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Bruno was more than just a pet... he brought happiness, hope and love to my family every day

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To paraphrase the opening sentence of the Western novel Shane, about a charismatic hero who turns up out of the blue and transforms life for the better, our cat “strode into our valley in the summer of ‘09”.

Except Bruno didn’t so much stride into our garden as put one tentative paw, then another, very slowly through the hedge. Whereupon he sat for hours on the edge of the lawn, bristling with nerves, yet even then radiant with charisma, holding us in his hypnotic gaze.

The slightest advance sent him fleeing. After a while, there’d be another rustling in the leaves before, summoning all his courage, he’d stealthily reappear. He was checking us out in a lengthy, MI6-style surveillance operation, or as long as you can wait when you’re famished, down on your luck and homeless.

He took his time to be sure of us, but I loved him at first sight, this thin, lost-looking, brave tabby. There was a feline-shaped space in our lives where two female cats had been. What happenstance that this chap should make an appearance. If my late father had been around, he’d have drawn on another literary allusion and called him ‘The Cat from God Knows Where’, and seen in his arrival some greater hand at work.

It wasn’t my softly spoken entreaties that brokered the breakthrough, but my brother’s steady “in your own time, mate” approach. A few nights later I saw him hunkered down, Bruno by his side, wolfing down some ham. I was jealous, but experience had taught me that cats tend to take to one person in particular. It had also taught me that cats like a full complement of staff. I........

© Belfast Telegraph

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