I first met Oscar Teabag-Dooven in a transit lounge of a large international airport nearly three years ago. It was one of those gold-club-flight things where one attempts to convince oneself not to be wasting hours of life by eating and drinking and then flushing what results down a toilet. I had a three-hour wait at a broken coffee machine, while Oscar was busy gorging himself at the buffet table.
I noticed Oscar for two reasons. Firstly he was a cat with no ears, and secondly he was actually eating the food, rather than poking at it suspiciously with the blunt end of a pencil like any normal person. Befriending Oscar by offering him a pencil, I introduced myself, leaving Oscar to explain that he’d gotten his flights mixed up. Apparently he was supposed to be heading south to a place I'd never heard of. And neither had any airport staff, apparently, which explained why he remained in a transit lounge gorging himself. He was content enough, he said, and no one else seemed to mind, presumably because the food was actually being eaten for a change.
Oscar was well-spoken and wore the most fabulous pantaloons, which I complimented him on repeatedly, primarily to avoid accidentally mentioning his lack of ears. Despite two days in a transit lounge, his fur was abundantly fluffy and his whiskers surprisingly taut. I sat with him for a while as he ate something that already looked partially digested, and asked why he seemed so indifferent to this interruption to travel. He explained he wasn't particularly looking forward to his destination, because it probably involved getting bruised, not much sleep and shredding taxis. I asked what he meant, and he said in order to explain curiosa, he'd need far more than two days in a transit lounge.
I found this intriguing and gave him my card. He looked at it blankly before asking what it was for. Fearing I'd over-stepped some sort of mark, I suggested it could be used as a bookmark, which he seemed quite pleased about, not having one of his own, apparently.
Nearly three years, many hundreds of telephone calls, and several complimentary baskets of cheese later, I'm in the enviable position of bringing the world of the Velvet Paws of Asquith to the attention of those who care. Their adventures are quite extraordinary, their characters endearing and their motivation selfless—characteristics epitomised in that fluffy little cat who’d once been stuffing himself in a transit lounge.
Although excited, I must admit it’s not all wonderful. As delightful as these animals are, I personally find hot-fin unbearably disgusting.
And they do tend to drink quite a lot of it.