Friday, March 26, 2010

The Bad Cat

Evolution In Action

My cat is a bit twee. It was the runt of a litter of five whose mother was called Gladys. Therefore the kits were called the Pips. Mine stuck with the name and eventually this got shorted to the sobriquet Pipster. So, it's either called Pip or The Pipster. The name fits because it is very small – except for its belly – which almost drags the ground.

It's quite an old cat now, as cats go. It's pushing 16. It still loves to hunt in the spring and bring its “presents” in for your morning inspection. Other than that it's fairly lazy, as is the wont for cats.

It's not been a bad cat. It has been very expensive. Early on in its career we discovered that it was prone to cystitis. You can tell when cats have cystitis – they pee in your bathtub. That's good to know. The “cure” according to the vet is special food for cystitis cats, and it costs about £120 pounds a year just to feed it some biscuits. Add to that the inevitable vets bills for check-ups and yearly injections and you have a special family pet which could bankrupt a more mercenary owner.

It almost never leaves our expansive back garden. When the house next door was empty and being renovated it did try to take over their back yard by slipping through the hedge, but with the advent of the new owners and their dog it soon gave that one up. It's a stay at home cat. It was neutered very young (female) and has no need to wander.

Some time last year is suddenly “made a friend” - or so we thought at the time. Once we caught it in the garden looking at another cat. Oddly enough this other cat is a carbon copy of Pip – only a bit larger and with a bushier tail. How sweet.

Then, one evening I happened to pass the kitchen door and glance out into the conservatory. There was Pip at her biscuit bowl. I looked again. It was not Pip; it was the other cat happily tucking into a free meal of expensive biscuits. I told the others. They all thought it was quite sweet. What's a few biscuits between cat buddies?

After not a long time this pilfering got out of hand and Pip became anxious whenever it could see or smell the other cat. Pip's behaviour changed. We decided that it might be a good idea to discourage the interlopers visits. I was rather hoping that the dog might intervene.

Sheba gets on very well with Pip because she knows that the cat is the boss. Sheba does not like other cats. At all. It's favourite walk involves going around the block in search of occasional cats. It is sees one it goes for it. I hoped that the dog might be awake and about when the other cat came in through the cat flab and scare it into revising its night-time activities. Problem. Dog is lazy in the evening and never seemed to twig to the strange cat burgling its property.

These nocturnal food raids began to be tiresome and Pip was showing signs of stress. Yes, Mabel, apparently cats can suffer from stress. I know. The vet told me so.

The cat was transformed into the not altogether affectionate pseudonym ( or perhaps nom de guerre might be better ) of “The Bad Cat”.

Conversations started with, “Anyone seen “”The Bad Cat”” lately?”

Eventually, we caught The Bad Cat in the conservatory by the simple expedient of setting the cat flap to allow cats to enter but not leave. I opened the door. The Bad Cat was at the bowl. It panicked and ran for the cat flap. In it's terror it knocked the plastic flap off its hinges and escaped. Sounds cruel but I thought, at least, the problem was solved.

I underestimated The Bad Cat by half. Locking the cat flap so that it could not enter the house only brought on wanton destruction. Somehow it got up enough speed in the cat flap tunnel to smash it's way through he locked cat flap, which we found the next morning completely destroyed. More expense – new cat flap purchased.

It's now a war. Pip has been to the vet for a stress-related bald patch on its back. The new flap did not entirely work. It simply pushed it out of the way to gain entrance.

We are now on the fall back plan. We lock the cat flap after sundown. We push a large plant pot against the outside opening. We move the Pipster's biscuits onto the dining room table and close the conservatory door.

As long as we remember to religiously apply these measures, the scourge of The Bad Cat may yet be conquered. Wish us luck.

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