By E.D. Wivens, June 2005
The Maitre d' simpered as he stood beside me.
"How was the fish Sir?"
I glanced down at the bones on my plate. The fish head stared back.
"Up to Henri's usual high standards. The cream sauce was delicious." I nodded in the direction of the figure beside the kitchen door who had been anxiously fiddling with the ends of his waxed moustache. He smiled back, pleased and relieved.
"May I tempt you, Monsieur Edgar, with another small rodent?"
"Oh heavens no, Jules, twenty-four are my limit these days."
"Perhaps then something from the sweet trolley?" he said topping up my milk bowl from the bottle in the ice bucket.
"What do you recommend?"
The Maitre d' raised a white-gloved hand and beckoned over a waitress propelling the silver cart.
"The catnip supreme, sir. It is Henri's finest ever." Again I caught the waves of pride emanating from the figure in his white hat.
I nodded my assent and the waitress raised the silver canister over my plate.
"There you are fleabag. Get your laughing tackle round that lot."
Woken from my dream I gazed at the cylinder of brown jelly as it wobbled in the in tray. June, our usual feeder, has gone off to the seaside on holiday for a couple of weeks, and Alice the cleaner has taken over her feeding duties. Her presentation skills lack finesse to say the least. I mean even June mashes it up a bit with the fork.
A further examination of the collection of offal masquerading as lunch, confirmed my suspicion that that Ms Savage is taking advantage of June's absence to reduce costs again. The tin, which Alice discarded nearby, proudly claimed that its contents contained prime cuts of meat in a nutritious jelly. The meat itself was not specified, but I suspect it had frequently come in last and gladdened the hearts of bookmakers everywhere.
Now less experienced cats would have shrugged and started tackling the offering immediately, which is always a mistake in my opinion. If your feeders see you diving in to such rubbish with a relish, then they will keep serving it to you. The best move is to temporarily scorn their gourmet delight and then sneak back to eat it when it's had a chance to stink the room out a bit.
Leaving the food, I made my way up to the canteen roof where Kit was entertaining himself with part of a dandelion clock.
"Dinner is served", I said collapsing in a sunny place beside him.
"Really?" said Kit releasing his prey and standing up, "What's on the menu today?"
I looked up at him. "Well it's either 'racehorse in jelly' or 'rubber offcuts in axle-grease'; I can't quite determine the recipe."
"Oh", said Kit lying down again, "More cheap cat food. Does this mean we have to pester the sales office again?"
"No point really", I said, "the weather's too warm for bacon or sausages, and most of them have brought sandwiches anyway. A bit of ham is the most we could hope for there. We shall just have to use our finely honed predator skills in the nature reserve. Follow me."
With Kit close behind me I led the way through a convenient gap in the fence and onto the waste ground behind the car park. The local authority had originally intended building some more industrial units here, but some local residents had complained that they were despoiling the green belt. Curiously enough, now that the land is designated as a wildlife area, the same local residents are demanding that this unsightly health hazard be tidied up, and the ever-increasing rodent population removed. I am pleased to report that I am assisting them to do the latter.
Several territories extend into this wilderness and our progress was slowed as we took the opportunity to examine and repair our scent marks. We were a little way into the undergrowth when Kit clambered up onto a discarded washing machine and sniffed the air.
"Mice of course" he stated sniffing again, "Voles certainly, a suggestion of rats naturally and something I can't quite place. Badgers or foxes possibly. Maybe even an otter"
"Moles", I said suppressing further speculation. "There's a whole load of them just up wind from here near that heap of dumped half-bricks. Quite tasty and easy to catch, assuming you avoid the massive front claws, but I suggest that we go for something less demanding in this warm weather."
We continued our way through the vegetation and assorted rubbish until we came to a wooden fence with a great heap of lawn-mowings reaching halfway up it. A couple of agile leaps and we arrived on the roof of a garden shed.
As I was recovering my breath, Kit went off to first check for scent marks and then to survey the view. We were overlooking the back gardens of a row of semi-detached houses. About three fences away a small brown and white dog bounced about as he sensed our presence.
"I've not been in this part of your territory before." he said, "Why have we come here then?"
I raised a paw in the direction of a small pond. "To check if they've restocked their goldfish pond yet." Kit glanced at it but seemed dubious. "Are you sure it's safe?"
"I mean there's a great big bird stood over there, and it's got a nasty beak on it. I can't see it giving way lightly. It's even ignoring that dog bouncing around."
I smiled and gently dropped down from the shed. Kit followed making sure that I was always between the bird and himself. When we had carefully stalked our way behind it, I stuck out a paw and clawed it. There was a rough, hollow scraping noise.
The demonstration being over, I turned to Kit. "I wouldn't worry about the plastic heron, it's only intended to scare off other herons and stop them eating the goldfish. You see they're very territorial and won't take fish from a pond when there's one already standing there."
"So does it really keep away the other ones?" said Kit looking nervously at the sky.
"What real herons? I've never seen a real heron around here."
"Oh", said Kit following me across to the pond, "what's been eating the goldfish then?"
"I have no idea", I said dipping a paw into the water.The author and owner of this work is E.D. Wivens. See http://www.katzphur.co.uk/ for more details.