When we first bought out kittens (now young cats) Karen and I were smug. We were smug and self-congratulatory.
Because, you see, they came pre-litter-tray-trained. They knew how and where to do their biz. No having to squish our way through warm wet carpet patches (or worse: cold wet carpet patches). No having to play Hunt For Brown October by smell alone.
We figured that we were set up for life. When the move came to allow them out into the big outdoors we had this plan whereby the litter tray would move out with them, placed under a secluded tree for a day or two to spell out to them that here – here in this shady, balmy spot – they could continue to carry out their motions al fresco without compromising the kid-safe, disease-free element of our back garden.
And then, due to inclement weather, the change of season, too much going on elsewhere to maintain a watchful eye on the garden we forgot about them. We left them to it. The cats came and went as they pleased. They looked neither constipated nor pathologically obsessed with their toilet activities. Apart from the odd fur-ball or grainy brown pool of cat sick (catnip OD) the house was clear of feline anal produce.
They were happy. We were happy. We all enjoyed the cleaner indoor air and life continued.
They’ve got it, Karen and I thought. They’re digging holes and disposing of their own soil either in our garden or (more likely) in someone else’s garden. Fantastic.
And then I had occasion to venture out into the garden during daylight hours over Christmas.
26 cat poos were dotted around one side of our lawn. Oddly the other side was perfectly cat poo clear. Not sure why this is. Maybe some odd natural occurrence along the lines of moss only growing on one side of a tree thus enabling you to work out magnetic North... maybe cats only poo on the south-west portion of any given lawn? Hey – I may have just discovered the manner in which pigeons navigate their way around the globe: cat-nav.
Anyway, the worst of it was (a) they weren’t even buried but lay there glistening on the surface in the early morning dew like freshly fried sausages and (b) I knew they were from out cats because I swear to God, after months of cleaning out the litter tray, I recognized them.
So. We were hit with the horrible truth at last.
All that training had fallen at the final hurdle. All that conditioning had unravelled at their first taste of freedom.
Once out in the field they’d gone feral. They’d cut off ties with HQ and gone completely rogue.
And now my garden is not my own anymore and I’m at a loss as to how to claim it back...
...other than to follow their example and mark out my own territory in the language that they best understand.
The trouble is the little buggers have nabbed all the best spots...