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Tributes pour in for legendary town cat

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Tributes have poured in for a legendary Stroud High Street cat.

Much-loved Mabel was a regular visitor to various shops, making a dangerous journey from her home in Belle Vue Road, smartly avoiding cars on her daily trips into Stroud to dine on cheese and prawns from the Shambles Market.

This extraordinary cat became somewhat of a celebrity, appearing in Clark’s Shoe Shop magazine and on the front cover star of popular arts publication, Good On Paper.

In latter years she retired to Rodborough to live with Alex Merry and Aron Attwood, where she passed away on Thursday at the ripe old age of fifteen-and-a-half.

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Mabel

Mabel’s first owner penned a heartfelt tribute to Stroud Times as he recalled the impact on the town she graced: “In early spring at Forest Green in 2008 a tiny black kitten tried to get in our car, whenever we opened the door. 

“We consulted those living nearby and Cats Protection, and a few days later went back to actually let it in the car.  It was a good-looking beast and my sister-in-law was sweet on Monty Don at the time, so we named it Monty.

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Mabel featured on the front cover of Good On Paper in this illustration by Alex Merry

“We took it to June Edgar of Cats Protection for quarantine and they advertised in case there was a concerned owner around (which of course there wasn’t).

“They also told us this tiny kitten was already pregnant and we hastily renamed her Mabel and she had three kittens.  We kept April and Lydia Savage took James and George.

“Mabel was a wonderful mother to April, but when she was satisfied April was reared she astonished us by making it clear she did not want to live in Belle Vue Road, but in the town centre.  I kept bringing her back, but she would return and hide right under the middle of cars in Church Street car park – where she knew I could not reach her. 

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Making an exit out of a shop in Stroud

“Of course, each time I brought her back and she again went to the town centre she had to cross the busy Ryleaze Road so eventually Jennifer and I agreed we would have to let her have her way.

“In next to no time, Mabel had persuaded a string of shops to have bedding, toys and food for her.  They say ‘Dogs have owners but cats have servants’ and this was wonderful example of the old adage in action. 

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Mabel with her fur babies

“This presented no problems for the independent shops but often the area managers of chain shops took a dim view of Mabel sitting on the counter or lounging in the window.   

“Staff would be told-off but of course they ignored this and continued to let Mabel rule the roost. 

“One day, the Clark’s area manager was visiting when a toddler was in tears because he had come to see Mabel and she wasn’t at home. 

“Suddenly it became obvious that Mabel was a commercial attraction!

“Within the month she was featured in Clark’s national staff magazine and was officially a welcome guest.

“I used to check-in regularly with the shops Mabel used most, to make sure she was still welcome and sometimes to replenish food supplies. Only one shop ever reacted negatively. 

“Somebody opened a Facebook page for Mabel so her many admirers were able to keep abreast of her doings even if they were not in the town centre every day.

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Mabel was drawn by Alex’s mum

“Come autumn we worried about Mabel keeping warm at night, but Mabel took care of that as well. She found a well-warmed shop with a low letterbox which she could push open at 6pm and sleep on a soft chair. I would visit about 9pm and let her out and feed her. She would then go walkabouts and let herself back in when she was ready. 

“Early next morning, Phil the shop’s’ window-cleaner would let her out and if it was a Friday she would make a beeline for the Shambles Market for cheese and ham from Ken and Myra on the cheese stall with a prawn or two to follow from the fishmonger next door. Then maybe into St Lawrence’s hall for a snooze among Ron Cree and the jewellery – which of course gave rise to the first famous Mabel postcard.  I think artist Alison Merry did another one later.

“I’m not sure how many years this went on for before Mabel befriended Alex and Aron who lived over the Clark’s shop. Gradually, she spent more and more time in the evenings with them and eventually even consented to stay the night.

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Mabel

“Eventually, Jennifer and I wanted to move to The Forest and we had to think about Mabel’s future.  After extensive discussions we decided to make Cats Protection the owners of Mabel but Alex and Aron would look after her so long as they were around.  We gave CP a lump sum to cover possible medical bills for the rest of Mabel’s life.  And with many tears we moved away from Mabel in 2015.

“We kept in close contact with Aron and Alex and in due course there were more intensive discussions.  They were going to move to Spillman’s Road: should Mabel go with them.

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Mabel

“Would Mabel settle there or would she keep wandering back to the town centre? Eventually, we all agreed it was worth taking the chance of Mabel moving with them – and it worked!  Mabel never once wandered.  She was settled.  She had an exceedingly loving  home for life.”

Mabel will leave a big hole in the hearts of Alex Merry and Aron Attwood who cared for her during her cat retirement, Alex said: “We’re completely devastated to have to say goodbye to beautiful Mabel, so much sadness and grief at loosing such a magical furry companion, but what a privilege to have spent so many years with such a special soul.”

More picture memories of Mabel

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