The Cat, or The Critter, was actually named Murri, although we rarely used that. He was born with three siblings on the 25th of May in 1965, on the top shelf in a closet at a friend's home. I was present at the birth. The mother was called Mikki. The probable father lived across the street.

I was allowed to take one male kitten, to avoid more kittens being born. In those days it was not customary to neuter cats. And although I can understand the necessity, I still can't approve of it. Much is said about animals' rights, but nobody seems to think it wrong to sacrifice a large part of pets', especially cats', natural life for people's convenience. But feeding cats contraceptives would be quite a proposition.

Murri was a small, black cat with a thin tail and a small tuft of white on his breast. He ran free most of the time - unless he wanted food, warmth and human company - and got his ears shredded in fights. Our neighbour hated him.

I suppose I got the name Murri from a children's book I had liked to read when I was much younger. It is the story of four kittens. One became a stable cat, another a ship's cat, and one the pet of a small girl. But the black one called Murri, an alley cat, was my favourite. It's good to have a job, but freedom is best. And who'd want to be a pet, even if you get to be the main character in a book?

He died in November 1979 of old age and lies buried in a wood behind our garden. I suppose we should have taken better care of him.