It has to be said that whilst Billy our cat is a charming character, he is a killer. He’s a cat so it goes with the territory. When he arrived, a rescue kitten, feral and vaccinated to the eyeballs he didn’t particularly like people. To be fair, you can understand his point of view. But we fed him for a couple of days whilst he was in the cage, then opened the door and kept putting a bit of food down so he knew where to find us.
Since then we have ‘supplemented’ his diet as opposed to feeding him. If he started looking hungry or a bit bedraggled we’d know he needed more, but it’s obvious that he’s feeding himself nicely. He is happy disposing of rats with the occasional crow for a change.
But interestingly he has ‘adopted’ the three of us he sees regularly. I have never fed him but he makes a point of coming up to me and shouting at me to attract my attention. That way he gets his ears rubbed or his tummy tickled. Indeed when the weather got hot and the kitchen door stood open, he several times wandered in to see what was going on. My lady wife he watched with vague interest, got his ears rubbed by me and wandered out again.
If there’s a stranger in the yard he doesn’t generally approve. I was talking to one person and Billy appeared. He walked across to me and then realised there was company. He shouted at me and then stalked away looking most affronted. Indeed when one chap came and sat with his air rifle, watching for vermin, Billy sat near him. Not near enough to be touched, but near enough to keep an eye on the situation. He did this for the full two hours.
So at heart, our Billy is a feral cat who happens to like a small group of people. If there’s a sudden noise, a strange dog, or something surprising, he just disappears at speed.
He gets on with Sal. She seems to fascinate him. This may merely be that she’s the one nearest to him in size. Sal regards Billy as ‘just one of those things.’ She doesn’t ignore him, she’ll happily pinch his supper if he isn’t there to guard it, and it’s quite fun watching them both lapping up spilled milk. Sal with the much larger tongue does seem to have a distinct advantage.
Milk cows are, I suspect, just too big to be considered as anything but terrain. A calf had got out of her pen and was dancing around the yard. Billy sat on his haunches watching it with interest but made no effort to get any closer. With regard to adult cattle he’ll walk along the path next to the collecting yard and doesn’t seem to bother about the cows watching him as they wait to be milked. Even if they lower their heads to get a closer look. There again the cow who snorted and put out a tongue longer than Billy to lick his tail got a very old-fashioned look.
Still, as feral cats go, Billy is remarkably easy to worm. Apparently if you wrap the tablet in a little bit of meat, he eats it with enthusiasm. Unfortunately the issue of baths arose. Billy appeared, caked with mud and worse. He’d obviously fallen into something, and whilst he might have made an attempt to get rid of it, it was now caked on. So somebody (not me) picked him up by the scruff of the neck and washed him down with a hosepipe. Finally she just about got him clean but eventually had to give up. It wasn’t this feral cat’s needle sharp teeth or razor sharp claws. It was the way he cried pathetically. That being said, it wasn’t long before he was his usual sunny self, shouting at me to bend down and rub his ears.
Nice to know you’ve got friends isn’t it
Another collection of anecdotes drawn from a lifetime’s experience of peasant agriculture in the North of England. As usual Border Collies, Cattle and Sheep get fair coverage, but it’s mixed with family history and the joys of living along a single track road.