2 Mar 2020

A visit from the Marmalade Cat

I'm not a keeper of cats although they do seem to show up regularly in my life. Many of the local households in this small corner of Camden Borough are home to a number of cats, many of whom patrol the grounds of the flats where I live.  I like to think of them as Top Cat and The Gang. (Remember them? Sixties cartoon hilarity from Hanna-Barbera.)



And the Top Cat in this little gang is definitely the marmalade cat in the above photo.  But there’s also a black/white Piebald (there used to be two, one of which was aptly named 'Bubbles'), one Calico cat (black, white, ginger), a tabby and two black cats with white socks and chest - shall we call them Tuxedo cats?   But it was Lady Marmalade who availed herself of a patch of sheltered sunshine in the garden. (Cats, like people, love to soak up the warmth of a sunny spot.)

I happened to glance out of my second floor window as she sat, eyes closed and face lifted towards the warm sunshine; I have a sneaking regard for this very aloof cat, she reminds me of my grandmother's beloved elderly ginger tom; he was a cat who spent most of his days sleeping, often on the chair outside her kitchen door. And, because my siblings and I were still very young, the temptation to stroke him was ever present. This, of course, was forbidden as much for our sakes as his - he was a cat who did not like to be fussed over. Except by Gran, of course.

Meanwhile, back in the garden, I watched Lady Marmalade move towards the spring border with intent. She slid gracefully around the silver birch and carefully hoofed it through the hellebores. But then a lifted paw started to explore the soil; she'd found the very (freshly dug) spot where I'd recently transplanted a dormant peony. To make matters worse, this area in the spring border is full of snowdrops and awaiting the imminent arrival of crocuses. Aarrgh!

I raced downstairs hoping to head off a potential disaster but, thankfully, all was well - sort of. The area had already been claimed by foxes (need I say more?), no further damage was done, and my feline friend sauntered slowly off the spot to sit facing away from me next to the watering can before slipping out through a gap under the privet hedge.


So now I know where to reinforce the fence, although I’m becoming accustomed to the idea that the local Top Cat gang are enjoying their visits to the garden.  I’m planning on growing Cat Grass and Nepeta, aka Catnip, this summer - I’m hoping it will keep them out of the flower borders where their presents of buried treasure are somewhat less than welcome!



By the way .... I actively discourage cats from exploring the veg patch garden by using a makeshift netting fence to barricade the plot. I arrived at this solution after years of frustration at finding cat poo hidden close to my root veg. That was seriously unpleasant and I learned that all gardeners need to be aware of the health risks cat poo can pose to children and other vulnerable people. Best to shift it as soon as possible; I carry a poo bag in my gardening tool bag.



9 comments:

  1. I thought next door's very aloof cat had developed a liking for my company as she always appears when I am gardening. And then I realised she likes the nice loose soil I make for her to use as a lavatory. Cats never seem to use their own gardens.

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    1. It's a sobering reality, isn't it! Cats come into my garden for the turned earth, and the birds of course - but definitely not for my company. I think some of the cats in my urban neighbourhood don't have their own gardens - even more reason to train them with a litter tray!

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  2. Lovely post and pictures. I remember TC and Officer Dibble! A few cats roam the allotments, and I've only ever seen one once on my plot, but with resident foxes they mostly keep away. xx

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    1. Ah! Thank you Flighty! Me too, I loved Top Cat and his Gang, Benny was my favourite. Our foxes usually roam at night so the cats have free reign during the day. When I helped out on the local allotments, there was an allotment cat (he really did live there, in a greenhouse!) and was very useful in keeping the allotments rats under control! xx

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  3. I’m afraid that I find cats a real nuisance in our garden where every patch is clear soil becomes a toilet and every clump of soft leaves flattened to make a bed. I don’t dislike cats and would never harm one but I do wish they would keep to their own patch.

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    1. I so agree, Sue. Worse, I've had to speak to the owners of cats that use the veg patch as a toilet and they really can't see the problem!! I'm not proud of the moment that I told one owner that if her cat ate any of the poisonous plants in my other garden and then died, it would be her responsibility. That cat hasn't been back. I'm now working on distraction rather than a straight no - just the same as I would with small children.

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    2. Some cat owners don’t seem to appreciate the disease element as well as the destruction whereas dog owners quite rightly - and I speak as a dog owner - have more restrictions placed on them if their dog causes trouble or makes a mess. I’m sure responsible cat owners are as annoyed as I am with those irresponsible pet owners.

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  4. Lovely post and a beautiful cat! Cat poo in the garden is a real pain, all the neighbourhood cats gravitate to our front garden and use it as a toilet. Curly cat is good, he uses the litter tray indoors thankfully.xxx

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  5. When he was alive our cat Rory used to take great joy in pooing in my veg patch despite having access to a litter tray. He particularly enjoyed the 'indoor loo' aka plastic cloches over newly planted areas when it rained!

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