An evening’s observation leaves Guido the cat stranded on the roof.

GUIDO is a typical healthy man cat: he’s big, strong and intensely curious about everything. When our neighbours are gardening, washing the car, hanging out laundry or otherwise busy, they’ll be “snoopervised” by a ginger furry face, eagerly watching their every move.

He doesn’t get close to people unless they’re particular friends of his, but he manages to keep track by standing on the roof of the Beetle, jumping on the tall garden wall and in a pinch by climbing out of the bedroom window onto the ledge.

Guido is a big boy, but he has the soul of an athlete. Where Target, our senior cat, jumps down from one wall, crosses the driveway and jumps up the next wall, Guido tippy-toes across the one-inch wide garden gate that connects them. What’s more, Guido can pause halfway along the gate and turn around. He’s graceful, too, and would fit in with the Cirque du Soleil any day.

We’re used to our junior cat dancing over impossible spaces, so when he began climbing the big tree in order to access the low roof, we weren’t surprised.

For the last fortnight, Guido has been impressing his fans by shouting, “Meow!” from a grand height. The other big attraction is the family of bats that lives in the big tree. They come out at dusk and swoop over the street, clearing away mosquitoes and other bugs. I think they help themselves to the fruits, too, which seems a reasonable wage for their insect patrols.

When we have our front door open to catch the cool evening air, these bats will fly through the living room, startling all of us and no doubt chortling at the gasps and hisses that greet them.

The cats watch these bats with never-ending fascination. Target is a bit frightened of them, but Guido once caught one. Thankfully, he was so proud of himself that he meowed when showing it off. The second he opened his jaws, that bat flew off and Guido has been lamenting his foolishness ever since.

Guido is covert while watching for birds.

So when Guido went up the
tree and onto the low roof, I knew he’d be tracking the bats with all the verve and interest of the dedicated chiropterist.

I wasn’t worried about him catching one because Guido has caught precisely one thing in his entire life: and that was the bat that got away.

What I didn’t realise is that Guido had a new hobby.

I was putting out some rubbish when I heard a little meow above me. I looked up and there was our junior fuzz, hunkering low on the roof and staring not up into the big tree, but into our small tree.

At first, I thought he was watching the shrews. They dart in and out of the bushes and the trees, playing wild race and chase across the garden. Sometimes they overshoot their playing field and end up in the living room, but luckily our cats are totally uninterested in these little tupai.

Usually, these little creatures pile on the brakes, skid round in a tight circle and skedaddle right out again. If they’re a bit dazed from crashing into something, they sit on the floor and we escort them out when they’re alert again.

Although he doesn’t chase them, Guido adores watching their antics. I think he feels it’s a special show put on specially for him.

So I was expecting to see a furry-tailed, sharp-nosed face hanging upside-down from a branch – but there was none. What I did see was the most gorgeous yellow bird with a black bandit’s mask that the blokes in the pub tell me is an Oriole.

We’ve got two of these lovely creatures hanging out in our small tree and Guido has added “ornithologist” to his list of hobbies.

Our junior cat spends half the morning sitting on the low roof, watching these birds flash in and out of the tree. When it gets too hot, he sits at the foot of the tree, craning his neck and sitting up on his haunches like a meerkat to see what’s going on.

Again, I’m not worried because Guido is the worst hunter in the world and Target is such a lazy little fluff that those birds are perfectly safe. However, Guido’s new pastime ended up embroiling both of us in an adventure.

The cats have dinner at 8 o’clock every night and then it’s doors closed until morning. Usually, they troop in on the hour and demand dinner, but two nights ago Guido was late. When I went to call him, I heard a meow from the roof.

Guido ran across the roof to the big tree, looked down, hesitated and ran back. It was dark and had been raining, and he decided that he didn’t like the look of his usual path home. As the Beetle’s roof was just three feet below him, I asked him to jump down but Guido didn’t like the look of that either.

There was only one thing to do: I had to climb the garden wall.

A cat can jump 10 times its own height in a single elegant move, but I don’t have those skills. We won’t dwell on my clumsiness or the bad language; let’s just focus on the fact that I ended up triumphant on the garden wall.

Guido came dancing over and let me pick him up, but when he saw how high he was, he closed his eyes and shouted, “Meow-meow-meow!” which translates as, “Oh my God, are you sure you’ve dug your claws in? We’re as high as Everest here!”

He was only in the air a split second and then he had his paws clamped around my neck, purring from panic and relief.

I stroked him till he was calm and set him on the wall. He casually leaped from there to the Beetle’s roof, slid down the windshield and went to sit on the doormat, cleaning his fur in anticipation of dinner. He did look up at me clambering down and I think I saw him snigger but I may have been imagining that.

When we strolled in, Guido looked smooth and cool while I had mud on my face and looked rather the worst for wear.

What did amaze me is that I only had a single tiny claw mark on my arm. It was less than half a centimetre across and by the next morning it was gone.

As rescues go, it was a sterling success, but I’ve asked Guido to keep his roof ventures a daytime affair from now on. There’s only so much excitement a cat guardian can stand in a day.

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