Saturday Poem – The Cat’s Protection League

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.

Roger McGough

For the full archive of past Saturday poems, visit Poetry Please in the Features.

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6 thoughts on “Saturday Poem – The Cat’s Protection League

  1. Haha! That is a fantastic poem. I have a bit of a weakness for outside cats, particularly very friendly barn tomcats (yes, that is a genre), but for the most part, I'm with you-dogs win any day. 🙂

  2. What a great poem (always been a fan of Roger McGough) and I do so agree with you about cats (I'm not allergic, I just don't like them), and from the poem that McGough doesn't like them either!
    I can't see the point of most pets actually, cats seem an odd thing to keep in a house when they seem to spend most of their time roaming around other people's gardens and all the others have to be fed and watered so taking up too much of life with little or no return.
    Do I sound an old grouch? Perhaps I do!
    A second thought – tigers! My favourtie non-human animal, now I'd like one of those in the back garden!

  3. I can see the point of pets, my parents' puppy is fantastic! Such a funny wee personality already and terrific fun to have about – he's very lovable. Wouldn't mind having a tiger if it was as polite as the one in Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came To Tea but otherwise not so sure … even the tiger from The Life Of Pi would be pushing it I think. Thank you for commenting! 🙂

  4. I'd forgotten about Judith Kerr's book, I suppose you know the history – most of her work for children is inspired by her family's escape from the Nazis.

  5. Hi – I think that's more the When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit trilogy. Apparently one of her sons remarked when watching The Sound Of Music that it must have seemed just like her childhood and she was so appalled that she wrote those books to tell him what it had actually been like. I never actually got round to reading the third one – I think I was slightly too young when I read it to appreciate the second but I absolutely loved When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit …

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