Life in the village: the white cat

The latest village uproar—or, to be more accurate, the latest our-small-section-of-the-village uproar—involves a white cat who breaks into other cats’ houses and sprays. And, of course, other cats’ houses means other people’s houses.

Okay, okay, it’s the latest uproar in our house. The neighbors have been putting up with him (reluctantly) for years. But before I tell you about it: all you city dwellers, listen up: We live in a small village. We take our scandals where we can get them. Y’know how in some place you have the Mafia? Well, we have the white cat.

And let me add that there is juicier gossip to be had, but I can’t repeat it. Because I’d like to stay here, thanks. So even if I knew who’d done what with (or to) who( or whom, if you prefer), I couldn’t post it.

And I’m not saying I don’t know. I’m just ducking the issue.

Don’t you just hate it when people go all discrete on you?

A surprisingly relevant photo: Fast Eddie, guarding the house.

A surprisingly relevant photo: Fast Eddie, guarding the house.

The white cat, though, doesn’t give a rip who says what about him, and besides, if my neighbors had to choose between me and him, even the ones who don’t like me would choose me.  Because even at my worst, I do not spray in the house and never have.

We first heard about the white cat some years ago. One set of neighbors had two cats at the time, along with a cat flap, and the white cat would come in through the flap, then all three cats would go into a panic and try to escape through the flap at once.

All very funny if it’s not your house, and since we don’t have a cat flap I got all smug and thought we were immune. But we do have a window, which our current cat, Fast Eddie, and his predecessor, the mighty Smudge, have used instead of a cat flap. The smudge on the wall underneath it bears witness. They’ve braced their front paws there so many times of the way in on the way in that it’s become permanent. We do clean it every so often, just to pretend we’re the kind of people who clean big smudges off the wall, but it never completely disappears and it’s back to full smudgeliness in no time.

If you look at something like that long enough, it goes invisible.

It’s been demonstrated that if our cats can get in, so can others, but we didn’t give it much thought. When we first moved here, a different set of neighbors had a cat named Missy who went visiting by moonlight, and when Wild Thing was in the U.S. getting our cats and dog ready to ship over, I’d wake up in the night and find Missy in bed with me. I used to think I should rise up and say, “Excuse me, have we been introduced?” because I don’t know about you, but I like to know the names of the creatures I sleep with. But I’m not sharp enough in the middle of the night and the subtler the joke is, the more it’s wasted on cats.

Besides, we had been introduced.

I didn’t really mind her curling up with me, but she was noisier leaving than she was coming in, knocking over lamps and scrabbling against the wall, and after a couple of nights I closed the main windows and opened a little transom window to let some air in. That night I woke up to frantic scrambling and Missy dropping onto the bed triumphantly.

I closed the transom window until Wild Thing arrived with our cats, who explained in yowls of one syllable why Missy should go sleep in her own house.

Which is a long way of saying that I should’ve known we weren’t white-catproof but I didn’t and the other night I looked through the glass of the hall door and saw him ghosting along behind Fast Eddie, who hadn’t noticed the white cat because he was totally involved in scratching at the edge of the closed door and teasing Moose.

I opened the door and yelled, the white cat turned to leap for the window, Fast Eddie gave chase, and Wild Thing let the dogs out the back door. The dogs were ecstatic: Something to chase. Something that runs away. Wheee, pant, bark, pant, bark. We’re dogs, we’re dogs, we’re dogs. They ran around the corner of the house, barking as seriously as if they really were dogs, which being shih tzus they only kind of are.

So now we’re on high alert. We’re forming a militia made up of two armed dogs plus Fast Eddie to do recon and summon them when they’re needed. The white cat must not enter the house. No pasaran, if you know your Spanish Civil War history, although the verb there is plural and missing an accent mark and the white cat is singular and couldn’t be trusted with an accent mark and besides he almost certainly doesn’t speak Spanish. Why should he? He doesn’t speak English and he hears a hell of a lot more of that than he does Spanish around here.

There’s a lot of complaining about him on the village Facebook page. Some of the neighbors, Wild Thing tells me, are talking about catching the cat and getting him neutered, but the owner doesn’t want it done and no matter what they say, nobody’s likely  to do it. That’s a British thing, I’m told: talking to anyone except the right person about what needs to be done so that it never happens. (If you’re interested in this as a cultural phenomenon, look in the index of Watching the English under “moaning.”

From what little I know about cats and spraying, neutering wouldn’t help anyway. Once they start, they continue, vet or no vet.

So that’s the latest uproar here in romantic Cornwall. We live an exciting life

54 thoughts on “Life in the village: the white cat

  1. When I was pregnant with Child #1, there was a young cat-about-town that all the neighbors called Shiflet. They warned us that he liked to attack anything that moved, from other felines to dogs to people. Now, in our small southern Virginia town, this was a name with a long history (mostly involving hollers, liaisons between very close relatives, and frequently, law enforcement). Among the ranks, you could tell who was higher status by the number of letters in the name. Lowest of the low spelled it Shiflet, while those of very high status—some even possessing flush toilets, INDOORS—could be as many-lettered as Schoefflette.

