Oh, lord – my cats are being bullied. Which I appreciate might not be the most important piece of news you’ve heard this week, what with political tsunamis, rock musicians in the dock, and the tragedy of Lady Linda’s untimely death. (RIP)
Back at Barrett-Lee Towers, however (as I shouldn’t really describe it, as we’re blessed with just the one chimney stack, which is sub-let to a family of jackdaws) the issue of the cat-bullying has reached crisis point.
It’s an un-neutered tom – as you’d probably guess. A kind of tabby-tortoiseshell hybrid, but with a smidge of Bengal tiger/petty criminal/gnarly home-boy thrown in. And when our eyes meet, I know exactly what he’s thinking. He’s thinking he’s O’Malley, off the Aristocats, that’s what he’s thinking. ‘Yo, mutha – beat it. Get outta my frigging face.’ (Except, being an alley cat, he wouldn’t use the word ‘frigging’.) He thinks he’s hard, but actually he’s just the feline equivalent of a pimply seventeen year old, driving like a moron in his mum’s old KA, thinking he’s sub-zero because he’s got his baseball cap on back to front, his windows rolled down, and Pillock FM turned to the max. That he’s a cat with some serious cojones.
Not that I’m blowing this out of proportion, you understand. But this invasion, for us as a family, is virgin territory. Well, I say virgin territory – strictly speaking it’s OUR territory, and he has no business rocking up, cocking his scabby tail and spraying his stinking cat-Hi Karate all around the place. Actually, scrub that. More generic supermarket-brand Lynx.
But that’s small beer, to be honest, because I’ve seen what he gets up to. Yowling. Lots of that. Proper blood-curling yowling. And going ‘rarrrrrrr!’ and getting his claws out. And generally harrying poor terrified Harvey (who is, of course, cojones-free, because we’re RESPONSIBLE cat-owners) till he’s a panting, quivering jelly. And for what? (Because there’s no room at THIS inn, buddy boy.) So he can stage a bloody coup on OUR Lola. (Who is also neutered, incidentally, so yah boo sucks to YOU.)
Funny business, being a cat owner, for all sorts of reasons. There’s the slavery aspect, obviously, and the pitying looks you get from dog owners, and that constant undercurrent of – let’s be honest – snidery.
Because there’s always someone, isn’t there? Someone who pities you for being such a ridiculous dolt. Get with the programme, they sneer, because YOUR CAT DOES NOT LOVE YOU!! They just know where their bread’s buttered and the pickings are richest. And where there’s strokes, because a stroked cat is a happy cat, obviously. And, no, since you ask, we are not prostituting ourselves. Stroking cats is right up there with Prozac.
Be that as it may (and this seems as good a point as any to point out that if you read my book Able Seacat Simon – which, yes, is still available on a high street near you – you will be rid of such tragic cynicism, and quite possibly cry). We DO love our cats, and we’re pretty sure they love us too, not least because little Harvey was rescued from a skip and Lola from a life among the dustbins of Merthyr Tydfil.
So be clear. No-one messes with our moggies. But what exactly do you do about a large marauding feline, which has an absence of common decency re respecting boundaries and personal space? I don’t think he’s a stray. Much too fit-looking and cocky. He walks the walk of a cat that’s been GIVEN no boundaries. Honestly. Some parents today. He has the look of a cat with a sense of entitlement. Who’s been hand-reared on lightly poached Albacore tuna and has his own shearling fleece at the end of someone’s bed. But he is collarless as well as shameless and, though I suspect he might be micro-chipped, the chances of me catching him – let alone frogmarching him to the vets and asking to have his chip read – are something approaching 0.0000000%.
And even if I managed it, what then? Can you imagine the conversation? “Your cat’s being horrible to my cats.” “And your point is? He’s a cat! What the **** d’you expect me to do about it? Put him on a leash?” (And, yes, in my mind’s eye, this chippy cat-mummy is OBVIOUSLY Vi Kray.)
So what to do?
Type ‘my cats are being terrorised’ into a search engine, that’s what.
And so to Mumset. A LOT more of which next week…
First published in the Western Mail Weekend magazine, April 16th 2016