7 Reasons I Ended Up Appearing Quite Mad Yesterday (Even Though I’m Not)
Sometimes, when you’re sitting around, minding your own business, an event occurs. An event to which you are compelled to react. And, while your reaction is brilliantly conceived and perfectly rational, a chain of events ensues that eventually makes you appear irredeemably, unutterably, stupendously mad. Like yesterday.
While I was writing, a cat appeared on the six foot high wall at the bottom of my garden. One of next door’s cats. Now, I don’t want any of next door’s cats in my garden, because it’s where my cat lives. I want him to be able spend his time in the garden sleeping, licking, and staring at the gate unmolested by other cats. So I had to let the other cat know that he wasn’t welcome in our garden. Now I know how to scare a cat; it’s easy. But going outside and hissing and shouting at this cat wasn’t going to convey the right message. I needed to let the interloper know he was in another cat’s territory, and that he should stay away.
1. Plan A. I went and fetched my dozing cat from the sofa. My cat didn’t want to know. I showed him the intruder through the dining room window. He saw the other cat and ignored him. This was disappointing. This isn’t going to scare anyone I thought, as my cat fell asleep on the windowsill. This wouldn’t even scare mice. Nervous mice.
2. Plan B. Right, I thought. If the sight of my cat asleep on the windowsill isn’t enough to strike the fear of god into the intruder, I’ll have to escalate things. I’ll have to send my cat out to deal with him. I woke him up, reminded him of the presence of the other cat and carried him into the utility room. I placed him on the floor, next to his cat-flap; I delivered a rousing speech to him and then opened it so that he could sally forth to dispatch his foe. He didn’t move. He sat and purred at me. I tried to usher him through his flap, but he clearly wasn’t going to go. My cat, I thought, is a disappointment.
3. Plan C. I know, I’ll open the back door really loudly. If I can’t scare him away with a cat, then at least opening the door loudly will make the intruder run; and my cat might conceivably think that he’s the one causing him to flee in terror and emerge with feline dignity intact and be that bit braver next time. As loudly as I could, I unlocked the door and, with as much speed and force as I could muster, I heaved the door open. I was rewarded with the sight of a terror-stricken cat, fleeing for its life. Bugger, I thought, as I went to retrieve him from behind the sofa. This isn’t going well.
4. Plan D. I picked him up, returned to the utility room and carried him through the back door. “Look”, I said to the other cat, “I have a cat here and I’m not afraid to use him”. The other cat was not as moved by our presence as I had hoped that he would be. Impassively, he licked his paw and turned his head away.
5. Plan E. Okay, I clearly wasn’t being terrifying enough. I raised our cat above my head so that he was higher up than the cat on our wall. This will do it, I thought, there are only two things that can possibly go through the other cat’s mind. One: “Blimey! What the hell is that hideous giant cat/man hybrid creature over there, I’d better run for it”. Or two: “ Blimey! Look what that man’s doing to that feckless fat-cat from next door. I’m probably next. I’d better run for it.” But if these things went through his mind, he didn’t show it; unless this cat instinctively displays abject terror by blinking slowly, that is. I was going to have to get nearer.
6. Plan F. With my arms fully outstretched, cat held aloft, above my head; I charged toward the other cat. It didn’t move. I was closing quickly and when I got to within eight feet it still hadn’t moved.
7. Plan G. Realising that my charge wasn’t unnerving enough, I decided that I needed a war cry, and I began to roar (at a volume which surprised even me) as I charged through the garden. But the other cat still hadn’t moved, and I was almost upon it. I realised it needed a little more time to realise the desperate situation it was in, so I pulled away at the last moment to run a lap of my garden, still roaring and, as my cat and I rounded the top of the garden and turned to face the enemy once more I saw him react, startled, jump down from the wall and run. My jubilation was short lived. I also saw…
…My neighbour emerge from her back door, the sound of which had presumably – unbeknownst to her, as she couldn’t possibly have seen it – scared the other cat away. I slowed to a halt and stopped roaring. “Hi”, I said, breezily, realising I still had the cat above my head, and that I probably looked quite foolish.
“Er…Hi”, she replied.
I felt self-conscious, and it occurred to me that some sort of explanation of my behaviour was required. “I was just scaring the cat”.
“I’m not surprised”, she replied.