TERRY PRONE: Domestic invasion of a feral cat is enough to drive anybody wild

“The only problem with territorialism as expressed by cats is that they do not co-operate with each other," writes Terry Prone.

Most sensible people switched off this weekend. Did their best to get serious issues out of their heads and to soak up the sun while it was shining.

I spent it trying to work out whether to buy a feral cat trap on Amazon or a BB gun from a supplier on Dublin’s northside. I’m open to alternative ideas, but it would seem that those are my current choices.

I have to do something about Invader Cat, who has now taken, not just to prowling the garden but to injuring the inhabitants, costing me a fortune and indulging in home invasion whenever it suits it.

Invader Cat, nothing personal, is the ugliest feline you have ever seen. He (or she, because I’ve never gotten close enough to establish its gender) is black and white with a stove-in face that looks as if someone drove a clenched fist into it with force.

The very ugliness of the animal made us sympathetic towards it at first, “us” being the human residents. It never made our two cats sympathetic towards it. They hated it and still hate it with a committed passion and take it on frequently.

The only problem with territorialism as expressed by cats is that they do not co-operate with each other.

If the two of them went at Invader Cat in tandem, he’d be a goner, but they can never work up to being allies about anything, thus proving, since they are siblings, that the family is the transmission belt of pathology. Not that any of us had any doubt about that.

When Dino started to look depressed and to drag a leg, we didn’t immediately make the link to Invader Cat. Our friend Bryan took him to a veterinary hospital that was open on a bank holiday weekend, and they sent him home with antibiotics and said that if that didn’t work, they’d operate on him on the Tuesday.

Trying to get antibiotics into one cat without the other cat getting a dose of them is difficult, but we did our best. To no avail, as it turns out. Dino was even more miserable after the long weekend, so off he went, was operated on under general anaesthetic and kept in overnight.

The vet’s verdict was that he had been severely bitten in the thigh by another cat, the certainty about the biter deriving from the florid infection of the wound site.

Apparently the mouth of your average cat is filled with bacteria you don’t want to get up close and personal with. It’s a bit like being bitten by an alligator. Experts say that if a gator bites you, even if you escape its jaws, you may not escape death, because the filth in its mouth will deliver sepsis into your blood stream if your skin is broken.

Dino’s sibling, Specs, is a scrappy argumentative neurotic cat but never goes fully to war with a brother who is bigger and faster than she is, so the perpetrator had to be Invader Cat.

Which meant, the vet explained severely, that Dino was not to go outdoors for a week. At least. I resigned myself to having a litter tray, which is one of the most disgusting things ever invented, and waited to make a fuss of the returning patient.

The returning patient yelled at me the minute he saw me, his yells amplified by a transparent plastic cone around his head, designed to prevent him licking his wound, because, as we’ve already established, his wound didn’t need a bacteria-laden licking.

I had seen dogs in cones before, and right silly they look, but dogs have a higher capacity for resignation to circumstances than cats, and also are not used to using their whiskers as a way to measure, gauge and explore the world around them.

If I had hit Dino with a two by four, I couldn’t have disabled him more decisively. He belonged in a Specsavers advertisement as he got himself into one predicament after another.

One minute he was stuck between the bars of the banisters, the next he was falling, literally, between two stools and getting his head trapped between them by the cone. I’m here to affirm that nothing so pathetic has ever been seen as a cat in a cone trying to negotiate a spiral staircase.

The cone was so deep that he couldn’t get to the food in his bowl, so I had to cut some of the depth off it, which provoked Dino into assaulting me so I had to wear long sleeves for a week.

However, at least he could now eat and drink and the wound, in a shaven portion of his leg, healed nicely. Unfortunately, the day before he was due to go back to the vet for checking, he managed not only to get out of the cone, but to secrete it somewhere so we couldn’t find it.

The vet gave out stink and put a fresh cone on him. This one he got rid of within an hour of coming home, and we decided to hell with it. We would leave Dino coneless, clean up his wound whenever we could catch him and then we would be horribly duplicitous and get the cone back on him for his next visit.

Having cost about €700, Dino is now fully recovered and ready for action, as I discovered at the weekend when both cats alerted on hearing a noise downstairs.

I ran to where I could get a view and there was Invader Cat, walking in a leisurely way, away from their foot server towards the cat flap. I was so furious, it made me irrational and I barked at him like a dog.

(My dog bark is good. I once provided the bark for a dog performing in the Abbey who was bark free.) He looked at me with contempt and left the building in his own sweet time.

Research suggests I either shoot the animal with a pellet gun or catch it in a trap. Since I have no experience with guns plus the hand/eye co-ordination of a dead slug, it looks like I’ll have to opt for the trap.

Bryan, having been given out to twice by the vet, panicked when I told him of my cunning cat plan. He said the vet mightn’t agree to put Invader Cat to sleep, assuming the animal was dopey enough to walk into the trap in the first place.

I explained that I was not considering investing in a feral cat trap with a view to putting Invader Cat down. Banishment, rather than extermination, would be my preferred course of action.

I was for putting him/her/it, incarcerated in the trap, into the boot of my car and driving for at least 200km to some place where I have no relations, like maybe Leitrim, turfing the yoke out on the side of the road and daring it to come back.

If anyone has a better idea, I’d love to hear it.



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