Oh yes, Christmas…
the Cathedral Cat thought he could tell them a thing or two about Christmas.
He wouldn’t of course. It would be impolite. The position of Cathedral Cat was an important one but he had never let it twitch his whiskers. It was too much of an honour for that.
There was a service at midnight of course. The Cathedral was crowded. The Cathedral Cat wondered when most of the people had last been to visit. It had probably been the Christmas before – or perhaps Easter Sunday.
But, by 2am the Cathedral was empty again. There was just one small light on, a light over the manger – a light to show the way for the baby. It might be a nice bed for the night – if the hay did not tickle his nose too much.
He jumped in and settled down but had barely put his paw over his eyes when he heard the noise. A kitten mewing? Surely not. His sister had those kittens of hers well under control in the Bishop’s Palace.
The noise came again. No, definitely not a kitten, or mice. He had heard that noise before. A human kitten. No. Impossible. Maybe. Yes. It had to be. It was outside too. Cold. What was a human kitten doing outside in the cold?
He jumped down from the cosy straw with a sigh and padded down to the Little Door and let himself out. He went past the Transept Door and up the path as silent as the moon overhead. The human kitten was crying properly now. He turned the corner and saw a pale coloured bundle on the steps. Oh. He went a little closer. It was a very small human kitten, even smaller than most of those who got water on their heads from the little stone pond at the front.
There were no other humans there. The Cathedral Cat thought about this. It seemed wrong. A human kitten was like a cat kitten. It couldn’t look after itself. It needed to be somewhere warm and safe. This was not safe. Something needed to be done.
The Cathedral Cat padded briskly across the lawn, climbed the tree next to the wall of the Bishop’s palace and let himself down. He went up to the Cat Door. It was open. Good. He let himself in and went to the laundry. That door was open too.
His sister looked sleepily at him. What a time to come visiting! He meowed - very softly so as not to wake the tight jumble of sleeping kittens – and explained.
Oh. Typical male. No idea how to handle an emergency. No they would not wake the Bishop. He had to be up early for the next service. The poor man was only going to get about five hours sleep. The Bishop’s cat extricated herself very carefully from the basket. She jumped over the kitten-fence and, tail in the air, told him to follow her. Up the vine, onto the top of the fence, down the tree, across the lawn and up the steps. Mmm…yes a very small human kitten.
The Cathedral Cat looked at her. She looked at him.
It was too big to carry by the scruff of the neck – even if a human kitten had the right sort of fur for that. Human kittens did not seem to have fur at all. How they kept warm was a mystery. It must be all those strange things they wrapped themselves in, those things you could not lick clean. It was terribly inefficient.
But, perhaps they could use those things now. The Bishop’s Cat put a paw on the now screaming bundle and patted it gently. It quietened a little. She looked at her brother and suggested they needed the Cloister Cats. There were two of those – if he could find them.
He padded off. No, not there or there. Not in there or up there. He called. No not behind there either. He found them at last, tucked cosily in among the choir robes. He sighed. More work for him in the morning but he needed their help. He explained.
They looked at each other and, aware of his unspoken displeasure at their cat hair being on the snow white elegance of the choir robes, they followed him out through the Little Door.
The Bishop’s Cat had quietened the human kitten again but the little thing was not completely calm. Right boys one corner each in your teeth and one in mine she purred quietly at them. Ready?
And, very carefully, they took the bundle of human kitten down the steps, down the path, around the flying buttresses, past the Transept Door and in through the Little Door. It was all quiet inside but the light was on waiting to welcome the baby.
Getting the human-kitten into the manger? How were they going to do that? The Bishop’s Cat waited, padding gently to keep the human kitten calm. The Cathedral Cat thought about this. No it would not be a problem. He and the Cloister Cats pushed against some of the cushions the human cats used for their odd shaped knees. There. Now they could carry the human kitten up the cushions and into the manger.
The Bishop’s Cat pulled back the straw and they put the baby in. It would go back to sleep now. She gave it a final paw pat and went back to her own kittens. The Cloister Cats settled on the cushion steps. The Cathedral Cat settled at the end of the manger. They slept.
On Christmas morning the Bishop’s phone rang. A present for you on the Cathedral steps. It can’t be left in the cold any longer. Please take care of it!
He hurried across, fearful of what he might find. There was nothing there but what was that noise inside? He let himself in through the Transept Door and looked to where the manger was. There were the Cloister Cats sitting on each side of the manger. He went to shoo them away but they didn’t shift. He came closer and they still didn’t shift. What were they looking at?
The Bishop reached them. And then stopped. There was the Cathedral Cat playing with a baby. He looked at the figures of Mary and Joseph and at the shepherds. They could tell him nothing of course. He looked at the baby. He reached out his hand to the Cathedral Cat and was given an affectionate bunt.
“How did you do that?” he asked and the Cathedral Cat looked at the Cloister Cats and they smiled and went off in search of their Christmas breakfast.