May 26, 2015

A MOST UNWELCOME VISITOR

About a month ago we spotted a large black cat going into one of our barns, the small barn which is actually a house (to do up).

Over the next few weeks we saw it a few times around the property and on one occasion we noticed Daisy and this cat having what  seemed to be a friendly conversation at the top of the garden.  We could also smell where it had been spraying around the outside of the barns, telling us that it was an unneutered tom cat.  We never got a good look at it as every time we or Lulu stepped out of the house it ran off.

This was all very ominous and I was worried that it wouldn’t be long before it followed Daisy through the cat flap.  So while we were away back in the UK for ten days we shut the barns up tight so that it couldn’t get in and closed the cat flap.  Daisy spent the twelve nights in a local cattery. 

Daisy checks for us that the cat flap is properly closed.

I had hoped that with nothing much happening chez nous for that length of time the black cat would forget about us and go elsewhere to do whatever it does.  I was wrong.  Two mornings ago I went downstairs just before 8am to put the kettle on and smelled the tell tale smell.  It had been in.

There was the smell of tom cat in the utility room and around the doorway to the kitchen.  Yuk.  Daisy’s bowl had been cleaned out so it had obviously helped itself – she usually leaves a few bobbles of kibble for later.

We decided that urgent action was needed.  We simply can’t put up with someone else’s cat entering the house uninvited, eating our cat’s food and, worst of all, spraying everywhere.  So we hatched a plan.

The plan was that overnight we would set the cat flap to let the cat in but not out and shut the door into the kitchen, thereby trapping it in the utility room.  We kept Daisy indoors and Nick set up his motion sensor camera to record the action.  I slept in the guest room which is above the utility room so that I would hopefully hear the sound of the cat flap opening.

Sure enough, around 2am I heard the cat flap go.  I alerted Nick that our visitor had arrived and we went to investigate.



Our aim was to get a good look at it so that we could judge a bit better what we were dealing with – a feral cat or a local farm cat.  If possible we wanted to catch it and trap it in the cat box – although neither of us had a clear idea of what we would do if we did catch it.  There were a number of options depending on what kind of cat it was I think.



The camera recorded the action beautifully.  For a few minutes it strolled around the room but as soon as Nick entered it tried to escape through the cat flap – which wouldn’t let it out.



It was obviously a fully grown but young male, probably not feral as it seemed to be in good condition and well fed.  It was very defensive and didn’t respond to Nick’s coaxing with titbits of food, hissing loudly which suggests it was not used to human contact.  A farm cat probably, spending its time in the outbuildings and being given food but not affection.

 

We are most definitely inexperienced in how to catch a wild cat!  Nick tried cooing at it but as soon as he started to open the blanket we had hoped to catch it in things got exciting.  I didn’t know before but I do now – cats can fly.

 

It flew up the door to the kitchen and through the gap over the top where we have had the lintel raised, and was now in the kitchen.  I screamed and it spotted me and shot into the living room where it then spotted Lulu.  It then literally flew into the dining room where I just managed to catch a large glass dish as it wobbled towards the floor.

Back it went over the top of the door into the utility room where it hid behind the toilet, which gave us a chance to think what on earth we should do next.

We very nearly caught it.  We blocked up the gap over the door with a piece of table matting.  Nick opened the cat flap fully and stood outside holding Daisy’s cat box over the hole.  I stormed into the utility room like a paratrooper (in a pink dressing gown), shouted, clapped my hands and threw one of Lulu’s soft toys at it.  The plan worked.  It exited the cat flap like greased lightning and ended up in the box.

Unfortunately it was faster than us and before Nick could slam the cover over the box and put his foot on it, it escaped and flew across the courtyard.

So now we have to decide what to do next.  There are several neighbours within 500m of our house, all of whom probably have cats to deal with the mice and other critters.  It undoubtedly comes from one of them and is probably not normally let into the house for cuddles or food.  Having found a source of extra food chez nous we would probably never get rid of it.  Catching it seems impossible but I do faintly hope that it had a less than happy experience last night and won’t be back for a while.  It was quite scary for us, too.  Little Daisy spent the whole time cowering on top of the kitchen wall cupboards and watching every move, eyes like saucers.

All we can do is make sure it can’t get into the house again, so we have removed the cat flap and reverted to a normal window.  Poor little Daisy will have to manage without free access in and out.  We will let her in and let her out whenever she asks and for a while will keep her indoors at night.  Then if the black cat comes calling again it will find no Daisy and no free food.  I’m hoping that after a while it will get fed up and go elsewhere for entertainment.  Cat psychology is not my specialist subject!

Nick is planning to set up his camera outdoors so that it will record pictures of anything that enters the garden so we should find out if it comes back.  Watch this space !!