We now live about 30 yards from a very busy, fast dual carriageway. In fact, it’s so fast that I’ve seen 3 speed traps set up opposite the house in the few weeks we’ve lived here. I regularly get terrible frights when trying to drive onto, come off or cross that bloody road, and I’m normally a very determined, careful and in control driver. OK, so we’ve established that the road is a horrible one…
Foster Cat has been free to roam the English and Scottish countryside since birth, about 16-ish years ago. He’s taken to his frequent moves with aplomb, and prefers to sit outside in the rain and cold that sit indoors. The photo (left) is from 18 months ago, when he first got to sniff the sea air of our last home.
So: what do you think happens when you move such a cat indoors because you’re too scared to let him out for fear of him swiftly becoming an Ex Cat? Yep – he gets depressed and sad. He spends his days wistfully sniffing at draughts and ‘snapping’ at birds through panes of glass. He stops using his hated litter tray altogether and pees and poos where he likes.
He and Killer Cat share the enormous downstairs boot room, which has a massive toilet room and double shower, so I can easily clean it and can also close a door between them when they’re winding each other up. I was happy to soldier on cleaning up after him and getting more and better toys: think ‘Alton Towers for cats’ already, to paraphrase a friend. But Foster Cat has been getting sadder and spending more time glaring at the wall from his cushion instead of his usual watchful interest in the rest of the world.
His owners conferred and agreed better a happy cat for a brief period than a miserable cat for another few months till they pick him up: let him go outside!
So this morning, full of trepidation, I let him out.
He sat on the step and sniffed the air. Cautiously he stepped down, and sniffed again. His ears twitched and he looked alert. Spraying the door, he ‘prinked’ off to explored the trees (no trees at our last house – too windy for them to grow!). Mini Minx and I watched him circle the garden and trees, sniffing and licking. He came racing back to the door when I called, but wouldn’t come in. It was like he wanted to feel safe, but made sure to tell us He.Was.Stayinging.Outside.OK? He nipped through the fence and trotted down the next door to our landlords’ house, checking out the cows in the field. I shook his bag of crispy treats and he bounded over for a few. Eyeing up that tree again, he took a huge run up to it, and with a flying leap attacked it: loads of positive thinking. He clung on, spreadeagled for a few seconds, then slid off, gracelessly. Well, he is a cat OAP…
I let him sniff around for maybe half an hour while I attacked the hated ironing pile, calling him back when he got out of sight. Each time he came running, but didn’t come in the house. I coaxed him in with some treats, made a huge fuss of him and shut the door. After 15 mins or so, I let him back out again, and repeated the process: let him sniff around, call him back, ‘pet’ him verbally, and repeat.
He’s back in now for the rest of the morning, purring on the living room rug happily.
I’ll let him out again later, and I hope it keeps going as well as this morning. I’ll continue to hope that if he *does* stray on the dual carriageway and is hit, that it’s an instant splat and not a terrible lingering clip. And that no-one swerves to avoid him and causes a pile-up (me? Paranoid? Noooooo….) But Killer Cat is staying indoors because: (a) she’s happy staying in the warmth and being stroked and played with, unlike Foster Cat, and (b) I don’t think I or the minxes could cope with both cats being squashed on the road.