A categorical cornucopia of cool cats

Peter McQuarters

Mrs Roffey, Percy, Mrs McDonald, Winston, Mandella, Rocky, Bowser and Mitch.

These are some of the members of the feline species who have graced the Mac household over many decades.

Some have been with us for a brief time, some have lived to a graceful old age, a couple have met with tragedy.

Each are storied and were loved.

Each had their own personalities.

Several had the devaluation of our furniture and our property as amongst their principal interests.

There is insufficient space here to meet them all, but let’s begin with Percy.

I have no idea how we came by that name but it must have sounded good at the time.

It was the early 80s and even floral drapes and loud wallpaper were fashionable back then so, in that context, a cat called Percy was quite normal.


Percy was a large, heavy marmalade tom and immediately captured the heart of our neighbour, Mrs P, in Timaru, who was amongst the elite of the local cat fanciers association.

She persisted in her request to borrow said cat and exhibit him in the local annual show.

Not having any hang-ups around exploitation and objectification of our moggy on the cat walk, we didn’t take much convincing.

In seemingly no time, he was back in our comfy first home environment, resplendent with his abundant awards and ribbons he’d hoovered up with ease.

Mrs P certainly knew a good tom when she saw one!

Percy went to stay with my mum and dad when we went away once and that was that.

They loved him but somewhere along the way their version went along the lines of “you never came back for him”.

And my version was, “you said you wanted to keep him”.

Whatever, he was loved and used to wait at the gate to greet my dad at 1am, 2am or 3am in the morning as he arrived home after a gig.

When he eventually passed away at a ripe old age, my dad took it deeply.

He never wanted to give that cat back.

They were great mates.

But it supplied plenty of material for a cheeky dig for years afterwards.

Winston and Mandella were lovely kittens, but their time with us was short-lived.

Winston mysteriously just dropped dead in front of our kitchen window, and Mandella was probably the first kitten that Mrs Mac had a real fondness for.

He never left the property until one day, with family and friends gathered across the road to watch the DC-3 operating from the airfield, Mandella crossed the road for a look as well.

Right into the path of an oncoming car.

And that was that.

Our youngest son declared he’d been taken by Dunlops disease.

And then there was Rocky, the South Island’s first gay theatre cat.

I’m not being judgemental here, but he exhibited quite overt camp tendencies.

He was a very friendly, long-haired tabby who used to be our front-of-house manager out at Aeroview.

In charge of meet and greet.

His signature was to sit with one bent limp front paw hanging in the air.

A very ‘ducky’ pussy.

And then came Bowser.

How did you name him that I hear?

We went fossicking for an old petrol bowser on a farm, and came home with a long-haired british blue instead.

This cat was the real deal, a veritable prince amongst the breed.

He was as passive as a pavlova, until you rubbed his belly, at which point he would tear your arm off.

He would go absolutely ape.

We tended not to do that and spent considerable time warning others not to after he had initially taken them in with his intoxi-cat-ing charm.

He went missing twice, once for weeks when he mysteriously turned up in town at  Mitre 10 Mega.

Someone must have picked him up and taken him for a ride ‘cos he never left the property.

His disappearance perplexed us for weeks, but after a custody battle, when another person thought he was theirs, we finally let a vet decide.

How old was your cat?


Bowser was around nine, so without bias we simply asked a vet to estimate the age of the cat.

He was a lot closer to nine than two.


In fact, “Meow”.

Two years after that he disappeared again, and this time had us stumped for more than a year.

Where could Bowser be?

All was revealed when Mrs Mac was having a clean-up of a large, dense bush about two metres away from where she slept.

Bowser had curled up and died right outside our bedroom window.

Our latest, Mitch, from my former boss’s place on Mitcham Road, has turned out to be a girl.

Mitchelle now I guess.

Totally adorable, but a mistress of hiding.

Her most recent antic was finding her way into and behind the tightly confined lower plastic grille of our Holden Trax.

Pleading desperate eyes and meows from Al-cat-raz.

There seemed no way out.

I made another cup of tea and studied YouTube tutorials on how to remove the myriad of screws, clips and bolts needed to disassemble her prison.

Twenty minutes later, she appeared on our bed, covered in grease and oil.

Won’t do that again.

– By Peter McQuarters


Broadcaster Peter Mac is Ashburton born and bred and the afternoon host on the

Hokonui Radio Network.

The views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect the opinion of his employer or the Ashburton Guardian.