Sunday, 25 June 2017

A Cat of Many Colours, by Fiona Lloyd

            Recently, I (along with several other ACW members) attended a writing retreat at Scargill. I love these weekends: the opportunity to connect (and reconnect) with other writers – surrounded by stunning scenery – is invaluable; but there’s also the freedom to discover new ways of writing.

            One of our suggested tasks was to choose something from a selected group of objects to use as a writing prompt. The challenge was to “make us see things in a different way”, using our chosen object. The only other constraint was that we had to use a maximum of 300 words. I was immediately drawn to a multi-coloured cat, with beads at the end of its whiskers. Why did it look so sad, I wondered, and whatever had happened to its whiskers?

            Below is the piece of writing I produced. I’m not suggesting it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, but I hope it will encourage you to have a go at a similar writing exercise, maybe using one of the objects in the picture – let me know how you get on!

            Go on: stare, if you must. It’s always the same when I go somewhere new. I’ve learned to keep looking straight ahead, but I know that if I turn around, all other eyes will swivel instantly to an indeterminate point a paw’s width above my head.
            I wasn’t always like this: as a youngster, my fur was a sleek, respectable blend of tortoiseshell, and my whiskers were groomed to perfection. But, like most young toms, I enjoyed a good scrap, and by the time I was fully grown, I was covered with scars.
            That’s when the problems started. Wounds which had appeared superficial began to fester and stink. Infections linked scratches to gashes to bites, causing a constellation of sores to erupt all over my body. My beautiful fur fell out in clumps. Worse still, my whiskers – which had been savaged in one particular incident – developed strange, rounded lumps, almost as though my human had taken to threading beads on the ends.
            Naively, I assumed that the scars – not to mention those weird growths – would heal and disappear over time. Instead, the lumps hardened and calcified, while my coat regrew in shocking primary hues. My human said I was more handsome than ever, but the other cats lined up to mock me.
            Last week, I found a kitten cowering in the hedge at the far end of my garden. Her fur was bedraggled, her whiskers shredded, and one ear split open from top to bottom. She stood up as she saw me approach, and a front paw wobbled beneath her. I crouched alongside, trying to make myself as small and unintimidating as possible, aware all the time of my beaded whiskers bobbing up and down.
            “There’s no need to be afraid,” I said, “I’ll walk with you.”

Fiona Lloyd works part-time as a music teacher, and serves on the worship leading team at her local church. Fiona blogs at and at You can find her on Twitter at @FionaJLloyd. Her first novel will be published by Instant Apostle in January 2018. Fiona is vice-chair of ACW and is married with three grown-up children.


  1. Oh, it's lovely. To come alongside someone in their woundedness and just be, when there's nothing you can do or say to help - the older I get the less I know, but this is the biggest gift we can give, I think. Have you read Adrian Plass's 'The Shadow Doctor'? I think you'll love it.

  2. Thank you, Helen. Having heard your piece based on the same object, I felt quite nervous about sharing mine! I haven't read "The Shadow Doctor" yet, but I'll certainly add it to my list. Thanks for commenting. xx