Janet's youngest boy and his then girlfriend, Amy, went to Canada for a year and as a result we (un-)inherited their 'cat'.
They rescued it from the vet's at which Amy worked, to prevent him being put down and originally named him Father Jack (after the character in the series 'Father Ted').
They had planned to spend a year abroad but decided to wait until Jack died (he'd been given 6 months to a year maximum) - five
years later, they were still waiting. When they delivered him to us, Spot sensed trouble. When they went to leave, she
lead them back into the house, up the stairs (where she never goes), pointed at the door behind which
Jack was exploring his new abode, looked at them and barked. "You've left something behind" she plainly said.
Jack-the-Cat has the full catalogue of possible cat diseases (which luckily Topsy is inoculated against) and came with a truck load of pills and drops. His neck, jaw and legs have been broken and set crooked. He's blind in one eye, has poor vision in the other and usually staggers around with his head twisted around to 45 degrees, breathing ferociously and dribbling. He is quite ready to attack anything unexpected that comes into his line of vision with his remaining teeth and claws (e.g. stairs, table legs, computer cables, vases etc). These brief bursts of activity result in total collapse - unless of course whilst lurching around, he gets claws from opposite feet stuck in the carpet and needs rescuing. We renamed him Jack-the-Dead-Cat.
We kept him in one room for a week and then started letting him out to roam parts of the house when Topsy was out, to let
them both become accustomed to each other. Unfortunately we did not take into account Jack's lack of senses. It took him
almost a week to realise that there was a dog in the house though he retained enough intelligence to recognises a warning
'that's my bone' growl. However his other instincts were fine, enabling him to navigate unerringly to the food bowl and fridge.
He appeared to dimly realise that the 'blobs' responsible for his care had changed but was not concerned as they seemed to function adequately enough.
However Topsy had a hard time despite Jack being ancient, decrepit and half her size. As Jack is on steroids, apparently he smells like a super cat and this matches his ego. The first time they came across each other was by accident. Since Jack couldn't see Topsy, she lost the 'puss-off' as Jack kept coming and coming. At 6 inches distance Jack suddenly became aware that there was something there and transformed from a pathetic bundle of fur into a demon from the seventh pit of hell, chasing Topsy all over the house, before cornering her in a bedroom and collapsing with exhaustion – which added insult to injury as Topsy took that to be a gesture of contempt.
We thought we might disguise his smell by giving him a collar threaded with, say, garlic. However Amy objected on the grounds that he always tries to claw collars off and would probably get his foot caught and strangle himself. It was a long while later that we realised that it was the garlic she was worried about. We asked around for advice on what to do about Jack. The RSPCA said they had no room for another cat and could see the attraction of Canada under the circumstances.
Initially Janet took Jack on supervised walks in the garden and Topsy watched from a distance. One thing which was successful was to lock Jack in the greenhouse as Topsy was quite content to prowl around safely outside and watch her adversary lose a fight with a tomato and fall into a flower pot.
After a year Topsy learnt to work around Jack's presence whilst he began to become dimly aware that there was a cat who kept coming into his house. However after 18 months, Jack was reclaimed by Janet's son and his new girlfriend and moved to a flat in Worthing.
We celebrated as I wrote then :
"no longer will Spot have to warn her 'puppies' about swearing at each other, referee their spats, be disturbed in her slumber
by a cat walking up her tail, along her back and over her head, or gaze helplessly at her food bowl whilst he licks all
the jelly off and picks out the best bits.
Topsy will be able to enter the house without fear and trepidation, won't need an escort upstairs, or the door closed at night, nor will she be able to reject her food, arrange an argument with Jack and then expect treats for being nice to each other - nor will she have to put up with some of the most disgusting eating noises known to man.
The neighbours will not longer be entertained by Janet's screams as she trips up over a mysteriously teleporting cat under her feet, as he stabs her with his claws or bites her nose, sharpens his claws on the furniture or her leg, or as he knocks everything off the windows or her desk , and then demands to be fed with a plaintive, victimised 'miaow'.
We won't have to remember last thing at night to switch on his night-light and electric blanket, put his supper and fresh water and litter out - only be to woken up at any hour of the night with complaints or him charging around the room or battering at his door.
Working at the computer won't be as dangerous with a cat seemly asleep behind the terminal, who suddenly darts out to kill my fingers, make some vital corrections to my documents, and attack my knee on his way to the kitchen."
....or so we thought... Jack was not happy .. he learnt to phone 'home'... and worse...
Jack escaped, wandered the streets until he was found and taken to a local vet, who then phoned us, saying they had found 'our' cat
(his microchip was still registered to our address). We put them right and he'd was returned to his new home. A few days later another call from a different vet
and a repeat preformance. Uncannily each time, Jack got taken to a different vet - four times in all. As that tactic was not working, he resorted to
pooing in cupboards and the new girlfriend's shoes and eventually peeing on her face when she was asleep.
So back he came....and, sadly, rather the worse for wear - life with two small children was not very relaxing.
After a few months back with us he gained a new lease of life by the simple expediant of getting electrocuted. Janet had a new extension lead to give a new power outlet for her computer equipment with a power breaker and light. Jack stuck his claws in two of the pin holes and, as he got a shock, the power breaker buzzed and cut out. Jack then relaxed, the power breaker restored the current and off they went again. He then made the mistake of peeing in the socket. At which point I arrived to rescue him. He was rocking wildly on the socket with the orange light flashing accompanied by buzzing noises and the smell of singed hair. With the socket unplugged he escaped and settled down purring contentedly. However the socket never worked again.
We realised the awful truth - Jack was one of the Undead - he will never die. The vet originally estimated that he was at least 14 based on his bones, John and Amy had had him for five years, and it's nearly 3 years since they left for Canada, so he could be 21 - however he still looks like a kitten (rather moth-eaten and Igor-like but a kitten none the less). Hence the need to rename him again to Jack-the-Undead-Cat.