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Tiddles was a station cat from an earlier era; he lived at London's busy main-line Paddington station in the 1970s and became very well known to passengers, even boasting his own fan club. He arrived as a six-week-old kitten one cold winter's evening in 1970, and was adopted by the ladies' toilet attendant; the stationmaster gave permission for him to stay and he rapidly became a favourite. His favoured snoozing spot was in a large, comfortable basket under the attendant's desk; on one occasion the attendant took him home with her, thinking he might find it more comfortable, but he didn't like being away from the station, so soon returned.
Initially a notice was put up requesting patrons to donate any spare small change towards his food, and there was always sufficient in the pot. Later there was no need for the request, and in fact it became a problem that many of his admirers gave Tiddles food and titbits, resulting in a high-fat and high-calorie diet; parcels of food were even sent to him, and he had his own personal refrigerator to store it in. As he did not take a lot of exercise, the inevitable result was that he became very large.
No one seems to have taken much notice until it was too late; vets' efforts to put him on a diet were defeated by continual overfeeding by his fans. The result was that he became grossly overweight, at a maximum in 1982 of 32 pounds (14.5 kg). He died the following year aged 13, having been almost literally fed to death, although the actual cause of his death was fluid on the lungs. It was a sad end, and he must have been a sad cat when in that state of obesity. I would like to think that these days we are more enlightened and such a situation would not arise, now that we know more about the effects of obesity on animals.
Many thanks to Adrian Wilsdon for kindly supplying the colour photos of Tiddles (above right).
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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.
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