Recently, the endless problems with ‘that man next door’ and his dogs had left her feeling that she really did prefer cats. Many people had strong opinions on the dogs versus cats debate, and she had heard all the arguments for and against – especially since moving to Stillwater. But cats were definitely more independent, laid-back and cleaner than their canine counterparts. And most importantly: they were quieter. They didn’t keep her awake each and every night.
There were exceptions to this, of course. The occasional sounds of a late night cat fight could be very disconcerting; Teresa always thought that they sounded like screaming babies. And these altercations could go on for some time, with the participants not actually engaging in battle, but holding a kind of stand-off in which both animals attempted to out-scream each other. This, of course, would soon lead to the dogs joining in as well.
There was a theory doing the rounds on her street – most likely perpetuated by ‘that man next door’ – which claimed that even silent cats stalking through the night provoked the dogs into a frenzied excitement. The dogs smelt them, saw their shadows creeping past or heard them rustling through the bushes and long grass. In other words, the dogs noise was the cats fault – the ‘moggies’ taking the blame even though they were merely going about their business in a quiet and orderly fashion. How ridiculous, yet typical of ‘that man next door’ and his muddled and vindictive ways.
Teresa though, was also well aware that cats weren’t always the cute and fluffy angels that some people made them out to be. She remembered a particular incident a few months back:
Taking a short walk to the supermarket, Digby and her had come across a beautiful Siamese lying serenely at the side of the road. It had looked up at them, adoration pouring from its sparkling blue eyes and with a ‘meow’ rolled playfully onto it’s back, exposing it’s tummy for a friendly stroke or tickle.
“What a beautiful cat,” Teresa had said, bending down to rest a hand on the animal’s stomach.
A mistake. Like lightning, the cat had shot forward and dug its claws viciously into her arm. With an evil-sounding hiss it had followed up with an attempted bite on the same limb. But Digby had been too quick. In a flash, he had it by the scruff of the neck, tearing it off her and throwing it to the ground with a force violent enough to bounce it off the pavement. He had followed up with a beautifully-timed drop-kick that would have been the envy of any Springbok fly-half. With a guttural wail, the animal had flown haphazardly over a five foot hedge never to be seen again, leaving Teresa with long bloody scratches on her arm and tears running down her cheeks.
The shopping trip abandoned, they had turned for home so that ointment and bandages could be applied as soon as possible. They’d only gone a few paces, however, when a woman claiming to be the cat’s owner had sprinted out of a gate to remonstrate with them. It quickly became apparent that this woman had been pottering about in her garden and had narrowly missed receiving a direct hit in the face from the airborne animal. Teresa wasn’t sure if the choice obscenities that followed were more to do with this near miss, or with the painful ignominy suffered by the woman’s cat. Either way, her choice of language had not been pleasant, although, come to think of it, neither had Digby’s.
All in all, a nasty experience, even though Teresa felt that this particular cat was more the exception to the rule. Mind you… a lesson learnt: she would never again risk a tummy tickle with an unknown moggy.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish