It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Of dogs and cats and justice served

There is a cat in our neighbourhood.

Oh, I know. You assume that in a residential city neighbourhood, there are likely dozens of cats. There are. Dozens of them.

And then there is Maurice.

Maurice, a sleek black short-haired cat. Maurice, who will sit in the very centre of the street and stare down the car as it approaches. I’ve seen a cabbie blasting his horn — to no effect, I might add — at the contemptuous feline before him. Maurice does not have a death wish, though with this behaviour in his repertoire, it is indeed surprising that he’s survived to see his seventh years. He does not have a death wish, because, in Maurice’s mind, he OWNS that cab. And its driver. And the horse he rode in on.

Maurce will wander into your home when opportunity presents. Maurice will then stare down any resident animals — there’s a cat or a dog wrathfully indignant with this interloper? Maurice will take them on.

Maurice also taunts dogs. Comes to a foot past the end of the leash, and just sits there, blinking at the lunging, frothing, barking apparition inches from his whiskers.

Maurice is a bit of a legend on the street.

Mary heads out with the tots, and the dog on the leash. (Note the careful placement of the comma: only the dog is leashed. See? Punctuation matters.) It is a brooding, oppressive day, immanent rain in the damp on the rising breeze, the darkening clouds overhead. We are not going far, just to the green space by the river at the base of the street. The tots can race around for a bit, the dog can find a stick and probably have a pee or four. If it does start to rain, we’re only three minutes from home. It’s all good.

What’s not good is that the tarp has blown off the stroller in last night’s blustery rain, and the stroller’s padded seats are soaked. You’d think a child in a raincoat would be protected, but no matter how carefully I line a soaked seat with plastic, the child always ends up with a soaked seat. Bah. Well, it’s a very short walk. I’ll bet Baby Noah is up to the walk. Anna and Timmy are good enough walkers, and responsive to my instructions. And it’s a very, VERY quiet street.

We’ll just walk.

Off we go. Noah on one hand, Indie on the other, Timmy and Anna walking hand-in-hand (which is so CUUUUTE) ahead of me. They’re just following instructions, but toddlers holding hands will always be one of the most endearing sights I get to see in my daily work. Always makes me go all smooshy.

We are doing just fine. Noah toodles to my left, Indie prances on a short leash to my right, Timmy and Anna trot ahead. And then Maurice appears. Sees the dog. Positions himself so the dog sees him.

And sit there, blinking.

Now I have Noah on my left, Timmy and Anna a few steps ahead, and a leaping, plunging dog on my right.

“Indie, SIT! Maurice, you stupid cat! GO AWAY!!”

He blinks. A whisker twitches, perhaps.

Oooh! Mary said “Stupid!” The children are delighted, and take this as permission to dabble in the forbidden.

“Stoopid cat!”
“Moe-riss, you stoopid cat!”
“Morris is a stoopud!”

Maurice, the stupid cat, is unmoved. And unmoving.

I’m really rather pleased by what I feel I must do. I mean, what choice do I have?

I let the leash out.

You know, it was really, really gratifying to see that smug feline leap directly up and do a 180 mid-air. Really, really gratifying.

(For all you cat-lovers out there, be assured that I did a mental calculation and reckoned that Maurice could easily make it under a parked car or up a tree before Indie came to the end of her 8-foot leash. And he did.)

With that out of our systems, and the cat out of sight, we proceed down the street.

Within two houses, that damned cat is stalking us. Happily, Indie has not seen him. I don’t know what the cat’s range is, but I’ve never seen him at the river, so I figure we’ll lose him within a few more houses. We just have to get to the bottom of the street… One house, two houses… With Noah on foot instead of in the stroller, our three-minute walk is now six, but we’re within four or so houses of being into a Maurice-free zone.

“Oh, look! The cat is back there!”

You know, I’ll swear the dog understood Timmy, the big blabbermouth. She spins around and spots that wretched animal. Who sits down and stares at the straining dog a front-yard-length ahead. (He’s out of range of the leash; he’s learned at least that much. Unfortunately.)

We continue. Noah on my left, Timmy and Anna walking ahead, and Indie on such a short leash that her efforts to are slowly throttling herself, resulting in copious “gak”-ing. Me, I’d like to gak the cat.

At each driveway, Maurice slouches in behind car or hedge or retaining wall. With the cat out of sight, Indie calms, but at the end of car or hedge or wall, the cat reappears and Indie’s efforts resume. We are walking in a straight line, the children haven’t really noticed, but I am certainly weary of the struggle.

We have reached the corner and are about to head into the green space by the river. I have now decided that, although he’s never been that far before, the sheer joy of dog-tormenting will ensure that today be the day that Maurice cross the road and join us by the river. If he does that, we’re all going home. After I perform a double-pet homicide.

And then… a wonderful, wonderful sound reaches my ears. Truly wonderful.

So intent was he on the dog in his sights that Maurice had not noticed the other cat. The other, angry cat. The cat who wanted Maurice out of his territory, NOW. The cat who… oh, happy day!… launched himself atop Maurice. Direct hit!

Their squawls and yowls are music to my ears. They roll out of sight down the drive, a furry blur of feline fury. The tots, the dog and I cross the street in decorous peace.

Justice can be so very sweet.

September 16, 2008 Posted by | outings, power struggle | , , , , , | 3 Comments