In the last few weeks, the kitchen cats have been raising hell. They’re fighting two or three times a day, with everyone yelling.
The reason for all the upset is a new boy.
The incomer is a white cat with a calico spot here and there, and a very short tail. He’s huge and has a collar with a bell, so he’s someone’s well-fed pet.
Unfortunately, he has no manners. He mugs the kitchen catgirls for their breakfast, and he beats up the kitchen catboys.
If they were all pet cats, the humans would interfere with curfews and supervision that limit quarrelling. But feral cat communities are impossible to police.
We try and break up the worst fights, hoping they settle down and learn to respect each other’s territory. However, cats have their own ideas; it can take weeks for everyone to establish a new normal.
This time, we were hoping it would be a limited engagement, seeing the new cat is a pet with a home. He isn’t around all the time, but unfortunately, one of the fights spilled over from the back lane.
It was last Friday when we heard a frantic meowing at the front gate. It was a familiar sound but coming from the wrong place. It was Baby Stripy, the big cat who was born feral in our back lane.
We reckoned he must have been running away from a fight, slid through the little lane between the houses halfway down our street, and ended up in the wrong place. And although cats have a great sense of space, they’re not brilliant at finding their way home.
Normally, if a cat appears in our garden, Target and Guido will see him or her off. However, as Baby Stripy has spent a lot of time looking in the back window, he’s a known cat. Also, he happens to be a friend of Swooner’s.
The two boys have been talking at the window for a year now, but when Baby Stripy turned up at the gate, Swooner wasn’t sure what to make of it. At first he puffed up his tail, and hissed, but his heart wasn’t in it. Confused, Swooner came home.
Target and Guido were the same. They walked about with their hackles showing, but for the rest, they ignored Baby Stripy.
I was hoping that we could solve the problem by either walking the lost cat back to the gap between the houses, or by letting him run through our home and out of the back door.
I tried wooing him with chicken liver. I tried circling behind him and shooing him in the right direction. It was a total failure. Baby Stripy disappeared down a drain in a flash. He wouldn’t even come close enough to eat, and the piece of liver I put down was ignored. I think he was just too scared to realise what it was.
By Sunday I was getting really worried, imagining Baby Stripy dying of a broken heart or hunger, when I learned three things.
First, Toby, the cat who lives with Charlie across the street, is also a secret member of the kitchen cat brigade. I hadn’t seen him, as he doesn’t bother turning up for breakfast biscuits, but apparently he is a huge fan of Caturday Chikkun Liver Lunsh, the special treat presented every week by Tom, my other half.
Also, I spoke to Charlie’s mum, to tell her about Baby Stripy, and she says she’s seen him eating in her place. So he’s at least getting food and water.
Finally, the moment Baby Stripy spotted Toby, he was running up and headbutting him. The two boys are definitely pals. Closer, in fact, than Swooner is.
As I can’t do anything useful in this situation, I have to be patient. Hopefully Baby Stripy calms down. Then, with a bit of luck, he should follow the knowing Toby into the back lane.
So cross your paws and whiskers, and send good thoughts in his direction. With a bit of luck, we will see that face at the back window, meowing for his Caturday feast.
I’ll let you know how it goes.