    While the clan played a major role in the grievances and discipline actions of my HR day job, the real point of this story is that as I came out of my house one day, Shiflet the cat attacked me and sank teeth into my hand (there are scars). I had to beat him over the head with my shoe to get him to release his grip. At the ER, the doctors told me that if we couldn’t produce the cat, they would have to deliver the baby immediately and start us both on rabies treatments.

    The neighbors scoured the area for the cat and he was trapped. His owner agreed to having him tested and then further to putting him on tranquilizers to curb his aggression. Less than a week later, the drugged cat wandered in front of a truck. How bad did we all feel about this? We had a block party with a cat piñata. Neighbors agreed it was the best party ever.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I have the same problem with spraying cats as you do: Getting my spray bottle in time. Usually I throw whatever I can get at, which is usually my slipper. Which I then have to go collect. It’s not dignified, but it’s better than nothing.

      About cats’ collars (and for anyone other than Derrick who’s reading this, he brings up the collars in his post–I’m not hallucinating them): I’m convinced that there’s a tree or hedge around here somewhere where all the cats hang theirs in a ritual of some sort. I’m sure an anthropologist would say it’s religious, and if it is our late, lamented Smudge was a serious worshiper, because he sacrificed many a collar there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s way more fun reading your story than remembering ours. Our cats stay in, outside cats stay out, and the dog on duty is larger (Irish Setter). Two things that do work, but each with side effects. 1) My wife will put some of out dog’s hair (after brushing, no plucking involved) on the ground, in the places the cats like to spray. Silly things don’t seem to realize that the hair isn’t a real dog. It smells like dog…must be dog. Downside is, well dog hair. 2) Coyote urine. You don’t need a coyote, you can buy coyote urine crystals. Keeps the cats a way, but also washes away in the rain, so you need a supply and it’s not exactly cheap.

    Good luck to Fast Eddie and the dogs.

    Liked by 3 people

    • We’re short on coyotes here, and I’m guessing that means no one’s ever heard of coyote urine, although if you’ve heard of coyotes it would follow that–. Oh, never mind. It would be fun to make the rounds of garden centers asking for the stuff. That could keep me amused for weeks. And earn me one hell of a reputation locally. Oh, yeah, that short American who comes in here asking about coyote urine. What’s the story with her anyway?

      Dog hair, however, we have lots of.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sounds like a case for Doc Martin. He would give White Cat a good talking to. What’s that you say Skippy … Doc Martin is a fictional character … oh no! The day of the White Cat will one day be over. Then his owner will have him stuffed and displayed in a box behind the bar at their local. Perhaps someone will do a dastardly deed and have him stuffed before he does.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Where I used to live as a child, our neighbour fed all the local feral cats. She’d place bowls of food for them outside the boarding house she ran and on top of part of the garden wall between her and our house, as a consequence all those boy-cats would come and spray on our walls. Thankfully they rarely came indoors, though.The number of times she was begged to have them neutered and wouldn’t. But from what I recall from others who’ve had it done to their cats, it actually does stop them spraying so it’s worth nagging the white cat’s owner some more. Or maybe someone should just kitten-nap white cat and deal with it…

    Is it an albino, by the way? (They usually have pink eyes). If so, some of its delinquency might be due to bad eyesight as they are often blind or visually-challenged.

    Liked by 2 people

    • As far as I know, he’s not albino, although I’ve never gotten close enough to be sure. He’s not one of those cats who comes purring up to a person–which explains why no one’s gotten him neutered. It’s not just hesitancy and good manners. But a neighbor just shared the post on Facebook and wrote that he’s going to be re-homed to a farm nearby–but also far enough away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds good. Much as I dislike aggressive animals I hope he gets on with the farm lifestyle as a lot of farmers only use their cats as mousers and don’t feed them well. We had a local farm cat some years back frequent our bird table at night – not after birds but rather pathetically eating scraps of left over bread.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Speaking of cats and Spanish and Spanish speaking cats – I always spoke to your late, great cat Buttons in Spanish. I don’t know why but she seemed to like it. I called her Senorita Buttonita and also Buttones “Mas agua Buttonita?” “Comida Buttones?” “Senorita Buttonita por favor it is 6:00 A.M. please wait until 8:30 for breakfast.”

    Liked by 2 people

      • >Oh, if only I had the cap pistol and holster from when I was seven.
        Not politically correct any more unfortunately. I loved my cap guns when I was that age. And my spud gun too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Potato guns came in when I was almost too old to care–or maybe was too old to care–but were so completely insane that we put our pride aside and had a great time with them. And I’ve never been much of a believer that all the troubles of our messy world stem from kids playing with guns. I expect I could get a fine old argument going over that.


  6. I love your comedic voice, the way you look out from the animals’ perspectives, and your delightful tangents–not too long, not too short. I love the part about the dogs’ enthusiasm and that they’re only somewhat dogs as shi tzus. Hilarious!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks. Having spent most of my writing life clearing my tangents out of my second (and third, and sometimes fourth) drafts, it’s a joy to indulge in them, finally. And to see them being appreciated is even better.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Okay, I had to go back and see what I’d said. I did remember the comment but forgot all about my idea of making the rounds of garden centers asking for the stuff. I really do have to get to work and do that.


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