Few of them had all nine: they'd had to roam
Alone through many perils, icy nights,
Hypnotic headlight beams, a thousand fights,
Starvation, when the hunt was thin, no home.
Rescued, inside, and dry, and checked by vets,
The lucky ones had eight, some still had five,
And some were on their last, barely alive,
When they were offered safe warm lives as pets.
Cats do know gratitude they won't admit
They'll curl up close and give a special purr
Then look embarrassed, stop and clean their fur,
Here, life for life, it's spare, don't mention it.
Nine lives, or eight, or seven, cats make these claims,
And who'd deny the many lives of James?
Jo Walton 2002.