Cats & things
Over ten years ago we adopted two black cats via the RSPCA, one dainty and friendly, the other fat and feral – they were sisters, two years old. The RSPCA were extremely thorough – they sent an inspector to visit us at home to check if we were suitable, then they inoculated and ID chipped the animals before we were allowed to take them.
This is the painting I did of the ‘Two Black Cats in the Garden’. It was sold a couple of years later. I miss it . . .
The piece below is what I wrote at the time.
There are cats; there are things. Sometimes cats are the things and sometimes the things are cats. Two black cats came into our lives. The big one disappeared for a week, then came back for food and wouldn’t come in or near us. So I trapped it, like a man, with a wooden compost bunker, a broken bamboo and a length of blue nylon string that my wife bought on Carmarthen market when she was thinking about making spinning wheels for a skills lesson on a teaching course last November. She settled for mini pompoms in the end, in fluorescent coloured yarn.
When I trapped the cat, it mauled me – bit through to the bone of the little finger of my left hand and left me with a cluster of deep scratches on the back of my right hand.
I held the beast tight against my chest and got it into the house, proud of my hunting skills – it was a macho affair. The cat pissed on me and hid under the kitchen units. The next morning she was still lurking under the sink and I decided she could have her way and her freedom; so I poked her out with the handle of a brush and shooed her out of the back door. I relaxed, thinking I’d never see her again.
I’ll never forget the images of that cat collected over those few days – a vicious feral beast, terrified and terrifying, with hard white teeth and crisp sharp claws – the smell of the piss, the fur, raised and dirty with cobwebs from under the sink, the eyes pleading, frightened, threatening. The lope as it ran down the garden path, and its teeth piercing the flesh on both sides of my little finger.
Then suddenly, two weeks after she left and immediately following the installation of a cheap cat-flap for the benefit of her sibling, she came back and called me from the living room with her meows because she wanted food. Then she padded around the house, soft and friendly as if she’d never been away.
The other cat got freaked out and they hissed at each other, so we coaxed big puss outside for the night and locked the cat flap.
A few days later, just as the cats were settling down at last, my wife got a massive allergic reaction to them that required steroid injections at the hospital.
Sadly, I took the lovely vicious felines back to the RSPCA.
PS: A few weeks later I got a phone call from a vet’s practice in Blackpool telling me that a black cat registered to me had been found on the loose in the town. She’d been recognised from her ID chip.