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OPINION.

Byline: THIS MUCH I KNOW Lynne Barrett-Lee

HIS week, I bring you Cat-gate, the Miaow-sical.

TSo, we get back from a few days away to the most appalling smell. Even the word "noisome" (one of my favourites) doesn't cut it. This was a stench so hideous that it actually made me gag. A stink so mephitic, so noxious, so repugnant, so repulsive, that I could feel the individual malodorous molecules whizzing up my nostrils and setting up camp. The nasal equivalent of realising you've got dog poo on your hands and the subsequent imperative to run around screaming "uurrrgghhhhh!" Because this, people, was cat wee. Cat wee from a tom cat. The feline equivalent of putting a wall round your property, topping it off with ground glass, a roll of razor wire, a bunch of snipers and a couple of rabid attack dogs for good measure. Yes, cat wee is really that potent.

And, jeez, it's pervasive. We came into the house, wading through air thick with a million tiny stink bombs and did that thing you always do when faced with such an assault on the senses - in Pete's case, sniffing around, on the hunt for the source. In mine, making a faerie ring of scented tea lights.

To my shame, I also interrogated our own cats. As you do. Though I didn't need to notice their injured expressions to know I was barking up the wrong pee. Because, in the five years we've had them, though they've sicked up many a furball, neither has ever done any kind of "business" in the house. Because they're RSPCA rescue cats, which means they already went to kitten bootcamp. Where it's chip 'n' snip a-go-go and extreme toilet-training.

The source of the smell, then, was clearly the back end of a furry male intruder.

But hang on. We already had a furry male intruder, didn't we? A "big-cojoned" tabby, who'd been sniffing round for yonks. Who, in the absence of opposition, had made our garden his home. Who'd sidle by Harvey - quaking on the wrought iron table - as if to say, "dude, step aside. You're so OVER in this manor. Watch those lady cats see me, and WEEP, punk".

In actual fact, that's fine, because he's a sweetie. And for all his Thomas O'Malley swagger, he has never made a smell in our vicinity. Or hurt either of our cats, who I guess he's decided are not even proper cats any more.

Then, next day, enter stage-left a new kid on the block. A teeny black cat, who, frankly, looks feral. Up he strolls, bold as ninepence, round the side, into the garden, where, as it happens, Tom the tabby is lounging on our decking, in his signature "leg up and lick the business end" pose.

It's a matter of moments before a new set of poses is adopted. Backs arched, fur fuzzled, tails tucked, teeth bared and soothing cat-music (yeeoooowl, auwwweeee, quarrrrkeee, yawwwwooo, etc) fills the previously-still April air.

And then, face-off. It's cat fight at the OK corral.

No blows struck (thank heavens), but a whole lot of attitude. After which both cats saunter off, reputations intact, the tabby to the hedge on the far side of the garden and the black one round the side, to the back door. Whereupon, even as I watch, it's the old testosterone two-step. Tail up, and then "spizzzzzz" and he's sprayed our back door.

AGAIN. Naturally, I did what Mumsnet told me to (see column last year) - reached for my XXXL super-blaster, which was, of course, primed and ready and sprayed that little sucker with both barrels, twice, in a turbo-blast of cold soapy water. "Ha! Take that, kitty cat! You're toast!" Or, er, not. In reality, I spent a good minute scrabbling around for the back door key, then, finally, armed with a 99p plant sprayer containing an inch of tepid water, went out and ejected the feeblest of streams, which landed damply, a good three metres from his departing rump.

His slowly-departing rump. His insouciantlydeparting rump. Which, at that point, stopped departing altogether. He even turned around, as if to say "whaasup?" Such bloody sass!

Naturally, I took aim again, locked and loaded, began to squeeze... upon which we locked eyes and the cat did a little mewl. Then sidled up and wound his skinny flank around my shin.

I didn't stroke him. I knew I mustn't. But I learned something important. I am not the kind of person who can spray a cat in the face.

Next week: Cat's Protection League - the Neutering.

@LYNNEBARRETTLEE www.lynnebarrett-lee.com
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 14, 2018
Words:768
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