The Third Kitten
Sarah Hartwell & Anne Ashby

When we were young and lived with our mother we were ginger with china-blue eyes and very small, though it's hard to believe that nowadays. Our brother was even smaller and one morning he was cold and did not move. Mother said he would not wake up again and let the people take him away. We soon forgot about him, being so busy finding out about the world. When we were 8 weeks old, our eyes turned gooseberry-green and we went to live with Anne and her son Daniel whose old cat Wilbur had fallen asleep and not woken up again.

We were inquisitive and playful young cats and got under everybody's feet, fell in the bath and clawed chairs. Nobody minded much except when we brought in a bird and patted it to make it fly around. Anne shut us outside while she let it out. One morning, while we were playing in the kitchen, we noticed a strange cat watching us.

I grimaced and put my fur on end. Barnaby flattened his ears until he looked more like a weasel than a kitten.

"Hello, Basil, Barnaby," purred the stranger, with a friendly blink of his golden eyes.

"Who are you?" I hissed. The strange cat had no smell which was odd, and Anne and Daniel took no notice of him which was even odder as he was in plain view.

"I'm Wilbur. I used to live here."

At that, our ears went up like radar dishes and our whiskers perked forward. We had heard that cats sometimes see ghosts, but we had never believed those stories!

"I drop in sometimes to make sure you're running the place properly. Anne and Daniel sometimes notice me though I don't mean to frighten them. I thought I'd hang around till they got themselves sorted out without me."

"Anne says she sometimes feels you settling down on the bed with her," I told him.

Wilbur just twitched his tail through the wall and faded. When he returned a moment later there was a small ginger cat with him, almost a mirror image of Barnaby and myself.

"This is your brother, Monty, who went to sleep when he was a kitten - he wasn't strong enough to stay on Earth like you," Wilbur explained. "He's come to stay with you. I hope Anne and Daniel won't be frightened if they glimpse him now and again."

Wilbur blinked lazily and faded away. The 3 of us started a mad game, chasing up and down stairs and over furniture until we fell asleep in a heap on the sofa like in the old days before we left mother. Monty did his best not to cheat much, but it must be very tempting when you can go through things instead of round them or over the top.

When Barnaby nearly died after a vaccination, Monty went to the Great Cat Himself to ask if Barnaby could stay on Earth as it would upset Anne and Daniel if he left. Sometimes, they see Monty out of the corner of their eyes. Like us, he is growing up into a fine cat and our people seem quite used to seeing THREE ginger cats; they once said that how happy they were that our brother has come to join us. Monty did give Anne a bit of a shock when she saw him walk through the cat flap without opening it. There's a trick I'd like to learn.


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