I am not a cat person. Really, really not – I’m allergic. More than an hour or so in a house with felines and my eyes water and itch and my asthma which faded away years ago begins to re-emerge. One dear friend remarked on her plans to get a cat one day and I looked at her with such regret, “That means I can never visit you again.” It may sound dramatic but the ability to breathe is one I treasure. I also don’t quite understand the internet’s obsession with cats. My parents’ new puppy is very handsome and clever and cuddlable (I could go on) but cats … hmm. Never quite got the appeal. Aside from Hamish the Town Cat where I went to university or Constance, a kitten born to my then childminder’s cat in 1992, I have never bonded with any. Still, it always amused me at university how certain cats quite clearly had their ‘patch’. The cat with the Hitler moustache patrolled near the Working Men’s Club. There was a tabby who stationed itself on the kitchen windowsill of my house in final year. Then there was Hamish who owned the entire town. Even now, living far far south there is a cat nearby who has a disturbingly human-sounding wail. I like to imagine that Roger McGough’s below poem is true, that there is indeed a Cat’s Protection League.
The Cats’ Protection League
Midnight. A knock at the door.
Open it? Better had.
Three heavy cats, mean and bad.
They offer protection. I ask, ‘What for?’
The Boss-cat snarls, ‘You know the score.
Listen man and listen good
If you wanna stay in the neighbourhood,
Pay your dues or the toms will call
And wail each night on the backyard wall.
Mangle the flowers, and as for the lawn
a smelly minefield awaits you at dawn.’
These guys meant business without a doubt
Three cans of tuna, I handed them out.
They then disappeared like bats into hell
Those bad, bad cats from the CPL.