Sunday, November 07, 2004

Cat humiliation

This morning when I went to the front door to get the newspaper, I could see that the little ginger cat was sunning itself on the front doorstep again. It comes back every year in the cooler months, and uses the doormat as a sunbed. Through the frosted glass of the front door I could see that it was having a wash as I approached the door, and I knew which bit it was washing, too. One back leg was sticking straight up in the air. It was a 6-shaped cat. I haven't seen it since July, when I accidentally gave it a surprise.

When I started unlocking the door, the cat quietly slunk off and disappeared under the gate, going around to hide behind the wall, probably thinking I would never know it had been there. I don't think it realises we can see it from inside. I opened the door and went to the letter box to get the newspaper, and as I was coming back our two visiting turtledoves swooped over the wall and almost hit me. I ducked. They flapped up again and and did a crash landing in the tree, and from there they cocked their heads and watched me. I felt guilty because I had nothing to feed them.

Usually we feed the birds in the garden by leaving birdseed on the wall under the tree. The idea was, originally, to encourage the few bulbuls and warblers we'd seen about the place. What we actually ended up with was large numbers of extremely demanding sparrows and these two rather stupid turtledoves. Still, it's better than nothing. We used to have no birds in our garden at all, and while it's a very small garden, it didn't feel like any garden at all without birds. So we continue to feed the sparrows and turtledoves. This fascinates the cat, who is apparently convinced that one day it will be able to catch one. Sometimes I see it crouched on the top of the wall, barely able to move because of the painfully spiky rose branches it's tangled up in, and staring up into the tree hopefully, as if it thinks a bird might accidentally fly down and land in its mouth.

Today, right after the turtledoves crashed the tree, two paws and a desperate little face suddenly appeared at the top of the wall. The birds were, of course, out of reach, but the cat had apparently been overwhelmed with excitement by their low approach. Unfortunately the wall at that point was too high for such a small cat. The face hovered there for a moment, straining upwards, then claws scrabbled and it abruptly disappeared again. There was a thump on the other side. The turtledoves were still there, heads cocked, peering down at the little drama they'd provoked and looking puzzled. They'd been joined by a large number of sparrows, who were laughing raucously. I went out the gate to make sure the cat had survived the embarrassment, but it had gone.

Poor cat. It doesn't seem to have much luck in our garden.