Thursday, July 31, 2008

To catch a cat

Let me start this post off by saying I'm a cat lover. I've had cats all my life (off and on) and generally don't feel my home is complete without a feline companion.

But some cats are bad.

We had a bad cat living in our garden, for over a year. A bad stray cat. If it had stayed in our garden merely terrorising our cat, we might have lived with that. But it came in the house. It ate our cat's food. It terrorised our cats inside - creating scary noises. It pissed on our stuff. Its piss really, really stank. And worst of all, it woke me up at night. Now, Buddy is not a good sleeper - not at all. I'm running a sleep deficit that would make the Federal government look parsimonious. And while I try to remain patient when my darling only son wakes me - I'm not so sanguine when it comes to raggedy strays.

While Other Cat was alive, she sort of kept it at bay. Not very effectively, but she tried. But after her demise, Fancy just wasn't up to the task. She's a charming critter, but slight and not a fighter. The stray cat, whom we christened Blind Cat because of its squinty, bleary look and its seeming inability to see us as we waved our arms violently and shouted at it to go away.

We tried everything we could to run that cat off.

1. Yelling and screaming - check
2. Broom waving - check
3. Squirt gun - check
4. Super-soaker squirt gun - check
5. Pellet gun - check (animal lovers, don't worry it was a kind of lame battery powered thing. Once he realised it didn't hurt it was no deterrent).

Once Other Cat (who was chunky) passed on, we devised a new strategy. We'd close the cat door and just crack the windows. Fancy was slim enough to slither through and the blind cat could only look through.

But our tactic worked too well. Blind Cat began to lose weight. Enough weight to get through our windows. At night. And wake me up. And piss on our stuff.

And we can't close the windows altogether because, this is England and our house doesn't have AC and the days have been hot and the nights are not cooling down enough to sleep without a bit of a breeze.

So enough's enough. We called the RSPCA and our pleas of mercy fell on deaf ears.

And then we knew we had to take matters into our own hands. We tried to make our cat door a one-way system - so we could trap it in the house and catch it. But he was wise to that. Several days passed and the food disappeared too rapidly and we realised he was pawing the door open and getting out.

But last night something different happened. I don't quite know how it happened but the cat got trapped inside. My husband shut it into the understairs closet and then we plotted how we'd get rid of it.

I was all for driving it down to the coast and chucking it into the sea. But I was worried that I'd be spotted and this is the kind of country where you can throw your Thai bride or child into the sea and get away with it, but a cat? Not a chance.

We planned to release it on Mitcham Common - a derelict bit of "nature" a few miles and a few very busy roads away. But I was afraid the cat would find its way back. I was still worried about getting caught, too.

So this morning when we finally decided to release the cat from the closet and box it up for a new life further south. I took Buddy out for a walk and told the Vol-in-Law to call me when the cat was safely in a carrier.

Instead I get a frantic call from the ViL saying the cat hadn't been caught and in fact had bitten him. He was going to try to phone Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and see if they would help.

Well, it turns out they don't make house calls, but they did give him a handy piece of advice. Throw a blanket over the cat. They also promised to take the nasty critter off our hands.

I returned to a scene of carnage. The ViL was still dripping blood. The cat had really mauled him. It had stuck his fangs deep into the knuckle of his left index finger, leaving an ugly looking puncture. My anger towards this cat (for the night wakings and the stinky piss) became a rage and the red mist descended. The cat was shut in the back rooms of our house. The ViL brought me a thick woolen blanket and as I opened the door (leaving Buddy and the ViL safely in the hallway), I was determined that one of us would only be leaving the room in a cat box.

No more Ms Nice Gal, I channeled my inner redneck and went after that cat with a vengeance. I through the blanket over the moggy and pinned it down to the ground. I managed to wrassle it into the box (not easy with the thick blanket) but failed to secure the door and it sprang free. The cat hissed and spat and literally climbed the walls. It was so impressive an acrobatic feat that I was momentarily deterred from my mission. But I threw the blanket again, wrangled it once more and this time pressed my weight against the door while I fiddled with the locking mechanism. A little advance preparation on that score would have saved me much trouble.

Battersea say they'll take cats day or night, but I wanted that thing out of my house then and there. By this time, fright had caused the cat to piss again. And its urine reeked of anger, fear and that normal icky cat pee smell.

