SPCA, Auckland, NZ

Daniel sleepily raised his little ginger tabby head, gave an enormous yawn, and then, opening his eyes, blinked a couple of times in sheer astonishment. Where was he? He felt so well. His last memory was sitting on his brother's knee by the fireside, so cosy and warm. But where was the fire? Where was James? Everything was different.

As he sat and considered the matter, a cat in a magnificent white fur robe with a crimson bow around his neck approached.

"Hello Daniel," the robed cat said, "you have entered the kingdom of the cats. I am to welcome you and take you to our emperor. My name is Sapphire."

"This is a very pleasant place and all the animals, by that I mean all the cats, are loved and cherished. Come one Daniel, follow me."

Daniel felt a trifle nervous but he followed Sapphire through a maze of corridors. They came to a winding staircase. Daniel climbed and climbed until at the top he saw a large door.

"Inside that door," interposed Sapphire, "sits our beloved emperor. He is waiting especially to meet you."

Sapphire opened the door and Daniel's eyes nearly popped out of his head. What did he see but rows and rows of cats sitting in front of a stage where sat the most beautiful cat Daniel had ever seen. Around his head and shoulders shone an arc of silver light like a canopy of stars. His eyes were shining like two green emeralds. His robe was pure silk and it reminded Daniel of all the times he had enjoyed most - playing in the sweet-scented flowers and rolling fresh mown grass. Then the emperor spoke. His tone was soft and gentle and Daniel's nervousness disappeared.

"Daniel, my name is Topaz and we are all assembled here to welcome you to our kingdom. All the animals here will be your friends from now on. This is your official reception and afterwards we are having a feast for you."

The a cat in a black fur coat came forward and handed the emperor a scroll. The emperor read thus:

"Daniel, you have been an honourable cat, faithful and loyal to your earth friends. You have brought joy and comfort to your earth brother and to everyone you met. We are immensely proud of you."

Then another cat came forward and he too was wearing a crimson bow and carried a purple velvet box. He handed it to the emperor and from it, Topaz withdrew a beautiful golden chain.

"Kneel down, Daniel, I wish to place this chain around your neck. Wear it with pride. You will now be known not as Daniel but as Golden One."

Golden One had never been so happy. He felt new life flowing through his body. He wanted to leap into the air with joy. Then it was time for the feast. A small cat in a brown fur robe came over to him.

"You will not remember me," he said, "but I am your brother. I have been here for some time now and I have been longing to meet with you again. We were parted at six weeks old. I am glad you found such a nice home. You are going to live with me and share my room. We will have some lovely talks together and you must tell me everything you did whilst on earth."

"What is your name?" asked Golden One.

"My name is Amer."

"Can you tell me," said Golden One, "why some cats wear crimson bows around their necks?"

"That is a special award given by our emperor to cats who have endured cruelty and much suffering from those on earth. Our emperor has a very special place in his heart for them."

Golden One, too, felt much love in his hearts for the brave and courageous cats.

"Now, Golden One," said Amer, "We must go to your feast. We can talk more tomorrow."

Golden One was supremely happy and would never, ever forget his earth friends, especially James.

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