THEY say that cats have nine lives. Well, my life has nine cats.
At least it seems that way as just about every waif and stray in the neighbourhood queues at my cat flap for its daily food fix.
Officially I have three moggies. The first is mad Molly, who is small, black, weirdly mis-shapen and has learning difficulties (the description of her previous owner, not mine).
MOLLY: Not intelligent enough to have learning difficulties
Poor Molly’s not intelligent enough to have learning difficulties. The cat flap’s been there for three years and she still doesn’t know how to use it.
MOGGY No.2 is Geoffrey (Geoffrey Boycat to give him his full name – apt for an animal that moves as slowly as his cricketing namesake used to score runs for England). My Geoff is a black, long-haired softie of a stray who was probably lost or left by his previous owner a long time ago.
Certainly someone cared for him because he was neutered and healthy when he first started coming to my place.
In fact, it’s possible he still has another home because he sometimes goes missing for a day or two.
MOGGY No.3 is Henry, a young tabby who turned up at my back door last autumn with a hairless, bleeding chest and a mega-miaow.
‘’I suspect he’s been in a fight but I can stitch it up, no problem,’’ said the vet. ‘’I would advise you to have him neutered as soon as possibly, though. Not only will it stop him fighting, it will also help to keep the cat population down and make him more of a house cat.’’
Twenty-four hours later, Henry moved in – neatly stitched, snipped and tucked. When his chest took longer than expected to heal, I took him back to the vet…and a blood test revealed he was FIV-positive, the feline equivalent of HIV.
‘’It’s nothing to worry about,’’ said the vet. ‘’He was almost certainly born with it. It’s quite common and he has a good chance of leading a normal life. Because he has been neutered, he’s highly unlikely to pass the FIV on, even through sharing food bowls with other cats.’’
All of which makes Henry a bit special. After all we’ve been mutually stitched up – him by the vet and me by Henry, who could have saved me a lot of money had he turned up on someone else’s doorstep! (I’m joking…wouldn’t be without him for anything.
Add to Molly, Geoffrey and Henry the half-a dozen feral waifs and strays which turn up at various times of the day and night – and the menagerie-a-trois moves into mega-moggy mode. And thereby hangs another tail…the tale of why I prefer cats to dogs.
Now I’ve written a couple of light-hearted articles in the past about the respective merits and otherwise of each species, so apologies to those who have previously been subjected to what follows.
HENRY: I had him stitched up - then he stitched me up!
Cats are to me the most mysterious, fascinating and wonderful creatures on earth. Not only can they read your mind, they can also manipulate it to their own advantage. That’s the voice of 40 years of cat ownership speaking. Oh, and I didn’t own any of my moggies – they owned me.
I was THEIR pet, not the reverse. If it didn’t suit them to live in my home, they’d have been off like a flash to appoint some other purr soul as honorary daily food-and-milk supplier. Some of us are cat people, some dog people and some, like myself, care for both. Only we usually have a preference and in my household, moggies have always held the edge. To start with, they allow their owner more independence.
If you’re not around for a few days, it doesn’t really matter as long as someone is there to feed them.
Leave a dog on its own for two days and you’re not only in serious trouble with the animal authorities, the poor mutt will also have moped itself into a candidate for the canine nuthouse.
Then there is the cleanliness issue.
Dogs love to pepper their noses with the ghastliest of savouries left for them by their fellow barkers. The browner and smellier the better for Fido and his pals, and the worse for those of us whose shoes squelch the stink into our rugs and carpets when we get home.
From my experience, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to house-train a puppy. It will pee and poo to order providing you let it out a minimum of 250 times a day.
But pop out yourself for five minutes and you open the door on your return to a mound of doggy dung and a floor awash with a ship-load of urine.
The yelps when Little Poo is left momentarily on its own are bad enough. But they are nothing to the yelps of human anger that boom into the stratosphere when Mr and Mrs Owner discover what poochie was up to while they were out of the room.
Yet to a dog lover, those Close Encounters of the T*rd Kind are all acceptable in exchange for the pure, uncomplicated love you are guaranteed in return for just being there.
Who cares that Fido spends all day rolling in mud, urine, vomit and the faeces of every animal on earth? It only takes a couple of hours to clean him up – and then those luscious licks and doggy hugs make it all worthwhile. Unless, like me, you’re already so browned off by those pooper bloopers that you’ve vowed never to have a dog again.
Cats are a complete contrast. House-trained before they’ve ever seen a house, all a kitten needs is a litter tray and it will wee and poo into it ad infinitum.
Mind you, removing the hail of stones that hurtle around the house in mini-puss’s attempts to bury the residue with its lethal back feet can take twice as long as clearing up after any untrained puppy.
Moggies also need no teaching when it comes to cleaning themselves. And thereby hangs another tale – plus body, head and legs.
Before you know it, puss has licked herself bald and is coughing up a two-ton hair ball. You rush her to the vet thinking she’s on her last legs but fear not…they all do it. Unless, like my Molly, the furry one suffers from feline asthma and vomits up nothing but wheeze.
GEOFFREY: Does he have another home?
If your cat is a Tom, then you have another problem or three. First and worst is his territory spraying, and the pungent, difficult-to-remove smell it creates.
Then there’s his sexual appetite, which he’ll inevitably impose on all the local moggettes – accompanied by a cat’s chorus loud enough to drown out a 30-piece orchestra. The solution to that one is simple.
Have Tiger Tom snipped in the bud when he’s a few months old and the spraying and s****ing will be a thing of the past. If you have a dog, you will of course need to take it for walks.
Unless you are a lazy bitch like one or two of my friends – and end up with a mutt that’s even fatter than its owner. In such instances, at least fatso and her pet won’t need a pooper scooper to clean up the dog mess, though not that many people seem to bother if the pavements in my locality at El Raso are anything to go by.
People not clearing up the mess left by their dogs in public places is a big problem everywhere. But here’s a question for you: If you saw a threatening-looking yob’s pit-bull pooing outside your home and he didn’t clean up the mess (the yob, not the pitbull), what would you do?
If your answer is ‘nothing’, score a brownie point for honesty. As for me, I’ll stick with my moggies. I just wish they could purr in English.
Published in The Courier (www.thecourier.es) September 2, 2011