranking quite high until disaster struck on the second day. We can only blame ourselves for not having briefed the kittens sufficiently in the art of medieval feline combat. A sneaky hiss from a rather stuck up Persian ended our tournament when MacTabby took offence, bounced over the tilt and smacked the pedigree into submission with a repeated paw thwump to the left ear, and Fishface, who’s not as a rule loyal to his brother, made matters worse by rushing in to defend the family honour. Within minutes some twenty cats had joined the skirmish, resulting in our disqualification for starting the commotion, although Tommy remains convinced that there was some underlying snobbery afoot on account of MacTabby and Fishface being considered feral.
Disqualification not being entirely without its advantages, we spent the final days of the the tournament enjoying the battles from the safety of the sidelines, feasting on medieval fare and meeting a few of Tommy’s ancestors.
Happy New Year!
The Scottish Wildcat is the only remaining wild cat in Britain. Once common in forests across the UK it is now confined to just a few remote areas in the Scottish Highlands. Numbers originally decreased due to deforestation and human persecution, but today their primary threat is that of cross-mating with feral domestic cats, a process known as hybridisation. Today these wildcats, affectionately known as the Highland Tiger, are critically endangered with recent surveys suggesting that there are less than 100 individuals left in the wild. If you’d like to know more about the current work in progress to save this most precious of felines, please feel free to visit scottishwildcats.co.uk.
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