Bertie wasn't just a cat. He was a celebrity cat, holding court with his many admirers from a bench by the river, Twickenham side, by Richmond Bridge. Sadly it was a car on the bridge that brought Bertie's tenure to an end. Bertie never 'worked' mornings, his bench duties were afternoon-evening shift and he rarely threw 'sickies'.

Bertie brought sheer delight and joy to many hundreds and thousands of people during the two years or so that he worked the bench. He did not discriminate, he would gladly accept attention from people of all walks of life, all ages and regardless of nationality.

Bertie was notorious for pinning people down, making himself at home on people's laps and staying there for as long as possible. It was not uncommon for people to be sat with Bertie for an hour at a time. To a certain extent laps arrived for Bertie like busses, a regular service.

Some laps were regular arrangements, for example Rafael (pictured), of no fixed abode and with even more patience than Bertie. Rafael had been pinned down by Bertie for 3 hours on some days. Pets are not allowed in homeless shelter places and Bertie provided a valuable service helping some of the most vulnerable and lonely people feel human again.

Bertie was a Bengal cat, so he never left much of a fur problem on his many visitors laps. At times he could be a talkative cat. There was never any danger of catching the sharp end of one of Bertie's paws. Bertie was more concerned with getting his head down and sleeping. Being fussed over, padding and purring wasn't what it was about for Bertie, he just quickly got down to deep sleep on the available lap.

Bertie did have a highly desirable posh home to return to after he finished his stint at the bench, he also never did mornings at the bench, just afternoon/evenings. He lived the luxury lifestyle in private and a ghetto fabulous public existence.

Not much is known about Bertie's life before he took up residence at his bench. Bertie never discussed it but allegedly he passed through the sick-bay part of Battersea Cats and Dogs home before choosing to relocate to Twickenham.

From a cat's perspective Battersea isn't quite as good as Twickenham Animal Rescue and Care (ARC) as the lodging, food and healthcare is much better for ARC cats than Battersea cats. Sadly neither organisation are very good at teaching cats the Highway Code, and sadly Bertie didn't make it across the road last Friday. But he wasn't permanently kept inside, he was allowed to roam and he really did bring a lot of joy to many hundreds of people walking the riverbank.

Article supplied by Mathew Shaw