Years ago the home I managed had a business relationship with some semi-feral cats. Barmy, Ricky, Binny and Ginge had a warm boiler house to sleep in, food, bedding and medical cover (OW!). They had their own column in the homes newsletter and would do comedy routines on the lawn for the residents. Cornering one for a vet visit was a military mission of oven gloves, several protective layers of clothing, goggles and wellingtons.
They disappeared when the central heating had a major breakdown and their living quarters were disrupted for a few days. Within two weeks of their departure, we began to see rats and mice. The man from Rentokil said that cats are an undervalued efficient deterrent but sadly refuse to work for Rentokil due to reservations about the pension scheme.
I thought semi-ferals might be the answer to our current rat problem. They often come in a ready-made team having been rescued from places like building sites who no longer require their expertise. I believed this would be an easy procedure of ringing up one of the specialist rescues and asking for four of your finest bad-asses please.
Hippy was absolutely horrified at the idea. Possibly he misheard “Live in the outhouse” as “Roast them alive and eat them” such was his horror. Hippy decared it’s a Cat’s God Given Right to take up the entire sofa, have a twitter account and position itself on keyboard when you want to write an urgent e-mail. Apparently no cat of ours will be cruelly exiled to the outhouse no matter how heated and fragranced with catnip it is.
As a compromise, I suggested a cat-flap in the spench window this also was met with accusations of feline cruelty for suggesting they take up residence in the spare loo. Hippy insists Cat may wish to listen to the radio or fall asleep in his pants hamper. Cat might even get in Kato’s basket (except when a human is holding a camera)
I wanted to give them maverick vigilante type names like Catminator, Robo-cat, Cat Vader. I imagine mercenary bad-asses wearing bandanas, chewing on pieces of straw as they lounge coolly on the church wall. Patiently waiting for Ratty to push open the saloon doors into a garden that just ain’t big enough for...well anyway, Hippy insists that cats should always be named after ancient computer operating systems such as Grub, Lynxos. As Hippy named our goldfish after lorry companies, Norbert Dentrasangle, Issac Pode and Eddie Stobart, I’m not sure he gets to have an opinion. It was probably some Cat related mishap that led to the mysterious disappearance of Issac.
Also, from what I can gather during my research, cats don’t think the command “leave it” means get off my sandwich, it means leave for 48 hours and casually return when human has put posters up on every lamp post in a 5 mile radius.
The advice for homing semi-ferals is that they are locked in their new accommodation for at least a week. This can make the cats initially a bit miffed and they will express this in heart-snapping sad cat noises. Apparently cats can remain awake for several days and come with a built in 10K PA rig, so their distress and our cruelty will be broadcast 24/7 to the entire neighbourhood. Cat owners also have to learn to sleep absolutely still because one toe twitch can lead to a scratch, learn how to resist hypnotism & mind control (gief 3am snacks now) and unlike dogs, if cats decide they have gone off the brand of cat food you bought 72 cans of and lost the receipt, their resolve is cast iron.
I have also learnt that cat will not sign a “no bloodshed” agreement with regard to the rats and may even bring them in to be cooked. Cat will leave the so-fresh-it’s-still-alive- rat ready for roasting in a convenient place, such as beside the kettle or on a pillow. And also cat can’t tell rat apart from the robins who nest here every year. So after a week of negotiatons with Hippy and my research concluded. We’re not getting any cats and cats are actually a bit thick (even Kato can tell a robin from a rat).
Many thanks to cat-types who have given sage advice.