Though we live in the city, the housing is low density and low rise, all gently-sloping tiled roofs and small walled gardens. You’d think the housing department had consulted the local feline population on what kind of urban landscape to plump for, as it is ideal for getting all round the neighbourhood without having to put a paw on the ground.
Generally speaking it’s quiet at night; the odd scream or short burst of swearing when somebody trips over the dog on their way to bed, but nothing to warrant keeping the windows closed when the night air is balmy. However, all those walls and low roofs mean the cats slink about at bedroom level, and they are not all respectful of human needs in terms of sleep.
The mad cat lady next door, sole survivor of the destruction of the building, still hangs on, perched above the reconstruction process, in a relic of wobbly staircases and crumbling plaster. Her many companions are called in every night. Sometimes it can be almost midnight before the last loiterer is tempted or threatened home: but not all the local moggies have homes.
There’s a new kid on the block, a great white beast with a bushy red tail like a fox. Looks for all the world like a Turkish Van cat, the kind that are supposed to like water. My husband refers to him as ‘that swimming cat’. I call him Otto, short for Ottoman. Anyway, Otto, the swimming cat is lost. And Otto has a powerful pair of lungs. He floats over the roofs like a ghost, wailing like a banshee for his lost basket and Friskies. We’ve tried to get him down but he won’t come. Not interested in a place that isn’t ‘home’.
Otto screeched his way along the wall, over the shed roof, over the neighbour’s roof, past our bedroom window, over the veranda roof, back down the garden, up on the shed again, back over the walls, round and round ALL NIGHT. Like a soul in torment he haunted the neighbourhood, crying his heart out. Even the other cats got sick of it and about four o’clock they ganged up on him and there was an almighty cat fight about two yards from where we were trying to sleep.
From three, Chukkie the Rooster had been joining in, but he never seems to know the difference between night and day. Otto is now sleeping in the guttering round the back of the shed, worn out.
If anybody has lost a large white and red squirrel-tailed banshee, would they please like to come and claim him? Anybody with neighbours they hate want to adopt him? Anybody?