Since the kids had established their perimeter defences around the house (waterpistols only), Claudette the feral cat hesitated before approaching an open door. But that was the only change to her behaviour.
Now, she glanced around, gauged the distance to door vs. distance of approaching small boys and merely squinted her eyes, tilted her head away from the direction of water spray and made her bold dash as usual.
Why didn’t this cat get the message that she wasn’t wanted? Every single person that came to the house, contractor, friend, postman, was asked if they wanted the cat (or 4). Several offered to ‘sort’ the problem. Though she was a nuisance, we did somewhat admire her, especially her perseverance and felt putting a contract on her life was too extreme. (Anyway, would we have needed to pay the ‘contract’ nine times?) Boxing her up and driving her 20 miles away was suggested too but again that seemed too mean and we’d never have caught her kittens as they were too timid to show themselves at all.
Our first set of guests after the renovations were complete were cat lovers and bemused to see the sheer amount of time, effort and stress we devoted to keeping this one feral cat out of our home. ‘Why don’t you try feeding her?’ was their novel suggestion. I grumbled that surely that would simply encourage her and then we’d never be rid of her. ‘But that’s the situation right now, isn’t it?’ was their riposte.
Reluctantly I opened a tin of tuna and dug out an old bowl. It took her 2 minutes to inhale her lunch, after which she curled up in contentment on the sun lounger and bothered no one for the rest of the day. The following morning at the supermarket I found myself buying a pack of 6 tins of Whiskers cat food. It felt like some sort of Danegeld, or protection money, like paying the enemy not to bother us. But it worked a treat…