Sue Limb: The asylum seeker
PUBLISHED: 11:55 02 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:48 20 February 2013
'I was out in the garden and he sauntered up and rubbed himself against my legs. When men do this it's harassment; when cats do it, it's somehow appealing'
The asylum seeker
I was out in the garden and he sauntered up and rubbed himself against my legs. When men do this its harassment; when cats do it, its somehow appealing
Several months ago a black and white cat arrived in our farmyard. He kept his distance, slept in the barns and, we assumed, was a feral cat who would do his bit to keep the rats down. If only rats werent quite so, well rat-like. Famously, theyre the only animal disliked by Sir David Attenborough. (Although he hasnt met me yet.)
Anyway, we ignored the cat and he easily survived the worst December for a thousand years, and then seemed to be thriving in the spring sunshine. However, the warmer weather brought a change to his habits. He came slinking up the farm track and started hanging about near the house.
My Jack Russell terrier, Patch, has begun to get nervous. Instead of strolling out breezily and sniffing the air contentedly, he darts out with his hackles up, glaring around in all directions, ready for a confrontation. Its my fault, really. I should never have stroked the cat and called him Bertie after King George VI.
I was out in the garden, you see, on my own, and he sauntered up and rubbed himself against my legs. When men do this its harassment: when cats do it, its somehow appealing. I realized that this was not a feral cat after all. He had obviously been somebodys pet and, after his gap year living rough, hed decided he wanted to get back into a domestic role.
Obviously the first thing I had to do was establish his sex. The internet provided a cat-sexing guide with helpful diagrams of cats arses dont all rush to your PCs, save it for a rainy day.
Bertie proved to be a neutered male. But even so, he seems to have more balls than anybody else in the parish. If Patch chases him (despite my furious yells) Bertie can hardly be bothered to flee he languorously vaults into the nearest tree, just to be polite.
Occasionally, when Berties cornered, he turns round and does that horrid hissing thing, and Patch hesitates, his ears back. Love your enemy! I cry, but they ignore me, hell-bent on some primal power struggle.
And as I write this, the baby blackbirds in the honeysuckle have hatched, and their frenzied dad has been following Bertie about, belting out his awful knife-sharpening alarm call for six hours. Its driving me mad.
In an attempt to give the blackbird a few minutes rest, I shut Bertie in the greenhouse making sure it was well ventilated and there was food and water available. Moments later I heard the unmistakable CRASH TINKLE TINKLE of a cat hurling himself through a pane of glass. He emerged unscathed, which is more than can be said for the greenhouse door.
In a recent spell of hot weather we opened the ground floor windows. Instantly Bertie leapt up onto the windowsill, purring as if to say, Good news! I am going to be your cat, you lucky people! Patchs hackles shot up so high, he looked like a small white furry Stegosaurus. I shooed Bertie away, even splashing water in his face, but moments later he was back.
I know you didnt mean that, Sue, and I forgive you, like I did over the greenhouse incident, and here I am back in your life so get the salmon on the table, girl!
Hes beautiful, hes audacious, hes very affectionate all he wants is a family to love. And unless I find him somewhere, poor little Patch is going to have to go on an anger management course. Please give Bertie a home!