Well-kept moggy a street favourite
Christchurch may have a housing problem, but it's not an issue for one lucky feline.
Then again, not everyone has neighbours who will build a house for them and feed and water them.
However, Cat is not just anyone.
The Beckenham street cat turned up in his neighbourhood last May, according to neighbour Janette, and quickly became a popular community member.
"A lot of people come around to see him, especially on a Sunday," says Janette. "A lot of people tried to adopt him, but he just wouldn't have any of it."
While he is commonly known as Cat, he has several other aliases, including Andy, Fluffy, and Special.
Janette calls him Manky because of how dirty he was when he first turned up. The dirt has gone, but the name stayed.
One neighbour built him his own apartment nestled among hedges, with an excellent view of the street, which he shares with the local hedgehogs.
"He uses the back door to come in and out. There's a wet-weather side and a sunny side.
"The hedgehogs come in the back door and he shares his food with the hedgehogs."
The whole neighbourhood chips in to ensure his wellbeing, and he even has a feeding chart which is ticked off whenever someone feeds him.
"There are two little old ladies from the rest home who come to feed him. One is in her 80s and she comes around once or twice a week and feeds him jellymeat.
"Another lady up the road used to feed him jellymeat every day.
"He has a feeding chart now, so he doesn't get overfed."
The chart has two columns for morning and afternoon feedings, and the text at the top of the chart reads: "Under the authority of the Christchurch Kitty Council, I declare that this beautiful Feline be fed only x 2 daily and for the feeders herewith to document such administration. With thanks and thoughts about the weight and potential wellbeing of Cat."
Usually he eats cat biscuits, although he does get jellymeat as a treat.
Other gifts have also turned up, including a toy mouse and a brush.
"There's an older man down the road and his son was visiting him from London. One day, a brush turned up in Manky's house. The old man's son bought it for him as a goodbye gift," Janette said.
Although she is allergic to cats, she ensures he has water and keeps a few tins of jellymeat in the house in case of emergency feeding needs.
"He's certainly one of the best looked after cats in Christchurch. I think he does better than some cats in houses," she says.
As for the neighbourhood, people now talk to each other more because Cat has given them a talking point. "People stop to have a chat. The kids going to and from school stop to say hello."
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