The Stray Cats - Wilbur taken in for Christmas.

Wife of Muddy Ground works in various hospitals and Doctor's surgeries around South London. One she goes to in Surrey has had this cat walk in the door each morning for the past few weeks. Each night it got kicked out. Gradually, as the cat got thinner and thinner, it dawned on them that it may be a stray. They canvassed the local area and established that the owner had moved away and left the cat behind. The cat was indeed a stray so they 'phoned the Cat's Protection League who were going to collect it - my wife didn't know much about this as she works there relatively infrequently. She got to work and there was an e-mail concerning the cat; did anybody want it before it went to the League that day? She didn't, but saw this cat happily sitting on somebodies lap and casually stated that our daughter would like it, and then walked away thinking nothing of it.

Casual words always bite.

At lunch-time I got a call from my wife; the ladies there, in co-operation with the League, had boxed this cat up for her to take home. Did we want it?

Blimey you can't say no can you? A 6 month old stray cat, getting thinner with each day, Christmas as well.

So now we have a cat. And I must say it's a lovely little thing. It got here and within five minutes had settled right in. We were worried that the children may be too much for it, but they are all best mates. Our daughter is over the moon - she's always wanted a pet. The cat blended in instantly and is now the focus of the family.

How can people throw such animals out? One assumes thay have their reasons, but to take a pet on then get shot of it relatively quickly confuses me. Apart from being ridiculously thin and riddled with fleas the cat seemed fine, if very, very hungry. I took it to the vets for a £10 check-up. No chip so we cannot trace the animal back. Vet said that she'd been out for some time judging by the flea infestation; certainly more than the few week's that she'd been visiting the surgery. He was also concerned about worms, given the size of the cat [small] and the amount of food she's been eating; lots. So we ended up buying some worm and flea concoctions from him. Naturally being a UK vet our £10 initial consultation ended up being a £40 fee with an appointment for spaying and injections later on.

Our free stray cat has so far cost me over £120 in two days. She really needs another £100 operation for spaying and flu jabs. Who said cats are cheap? This is before insurance as well, or putting in a chip of our own. And having spent this much I'm disinclined to go looking for an owner; they clearly didn't take too much notice of the cat whilst it was with them now did they? We've given her a good home at the vey least. Our children are already attached - it sleeps on my daughter's bed with her. I think some things are meant to be, and this may be one of them.

Of course having been all positive there are negatives. Money is one, but not the main issue - we saved a cat at Christmas, have a heart. Nope there are other negatives. Cat wanting to play at 2am being one. Having a cat tray in the house being two - have you had a smell of cat poo recently? Wowee. Especially seeing as the cat hadn't been eating properly, and now lands in the land of plenty. And three, just the pure chaos of having a small animal in the house. The kids love it of course but it's just a nightmare.

And the name Wilbur for a female cat? I read Winnie the witch to my kids every so often, and she has a cat called Wilbur.