Monday, 21 April 2008

Herbert the Hero

Herbert is a large ginger-and-white tomcat, sturdy, handsome and laid-back in nature. I'm not sure where he comes from - I suspect he's a barn cat from one of the local farms. Herbert comes round periodically to court my three girls, Tigger, Bear & Marley.

Unlike the other local toms who pester, chase and scare our cats, Herbert is the perfect gentleman. He gives a yowl to let them know he's around, and then waits for them to come to him if they want to. And if they don't, Herbert is happy to leave it at that.

Bear and Marley (I'm afraid I don't have a photo of Herbert)

The cats react in their individual ways, Tigger with regal, world-weary disdain, giving the cat equivalent of rolled eyes and an audible 'Tut!'.

Bear runs up to him in exuberant tomboyish excitement - 'Come on, Herbert - let's play!!!'

Marley takes one look at Herbert's muscular shoulders and fine whiskers and turns to girlish jelly, rolling coquettishly on the ground at his feet.

Herbert remains perfectly genteel and courteous with all three of them. Masculine and assured, yet polite and chivalrous he reminds me of the hero in an old western - big, imperturbable, slow to anger, yet undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. And always, always well-mannered around the womenfolk.

Last night, I was awoken by an unearthly racket in the garden. The cats were woken too - Bear was quivering on the bed beside me, Tigger was halfway up the stairs looking freaked out and growling. When I got to the kitchen, Marley was staring out of the window in horrified fascination.

The hair-raising half-animal, half-human sounding shrieks were unmistakably fox. It sounded as though at least three were engaged in mortal combat just outside the window. However, when I turned on the exterior light (which only momentarily interrupted the cacophony), I saw that there was only one fox - and Herbert.

Herbert was perched on a raised flowerbed by the wall of T's workshop - and the fox was making repeated dashes at him, bark-screaming and snapping, obviously trying to drive him away. I'm not sure what Herbert had done to so enrage the fox, but the animal was clearly furious and determined to see him off. And Herbert was clearly just as determined to stand his ground.

Marley and I watched with our hearts in our mouths - the fox had the advantage of both size and fierceness. But despite the fox's frenzy, Herbert calmly stood his ground, gazing steadily back at the aggressor and refusing to budge an inch.

Eventually, the bewildered fox realised he had met his match in Herbert and padded off sullenly into the night.

I went out to make sure Herbert was uninjured (he was), then our hero took his leave too, leaping agilely over the garden wall.

That really is one cool cat.


Stace said...

Go Herbert! Seems like every rural area has it's notorious stray/unclaimed tomcat. We had one when I was growing up in the bush, he impregnated our little Tiffy. I'll never forget the way she purrrrred right through the birth of her 4 kittens... which we then had to put down :(

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow! Cats have moxie, but Herbert is a fully realized supreme being, not only for bravery in the face of angry foxes, but for his chivalry around the ladies.

Great story. I'm so glad Herbert prevailed. Bravo!!

solsticedreamer said...

herbert really is a hero!

Autumn said...

What beautiful kitty's. Your calico looks very much like my Maggie!

Cottage Smallholder said...

Well done Herbert! Foxes are a real pest around hear but I've never heard of one attacking a cat.

Pixiedust said...

Go HERBERT. I hope he's alright, was he badly injured? I'm such a softy when it comes to animals. My inlaws had two stray cats which used to live in the barns. Except blacky. he eventually moved himself into the house and used to curl up with the great danes.

Anonymous said...

Herbert sounds like a real hero!
I love that pic of your 2 kitties...they are so gorgeous.
We have 3 kitties, but they never leave the apartment.

Moonroot said...

Stace - so sad that the kittens had to be put down.

Reya - I think you're right about Herbert being a fully realised supreme being! He's an inspiration.

Pixiedust - no, Herbert wasn't hurt at all, so you don't need to worry. Sorry I didn't make that clearer!

Leanne said...

three cheers for herbert!

i would think the fox may well now steer clear of your grounds as he knows you have a feline gladiator in residence,and that may well offer extra protection to your hens. So ectra saucer of milk for herbert...arent cats great!

Leanne x

Mary Beth said...

Way to go Herbert! I hope I have my own Herbert, in the bushes, watching over me as diligently as yours is guarding your brood.

Mike Farley said...

Herbert is a hero and Dru sends a respectful miaow and a slightly coquettish purr in his direction.

mccabe said...

thank goodness herbert is ok! i heart this story. i heart cats. you are lucky to have so many! (i just have one cranky one, bless her heart)

with love,
mccabe x

enchantedartist said...

This is a terrific story. I am the proud owner of two sweet kitties...Herbert truly is a brave...brave little man...

I'm so glad he came out of this unscathed...:)