To the casual observer, this may look like a newly dug plot that’s waiting for vegetable seedlings. To a cat, it resembles nothing more than a Hilton-style litter tray, complete with grass to eat and regurgitate later. Over the space of a week, I managed to collect two small plastic buckets of cat poo. I’m not happy.
I adore my own cat, Cleo. She’s a fully paid-up member of our family, and despite a nasal condition that leads to sleepless nights (for us) and a predilection for bulimia, I wouldn’t trade her for the world. To be honest with you, I’m a lover of cats in general – although the hairless ones freak me out a little bit.
The Green Centre boasts three main neighbourhood moggies:
- a black cat that loves our shed roof and likes to sit and watch everything that’s happening. He won’t come within five yards of us, mind you.
- a tabby that thinks he can take on any of the seagulls and win, until they swoop down and he embarrasses himself and runs off.
- Cleo’s exact twin in Tom form, who we’ve christened Ralph, because he looks like a Ralph. He occasionally sleeps in the meeting room, on the couch.
After spending the day glaring at them and calling them Anglo-Saxon and frankly coarse names, they’ve taken to hiding in the shrubbery and glaring back at me. They also come out at night and have poo parties and then laugh about it later. I decided that enough was enough and reached for the secateurs.
I hasten to add that this was not some Tarantino-style revenge attack on the cats, their tails or indeed any other part of their anatomy, although I did fantasise about acquiring some corks and a polo mallet. The secateurs were destined for next door’s overhanging holly tree – Ilex to those of us at horticultural college.
Holly leaves have jolly spiky edges, which I know from the vast quantity I sat on over the summer. Those jolly spiky edges are very useful when strewn liberally across any sort of open ground as a deterrent against tender paws bracing for a good dump in the dirt.
I flung the leaves hither and thither, laughed somewhat maniacally, and went home smug in the knowledge that the Cat Army would have to find somewhere else to hold their furtive faecal meetings. I slept very well that night, even with Cleo wrapped around my head, snoring.
Several days passed and I positively bounded up to see Dave and his pristine soil. I peered and smiled and nodded – and then I spotted the minute quasi molehill. The little bastards had braced themselves on the edge, shovelled dirt over the offending leaves and shat on the spot. I’d like to say that I was furious at this point, but sheer admiration got the better of me. If I had a hat on at that moment, I would have taken it off to them.
Instead, I hauled a gigantic length of black tarpaulin out of the shed, washed it down and dumped it, unceremoniously, on the bare earth. Let’s see what they make of that development.