We loaded up the car with ourselves, baby and cat and headed off to the cat shelter. It's on the other side of our borough, but shouldn't have taken too long to get there. It was a hot day, so we decided to turn on the AC in the car - but the stink was too high so we had to open the windows. And then calamity struck.

The Wandsworth gyratory (a system of one-ways) is never easy to navigate. But one lane was closed. This backed traffic all the way up Garrett Lane and it took us almost an hour to go a quarter of a mile. On a hot day. With a piss-reeking cat. And a baby. In the car. Many's the time I fantasized about just chucking the cat out the window (perhaps into the path of oncoming traffic) and turning around.

It was all relatively smooth sailing after that and the ViL managed to leave the cat off with Battersea, explaining how this cat had made our own Battersea cat's life miserable. (The fact that we'd passed their rather difficult re-homing interview apparently gave us a bit of moral credit). We had to donate our cat box, but it was a small price to pay.


The thing is, Battersea is the pet re-homing agency to the stars. Everyone wants a Battersea cat, but few can meet the standards. Hollywood actors have been turned down. They'll probably manage to adopt out even that cat. And who knows, maybe Gwyneth Paltrow is looking for feline friend for her offspring? Maybe Madonna will want a pussy to compensate for her crumbling marriage. And scraggly old Blind Cat might just be headed their way (which is just as well since I believe they both live North of the River and which would make the cat's return unlikely).

Even if he doesn't end up a celebrity cat, he'll probably get a nice home.

Which is more than he deserves.


I started this post last night, but wasn't able to finish it. I slept a bit better knowing that even if somehow that cat gets back to our area, at least for one night he was in secure lockdown. The ViL's finger is still swollen and hurty this morning.


Anonymous said...

V-in-Law should solicit medical attention, perhaps some antibiotics. Ugly scratches make for ugly consequences

Vol Abroad said...

I keep telling him this. I really don't like the look of it.

melusina said...

Yea, I've had cat scratch fever before, and it isn't pleasant. I don't know if there is a similar cat bite fever but considering this cat is a stray and has weird smelling pee it might warrant looking into.

I'm a cat lover too but strays need to stay the hell away from my house and my cats.

Sam said...

I'd like to third the suggestion of medical treatment. A couple of years ago a stray bit me in the knuckle, too. An emergency room visit from a raging infection later, I've learned not to scoff at kitty bites. Don't be a tough guy, get it looked at please.

Vol-in-Law said...

Well thanks to anonymous comment #1 above, the Vol persuaded me to go to the hospital walk-in clinic.

Me, embarrassed:

"Cat bite - my wife said I should seek medical treatment.."

Nurse, looking at wound:

~No sh*t, Sherlock~

"Well, duh."


They called in I think 3 people to consult on my bitten finger. I got tetanus shot, antibiotics, instructions to take painkillers, and walked out with my arm in a sling.

Feeling a bit better now. :)

Vol Abroad said...

Yeah, I love how I tell him again and again to get some anti-biotics for that to no avail... But anonymous blog commenter, then he listens.

jen said...

wow. that's one persistent cat! hopefully he's gone for good!

A Free Man said...

This is, in many ways, a perfect description of life in Britain in the 21st century.

1) You would totally get busted chucking your cat into the sea and probably someone would dig up your dead granny.

2) Wandsworth gyratory is pretty much onomatopoeia in terms of the English "road" system.

More generally:

3) See, and they said that minor in cat wrasslin' would never do you any good.

4) I tend to respond to blog commentors more rapidly than I do to my partner.

5) Reason number 7862 why I prefer dogs. Particularly Bulldogs.

~lifedramatic~ said...

I hope the VIL is recovering nicely. I am proud of him for getting his butt into the doctor. What the heck is it with men and not wanting to go to the doctor.

It baffles the mind.


Lynnster said...

Oh my goodness. I'm sorry about the ViL's injury, but glad he's OK.

And I've had a million cats, I've got a million in my house right now (well, you know). I love cats.

But you're right, some are just bad. My aunt had one that was just plain mean. She was awful. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Viagra Online said...

I don't think that cats are bad they just make strange noises because when they are pairing the cat leave some spines inside the cat that's why they scream in this way because it's so painful.