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The hunter at work…

No, not me, because I don’t even like pond dipping. I'm talking about my black and white cat, Willow, who’s had a busy week. On Sunday, there was a continuous growling from high up in the cherry tree, and when I tried to spot him, I saw him perilously on a narrow branch. Catling (black, gorgeous, matriarch) was on top of the shed, poised to pounce and LucyFurr, who we are currently fostering after she was apparently abandoned but hope to adopt very soon was sitting next door’s fence so she could block the retreat if it made a break for freedom that way.

Okay, I thought, no problem. It’s got to be a bird and it’ll fly away and annoy all of them. Only it wasn’t. It was a young and very scared-looking squirrel who then leapt across to the sycamore tree, where Willow followed him while the rest of the pussy posse moved to take up new positions.

And yes, I know, cats don’t hunt as a pride like lions do, but my little furry family does, possibly because two of them have had to hunt to survive before they found a safe haven with us and the third one has learned to do as he’s told! This always makes me smile, because Willow is a big cat, and Catling and LucyFurr are dainty, delicate and prone to swiping him if he doesn’t accept his place in the pride. (This is below his mum, and above Lucy, so come feeding and cuddle time that is how it is, and if he tries to queue jump he gets swiped.)

So, what should I do? I couldn’t rescue the squirrel because he was too high up for our ladder to reach so I stood there at the bottom of the tree and tried to distract the cats. They didn’t want to be distracted for a good hour but thankfully, eventually, the game lost its appeal. They headed off to visit our neighbour the butcher who had his smoker going and is a softy who spoils them and the squirrel, presumably, left. I haven’t seen him since so I hope he’s okay. The cats definitely were, because he was making a smoked pork loin with rosemary from our garden and we got invited to share it. I made rolls, he provided the meat, and the cats were cute and provided the entertainment

After all that, I expect you’ll understand why I felt a little nervous when Willow was up the tree today and growling furiously, with his two wing-cats poised to help him once he’d flushed out his prey. Only this time, he’d met his match because we live under the flight path for the Bournemouth Air Show, so we get to see all the planes and helicopters from the back garden with a cup of coffee in our hands and no traffic jams or admission fees. As I looked up, I saw that Willow had decided to try to catch a Chinook helicopter, which is one of the big ones with twin rotor blades. It clearly hadn’t occurred to him that it only looked bird-sized because it was so high up, and he wouldn’t be able to eat it, let alone get it through the cat flap to show off his cleverness, like he usually does.

Because, you see, this is the cat who inspired my book ‘The Christmas Sparrow’ when he brought my daughter a lovely unharmed sparrow on New Year’s Day and we spent two hours with the doors and windows open on a bitterly cold day while we tried to encourage it to leave and kept the cats away from it… Mind you, I’m not sure there’s a market for a series of books on the same theme…

So, I hope you have a far less eventful weekend, and, if you’re in the UK, remember that this is the last bank holiday before Christmas, and ask yourself where the year has gone.

Today’s picture is Willow himself; and yes, he’s well aware that he’s gorgeous, but it never hurts to tell him, or anyone else, does it? Take care…


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